Hybrid cars

Hybrids may sound complicated but they are super easy to live with. Benefits include low CO2 emissions, good fuel economy and you don't have the range anxiety you may feel with an electric car. What's not to like?

There are different types of hybrids: from full hybrids, to mild hybrids, to plug-in hybrids. You can find out what that means in the Hybrid FAQ section at the bottom of this page. Remember, a hybrid is not a pure EV (electric vehicle) - they have a diesel or petrol engine and an electric motor.

Toyota is perhaps most well known for their self-charging hybrids but more car makers than ever are making these kinds of cars, so here, our experts have pulled together the best hybrids for sale.

Just because you want a hybrid car doesn’t mean you’re willing to accept compromise – all these cars aren’t just great hybrids, they’re great cars in their own right.

  • Toyota Corolla
  • Toyota Prius
  • Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
  • BMW i8
  • Volvo XC90

1
Toyota

If you’re looking for an efficient car with low running costs the Corolla is the car to beat. You actually have a choice between two hybrid petrol engines, the car is enjoyable to drive and comes with a plush interior and a long warranty.

2
Volkswagen

The VW Passat GTE has a spacious and interior and a car than can manage 34 miles on electric power alone.

3
BMW

Choose the plug-in hybrid version of the BMW 3 Series – the 330e – and you get a stylish saloon car that can manage on average 150mpg. It has a smart infotainment system and a decent kit too.

4
Toyota

The Toyota RAV4 hybrid is comfortable, has a practical interior and is well-equipped too. The icing on the cake? You can expect around 50mpg, which is not bad for an SUV with a 2.5-litre petrol engine.

5
Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Golf GTE is a hybrid version of legendary Golf hatchback. It’s perky and frugal, has the same build quality as the standard car - just misses out on a bit of boot space because of its batteries.

6
Volvo

The plug-in hybrid version of the Volvo XC90 - called the T8 - can go on electricity only for nearly 20 miles, has an official mpg over 100 but amazingly can crack 0-60mph in under six seconds. All wrapped up in a well-equipped, sumptuous, practical and stylish SUV package.

7
Mercedes

Go got for the plug-in hybrid version of the C-Class and you get a really comfortable cruiser, with a lovely interior that won't cost the earth to run.

8
Toyota

The hybrid icon, the latest version of the Toyota Prius goes from quirky eco car to smart family car – that just also happens to have low emissions and high mpg. It’s also spacious and comes with a decent-sized boot, proving you don’t have to compromise.

9
Toyota

Want a small car? Want a hybrid? Then you should take a look at the Toyota Yaris Hybrid. It comes with Toyota's famous reliability and its decades worth of experience making hybrids.

10
BMW
i8

Yep. This stunning-looking sports car is indeed a hybrid. It's not a car for shrinking violets – just take a look at how those doors open up. But you can drive up to 30 miles on electric power alone and then when the feeling takes you, knock off 0-60 time in under five seconds.

Choosing the best plug-in hybrid car for you doesn’t need to be difficult – all these plug-in hybrids are cheap to run and fulfil a variety of needs.

1
Toyota

The Toyota Prius Plug-in can travel 30 miles on electric power alone slashing your costs if you have a short commute. The Prius’ angular exterior is matched by a high-tech interior that has space for four adults and their luggage.

2
Volvo

Choosing a plug-in hybrid doesn’t mean you miss out on style, practicality – or speed. The Volvo XC90 T8 has amazing acceleration for its size, yet oozes cool Swedish style and 100+mpg to boot.

3
Hyundai

The Hyundai Ioniq is the cheapest plug-in hybrid you can buy and along with the low list price, you get incredibly low running costs too – with official economy figures over 250mpg. The car is well-equipped, too.

4
BMW

The BMW 530e has a smart cabin, slick infotainment system and, on short trips, the car is powered completely by electric, while over 30 miles you can get over 100mpg according to official figures

5
Mitsubishi

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV combines cheap running costs with a practical SUV body. It can run for miles on electricity alone, plus it has space for four tall adults and their luggage for two weeks away.

Our resident experts have pulled together the best small hybrid cars on sale so you can have a small car with small running costs.

1
Toyota

With the potential to get up to 62.7mpg, the Toyota Corolla is economical, enjoyable to drive and has a comfortable interior. Toyota has made all the materials high-quality and the boot is big and practical enough for real-world items like shopping bags or small suitcases.

