Can You Actually Tell Hybrid Models Apart From Their Gas-Powered Counterparts?


By: Nikki Weed

7 Min Quiz

Image: Unsplash by Fernando Marques

About This Quiz

The early 2000s brought us a copious amount of futuristic thinking in the automotive sector. As a society, we survived Y2K, the planet hadn't caught on fire from global warming, and we survived a few pretty major oil embargos. Automotive manufacturers were ripe with ideas on how to combat the decline in car sales when times got tough, with the hybrid car being the answer. Why not offer a vehicle that can be driven if gas is $1.50 a gallon or $5.00 a gallon?

The days of the gas sucking sedans were gone, and hybrids became the new norm. Driving a gas/electric hybrid has suddenly deviated from being a status symbol to a common thing, especially with the instability of the world market and oil in general. Hybrid vehicles are no longer being overly badged and ridden with "Save The Planet" stickers. Current designs are almost indistinguishable from their gas-drinking siblings. Take, for example, the first-generation Prius. It looked like no other car on the market and offered something very few other cars had, the title of hybrid. As time has passed, the Prius is now just another car on the road. The novelty is gone, and the radical styling is now absent.

Do you think you can figure out if these cars are hybrid or strickly gas consumers just by looking at them? Take a stroll through the seemingly brief history of hybrid vehicles to find how proficient you are at which cars are Prius. It isn't as easy as you think!

What powers this Camry as you're "moving forward," as their slogan states?

When Toyota decided to redesign the Camry in 2018, they didn't stop on the looks alone! This hybrid Camry is powered by an incredibly fuel-efficient 2.5 liter 4 cylinder hybrid engine that produces 208 horsepower. It has an astonishing fuel range for a large sedan, with up to 53 miles per gallon achieved on the highway. Toyota also tried to step out to the front of the stiff hybrid competition by offering a 10-year warranty on their hybrid batteries, three years more than some of their competition.


How eco-friendly do you think this Fiat 500 is?

This feisty little Fiat may run strictly on gasoline, but it achieves a very commendable fuel economy anyway! Powered by an almost comically small 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine, the 500 can quickly get out of the way of large gas-guzzling SUVs without making the fuel needle move. An all-electric version is available in California, and Fiat is working on releasing a mild-hybrid 500 in 2020.


Is the fuel economy in this Kia Niro a hero or a zero?

For those who aren't sold on the idea of being known as Prius drivers, yet still want a hybrid, the 2020 Kia Niro is a happy medium. This little crossover is powered by a 1.6-liter hybrid that can deliver up to 52 miles per gallon on the base model, but this number falls drastically as more options are added. With 139 available horsepower, the fully loaded Niro took almost 10 seconds to get from 0-60, but hey, it's a hybrid!


Does driving this Lincoln MKZ make you a slave to the gas station?

The 2014 Lincoln MKZ hybrid was a delightfully elegant yet economical sedan that changed the hybrid sector permanently. The MKZ treated you to all the features found in top-of-the-line sedans, with the economy of a lower-tiered hybrid. The MKZ hybrid could get 37 miles per gallon on the highway, which doesn't seem like much, but it was more than double than its regular gas twin.


Does this 2019 RAV4 rev a strictly gas engine, or does it have a quieter hybrid side as well?

The RAV4 was redesigned in 2019 and offered up a posh revamp of the interior and an infotainment system that blows other similar small SUVs out of the water. The pricing on the hybrid RAV4 is surprisingly competitive with the non-hybrid version, costing less than $2,000 extra. Powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and two electric motors, there is no lack of power in this spritely SUV!


Are you going to spend less on gas in this Lexus NX300?

Here's a little hint — if you're looking at the back of a Lexus in traffic and see a letter "h" after the model badge, the car is a hybrid! This particular NX300h is the first hybrid available of the NX model line, which was introduced in 2015. Even with the hybrid technology, however, this small luxury SUV only gets 30 miles to the gallon on the highway. The non-hybrid tops out at 25 miles per gallon highway, not a massive difference for a bit more money.


Do you have any insight as to whether this Honda Insight is a hybrid or not?

