The best hybrid cars to consider

Aivaras Grigelevičius

Aivaras Grigelevičius

Hybrid cars have long lingered in the shadow of vehicles equipped with traditional combustion engines. However, evolving consumer habits and aspirations have gradually elevated the status of hybrids.

As the adoption of hybrids continues to increase, there are numerous factors to consider when deciding to switch from your current car to a hybrid. These considerations include understanding the distinctions between hybrids and other vehicles, as well as the potential savings associated with owning a hybrid.

Let's explore the world of hybrid cars and discover if they can live up to your expectations.

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Benefits of owning a hybrid car

Lexus GS Hybrid
Source: Gabor Papp / Unsplash

Like any other vehicle available on the market, hybrid cars possess distinct features, giving the impression that they offer the advantages of traditional gasoline-powered cars while avoiding the higher upfront costs associated with electric vehicles.

One notable advantage of hybrid cars is their ability to cover long distances without requiring extensive time spent at charging stations, thanks to the petrol engine. Moreover, self-charging hybrids can operate solely on electric power at low speeds, effectively reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

While these features sound promising, it's worth considering alternative options.

If you frequently drive long distances, diesel-powered vehicles may be a much better option, as their driving range is unmatched. Furthermore, if you have budgetary constraints, a compact car with a traditional petrol engine may prove to be more cost-efficient.

Creating a list of hybrid car advantages and disadvantages can undoubtedly assist in making an informed decision. For now, let's focus solely on the benefits of owning a hybrid vehicle.

Fuel efficiency

The main advantage of modern hybrids is fuel economy, although this rule doesn't apply to all hybrid vehicles. This discrepancy arises due to fundamental engineering differences, resulting in some hybrids being remarkably efficient, while others are disappointing and offer little value for money.

To gain a better understanding of these differences, let's closely examine the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid and the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid as prime examples. Despite their similar size, official fuel economy figures, and pricing, one of these vehicles, unfortunately, falls short in terms of efficiency.

The official fuel economy figures of the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid appear quite impressive. With its 230 horsepower hybrid powertrain, owners should expect to achieve an average consumption of 37 mpg. However, in real-world conditions, the average fuel consumption of the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid tends to range between 25-30 mpg. That's not so bad, right? Until you drive the Toyota's offering.

The Toyota RAV4 sets the bar even higher for fuel efficiency, boasting an impressive average fuel economy figure of 40 mpg. Unlike the Hyundai, achieving the manufacturer's claimed fuel economy figures with a Toyota is easily attainable. Moreover, Toyota's hybrid powertrain showcases enhanced flexibility and seamless transitions between petrol and electric motors. This not only ensures a user-friendly driving experience but also maximizes overall efficiency.

In conclusion, don't solely rely on brochure figures when purchasing a hybrid car. Conduct a thorough test drive and assess the actual fuel economy performance to ensure it aligns with your expectations.

Different hybrid systems to choose

Porsche e-Hybrid
Source:  Austin Park / Unsplash

Currently, there are 2 types of hybrid drivetrains on the market: self-charging hybrids and plug-in hybrids. Although they share similar operating principles, there are noteworthy distinctions between the two.

A self-charging hybrid is designed to recharge its battery while a car is in motion, utilizing mechanisms like regenerative braking or coasting downhill to generate electricity. This means that a car doesn’t need to find a separate socket or charging station for recharging.

Considering the numerous charge and recharge cycles that batteries undergo throughout their lifetime, potential owners may question how long hybrid car batteries last. However, Toyota's extensive experience with thousands of examples showcases that battery packs typically endure for 100,000 miles or more.

As an alternative to the self-charging hybrid, there are more advanced plug-in hybrids that offer certain advantages over electric cars.

Their larger battery capacity allows them to travel a specific distance solely on electric power. While the average electric range is typically around 30 miles, some automakers like Mercedes-Benz or Volvo offer plug-in hybrids that can achieve up to 60 miles of electric range.

However, once the battery charge is depleted, a car functions as a traditional hybrid, utilizing both petrol and electric motors.

