As more and more cars get the hybrid treatment, these are the top 10 best hybrid cars to buy now…
Electrified cars are becoming an increasingly common sight on our roads thanks to political and environmental pressures. Hybrids in mild, standard and plug-in form are increasingly well-regarded by many drivers as a ‘best of both worlds’ approach to eco-friendly motoring. As this technology is rolled out across more and more models, the choice is broader than ever, with the best hybrid cars ranging from superminis to family SUVs.
It’s not hard to see the appeal. Conventional hybrid technology is able to improve the fuel efficiency of a variety of cars, meaning there are real financial savings to be made. Hybrids also make a lot of sense for lower-mileage or urban-based private buyers, as well as for fleet users looking to decrease company car tax bills. Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) need to be regularly plugged in to deliver their best but they can offer real electric-only range of 30 miles or more.
- Top 10 best plug-in hybrids to buy 2022 / 2023
Mild-hybrid vehicles will appeal to those not wanting to worry about charging up as they incorporate a small electric motor that is used solely to assist the engine and not work independently from it. Mild-hybrids are usually the cheapest way into hybrid ownership but there’s no pure-electric driving.
With manufacturers achieving an ever-improving balance between performance and efficiency, hybrids of all types are playing a key role in bridging the gap between internal-combustion and all-electric cars.
1. Toyota Yaris
- Price: £21,460
- Economy: 68.8mpg
- CO2: 92g/km
The latest Toyota Yaris is one of the more sensible superminis on the market, and its blend of talents is hard to fault. The sole engine available in the standard car is a 114bhp 1.5-litre petrol with Toyota’s tried-and-tested ‘self-charging’ petrol-electric hybrid technology. This setup is probably more at home around town, but will hold its own on the motorway, too. It’s a sensible all-rounder – just like the car itself.
Not only is the Yaris stylish on the outside, but equipment is pretty generous too, with even the base model featuring 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights and wipers, adaptive cruise control, air conditioning, a reversing camera and a multi-function leather-trimmed steering wheel as standard.
2. Honda Civic
- Price: £29,595
- Economy: 60.1mpg
- CO2: 108g/km
The latest Honda Civic is discrete and unassuming compared to its garish predecessor, but it hides a compelling, well-engineered feel beneath the skin. For the 11th generation of the its Volkswagen Golf rival, Honda has confined the Civic to a single engine option, and the 2.0-litre four-cylinder hybrid setup is somewhat unconventional.
The petrol engine is used as a generator to power a battery which in turn drives an electric motor, but it can also power the wheels directly at higher speeds. The result is a quiet, relaxed power delivery that rarely puts the combustion engine under stress, while offering decent performance and a claimed 60.1mpg. With its spacious, high-quality cabin and crisp dynamics, the Civic has never been stronger.
3. Kia Niro
- Price: £28,295
- Economy: 64.2mpg
- CO2: 100g/km
Available in hybrid, PHEV and pure-electric form, the Kia Niro's superb tech, cabin space and mature dynamics shine through whichever version you choose. The hybrid is based around a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine derived from the original Niro, but the second-generation model feels fresh in every other regard.
Kia's compact SUV rides on the company's K3 platform, and while the hybrid isn't the most effortless performer, it offers strong efficiency and the Niro is mostly relaxing to drive. It’s compliant on all but the roughest surfaces, and thanks to its boxy shape, there’s plenty of room for passengers to lounge around. The Niro’s snappy, feature-rich infotainment setup – derived from the EV6 – is among the best in class, too.
4. Hyundai Tucson
- Price: £33,370
- Economy: 49.6mpg
- CO2: 127g/km
Its bold styling won’t be to all tastes, but there’s no denying the Hyundai Tucson’s deep-seated quality as a family SUV. In fact, it’s so good that we named it our 2022 Mid-size SUV of the Year. The hybrid model utilises a 1.6-litre electrically-assisted powertrain with 230bhp, and its efficiency figures are respectable for what is a roomy, tech-packed machine.
Like the Kia Sportage, which shares its underpinnings with the Hyundai, the Tucson drives with finesse without veering towards sportiness, and its relaxed gait makes it a pleasant companion for long trips. Inside, liberal use of fingerprint-prone gloss black trim detracts from what is otherwise a well built, attractive cabin, offering a generous level of standard kit.
5. Kia Sportage
- Price: £34,750
- Economy: 49.6mpg
- CO2: 129g/km
The fourth and fifth placed models in this list are almost interchangeable, so closely matched are the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson. The Hyundai is a touch more affordable and slightly more cushioned over bumps, but for some, the Kia’s radical design and even more advanced interior will be worth the extra outlay.
The Sportage isn’t particularly engaging thanks to its compliant suspension setup and light steering, but rear seat passengers will appreciate its impressive cabin space, while those in the front are greeted with a pair of impressive 12.3-inch infotainment displays. These provide access to the Kia’s class-leading tech suite, which includes sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.
6. Renault Clio
- Price: £21,695
- Economy: 64.2mpg
- CO2: 99g/km
On the outside, the latest Renault Clio is very much an evolution of its predecessor, but big changes under the skin have brought it right to the sharp end of the supermini market. Unlike rivals such as the Skoda Fabia and Hyundai i20, the Clio offers a full hybrid powertrain that combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor to generate 143bhp.