The 2005 Honda Insight was an incredibly innovative car for its time and nudged its way into an otherwise very niche market. The Insight was a practical car that offered the best fuel economy ever offered in a hybrid in the United States, with a five-speed manual achieving 61 miles per gallon on the highway. Assisting in this incredible figure was an all-aluminum body and an aerodynamic shape.


Is this a strictly fossil-fueled Ford F-150, or does it love the environment?

Ford stepped up to the plate with the F150 hybrid and left the rest of the hybrid trucks looking like chumps. Aside from just offering a reliable work truck that happens to be a hybrid, Ford integrated some desirable features to assist workers further to get jobs done. A built-in power inverter provides an on-truck charging station for power tools or enough energy to run small power tools.


Does this Kia Soul have the guts of an internal combustion engine or a humming hybrid motor?

Kia made a bold entry into the subcompact SUV sector in 2008 with this Kia Soul. Although there was a concept of a Kia Soul hybrid shown in 2008, a consumer version wasn't available until a few years later. Even though the Soul wasn't a hybrid, it still delivered some decent fuel range, averaging around 28 miles per gallon. The Soul is now a staple of the Kia lineup and is now offered in an all-electric variant.


Is this 2010 Ford Fusion as efficient as it could possibly by being a hybrid?

The 2010 Ford Fusion hybrid was rated the #1 affordable midsize car by US News for a good reason — it was a great car. The brand new Fusion offered comfortable seating for five, 156 horsepower and an interior that rivaled some luxury sedans. The only real complaint to be waged against the Fusion was that there was slightly less cargo room in the trunk compared to the non-hybrid version. When you compare the Fusion hybrids 41 miles per gallon to the non-hybrids 19 miles per gallon, it's not a hard decision to give up a little trunk space for fuel savings!


Is this Volkswagen Golf a glutton for diesel or a satiated hybrid?

Here's a little secret about the 2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI — it gets fuel economy that rivals most hybrids on the market. The 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine has plenty of get-up-and-go without being a glutton for diesel. Drivers love the Golf because it is a fun-to-drive hot hatch that offers up real-world fuel economy without being a slug off the starting line.


Are you going to be able to escape the fluctuating fuel prices more often in this Ford Escape?

As another example of Ford storming into the hybrid sector, the hybrid Escape is going to create quite a stir. The hybrid compact crossover sector has been a one-man show, with the Toyota RAV4 taking center stage for every performance, but that could change! The Escape hybrid will be offered in both AWD and FWD and provide a sleek interior styling with a large center touch screen. Watch out Toyota; the Ford Escape is coming!


Are you going to go big time broke paying for gas in this behemoth of a BMW X7, or bypass the Shell station more often?

When BMW released information about the new 2020 X7 hybrid, they used words like aggressive, a term not commonly associated with hybrids. Although the specifics are still hazy, what is known is that it will be a variation of the platform used on the 740i. The most considerable hindrance of this opulent hybrid will be the price, with figures projected to be around $70,000.


Please select the proper propulsion unit in this Honda Accord accordingly.

Honda was all-in during the 2005 selling year, offering hybrid varieties galore. Aside from the tiny Insight, they also provided a more family-friendly and more comfortable Accord. Sadly, the hybrid innovation wasn't quite developed yet, and the Accord wasn't as great of a car as Honda had hoped. A combination of the weight of the vehicle and the lack of hybrid technology provided a miles per gallon figure of around 25 miles per gallon, compared to the 26 miles per gallon on the non-hybrid version.


Is this Chevy Malibu a paradise when it comes to the fuel pumps?

GM knew it had to really hit a home run with their hybrid Malibu to gain a position in the cramped hybrid sedan market. They tried with the 2020 Malibu, which is powered by a promising 4-Cyl 1.8 Liter Ecotec engine paired with the assistance from an electric motor. The Malibu, however, is an underdog in the hybrid horsepower world. The rivals to the Malibu, such as the Camry, can produce over 200 horsepower, whereas the Malibu tops out around 122 horsepower.


Is this little Geo Metro a pioneer in the hybrid circuit or just another gas-sipping hatchback?