2
Toyota

The Toyota Yaris Hybrid is relatively cheap to buy, frugal to run and can run for a few miles in silent electric mode. Its small size makes it easy to drive, but the Toyota can just about carry four adults and a couple of suitcases.

3
Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Golf GTE is ideal if you’re looking for a quick car that’s also cheap to run. It is almost as fun to drive as the Golf GTI hot hatch but your fuel bills won’t be anywhere near as high. Like any Golf, its interior is well built and practical.

4
Kia

The Kia Niro is a compact SUV that no one would guess is a hybrid. It has a spacious interior for its size and is easy to drive, particularly because you get a great view out. It also comes with a long seven-year warranty.

5
Hyundai

The Hyundai Ioniq hybrid car gets decent fuel economy, comes with lots of kit as standard and is a bit cheaper than a Prius or Niro.

Want great fuel economy and a big boot? Don’t want diesel? We’ve got the best hybrid estate cars on sale today.

The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports shares the same striking looks with the Corolla hatchback, which automatically makes it one of the most stylish estate cars around. There are two hybrid versions to choose from, and you don't need to plug the Corolla in.

2
Volvo
V60

The Volvo V60 looks cool, is very comfortable and has a roomy boot. And with the T8 you also get an estate car that can travel short distances on electricity only, and for longer distances when you use petrol and electric hybrid powertrain together you can manage well over 100mpg.

3
Volvo
V90

Spacious, Stylish, super-comfortable and oozing Scandinavian design the Volvo V90 ticks all the feel-good boxes. But with the T8 hybrid version you get electric power for short distances and three-figure economy figures when you use petrol and electric power together.

4
Porsche

The Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo seems to be the car that can do everything. Sporty to drive? Tick. Fantastic interior? Tick. Carry four adults? Decent boot? Tick. 70mpg. Wait what? Yep. Tick.

If you’re keen to drive a hybrid, but a decent proportion of your driving is hacking up and down motorways, then these cars could be ideal for you.

1
Mercedes

The Mercedes C300de pairs a four-cylinder diesel with a 120bhp electric motor that makes for a posh saloon car that's capable of around 90mpg.

Audi’s Q7 is available with a range of powerful six-cylinder diesel engines, or you combine the most economical of those with an electric motor and batteries in this e-tron model. You can charge it up via a charging point or three-pin socket and it’ll cruise on electricity alone for up to 34 miles.

3
Hyundai

Hyundai owns Kia, so it’s no surprise that its Tucson SUV shares many components with the Sportage. As such, the Tucson also gets the same 2.0-litre diesel engine aided by a Mild Hybrid Starter Generator, 48v electrical system and a small battery.

4

All Audi A7 diesels now include mild hybrid technology. It has a clever set-up that helps the A7 shut off its engine between 34 and 99mph to coast and save fuel and then intelligently fire the engine again when needed.

5
Kia

The Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDi 48v has what’s called a Mild Hybrid Starter Generator or MHSG that works together with a 48V electrical system and small battery to help out the diesel engine. So when accelerating the MHSG will provide some extra shove to take the strain off the diesel engine, while when braking it’ll switch to store energy back to the battery ready for the next burst.

Love BMW but don't love diesel? Well, there are a range of BMW hybrid cars that offer the premium quality you'd expect from the brand, but with low running costs and emissions. These are the five best BMW hybrids.

1
BMW

The BMW 330e has an all-electric range of 41 miles. And when you combine its electric power with its petrol power, you've got a posh saloon that can go from 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds.

2
BMW

The BMW 530e is a plug-in hybrid that's capable of over 30 miles on electric power alone - and official figures of over 140mpg. It's stacked with high-tech features and feels sporty to drive, too.

3
BMW
X3

Who says you can't get an SUV that's economical to run. The X3 xDrive30e is a comfortable and roomy plug-in hybrid SUV that has an electric-only range of over 30 miles.

4
BMW

Diesel was the default if you wanted a roomy luxurious saloon, but not now - take a look at the BMW 745e. Another BMW plug-in hybrid with, you've guessed it, more than 30-miles electric only range. Perfect for being chauffeured around but in silent luxury.

