Almost every manufacturer makes its own hybrid. They can come in all different makes from SUVs to compacts. Here are three benefits of hybrids to consider before you run out and buy your next car.

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Thought about buying a hybrid but have yet to take the plunge? Now may be the time to reconsider. With gas prices high, a hybrid could save you money.

A hybrid is any vehicle that uses both an internal-combustion engine and an electric motor.

Almost every manufacturer makes its own hybrid. They can come in all different makes from SUVs to compacts. Here are three benefits of hybrids to consider before you run out and buy your next car:

• Better mileage. It’s a simple fact that hybrids get better gas mileage than gas-powered cars. Take a look at the standard four-cylinder Toyota Camry.

According to the EPA, the Camry has a combined highway/city miles per gallon rating of 25. Compare this to the Toyota Camry Hybrid’s 33 mpg. The Toyota Prius can do even better with a highway/city rating of 48/45 mpg. Whatever the make, a hybrid can always one-up its traditional counterpart on fuel efficiency.

• Auto-insurance discounts. Some auto insurers have been offering discounts on insurance for hybrids. Farmers Insurance Group offers a 10 percent discount, so does Travelers Insurance. The discount does not apply to every state. You’ll want to check with the companies to find out if the discount applies to you.

• Tax breaks and benefits.To encourage consumers to buy hybrids, many states offer tax breaks and other assorted perks.

Beginning next year (Jan. 1, 2009), people buying hybrid vehicles in Washington that get at least 40 mpg on the highway will not have to pay sales tax on the purchase, said Mike Gowrylow, a spokesman for the state Department of Revenue. (That tax exemption expires after two years.)

Based on current tax rates, that would mean a savings of about $2,250 on a $25,000 car bought in the Seattle area, he said.

Of course, there are disadvantages to buying a hybrid, including a higher sticker price. Hybrids cost on average of $2,000-$3,000 more than a comparable traditional car.

Seattle Times desk editor Bill Kossen contributed to this report.