A heads up, this list is going to focus on plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and self-charging hybrid models. If you’re looking solely for PHEVs then check out our 10 Best Plug-in Hybrids on Sale Today.

How do Hybrid cars work?

Hybrid cars work by pairing a conventional combustion engine – fuelled by petrol or diesel – with an electric motor and battery. There are two main types of hybrids:

  • Self-charging hybrids (also known as full hybrids)
  • Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs)

Self-charging hybrids perform as the name suggests – the batteries self-charge using energy from the engine and energy regained from braking. Usually, this type of hybrid powertrain is used in small city cars. That’s because typically, they can only be driven short distances on electric power, which makes them ideal for city driving. Self-charging hybrids will often switch between the combustion engine and electric battery many times in a journey as well, helping to improve fuel efficiency.

Plug-in hybrids, on the other hand, have a larger battery to offer more range on electric power. However, this type of hybrid car has to be plugged in to be charged, using a wall box charger, a public charge point, or even a 3-pin socket. You can select between the electric motor, for all-electric miles, and the combustion engine. So, as long as you keep the battery fully charged, you can see some impressive mpg figures.

For those who are interested, there are two other types of hybrids as well. These are:

  • Mild hybrids – which function more like advanced stop/start engine systems to slightly improve economy, using a very small battery and electric motor that’s incapable of driving on electric power alone.
  • Range-extender hybrids – which are fully electric vehicles equipped with a fuel-based auxiliary unit to extend the range when needed. This type of hybrid has fallen out of favour with manufacturers, as battery technology has rapidly improved. The BMW i3 REx had this feature, although it has now been discontinued.

Are hybrid cars cheap to run?

Absolutely. Hybrid cars are known to improve fuel economy to provide a better return compared to pure petrol or diesel models – particularly for those who do lots of city driving. Plus, hybrids typically have cheaper vehicle excise duty (compared to petrol and diesels), which you can read all about in our Road Tax on Electric Cars and Hybrid Cars guide.

However, one point to remember. If you buy a plug-in hybrid, the fuel economy will depend how you drive. To get the best return for your money, you’ll want to be able to charge your PHEV hybrid at home or work, and you’ll want to use its all-electric miles as often as possible.

In addition, you should also take the time to consider the fact that hybrids typically cost more to buy initially, compared to petrol and diesel cars. Spend some time to work out the costs to make sure you’ll be making savings overall in the long run.

Best hybrid cars to buy today

So, what is the best hybrid car to buy today? Well, firstly, the best hybrid cars completely depend on your driving needs, expectations, and requirements. But whether you need a small self-charging hybrid for city commutes or an executive PHEV saloon for long motorway journeys, our top 10 best hybrid cars should have you covered.

  1. Hyundai Tucson
  2. BMW 330e
  3. Toyota Corolla
  4. Honda Jazz
  5. Toyota Prius
  6. Skoda Octavia iV
  7. Mercedes Benz E 300 de
  8. Renault Captur
  9. BMW X5 45e
  10. Kia Sorento

1. HYUNDAI TUCSON (PHEV)

With its distinctive looks, the Hyundai Tucson is a stylish SUV that is available as a plug-in hybrid, a self-charging hybrid, and as a mild hybrid as well. In terms of this top 10 best hybrids list, we recommend the self-charging model and the PHEV. The former uses a 227bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 1.49kWh battery to provide a return of around 50mpg, which is excellent for an SUV, particularly one as spacious and comfortable as the Tucson. Plug-in hybrid models, on the other hand, have a 13.8 kWh battery paired to a 1.6-litre GDi engine, providing a 0-62mph in 8.6 seconds and a top speed of 118mph. It also offers up to 38 miles in range on electric power alone, which is perfect for city driving.

Pros: 558-litre boot, extending to 1,737 litres with the rear seats down, and a spacious and comfortable cabin.

Cons: Bland interior and not particularly quick.

  • New price from £39,330
  • Used prices from £20,000
  • Economy: 201mpg
  • CO2: 31g/km
  • Range: up to 38 miles
Best Features
  • Stylish looks
  • Spacious and comfortable
  • Nice driving dynamics

2. BMW 330e

The BMW 330e is the plug-in hybrid version of the 3 Series, and as fans of that car, we’re pleased to say that the 330e is every bit as impressive. It’s great fun to drive, it’s well built, and it has a stylish exterior and a high-quality cabin. The practical saloon further boasts lots of top tech and excellent performance, with a 2.0-litre petrol engine and an electric motor powered by a 12kWh battery. It has an all-electric range up to around 36 miles and it can reach 0-62mph in just 5.8 seconds, with a top speed of 143mph. It’s a fantastic all-rounder of a car.