Although it runs on gas, the Geo Metro should be inducted into the likes of fuel-efficient hybrids anyway. The incredible little 1990 Geo Metro might not have been a feast for the eyes, but it was an absolute treat at the gas pump. An inline three-cylinder engine (you read that right) cranked out a whopping 49 horsepower but also offered 46 miles per gallon. The Metro was like a Moped on four-wheels, but with appropriate climate control and a mediocre radio.


Does this Honda Fit fit in at the fuel pumps?

In 2006, the Fit took the place of the Civic hatch and offered equally as impressive fuel mileage. The Fit had an average of 38 miles per gallon and was as efficient as some of the other hybrids available. With the slogan "Small is the new big," the Fit was just as capable as a Prius, but without the hybrid hassle. With seats that folded practically flat and plenty of headroom, the Fit was perfect for DIYers and weekend warriors.


Does this Mini Cooper drink minuscule amounts of gas, or is it a non-regulation sized gas-guzzler?

If you were in the market for a compact car in 2005 and wanted something sporty and small, chances are you looked at the Mini Cooper more than once. The biggest downside was that even though the car had a four-cylinder engine and was light, the fuel economy didn't reflect those features. With an average of 27 miles per gallon, people bought the Mini because of the sporty aspects, not gas mileage.


Do the miles per gallon in this Mercury Milan make you want to motor more or take mass transit?

This is a trick question; the Mercury Milan was a slightly higher-end version of the Ford Fusion hybrid. The Mercury Milan was a slightly revamped version of the Fusion with nothing but a higher price tag to show for it. Critics still loved it and placed it as one of the main competitors to the Prius. With no surprise, the only complaint was the lack of cargo space in the trunk (sound familiar?)


What operetta will this Jetta have you singing at the pump?

The 2013 Jetta was a strong hybrid offering from Volkswagen, who were already known for their fuel efficiency from their diesel engines. The turbo four-cylinder engine coupled with a lithium-ion battery pack made this sedan extremely desirable for German automotive enthusiasts who were also eco-friendly. The hybrid Jetta got a full 20 miles per gallon more than the conventional gas Jetta with very few compromises.


Will filling up this Mercedes Benz cost you a pile of yens?

In 2011, Mercedes introduced the E300 BlueTEC, busting into the luxury hybrid market with both guns blazing. With typical Mercedes comfort and style, the E300 was a stunning option for a market saturated with cars claiming to be luxurious like the Ford Fusion (sorry Fusion). The E-Class, although abundant in beauty and comfort, lacked in actual fuel efficiency. The average of around 25 miles per gallon wasn't great for a hybrid, but it was better than it's non-hybrid sister by two whole miles per gallon. Either way, there will be a copious amount of yen spent on fuel.


Are you going to have a Sunday fun day in this 2020 Hyundai hybrid, or are you going to be spending your time at the gas pump?

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata isn't just another hybrid; it's an incredibly intuitive and forward-thinking sedan. Instead of relying on the typical hybrid electric and gas duo, a third energy element is introduced, solar! The solar panels are integrated into the roof and are hardly noticeable aesthetically. With six hours of charging a day, the Sonata hybrid can recharge its batteries using the sun and extend the range by almost 800 miles. With sleek styling, efficiency, and innovative design, the Sonata is a very promising new hybrid on the market.


Are you going to be playing in your Prius or worried about where to find a plug-in?

The 2020 Prius Prime is another example of exciting innovations in the hybrid world. With many people complaining about range anxiety in all-electric cars, Toyota decided to offer the best of both worlds. The Prius Prime can take trips up to 25 miles without ever touching a drop of fuel, making it excellent for small commutes and errands. For those who also want to adventure further away from home, the gas engine, coupled with the hybrid technology, achieved a total range of 640 miles per fill-up. Of course, you can stop and charge at any one of over 16,500 charging stations across the United States to amp up that figure.


Will you be able to cruise the Sahara in this Sierra, or will fuel range anxiety keep you close to a gas station?

"Hey, let's buy a hybrid truck that can't tow hardly anything, gets only slightly better fuel mileage than gas-powered trucks and costs more," said nobody ever. What GMC was going for with their 2010 Sierra was a revolution, but what they ended up with was a quarter-ton flop. Also offered by General Motors was the Silverado hybrid, the same awkward hybrid truck with a lower price and equally cheap-looking interior.


