In our analysis, only two of the six hybrids we have tested recovered their price premium in the first five years and 75,000 miles of ownership (see Hybrids vs. all gas). The Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid provide a savings of about $400 and $300, respectively, over that period. But that is only if buyers are able to take advantage of limited federal tax credits. Extra ownership costs over five years for the other four models ranged from about $1,900 to $5,500, compared with those of similar all-gas models.
Apparently, if you assume federal tax breaks, and if you assume that gas rises to an average of $4/gal, and if you keep your shiny new Prius for at least 5 years, then you can save a whopping $400.
Or you could buy the standard Civic instead of the hybrid civic, saving $3,000 up front. Which you could invest--in 5 years you could make $1240 @ 7%. CR estimated that buying a hybrid Civic would save you $1,684 in fuel costs over 5 years.
After 5 years you have $4,240, which you can spend on something else, rather than replacement batteries for your hybrid. Like a nice aftermarket turbocharger.