Pros: handles really well, has a class-leading infotainment system, and a good amount of interior space (seating 4 adults comfortably).

Cons: smaller boot (at 375-litres for the saloon) compared to petrol models, and a firm ride.

  • New price from £42,880
  • Used prices from £12,000
  • Economy: 166-201mpg
  • CO2: 31-38g/km
  • Range: up to 36 miles
Best Features
  • Fun to drive
  • Well built
  • Stylish exterior & cabin

3. TOYOTA COROLLA

The Toyota Corolla is now offered with self-charging petrol-electric hybrid technology, with the choice of an efficient 1.8-litre engine, or a more performance-based 2.0-litre engine, which has 177bhp and a 0-62mph of just 7.9 seconds. Overall, it has a suitably plush and comfortable cabin, it offers good levels of practicality, and it’s fun to drive too (especially with the extra punch from the 2.0-litre engine). Most importantly though, it offers fantastic economy and a flexible range of body styles to choose from, including hatchback, saloon, and Touring Sports estate models. The estate and hatchback models are also built in Britain for those wanting to support the British automotive industry.

Pros: Plenty of front interior space and a comfortable ride experience.

Cons: PHEV models have a smaller 313-litre boot, compared to the usual 361 litres, and rear space is cramped (although it will seat 4 adults).

  • New price from £24,855
  • Used prices from £15,300
  • Economy: 50-63mpg
  • CO2: 76-89g/km
  • Range: N/A
Best Features
  • Fun to drive
  • Good practicality
  • Plush cabin

4. HONDA JAZZ

The latest Honda Jazz is now only available as a self-charging hybrid, pairing a 1.5-litre petrol engine with two electric motors and a single-speed gearbox. It continues the appeal of previous models, offering a spacious and practical cabin that’s amongst the best in class for a small car. It’s also known for being reliable and good value for money, proving well-suited to city driving. The hybrid model naturally brings much better fuel efficiency (with an official return of 62.8mpg) and lower CO2 emissions. There’s also the Honda Jazz Crosstar to consider, which is a hybrid SUV model of the Jazz hatchback.

Pros: strong build quality and reliability, as well as a 304-litre boot putting it above some rivals.

Cons: firm ride and bland in the looks and interior quality departments.

  • New price from £19,910
  • Used prices from £19,000
  • Economy: 62.8mpg
  • CO2: 79-141g/km
  • Range: N/A
Best Features
  • Spacious and practical
  • Reliable
  • Good value for money

5. TOYOTA PRIUS (PHEV)

In many ways, the Toyota Prius is the car that helped kickstart the shift from combustion engines to hybrid powertrains, and it did so all the way back in 1997 when it was first on sale. Ahead of the curve, it’s recognised as the first volume-produced hybrid car. It’s now in its fourth generation and it continues to impress. The Prius is available as a self-charging hybrid and as a PHEV that can reach up to 34 miles on electric power. Whichever model you choose, you’ll find the Prius is comfortable and practical. It’s good to drive, with precise handling, and it has a solid reputation for reliability. It also comes with lots of standard equipment too, including adaptive cruise control, auto high-beam, and a rear-view camera.

Pros: comfortable cabin and very reliable.

Cons: Only 191 litres of boot space in the PHEV, and there are rivals that are more engaging to drive.

  • New price from £24,880
  • Used prices from £900
  • Economy: 188-217mpg
  • CO2: 29g/km
  • Range: up to 34 miles
Best Features
  • Good to drive
  • Reliable
  • Well equipped

6. SKODA OCTAVIA IV (PHEV)

The Skoda Octavia iV pairs a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine with a 13kWh battery to offer all-electric range up to 43 miles. It’ll accelerate 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 136mph, which are respectable figures. However, the real strength of the Skoda Octavia is in its superb practicality. It has a large boot, lots of interior space, and a well-finished cabin with high levels of comfort. The Skoda Octavia iV is available in estate and saloon body styles, and there’s also a self-charging hybrid as well. Personally, we prefer the PHEV model for the improved economy and lower CO2, but the self-charging hybrid still offers a good return with a claimed figure of 51.9mpg.

Pros: Comfortable and practical interior, with a 450-litre boot.

Cons: Dull styling, and prioritises comfort over the driving experience.