Do you put your beliefs in this Nissan Leaf, or is it going to leave you stuck at a gas pump?

The Leaf was a bold move into the environmentally friendly car scene for Nissan, and it couldn't have gone better. The car was so great, in fact, that it was awarded the 2011 European Car of the Year award and the Car of the Year in Japan. The all-electric power train had lots of pep, but at a drastic cost to the range. When driving in a sporty manner, owners noted they could visibly watch the range plummet. The instrument cluster offered a small tree-shaped light that would gradually light up to indicate the efficiency of the drivers' style. The more gradual start and stops, the quicker the full tree light would be accomplished.


Will you be bored in this Accord at the gas pumps, or happy with the range of this hybrid?

Remember the 2005 Accord? Fast-forward a full 15 years and behold the Accord of 2020. There are still some significant complaints test drivers have with the car. At high and low speeds, the new Accord produces a sort of howl, and the braking distances in panicked stops are less than impressive. Is that a compromise that you're willing to make for 48 miles per gallon?


Will you dodge the gas station in this Durango and high-tail it to the hills in this hybrid?

The 2009 Dodge Durango offered seating for eight in relative comfort while still achieving 21 miles per gallon. Dodge took an exciting move in designing the Durango hybrid by not hopping on the over-badged bandwagon and making it an incognito hybrid. Major problems didn't come from the hybrid technology, but from the transmission, with throttle sensitivity and extreme lag in panicked acceleration situations.


Is this a hybrid Highlander or just another massive fuel consuming SUV?

The Boston Globe reviewed the 2008 Toyota Highlander hybrid by saying, "Don't buy this car expecting to save on gas. It's doubtful that you will ever come close to recouping the added initial vehicle cost in fuel savings." What the Globe didn't figure in was the incredibly long retention value people have with their Highlanders. The Toyota Highlander, of all trim levels and powertrains, makes the top of the list of cars people keep more than 15 years by an independent study by


Is this civilized Civic a hybrid-honey or cost you gas money?

The 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid would be considered as being from the prehistoric age of hybrid cars in today's market. The electric element that assisted the gas-engine was nothing but a small unit wedged between the engine and the transmission. There were very few compromises to make when deciding between the hybrid and regular Civic model in 2003, aside from the public distrust of the new technology.


Can you tell what this car is, besides a Yaris?

The Toyota Yaris has been many things, including a Scion and now a rebadged Mazda 2. The car comes with a 1.5 liter strictly automatic transmission that offers no smiles when accelerating from stoplights but makes up for it at the fuel pump. Even though it isn't a hybrid, the Yaris can easily achieve 40 miles per gallon. As a simple, slow and practical car, it's perfect.


Is this Pacifica van a dream for the active family as an energy-efficient hybrid, or just another soccer parent van?

Chrysler has been on the forefront of the minivan world since the introduction of the Town and Country in 1983. For the better part of 35 years, they have shown that as a company, they believe in the usefulness and practicality of minivans. When other companies phased out their van lines, Chrysler continued to manufacture a vehicle that could carry a family without being a bloated SUV. In 2020, Chrysler is taking another pioneering move in minivan technology by offering the Pacifica hybrid. Aside from the high-tech hybrid technology, the interior drips with gadgets and driver-assist features.


Is this 3 series "ultimate driving machine" an ultimate gas guzzler?

The 2016 BMW 330e had plenty of promise when it was released as a sporty hybrid, but the thrill-seeking BMW drivers that bought them thought otherwise. The 330e offered all of the comforts of a full-sized luxury sedan coupled with hybrid savings. Still, the car lacked the "ultimate driving experience," with complaints of vague throttle feel and a sense of disconnection with the transmission. BMW listened to these complaints and are releasing a revamped 2020 330e that will offer a more genuine BMW driving experience.


Will you write a check to get this Crosstrek if it's a hybrid, or leave it at the lot?

In 2014, Subaru decided it wanted a piece of the hybrid market and offered up the extraordinarily versatile and roomy Crosstrek in hybrid form. Instead of offering a car that felt like it was a hybrid, Subaru designed the Crosstrek to be as close to the gas version as possible. When compared to other compact SUVs on the market at the time, the Crosstrek hybrid was superior in almost every way, except reliability.


Tesla, Tesla everywhere, but what do they drink? Gas? Electric? Both? Which street would it reside on?

When first introduced in 2017, the Tesla Model S was a sort of an enigma. The styling screamed all-electric, but the claims of incredibly battery range were something only seen achieved out of a hybrid. The all-electric Model S slowly crept into the market at first, almost in a cautionary way with only 5,000 cars produced in the first week. The demand skyrocketed, and within the first year, the demand rose to 100,000 Model S's needed to satisfy a market that was hungry for luxury electric cars. The electric motor was able to provide a range of over 200 miles per charge, a figure that wasn't available in other electric vehicles. Tesla was able to combine a beautiful form and remarkable function with the Model S.


Is this Lexus a nexus between styling and efficiency by being a hybrid?

Lexus didn't want to offer up just any old hybrid in 2011; they wanted to provide the public with something enjoyable to drive and extremely fuel-efficient. The design team got to work and designed the elegantly styled CT 200h, and Lexus held their breath to see how the public would receive another four-door hybrid. The CT 200h offered a hybrid car dripping in luxury but was actually powered by the same platform as the Prius. This gave the driver a false sense of security when driving, especially when trying to accelerate. The car might have looked and felt sporty, but when it was time to get down to business, it was still just a redesigned Prius.


Is this baby BMW a hybrid hot rod or just a naturally aspirated coupe?

The one-series BMW was an exciting introduction into the American car market in 2008, with particular attention put into the car heralding it as "year one of the One." The small stature gave the illusion of being a small, energy-efficient car, but under the hood hid a 3.0-liter V6 engine that could blow designated sports cars out of the water at a stoplight. Sadly, the car didn't last for long, with BMW ceasing production in 2013. This wasn't without a sporty M model, and an all-electric model offered, but never a hybrid.


Will driving this Avalon keep your lawn green by producing less pollution due to it being a hybrid or is it just another carbon belching car?

Just when you think that Toyota is dialed-in perfectly on the hybrid game, they make changes to make a decent car even better. The Avalon hybrid received some much-needed attention in the design department, and the car was morphed from a cramped feeling under-powered hybrid to a regulation-sized dream car. The 2.5-liter I-4 engine working in tandem with two battery packs provide plenty of power, but can also achieve 44 miles per gallon on the highway, a full 10 miles more per gallon than its non-hybrid sister.


Will you get optimal fuel range in this Optima or just the average for a V6 engine?

Ever since Hyundai and Kia melted together in 1999 into an affordable car powerhouse, many ideas can be seen on both makes. The 2020 Optima is incredibly unique from its Hyundai rival, the Sonata, though. The Optima took different directions technology-wise and placed more control on the driver than on the car. The UVO phone app allows you to monitor the state of your car when you're away, checking on the state of charge and allowing you to control all the buttons from afar. By implementing all of this new technology in the car, Kia was able to gain 19% more fuel efficiency over the previous years' model.


Is this Corolla a cool hybrid hatch or just another small car?

If you're starting to think that this list has been saturated with Toyotas, you're right! Toyota has been an industry leader in the hybrid game ever since the Prius became wildly popular, and decided to run with hybrid technology in every direction. This Corolla hatch, however, is not one of them! The small car is slight in the weight department and is powered by an incredibly reliable and fuel-sipping 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. With a fuel average well into the 30 miles per gallon range, the Corolla doesn't even need to be a hybrid to be practical at the pumps.


What's shocking about this Chevy Silverado?

At the fountainhead of hybrid vehicles, companies were scrambling to be "the first" to offer certain forms of transportation with hybrid technology. There were abundant versions of four-door sedans and hatchbacks, but where were the trucks? General Motors decided they wanted a piece of that vacant sector and created the 2004 Silverado hybrid. For only $2,500 more than a gas model, you could have purchased a cutting edge hybrid truck! It sounded good in theory, but on paper, it was a joke. The hybrid version of the pickup was able to achieve a meager 15.5 miles per gallon. The truck's rival, a gas chugging V-8 Ford F-150, was able to make 12.5 miles per gallon.


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