When you think of a hybrid car, you probably imagine a small, hyper-efficient car like the Toyota Prius or Honda Insight.
The biggest growth in hybrid cars for 2013, though, is actually coming from much bigger, more powerful cars that use far more gas than the Prius or Insight do.
Luxury hybrids seem to be the next big thing, and they’re using electric power to do something exciting: go really fast, really comfortably.
For gas mileage in today’s hybrid cars, everything is relative.
The best compact hybrids get eye-popping gas mileage — last year’s Prius C, for example, was rated for 53 miles per gallon in the city — but their function is similar to ordinary, non-hybrid cars that might already be getting 40 mpg.
Luxury hybrids, on the other hand, don’t get anywhere close to the Prius C’s 53-mpg figure, but they have a completely different goal. They’re offering the power and refinement of a V8 or even V12 engine, but with the gas mileage of a smaller V6.
Considering how luxury cars are among the biggest gas guzzlers on the road today, it’s a smart way of deploying hybrid technology.
One of the best reasons to buy a new luxury car is its smoothness. Historically, some of the most popular high-end vehicles have been powered by 12-cylinder engines because they’re so powerful while also being smooth and silent.
When you think about it, an electric motor working in conjunction with a smaller gasoline engine — in other words, the whole concept of a hybrid car — delivers the exact same result.
Electric power is delivered smoothly, with plenty of torque and absolutely no engine noise, which makes it ideal for people who want to be wafted across town in the utmost comfort.
Luxury brands have picked up on this, which is why virtually every high-end brand — from German performance brands Porsche, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, to Japanese brands like Lexus, Infiniti and Acura, and even American brands like Lincoln and Cadillac — are all offering cars with hybrid drivetrains in 2013.
This year offers the widest lineup yet of luxurious hybrids. For people who like lots of power and a quiet ride, all while saving money at the gas pump, this year could be the ideal time to shop for a new luxury car.