5
BMW
i8

The i8 is a beautiful performance car whose vital stats include 0-60 in 4.4 seconds and 155mph top speed. But thanks to its plug-in hybrid set-up you get a sports car that's officially capable of more than 120mpg and an electric-only range of more than 30 miles.

FAQs

Simply, it's a car that has more than one source of power. It combines a conventional diesel or petrol engine with an electric motor to power the car.

The benefits of a hybrid include high fuel economy and low CO2 emissions compared with standard petrol and diesel engines - if used in the right way. Some can run on electric power alone for short distances, improving economy and emissions even further.

They tend to be cheaper to tax than conventionally powered cars and some are eligible for 100% discounts on London’s Congestion Charge.

Most hybrid cars are petrol-electric hybrids but there are also diesel-electric hybrids, although they are less common.

The Prius is perhaps the most well-known hybrid, launching more than 20 years ago, but these days many car companies make hybrid cars.

Exactly how the two power sources work together depends on the individual car manufacturer. While they all have different ways of blending the two, the basic idea remains the same – when conditions allow, electric motors will replace or work with the engine to provide drive the car. The reduced load on the engine means it uses much less fuel.

Hybrid cars have packs of batteries that power the electric motor. These batteries are recharged by the combustion engine as you drive along. Braking also helps recharge the batteries as you drive.

On 11 October 2018, the Government announced changes to the Plug In Car Grant scheme. From 9 November 2018 the grant for Category 2 and 3 cars is being scrapped completely.

Is a hybrid vehicle the right choice for you? If you’d like to cut the costs of running a car then this could be a good option. They can cover longer distances than electric-only cars, and if you mostly drive around town you'll get impressive fuel economy. If you can drive in electric-only mode (ie at low speeds and without putting your foot down much) they're serene and relaxing to travel in because there's no engine noise.

To find out if a hybrid car is for you, use the carwow Fuel Chooser.

If you've done any research you will have seen huge mpg figures for some hybrid vehicles – for example, the Volvo XC90 T8 SUV can achieve a claimed 134.5mpg. These figures are obtained under laboratory testing and you won't get anywhere near this fuel economy in real-world driving.

Still, if you stick to town driving and keep the batteries charged then a hybrid will usually be more economical than a regular petrol or diesel car – we got 80mpg from a Toyota Prius in a mix of town and rural driving.

If you mostly do motorway driving, however, a hybrid might not be as economical as a diesel car because you'll be using the combustion engine most of the time.

Another downside is that many hybrids use CVT automatic gearboxes, which can make a lot of noise when you put your foot down and blunt the feeling of acceleration.

The disadvantages of a hybrid car are - well, a hybrid car is not a pure electric car so you don't get completely emissions-free driving. You can drive on electric only for a limited amount of time, but for the most part, the electric motor is working in conjunction with the internal combustion engine to help lower emissions and improve MPG. But you are still burning fuel, albeit less than in a normal car.

Another disadvantage, for some people, is how it feels when you drive one. Hybrid cars recover kinetic energy when you brake, but in some hybrid cars, this can feel as though it’s slowing down a lot quicker than you expect, and it can take a little while to get used to. Also, brake pedal feel isn’t great.

Some people also don’t like the feeling you get when you press the accelerator hard in a hybrid car. Acceleration is not quite as instant as in a conventionally powered car (or even an electric car) and the engine can get noisy as you get up to speed.

A particular disadvantage for a plug-in hybrid car - sometimes called a PHEV - is that... well, you have to plug them in. These cars have almost unbelievably high average fuel economy figures but to achieve these figures you need to make sure the batteries are charged so the electric motor can help the engine out. You can drive them on petrol or diesel alone, but you won't get anywhere near the published fuel economy figures if you do so regularly.

Traditional

A traditional (or sometimes called full hybrid) is a system where to two power sources - the engines and the electric motor - which can work together to drive the vehicle or can each be used in isolation.

Mild

This system differs from the traditional hybrid because the electric motor can only be used to help assist the combustion engine, not power the car on its own.

Plug-in

Plug-in hybrids - also called PHEVs - have a much larger electric-only range than traditional hybrids. As the name suggests, you do have to plug them in to recharge the batteries, much as you would charge an (EV) electric vehicle, but with a full tank of fuel, plug-in hybrids can go much further than any electric car.

Range-extenders

These are predominantly electric cars that have a small petrol engine that recharges the batteries. The engine doesn't power the car.