The benefits of a plug-in hybrid can be fully realized if you have the ability to recharge the battery at home and complete your daily journeys using only electric power. In such cases, you can save a significant amount of money each month on fuel costs. However, in all other situations, it becomes quite challenging to justify the higher purchase price of a plug-in hybrid.

Driving experience

Unlike electric cars, vehicles with hybrid drivetrains don’t require any additional preparation and can be driven without any special considerations. However, to truly appreciate the meaningful difference between a conventional car and a hybrid, it's important to adopt a few techniques of fuel-efficient driving, particularly in urban areas where hybrid cars often have a clear advantage over their counterparts.

For instance, it's advisable to avoid constant switchbacks between the accelerator and the brake pedal. Instead, maintain a steady speed and remain attentive to the traffic ahead. If you notice the car in front of you slowing down, consider whether it's necessary to apply the brakes or simply ease off the accelerator and allow the car to coast.

Unnecessary braking is often the cause of unexpected, inefficient energy consumption. The longer you can maintain a consistent speed, the more likely you are to witness tangible benefits in terms of fuel efficiency, which will translate into long-term savings.

Which hybrid car is the best?

The hybrid vehicle market is brimmed with numerous options to choose from. However, these cars are the best hybrids today, each catering to the diverse tastes and requirements of motorists.

BMW 330e

BMW 3 series
Source: Zhuzichun / Pexels

Price from: $44,900

Finding a car that possesses such remarkable versatility without compromising the core qualities that have garnered BMW admiration for decades is exceptionally rare. This car not only drives exceptionally well and boasts all the essential modern technology and connectivity features, but it also sets itself apart from any other 3 series with its plug-in hybrid powertrain.

The powertrain comprises a 2.0-liter, 181 horsepower engine and a 107 horsepower electric motor. With a combined total power output of 288 hp, the BMW 330e effortlessly accelerates to 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds, all while delivering an impressive fuel economy of up to 75 mpg and an electric-only range of up to 41 miles.

Moreover, for those residing in snowy areas, BMW offers a version equipped with four-wheel drive, turning into a truly exceptional all-rounder.

Honda Accord

Honda logo
Source: Chris Liverani / Unsplash

Price from: $31,895

Affordable hybrid cars often demand compromises in different areas, be dynamics that are merely acceptable or outdated technology. However, the Honda Accord manages to dispel such notions.

Rebuilt and reimagined from the ground up, the Accord now features a more quality interior with a rich set of connectivity features and safety equipment, retaining class-leading space and comfort for both front and rear passengers. And the last addition to the already impressive list of traits is a brand new, more efficient hybrid powertrain.

While the hybrid powertrain of the Honda Accord generates a combined output of 204 horsepower, it's not designed to be a high-performance vehicle. Instead, the petrol engine and 2 electric motors work harmoniously to prioritize efficiency and optimize every journey, making it a perfect commuter.

Lexus NX

Lexus NX
Source: Garvin St. Villier / Pexels

Price from: $44,205

Lexus NX edgy styling will certainly make it stand out in the seas of midsize SUVs, but there's more to it than just Japan-centric design.

Compared to the competition, the Lexus NX stands out for the exceptional quality and luxuriousness of its interior. Moreover, what truly sets the NX apart from other hybrid SUVs of similar size is its ability to make every imaginable trip as effortless as possible.

The Lexus NX doesn’t pretend to be as sporty and agile as its rivals, but this honest approach to what a luxury hybrid SUV should be has its own charm. Especially noteworthy is its plug-in hybrid powertrain, boasting a combined output of 305 horsepower.

Officially, it can achieve up to 45 miles of electric-only driving range, surpassing that of the Audi Q5 or BMW X3. When combined with the legendary reliability that Lexus is known for, it solidifies the Lexus NX as one of the best hybrid options available in the market today.

Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid Sport Turismo

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
Source: Alexandre Prevot / Flickr

Price from: $114,450

Although it may sound unusual to many petrolheads, the hybrid version of the Panamera makes the most sense. It possesses the ability to cover ground as swiftly as its counterparts with traditional gasoline engines, all while conserving fuel by not depleting half the petrol tank when doing it.

