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To hybrid or not to hybrid?

Thursday - 2/24/2011, 3:13pm  ET

WASHINGTON - Buying a hybrid vehicle may not be as cost effective as you think.

According to the New York Times' Green blog, dropping an extra $6,200 on the hybrid version of the Lexus RX will get your money back in gas savings within five years. But, that's only with gas averaging $8.77 a gallon.

The new data was released in Consumer Reports magazine's annual New Car Buying Guide, which compares several hybrid cars to their non-hybrid versions.

The Ford Escape hybrid would cost $500 more over five years, but would break even if gas prices averaged $3.60. On the other hand, the Toyota Camry hybrid would save $500 over five years compared to its non-hybrid version, with gas averaging a mere $1.92.

The magazine uses a five year payback period because that is the average time for car ownership. It also assumes the driver logs 12,000 miles a year and pays $2.80 a gallon.

The most popular hybrid model - Toyota Prius - fared best in the magazine's findings, as compared to a Toyota Corolla LE. It found the Prius will cost less over five years, with gas averaging 80 cents a gallon.

WTOP's Darci Marchese contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)