It is beginning to dawn on even the most optimistic among us that the spike in gasoline and diesel prices initiated a decade ago is here to stay. Many people are seeking to trim budgets by making the switch to a hybrid car. One of these economical vehicles may be conducive to your lifestyle!

#1 – Toyota Prius Hybrid

It should come as no surprise that this hybrid trailblazer that has functioned as an ambassador of sorts for the entire hybrid classification tops the list. At an approximated 50 combined miles per gallon, the Prius is heralded as the best available option for people who deem fuel economy their top priority. The Prius is loaded with interior features, making it an excellent option at a reasonable price.

Beyond its sensational fuel efficiency, the Prius provides a spacious, comfortable ride, and plenty of trunk space. It is a versatile vehicle with sporty handling that will make the long hours between refueling fly by. The 2012 Prius hybrid will cost between $23,604 and $29,860.

#2 – Honda Civic Hybrid

The Civic is one of the most trusted monikers in the automotive industry. Envision the storied reliability, smooth drivability, and enviable affordability of the Civic. Then picture that same blessing getting 44 combined miles per gallon. That’s the Civic Hybrid.

The best part is that you can make this a reality without totally depleting your checking account. The Civic is a terrific option for drivers that not only want to save money over the long haul by whipping right past gas stations, but also want to start the savings by keeping their buying expenses low. The 2012 Civic Hybrid will cost between $23,990 and $26,595.

#3 – Ford Fusion Hybrid

The Fusion may be Ford’s lone entry on the list, but it is an impressive one. The model’s 2012 version has received rave reviews for its sensational driving performance, which makes you forget that you aren’t behind the wheel of a six cylinder cruiser.

Another element of the vehicle that sets it apart from most in the field is its interior features, including a high tech voice activated SYNC system. The Fusion gets about 39 combined miles per gallon, and provides a spacious ride. Combined with its fun interior features, the Fusion may be the best option out there for families. The 2012 Ford Fusion costs about $28,142.

#4 – Lexus CT 200H

The CT 200H is a bit underappreciated as a hybrid car, probably because it is made by a company more commonly associated with prestige rather than fuel economy. Even so, Lexus has done well with the CT 200H, combining a little of that trademark lavishness with a 42 combined miles per gallon tank. The CT 200H enjoys a remarkably sleek exterior and drives as smoothly as a gas-powered vehicle. The interior is the envy of other hybrids, and is both stylish and spacious.

The CT 200H is an interesting fusion of opulence of economy, making it an ideal ride for those who want a hybrid, but are unwilling to sacrifice aesthetics or luxury. The 2012 model of the Lexus CT 200H will go for between $29,120 and $31,250.

#5 – Toyota Camry Hybrid

Though the Camry is Toyota’s perennial bridesmaid to the Prius, it is a fantastic hybrid option in its own right. The upgrades to safety features, drivability, and interior space featured by the 2012 addition ought to help the model carve out its own niche in the hybrid market. The Camry is an excellent all purpose vehicle. It possesses a reasonably large cab, runs exceptionally well for a hybrid, and preserves Toyota’s reputation as one of the world’s leading automakers.

The Camry gets 41 combined miles per gallon, putting it right in the mix as one of the most fuel efficient hybrids going. The 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid goes for about $25,900.

#6 – Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

The Sonata is Hyundai’s prized hybrid, and their only one. The Sonata is a good buy when you consider the return on your investment. It gets 37 combined miles per gallon, and comes with a reasonable price tag attached. Though the Sonata’s fuel economy is not equal to some of its competitors, it will keep more money in your pocket over the long haul. Additionally, the Sonata is highly regarded for its smooth driving and laundry list of standard features.

The Sonata is an ideal choice if you are on a budget. Its cost undercuts that of most of its competitors, but will still help to keep money in your pocket at the pump. The average price paid for a 2012 Sonata Hybrid is $25,740 (U.S. News).

#7 – Chevrolet Volt

The Volt is a monument to innovation and ingenuity, and is one of the best hybrid options out there. In addition to its battery, the vehicle has a gas motor that springs into action once the electric charge has exhausted. This nifty feature pushes aside the anxiety inherent to owning most hybrid cars.

In addition to its unique design, the Volt is known to drive extremely smooth, be aesthetically pleasing, and rank as one of the safest hybrids on the market. The biggest downside to the Volt is that you get what you pay for. Since what you get is an impressively engineered piece of machinery, you have to shell out much more than you would for most other hybrids. The 2012 model of the Chevrolet Volt goes for approximately $39,275 (U.S. News).

#8 – Honda CR-Z Hybrid

Honda’s CR-Z is a sporty number that looks flashy, but doesn’t break the bank. Though the fuel economy is not the best among the hybrid class – it gets about 35 combined miles per gallon – the CR-Z has received terrific safety ratings and drives quite well.

For a two-seater, the cab is reasonably expansive, but is inherently limited by its capacity, which makes it an unrealistic option for families. But, if you don’t anticipate the need for more than one passenger, the CR-Z’s low cost will allow you to reallocate that cash you would have spent on backseats. The 2012 model of the Honda CR-Z Hybrid will run between $20,306 and $24,308.

#9 – Honda Insight

The Insight is Honda’s answer to Toyota’s Prius. This car is all about- affordability and fuel efficiency. The one area where the Insight arguably bests the Prius is the sporty exterior. The Insight is a sharp looking vehicle with sleek curves and a smooth shape.

Though the Insight does not match Toyota’s champion in terms of fuel economy, it is still a great option; the Insight gets about 42 combined miles per gallon. The 2012 model of the Honda Insight costs between $18,927 and $24,056.

#10 – Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

The MKZ is a terrific combination of luxury and efficiency. This sedan sports a 39 combined miles per gallon efficiency, and has a lengthy list of interior features. Couple these attributes with its sleek exterior and you have a sufficiently desirable hybrid.

As with the Lexus CT 200H, all the bells and whistles that come with the MKZ drive its price upwards, which quells a bit of the enthusiasm that it generates. Even so, the MKZ remains a quality vehicle for the price. A 2012 version of Lincoln MKZ Hybrid will cost around $34,700.

Each one of these hybrids has distinctive features conducive to different needs. If you plan to transport a troop of children and their friends to school every morning, the Honda CR-Z Hybrid is probably one you want to overlook in favor of the Ford Fusion. Likewise, if you are looking to save money up front, the Lexus CT 200H should round out the bottom of your list in favor of the Honda Civic Hybrid, or Insight. It all comes down to your needs and desires- happy hybrid hunting!Top 10 Hybrid Cars, 8.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings