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AUTO NEWS: Hybrids pay off, and clean diesels save even more, survey says

DALLAS -- Hybrids will never be my mug of beer, but they may save you enough in the long run to buy several cases of the stuff, according to a new survey.

DALLAS -- Hybrids will never be my mug of beer, but they may save you enough in the long run to buy several cases of the stuff, according to a new survey.

The 2009 IntelliChoice.com hybrid and diesel car survey looked at 51 hybrid and clean-diesel models and evaluated their cost of ownership vs. the premium you pay over conventional models of the same vehicles.

The survey estimated the cost of ownership over five years or 70,000 miles and included factors such as fuel, maintenance and repair, retained value, insurance, taxes and licensing fees.

Thirty-five of the 51 green cars considered in a recent survey delivered lower costs of ownership than comparable conventional vehicles.

Clean diesels, by the way, saved their owners even more money than hybrids.

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Thirty-five of the 51 green cars considered delivered lower costs of ownership than comparable conventional vehicles, said James Bell, editor of IntelliChoice .com.

"The longtime knock against green cars, trucks and SUVs is that their sticker prices do not justify the gas savings," Bell said. "The point we make is that it is not just about fuel."

HOW MUCH DO DRIVERS SAVE?

Here are some examples of vehicles in the survey the premium paid for them in comparison with conventional models and the five-year ownership savings.

Vehicle Premium paid Five-year savings

Volkswagen Jetta TDI $2,070 $6,210

Toyota Prius (vs. Camry) $1,805 $4,930

Chevy Silverado Hybrid $615 $3,821

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Ford Escape Hybrid AWD $4,725 $2,123

Saturn Aura Green Line $1,480 $2,185

SOURCE: IntelliChoice.com

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