While the performance of this Porsche is undoubtedly impressive, its most remarkable attributes lie in its practicality. Notably, it offers ample space to comfortably accommodate 4 adults and their luggage. Additionally, Porsche has diligently ensured that all the essential safety equipment and cutting-edge technology are integrated, guaranteeing a "wow" factor for both you and your passengers.

One of the standout features of the hybrid powertrain is its adaptability to meet the diverse needs of drivers. It offers an electric-only mode that allows for a travel distance of up to 31 miles. In hybrid mode, it achieves an average fuel consumption of 35 mpg.

Furthermore, for those who prefer not to waste time at charging stations, there's an additional driving mode that enables the battery pack to be recharged while driving. This feature facilitates efficient utilization of electric-only mode in urban areas while reserving a portion of power for recharging on the motorway.

Toyota Sienna

Toyota Sienna
Source: Rob Gold / Flickr

Price from: $36,885

While MPVs may not be as popular as they once were, one of the remaining frontrunners in this segment proves that there is no better option than a traditional minivan when it comes to versatility.

Unlike similar sized SUVs, the Toyota Sienna boasts an abundance of cubbies, cupholders, slide-out bins, and connectivity features, ensuring that every member of the family is well catered to. And the icing on the cake is the remarkable efficiency of its hybrid powertrain.

While the Toyota Sienna may not boast immense power, with only 245 horsepower, it compensates by delivering exceptional fuel economy of 36 mpg in various driving scenarios. In fact, it proudly claims the title of being the most fuel-efficient minivan among all electrified options available.

The best hybrid car by type

Hybrids come in various sizes, prices, and flavors. Let's explore the 3 most popular hybrid types that should help you understand what kind of hybrid suits you the most.

The best budget-conscious hybrid car

Toyota Corolla
Source: Saud Al-Olayan / Flickr

Finding an affordable hybrid car can be a bit challenging, as many of these vehicles tend to cost a bit more. However, a slightly higher upfront cost can prove beneficial in the long run, as hybrid car consumption helps you save money on fuel expenses.

Today, several different Toyota models dominate the affordable hybrid segment. From the Corolla sedan and Corolla Cross SUV, to the Camry sedan and the ultra efficient Prius. And best of all, the average cost of these models is around $25,000.

The best family-friendly hybrid car

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Source: Krish Parmar / Unsplash

When it comes to family-friendly hybrid cars, there are only 2 considerable options: the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and the Toyota Sienna Hybrid.

These cars should be considered not only for their attractive price and efficient hybrid powertrains but also for their compelling family-friendly features. Both models offer everything that most families need, including comfort, refinement, a practical interior, a spacious trunk, and industry-leading safety ratings.

If these features are what you're looking for in a family car, there's no need to look elsewhere.

The best luxury hybrid car

Mercedes-Benz S Class
Source: Dekler Ph / Unsplash

The luxury hybrid vehicle market offers a plethora of options, including renowned models like the Audi A8, Bentley Flying Spur, and Range Rover, each boasting a range of desirable features. However, it’s the Mercedes-Benz that truly stands out as the ultimate choice, symbolizing excellence with its iconic star emblem.

In particular, the Mercedes S-Class S580e sets itself apart from the competition with its remarkable electric-only range, claiming an impressive 65 miles and surpassing its counterparts.

Additionally, its quick charging capability deserves recognition, as it takes just 20 minutes (thanks to DC charging) to achieve a 10-80% charge. This performance surpasses that of the majority of plug-in vehicles on the market.

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Aivaras Grigelevičius

Article by

Aivaras Grigelevičius

Aivaras has been excited about cars since he was a little kid. Later, this passion for drivable objects (and everything that surrounds them) grew into work as an automotive journalist. Since then, Aivaras has written for several different magazines, covering anything with an accelerator pedal. He has a soft spot for cars with an Alfa Romeo badge.