Hybrids are cars with two engines: They have a standard gasoline engine for higher speeds, and an electric motor with a heavy battery pack for lower speeds, mainly used for city driving. Through clever engineering, the battery pack (usually nickel-metal hydride) can be recharged through a variety of mechanisms, including brakes.
Things to know before buying a hybrid
As always, research, research, research! Hybrids are generally more expensive than regular cars their size (not including luxury vehicles).
Whether or not you can get a good deal strongly depends on the price of gas. When gas was expensive, hybrids were leaving dealerships at manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) and there were long wait lines to boot. You do not have much bargaining power if the gas prices are up there. If such is the case, then get on a waiting list early. You may only have to pay MSRP (yeah, I know, that hurts).
A hybrid is ideal for city driving. Depending on the hybrid, you can save from 15-70 percent on fuel if your driving is mainly in the city. The gasoline engine in the hybrid kicks in at higher speeds, so if you're in a lot of low speed stop-and-go traffic, you're an ideal candidate to buy a hybrid.
The insurance will be higher. Due to the engineering of hybrids (primarily the complicated electrical systems and powertrain), they can be more expensive to repair. Hybrids are also recommended to only be taken to dealerships with mechanics certified to work on a hybrid. Regular car mechanics may not have the know-how to repair/service a hybrid.
Rent a hybrid before you buy one to be sure you like it. Don't buy a hybrid you're going to hate.
Buying used hybrids used may not be a bad idea. Hybrids, for a variety of reasons, have to be well made. The standards are higher and so is the subsequent quality. However, keep in mind that a hybrid battery is not designed to last forever and replacing one can be costly.
They get better gas mileage than everything else out there! Not. There are some small cars, or diesel engines that get comparative mileage.
You don't need to plug in a hybrid. They are not the same as electrical cars. A hybrid relies on its clever braking system to recharge its battery along with highway driving.
A hybrid is not more efficient on the highway. That doesn't mean it's a horrendous gas guzzling beast, but a hybrid probably only gets average mileage on the highway.
There are some ridiculous rumors of hybrid batteries only lasting 2 years, and are expensive to boot. Generally a new hybrid's battery comes with an 8 year warranty, and is designed to last that long at the very least. They are, however, expensive to replace.