This NYT article notes that the first wave of hybrids got crazy mileage, as high as 70mpg:
But the pendulum has swung. The 2005 Honda Accord hybrid gets about the same miles per gallon as the basic four-cylinder model, according to a review by Consumer Reports, a car-buyer’s guide, and it saves only about two miles a gallon compared with the V-6 model on which it is based. Thanks to the hybrid technology, though, it accelerates better. Hybrid technology, it seems, is being used in much the same way as earlier under-the-hood innovations that increased gasoline efficiency: to satisfy the American appetite for acceleration and bulk.
Here’s Jalopnik’s take:
When the Honda Accord Hybrid hit the streets, we were elated Ã¢â?¬â?? finally somebody had come up with a real-world application for hybrids that married performance and economy. Think of the hybrid Accord this way Ã¢â?¬â?? it has the fuel economy of a large-ish four and makes more grunt than some recent 8s, using the hybrid system as a power-adder. Now the Times, flagship paper of a city of people whose knowledge of cars often doesn’t go beyond the back seat of Crown Victorias or Town Cars, starts hemming and hawing over the fact that some people out there would actually want hybrid performance cars. In essence, they’re comparing kumquats to watermelons. Where they should be comparing the Accord Hybrid to vehicles like the Dodge Charger and Pontiac Grand Prix, they’re instead trying to force it into an Insight metric, which, to quote the mighty HÂ¸sker DÂ¸, makes no sense at all.