10 most reliable hybrid cars

July 19, 2022
July 19, 2022

10 most reliable hybrid cars

by Evaldas Zabitis

Car manufacturers have been making and perfecting hybrid cars for a couple of decades. This is an excellent choice for many drivers – it’s much more economical than a regular car and at the same time, more dependable than an electric car.

With that said, not all hybrids are built equal, and some are much more reliable than others. The average American spends about $3,000 on gas every year, but if you buy a bad hybrid car, you can easily throw away another $3,000 on a battery pack replacement or major engine repairs. 

So, we took a look at the data on the various hybrids seen on the market to make this list of the 10 most reliable hybrid models to buy. With these choices, you’re much more likely to make a great investment!

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How we made this list

Car reviewers, repair shops, and car experts use various ways to evaluate reliability, so we created this list by analyzing data from What Car? reliability surveys, J.D. Power predicted reliability scores, Consumer Reports, RepairPal, as well as our own aggregate data from carVertical vehicle history reports. This helped us choose reliable cars praised by customers and repair shops from all over the world.

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10 most reliable hybrid cars

10. BMW 3 Series

Metallic blue BMW 3 series in a showroom
Source: Rutger van der Maar / Flickr

Being the only German car on this list, the 3 Series is a dependable choice. According to What Car? reliability surveys, only 8% of BMW 3 Series (G20) owners experienced issues. Most of these were related to air conditioning or engine problems. BMW has been showing great reliability scores recently, especially compared to older models.

However, BMW drivers often enjoy the sporty driving experience and powerful engines a bit too much, resulting in car accidents. Our data reveals that 49.7% of the BMW 3 Series cars on the market have damage records, meaning that almost half of the cars had been in an accident.

Overall, the 7th generation 3 Series is as good as you’d expect: it has refined powertrains, well-balanced handling, and a luxurious feel inside the cabin. It’s the first-ever hybrid 3 Series, available with a 201 hp 2.0-liter turbocharged engine paired with a 107 hp or 67 hp electric motor.

9. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Red Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV in a showroom
Source: Rutger van der Maar / Flickr

A hybrid version of the Mitsubishi Outlander was released in 2014 and it’s considered one of the most reliable hybrid SUVs on the market. Early models were prone to various electronic and mechanical niggles, such as an overheating ECU relay, faulty ESP software, failing airflow sensor, and problems with the parking brake. Despite this, What Car? gave the Outlander PHEV a 97.8% reliability rating.

Every Mitsubishi Outlander generation has been known as affordable, simple, and reliable. The plug-in hybrid version comes with a 2.0-liter or 2.4-liter petrol engine and two electric motors. While the electric motors power all four wheels, the conventional engine only powers the front wheels to reduce weight and increase fuel efficiency. 

The Outlander PHEV provides 32-37 miles of all-electric range, and you can fully charge the battery in 3.5 hours via a dedicated charging point.

8. Toyota Corolla

Silver Toyota Corolla Hybrid in a showroom
Source: Rutger van der Maar / Flickr

The current 12th-generation Corolla is also available as a hybrid. Only 5% of owners experienced any issues with this car, all of which were related to the 12-volt battery system. The Corolla’s engines are bulletproof, the electronics don’t have any niggles, and Toyota’s hybrid system works flawlessly.

Toyota Corolla is the best-selling car globally not only because of its reliability. It starts from $20,000 and packs LED lighting, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, a rearview camera, a 7-inch infotainment screen, the Pre-Collision system, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assistance, and a bunch of other safety and comfort features as standard. The hybrid version is available with 1.8-liter or 2.0-liter petrol engines, averaging 52 mpg.

7. Toyota Prius

Cherry red Toyota Prius hybrid in a showroom
Source: Rutger van der Maar / Flickr

The Prius uses the same engine and even shares the same platform as the Toyota Corolla. Some owners of the new Prius complain about small storage compartments and an awkward locking system, but that’s about it. 

However, be careful if you’re buying a used 2006-2011 model. These years were the worst for the Prius, with the cars suffering from excessive oil consumption, fuel leaks, and faulty fuel gauges.

The later models are free from these issues and offer a pleasant experience for you and your family. The car weighs less than 1.4 tons and easily gets over 50 mpg. The Prius series is often considered “geeky”, but those who are fine with the design will appreciate great safety features, premium sound insulation, heated seats and steering wheel, and comfort even for taller passengers.

