It's time for today's version of a column I've decided to call Hard Truths with Doug DeMuro, wherein I provide you, the sophisticated reader, with a hard truth about the rough and tumble world of cars. I can do this because the world of cars is full of hard truths, and the occasional fluffy one.
Regular readers may remember last week's hard truth, in which I asserted that red light cameras are a good thing. The hard truth here was primarily delivered to me, in the form of roughly 300 commenters angrily informing me I was wrong. This surprised me, because I had devoted considerable time to researching that column, and I had turned up many excellent facts, such as:
FACT: Running red lights is bad.
FACT: Punishing people who run red lights is good.
FACT: There are a lot of dramatic red light crash videos on YouTube, and if you start watching them at, say, 9 a.m., you will get nothing done until lunch.
But it turns out that, while we generally all agree with the idea of red light cameras, the actual implementation leaves something to be desired. I will now pause so that you can all catch your collective breath at the stunning revelation bad things happen when private industry and government join forces to punish citizens.
So anyway, today I'm going to deliver a completely different hard truth, namely that hybrid cars are better than diesels.
Now, before I get into this, it's important to note that this point of view would normally be considered sacrilege here on Jalopnik. This is because we love diesels, and we hate hybrids. I think this has something to do with the types of vehicles that mostly use the two powertrains: diesels are often cool cars, like old Mercedes wagons, or neat European models, or that Audi Le Mans car with the really bright headlights.
Meanwhile, "HYBRID" is typically the trunk-mounted emblem you see as the guy in front of you cruises at 45 miles an hour in the left lane. In other words, the general thought here is that if "fuel type" were a Hollywood movie, diesel would be Batman, and hybrid would be that guy in Jurassic Park who gets eaten by T-Rex while he's sitting on the toilet.
But today, I'm going to refute this point with a completely new strategy: I'm going to use facts. So bear with me as I take you through my argument, at which point you are free to berate me in the comments, as per our usual agreement.
My first fact today is that the Volkswagen Passat TDI starts at roughly $28,500 with shipping. My second fact is that the Ford Fusion Hybrid starts just under $29,000, also with shipping. My third fact is that the Passat TDI gets 30 mpg city and 40 mpg highway with an automatic transmission (an option which, by the way, makes it more expensive than the Fusion). And my fourth fact is that the Fusion Hybrid gets 47 mpg city and 47 mpg highway.
Stop me if you see where I'm going with this.
The interesting thing is that this kind of direct comparison can be made pretty much all over the car industry, and things almost always come out in the hybrid's favor. For example: the diesel-powered Chevrolet Cruze gets 27 mpg city and 46 mpg highway, and it starts at $26,500 with shipping. Meanwhile, the lowly, highly despised, scum-of-the-earth Prius is cheaper and – here's another interesting fact I've learned – it almost doubles the Cruze Diesel's city fuel economy figure. The Prius even manages to eek out a few extra miles per gallon on the highway.
Now, I know what you're thinking here, and that is: YOU ASSHOLE!!! TO THE COMMENTS SECTION!!! WITH THE PITCHFORKS!!! Hopefully, some of you may also be thinking more logically, with thoughts such as, for example: YOU ASSHOLE!!! Maybe the diesel cars have more equipment?
And this is a reasonable question. So I've decided to do a little more fact-checking, and here's what I've turned up: the Passat TDI has 17-inch alloy wheels, a USB/iPod interface, heated mirrors, cruise control, keyless entry, and all that power-operated crap that modern cars always have. Meanwhile, the Fusion Hybrid has 17-inch alloy wheels, a USB/iPod interface, heated mirrors, cruise control, keyless entry, and – you guessed it – all that power-operated crap that modern cars always have.
Admittedly, the Fusion Hybrid also has dual-zone climate control. But what I've learned, after spending years around cars, trucks, SUVs – small and large; old and new; Fox body and W123 – is that I'm the only person on earth who cares about this.
Now, I admit that the Cruze Diesel has more equipment than the Prius. But I rebut this rather annoying truth with two more facts: number one, you don't have to spend very much to get a Prius equipped like a Cruze Diesel. And two: did I mention that the Prius gets DOUBLE the fuel economy? This is all that fuel efficiency-seekers should really care about, especially since the whole "features" discussion kind of hurts my argument here.
And for those of you out there still clinging to the diesel bandwagon, I have even more bad news: this argument even applies to your dear, beloved friend, the Jetta TDI. In today's world, an automatic Jetta TDI starts around $25,500 (and I use an automatic because, ladies and gentlemen, here's another Hard Truth: no one drives a stick anymore), while the Jetta Hybrid is around $2,500 more expensive. (Admittedly, there is a "Value Edition" Jetta TDI currently available with a slightly lower price, but there's also a special order-only, stripper-level Jetta Hybrid that evens things out.)
The Jetta TDI gets 30 mpg city and 42 mpg highway, while the Hybrid gets 42 mpg city and 48 mpg highway. In other words: the Jetta Hybrid returns 40 percent better mileage in the city and 15 percent better mileage on the highway, despite costing just 10 percent more money. It also has several highly important features I think we can all agree are worth the extra $2,500 by themselves, such as LED tail lights, and – stay with me now, because this is important – a premium hybrid grille.
So there you have it: a clear take on the highly important war between hybrids and diesels, using every single relevant, thoroughly researched fact I could find to benefit my point of view. Now, to the comments section. With the pitchforks.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.