The hybrid achieves over 60mpg and sprints from 0-62mph in under ten seconds, and the rest of the package is a marked improvement over the old car. The Clio is relatively engaging through twisting roads, and the well-judged suspension offers a decent blend of precision and comfort. Cabin quality is particularly strong too, and the five door-only bodystyle provides enough rear legroom for adults and a large 391-litre boot.
7. Toyota RAV4
- Price: £36,060
- Economy: 50.4mpg
- CO2: 126g/km
What was once a plucky, rugged 4×4 has morphed into an advanced, frugal SUV in its latest generation. Given the rise of SUVs in recent times, it comes as no surprise that the Toyota RAV4 has become a desirable, hybrid-powered model that moves the game on from its forebears. In fact, it’s exclusively available in electrified form, with the ‘self-charging’ hybrid variant using a 2.5-litre petrol engine in tandem with an electric motor.
The RAV4 is surprisingly crisp to drive for a tall, relatively heavy vehicle, but while the hybrid setup can return over 50mpg, it delivers its performance in a noisy fashion thanks to its CVT gearbox. Still, the RAV4 is a practical machine despite its onboard electrical gubbins, and fit and finish is robust. The dated infotainment system lets it down slightly, though.
8. Lexus NX
- Price: £42,760
- Economy: 47.8mpg
- CO2: 129g/km
Outgunning BMW in the premium SUV sector is no mean feat, but Lexus has done exactly that with the latest NX. The firm has always drawnin customers with exceptional comfort, build quality and an impeccable dealer network, and the NX embodies these qualities in an X3-beating package.
The NX 350h wraps the latest Toyota RAV4's powertrain tech in a more opulent, refined SUV, and while it's objectively the superior car, the more affordable Toyota is better value. Nevertheless, buyers will appreciate the NX's hushed road manners and suave interior, which features the slickest tech suite we've used in a Lexus. With the optional 14-inch touchscreen setup, you certainly won't be wanting for more pixels.
9. Toyota Corolla
- Price: £29,610
- Economy: 62.7mpg
- CO2: 102g/km
Much like its Yaris and RAV4 relatives that also appear on this list, the Corolla is yet another model that is now powered by Toyota’s tried-and-tested ‘self-charging’ petrol-electric hybrid technology.
The British-built hatch is offered in 1.8 and 2.0-litre models, both of which automatically shuffle between their two power sources and use the car’s petrol engine to charge the battery. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) takes the place of a traditional automatic gearbox, and this helps to make the most of the drivetrain’s power.
Those craving a little more punch can pick the top 2.0-litre hybrid model. With 177bhp on tap, 0-62mph takes just 7.9 seconds; fuel economy and emissions take a slight hit, but this model still offers a great balance of performance and low running costs.
10. Kia Sorento
- Price: £50,995
- Economy: 40.9mpg
- CO2: 158g/km
As the only seven seater among our ten favourite hybrid cars, the Kia Sorento is easily the most versatile of the bunch. It’s also the most expensive, but the Sorento backs up its high asking price with decent equipment levels and rounded dynamics. The hybrid version is built around a 1.6-litre petrol engine, which is relatively refined unless pushed hard, and does a decent job shifting the Sorento’s mass. It’s no sports car, of course, but Kia’s seven-seater feels composed in the bends while isolating its occupants from most lumps and bumps.
Higher-spec cars get a 10.25-inch touchscreen inside, while heated seats, a heated steering wheel and smart cruise control are standard across the range. Despite some low-rent plastics dotted around the cabin, the Sorento’s interior is pleasant enough, with plenty of storage cubbies and enough space for five adults and two children in the third row.
How to choose the best hybrid car to buy
Choosing a hybrid car of any kind rather than a conventionally powered alternative needn’t be the big step that many might fear.
As with any new vehicle purchase it’s sensible to assess your annual mileage, and to consider what you’ll use your car for. If you’re a lower-mileage driver, the running costs of a conventional petrol hybrid could make it a sound alternative to a petrol or diesel car, but if you plan to rack up motorway miles, a regular diesel or even a diesel hybrid may make more financial sense.
The choice is easier for company car users, however; the lower CO2 emissions of hybrids mean they qualify for much more palatable Benefit-in-Kind rates than most non-electrified models.
- Top 10 best hybrid SUVs to buy 2022
Plug-in hybrids tend to be more expensive than self-charging models but you could well recoup the extra if you regularly travel shorter distances purely on electric power, thanks to their bigger batteries. If your budget allows, a PHEV makes a lot of sense as a zero-emissions, zero-fuel commuter, all the while offering the option for covering longer distances with acceptable fuel economy once the engine has kicked in.
Current industry trends mean that SUV buyers are spoilt for choice, but those after other forms of hybrid transport have a little less to choose from. Our list covers most bases but you won’t find many PHEV city cars or sports cars, for example.
As hybridisation spreads through more car makers’ ranges, it’s likely that choice will expand exponentially. But for now, if you’re buying your next family car and want to take a step towards a lower carbon footprint, or just lower running costs, there’s a lot to get excited about.
Now read our list of the best small hybrid cars to buy…
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