6. Honda CR-V

White Honda CR-V hybrid in a show
Source: peterolthof / Flickr

WhatCar? rated the reliability of the CR-V at 97.9% and its J.D. Power predicted reliability score is 84 out of 100, which is considered great. Some owners have been experiencing issues with non-engine electrics like the TPMS warning light and the road sensors.

Unlike many of its rivals, the Honda CR-V is an upscale model with a comfortable and spacious interior. The list of standard features includes forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and a rearview camera. However, many CR-V cars have been recalled due to defective Takata airbags, so make sure they are replaced if you’re buying a used car.

5. Toyota Camry

Black Toyota Camry Hybrid
Source: crash71100 / Flickr

The Toyota Camry is one of the most reliable and practical sedans. According to RepairPal, the Camry ranks 3rd out of 24 midsize sedans in reliability. Older Camry models were prone to excessive fuel consumption and annoying electrical niggles, but Toyota fixed these issues in the latest Camry (XV70), also greatly improving the car’s styling.

The Camry isn’t a boring family sedan anymore – its comfort and options can easily compete with premium German rivals. Even though the Camry starts at only $25,295, you’ll find high-quality soft materials, heated and ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, a large 10-inch JBL multimedia touchscreen, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and ambient interior lighting inside the car. Besides, the hybrid version can accelerate 0-60 in 5.1 seconds, making overtaking easy and even exciting.

4. Kia Niro

White Kia Niro
Source: Kārlis Dambrāns / Flickr

Many modern cars from South Korean manufacturers are known for low prices and dependability. The Kia Niro has become one of the top choices for those looking for a decent SUV that won’t break the bank. However, some owners complained about slow charging (which was fixed by updating the software), others expected better sound insulation.

The Kia Niro comes in three variations: petrol hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and a fully electric vehicle. The plug-in hybrid features a 1.6-liter petrol engine paired with an 8.9 kWh battery, offering 26 miles of all-electric range. With the starting price of $24,690, you’ll also get parking sensors, semi-leather seats, cruise control, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Not many SUVs offer such refinement for this price, especially hybrids.

3. Toyota Yaris

White Toyota Yaris GR
Source: Werner Bayer / Flickr

Last year, the Toyota Yaris Hybrid received a 99.5% reliability rating on WhatCar?. According to their survey, only 5% of Yaris Hybrids suffered any issues and none of them left the car stranded. The fact that the Yaris is the smallest and cheapest car in Toyota’s lineup has a huge impact on reliability. It doesn’t have many suspension elements, electrical systems, and comfort features, meaning there are fewer things that can break.

Toyota has been showing significant progress to improve the design of their cars, and the new Yaris is one of the most exciting examples in their current lineup. Sportiness became an essential requirement when designing the Yaris. The aggressive design and bright colors combine perfectly in this tiny Toyota.Don’t expect many comfort features or plush materials – the center console could be sturdier and some paddings could be softer. Yet the ergonomics and design are really good for a car of this class.

2. Toyota RAV4

White Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Source: Rutger van der Maar / Flickr

The RAV4 is the best-selling SUV in the world. According to WhatCar?, only 7% of RAVs have had problems, and these were all related to the batteries. None of the drivers experienced any major issues that would make the car undrivable or require expensive repairs. Since everything is more complicated in SUVs than in small hatchbacks and sedans, these statistics are surprising.

The current 5th-generation RAV4 was introduced in 2018, featuring edgy exterior styling, a robust chassis, and even more comfort features. It offers Multi-Terrain Select, Dynamic Torque Vectoring, and three drive modes to ensure comfort on highways and confidence off-road.

The cheapest hybrid version of the Toyota RAV4, the Hybrid LE, starts at $29,575 and comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, all-wheel-drive system, active grill shutters, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and the blind spot monitoring system.

1. Lexus NX

Grey Lexus NX Hybrid next to an ocean
Source: Kārlis Dambrāns / Flickr

For over 30 years, Lexus has been pleasantly surprising the world with its ability to combine luxury and reliability in the automotive industry and the NX is not an exception. It uses the same chassis and powertrain as the Toyota RAV4, but everything is hidden underneath the expressive exterior design, high-quality leather, and luxurious features. The NX appears to be even more reliable than the RAV4 – only 2% of cars have had any issues and virtually all of them were minor annoyances.