  • New price from £ 33,175
  • Used prices from £29,750
  • Economy: 282mpg
  • CO2: 22-33g/km
  • Range: up to 43 miles
Best Features
  • Very practical
  • Spacious interior
  • Comfortable cabin

7. MERCEDES BENZ E 300 de

The plug-in hybrid model of the distinguished Mercedes E-Class executive saloon is available with a petrol or diesel engine, coupled with an electric motor. If you’re driving is more focused on smaller, city trips, then we’d recommend the petrol hybrid model. Whereas for longer journeys, the E300 de diesel hybrid is a more sensible option as it provides better mpg. This model will do up to 34 miles on electric power alone, and is also available as an estate. As you’d want from the E-Class, it’s very comfortable for long-distance journeys, and it has an impressive amount of space and a high-end cabin finished with top-quality materials. It has excellent performance too, reaching 0-62mph in only 5.9 seconds.

Pros: spacious and comfortable, with a luxurious interior.

Cons: a 400-litre boot, reduced by 150 litres compared to the E-Class, and not quite as engaging as rivals.

  • New price from £46,230
  • Used prices from £9,000
  • Economy: 141-188mpg
  • CO2: 41-46g/km
  • Range: up to 34 miles
Best Features
  • High-end cabin
  • Spacious and comfortable
  • Premium appeal

8. RENAULT CAPTUR E-Tech (Plug-in Hybrid)

Only available in the top trims of the S Edition and R.S. Line models, the Renault Captur E-Tech plug-in hybrid uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine, with 158bhp, and a 9.8kWh battery and automatic gearbox. It can reach up to 30 miles on electric power alone and can be recharged from a dedicated home wallbox in just 3 hours. Plus, it comes with lots of standard equipment, including a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, and a DAB radio. Alternatively, the Renault Captur is also available as a self-charging hybrid. Both the PHEV and self-charging hybrids come with an 8-year/100,000 miles warranty for the battery as well. And whether you buy a new or used Captur hybrid, you’ll find it’s a stylish looking crossover, with lots of interior space and excellent practicality.

Pros: a spacious and practical family car that is easy to drive.

Cons: Only a 265-litre boot, although it extends to a 1,275 litres with the rear seats folded, and the gearbox is disappointing and imprecise.

  • New price from £31,195
  • Used prices from £22,500
  • Economy: up to 217mpg
  • CO2: 30g/km
  • Range: up to 30 miles
Best Features
  • Stylish looks
  • Spacious cabin
  • Practical

9. BMW X5 45e

The BMW X5 xDrive 45e is a premium PHEV family SUV that has a larger 24kWh battery compared to most rivals, which allows it to reach up to 60 miles just on electric power alone. Add to that a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine, offering 389bhp and 600Nm of torque, and you have an SUV that has great performance power. It’ll do 0-62mph in just 5.6 seconds and hit a top speed of 146mph. Unfortunately, plug-in hybrid models are not available with 7 seats, but that’s the only downside. The X5 45e is every bit as spacious and luxurious as its combustible counterparts, and it has that improved economy thanks to that fantastic all-electric range.

Pros: 500-litre boot (although that’s 145 litres less than the combustion engine BMW X5), and excellent interior quality and space for 5 adults.

Cons: Expensive optional extras and high-starting price.

  • New price from £71,310
  • Used prices from £60,000
  • Economy: 201-235mpg
  • CO2: 27-32g/km
  • Range: up to 60 miles
Best Features
  • Excellent electric range
  • Great performance
  • Spacious and luxurious

10. KIA SORENTO (PHEV)

Available as a self-charging hybrid and as a PHEV, the Kia Sorento is an upmarket SUV that can comfortably carry up to 7 people. Focusing on the plug-in hybrid Sorento, this model pairs a 13.8kWh battery with a 261bhp, 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine. It can reach up to 35 miles on battery power alone, and hit 0-60mph in 8.4 seconds, which is great performance for an SUV of this size. It also has a top speed of 119mph and only takes around 3 hours from a 3kW home wallbox to recharge the car. It offers a refined driving experience, excellent practicality, and good equipment as standard, including an 8-inch infotainment system and heated seats. Plus, it has all-wheel drive, a neat Head Up Display (HUD), and lots of safety tech and driver assists.

Pros: comfortable and big on space (available with 7 seats), and has a practical 604-litre boot.

Cons: no 2-wheel drive option and high-starting price for its sector.

  • New price from £45,945
  • Used prices from £39,000
  • Economy: up to 176mpg
  • CO2: 38g/km
  • Range: up to 35 miles
Best Features
  • 7-seater hybrid SUV
  • Refined driving experience
  • Excellent practicality

So, there we have it, our 10 best hybrids of 2021 and 2022. These top hybrid cars offer lower CO2 emissions and fuel consumption compared to their purely petrol and diesel counterparts, providing a fantastic in-between option for those not yet ready to make the shift to a full-electric vehicle. And as you can see from the list, there’s a fantastic range of hybrids to choose from, including self-charging and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), and a whole selection of body types, from SUVs, to city cars, and luxury saloons.

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