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10 best self-charging hybrids in 2024

Self-charging hybrids use a battery-powered electric motor, usually combined with a petrol engine. The battery can be topped up using the engine as well as regenerative braking, which captures and converts some of the energy normally lost when you slow down, rather than being plugged into the mains, hence the ‘self-charging’ name. Fuel economy is typically not as impressive as plug-in models, but they are more fuel efficient than a regular combustion-engined car, and the smaller batteries tend to mean they’re more affordable.

Electric cars might be the future, but it’s clear that they’re not for everyone, particularly if you can’t charge at home so can’t keep running costs low. As a result, hybrids – such as the self-charging hybrids we’re looking at here – are a great compromise, offering low-emissions driving with the security of being able to refuel anywhere.

Here, our expert reviews team has put together a list of the best self-charging hybrids on sale in 2024.

Renault Clio

1. Renault Clio

Renault Clio review
Honda Civic
Comfortable Cruiser Award
Highly Commended

2. Honda Civic

Honda Civic review
Dacia Jogger
Smart Spender Award

3. Dacia Jogger

Dacia Jogger review

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Toyota Corolla

4. Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla review
Nissan Qashqai e-POWER

5. Nissan Qashqai e-Power

Nissan Qashqai e-POWER review
Kia Sportage

6. Kia Sportage

Kia Sportage review
Lexus NX Hybrid

7. Lexus NX

Lexus NX Hybrid review
Toyota Yaris Hybrid

8. Toyota Yaris Hybrid

Toyota Yaris Hybrid review
Ford Kuga

9. Ford Kuga

Ford Kuga review
Battery range up to 35 miles
Renault Captur

10. Renault Captur

Renault Captur review
Battery range up to 28 miles

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Advice about self-charging hybrid cars

Self-charging hybrid FAQs

Self-charging hybrids have a traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) and an electric motor, with the motor driven by a small onboard battery. The engine recharges the battery and recovers energy that would otherwise be lost from the engine or while braking. All the different types of hybrid and electric engines do this, but the battery in a plug-in hybrid or fully electric model also needs to be topped up from mains electricity, in order to fully recharge larger battery packs. Self-charging hybrids, however, don’t need to be plugged in to the mains – but this means that they have a much shorter electric-only range than a plug-in hybrid - generally very short distances of up to a mile at best.

A self-charging hybrid car has a petrol engine and an electric motor, and drives like a conventional automatic car. The hybrid technology selects the best power source at all times, switching between petrol or electric modes, based on the driving situation. A self-charging hybrid system also charges the electric battery while you’re driving, when you stop or slow down, the regenerative braking system recovering even more energy.

Plenty of people object to the term self-charging hybrid, and many others complain that these cars don’t take a big enough step towards the goal of full electrification. Compared with plug-in hybrids they have no big on-paper electric-only driving range figures to point to.

However, they can still deliver dramatically impressive fuel economy without the need to be plugged into an electric car charger, which makes them a very fuss-free way to reduce your running costs. Especially as they cost less than plug-in hybrid tech at the equivalent level.

All hybrid systems will save you money on fuel costs, but how much you save is dependant on where and how you drive. In test conditions though, petrol hybrids and diesels are the best types of car for saving fuel – which means if you want a petrol car, a self-charging hybrid will generally be the most economical option.

Whether a self-charging or a plug-in hybrid is the better choice for you depends on your personal driving needs and preferences. For example, if most of your journeys are short and are mostly within urban areas, a self-charging hybrid may be good for your needs. However, if you drive longer distances or on motorways regularly, a plug-in hybrid may be more suitable for you.

Access to a home charger or a public charging network could mean that a plug-in hybrid may be more convenient and cost-effective for you. If it’s not convenient to charge a car, or don’t want the hassle of plugging a car in, a self-charging hybrid will be more practical for you.

Finally, if you’re concerned about your carbon emissions and saving money on fuel and tax, a plug-in hybrid is the better option.