The steep starting price of $37,950 scares off many potential buyers. Fortunately, buying a used Lexus NX seems like a relatively safe choice. According to our data, only 31.94% of the Lexus NX cars on the road have damage records.

Once inside the car, you can see that it’s nothing like the Toyota RAV4 – the dash is completely redesigned, the infotainment system is much more advanced, and most surfaces are covered in leather or at least soft-to-touch materials. The hybrid version is powered by Toyota’s 2.5-liter I4 engine, boasting 194 hp.

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Types of hybrid cars

Hybrid cars are great for saving money and protecting the environment. A typical hybrid has an electric motor and a petrol or diesel engine. Both powertrains can run the car, sometimes even working together for better efficiency – it all depends on the driving conditions and the type of hybrid. Each of the three hybrid types has its own benefits and works best in different situations.

Full hybrids

Full hybrid batteries recharge via generators and a regenerative braking system during acceleration, braking, and even coasting. When the battery is charged, it powers the electric motor or motors that usually engage during acceleration or low speeds, significantly reducing fuel consumption.

Mild hybrids

Mild hybrids provide a great balance between low cost and high efficiency. Battery packs in mild hybrids are smaller and recharge the same way as full hybrids. Electric motors are also weaker, meaning you can’t drive a mild hybrid on electricity alone – the motor works alongside the internal combustion engine, not as an independent power plant. Usually, mild hybrid systems engage during acceleration, taking some pressure off the conventional engine.

Plug-in hybrids

A hybrid system on display
Source: Pohan Chen / Flickr

A plug-in hybrid (PHEV) is the closest to a fully electric car. It features a conventional engine and an electric motor, which can work independently. You can charge a plug-in hybrid in charging stations or at home and get 20-50 miles of fully electric driving from a full charge. You can also charge the battery while using the conventional engine, but this way is often inefficient due to its high fuel consumption.

Hybrids are usually more reliable than electric and internal combustion cars

Both electric and fossil-fuel cars have their weak spots. Most people think that combining conventional engines with electrical motors brings even more issues. However, hybrid cars are more reliable than fossil-fuel and even electric cars. Here’s why:

  • Both powertrains have less stress to withstand. The combustion and electrical motor supplement each other, resulting in less wear and tear.
  • Hybrids are based on time-tested models. Most EVs come out as new models, often suffering from issues related to body electronics and hardware. However, hybrid versions are based on time-tested fossil-fuel models that have been on the market for a few years.

Older hybrids had many unstable experimental features and their batteries deteriorated quickly, resulting in low reliability scores. Modern hybrids use more efficient batteries and motors that work longer because of modern software. If you’re thinking about buying a hybrid one day, don’t wait long – soon they’ll disappear because of rapid vehicle electrification. 

Don’t forget to get a car history check before buying any car

Complex powertrains and electrical systems in hybrid cars are reliable, but longevity depends on maintenance. On average, a hybrid car battery pack lasts 80,000–100,000 miles, so dishonest car sellers often fake the actual mileage to make potential buyers think the battery is still in good condition.

That’s not the only potential issue: car accidents, floods, and other damages also negatively impact a car’s condition. Hybrid vehicle repairs can be costly, so you should make sure your desired car wasn’t severely damaged in the past.

carVertical history reports reveal vital data about the vehicle, including mileage history, past damages, service records, title changes, photos, and more. More and more used car buyers check a car’s history beforehand to avoid various issues.

FAQ

Do I need to charge a hybrid?

Conventional engines in hybrid vehicles can charge batteries, so you don’t need to charge them. The plug-in hybrid is the only type of hybrid that allows you to charge its batteries via an EV charging point.

How long do hybrid batteries last?

Manufacturers claim that a hybrid battery lasts about 100,000 miles, but many owners have reported reaching over 200,000 miles thanks to proper maintenance.

What if a hybrid’s battery goes flat?

You can drive a hybrid using the conventional engine.

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Article by

Evaldas Zabitis

Evaldas has been writing since middle school and has had a passion for cars for as long as he can remember. Right after getting his driver’s license, he spent all of his savings on shoddy cars so he could spend time fixing, driving, and selling them. Evaldas is always interested in automotive technical innovations and is an active participant in automotive community discussions.

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