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What Is The Best Hybrid Car To Buy

With manufacturers achieving an ever-improving balance between performance and efficiency, hybrids of all types are playing a key role in bridging the gap between internal-combustion and all-electric cars.

what is the best hybrid car to buy


The latest Honda Civic is discrete and unassuming compared to its garish predecessor, but it hides a compelling, well-engineered feel beneath the skin. For the 11th generation of the its Volkswagen Golf rival, Honda has confined the Civic to a single engine option, and the 2.0-litre four-cylinder hybrid setup is somewhat unconventional.

Available in hybrid, PHEV and pure-electric form, the Kia Niro's superb tech, cabin space and mature dynamics shine through whichever version you choose. The hybrid is based around a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine derived from the original Niro, but the second-generation model feels fresh in every other regard.

On the outside, the latest Renault Clio is very much an evolution of its predecessor, but big changes under the skin have brought it right to the sharp end of the supermini market. Unlike rivals such as the Skoda Fabia and Hyundai i20, the Clio offers a full hybrid powertrain that combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor to generate 143bhp.

The hybrid achieves over 60mpg and sprints from 0-62mph in under ten seconds, and the rest of the package is a marked improvement over the old car. The Clio is relatively engaging through twisting roads, and the well-judged suspension offers a decent blend of precision and comfort. Cabin quality is particularly strong too, and the five door-only bodystyle provides enough rear legroom for adults and a large 391-litre boot.

The RAV4 is surprisingly crisp to drive for a tall, relatively heavy vehicle, but while the hybrid setup can return over 50mpg, it delivers its performance in a noisy fashion thanks to its CVT gearbox. Still, the RAV4 is a practical machine despite its onboard electrical gubbins, and fit and finish is robust. The dated infotainment system lets it down slightly, though.

Those craving a little more punch can pick the top 2.0-litre hybrid model. With 177bhp on tap, 0-62mph takes just 7.9 seconds; fuel economy and emissions take a slight hit, but this model still offers a great balance of performance and low running costs.

Plug-in hybrids tend to be more expensive than self-charging models but you could well recoup the extra if you regularly travel shorter distances purely on electric power, thanks to their bigger batteries. If your budget allows, a PHEV makes a lot of sense as a zero-emissions, zero-fuel commuter, all the while offering the option for covering longer distances with acceptable fuel economy once the engine has kicked in.

If you're looking for a practical, five-seat SUV, the Tucson is well worth considering, because it gives occupants masses of space for their legs and luggage. Even the plug-in hybrid version, with a battery that's big enough for 38 miles of pure electric running, can take seven carry-on suitcases, while the regular hybrid has room for eight.

The 530e is another car that can complete many journeys without needing to wake its engine at all. But even when this smooth 2.0-litre petrol unit does fire up, the car is quiet enough to put full-on limousines to shame. Specify it with adaptive suspension for the best ride, and the 530e becomes the supreme luxury package, without the price tag to match.

BMW's plug-in hybrid X5 is every bit as comfortable and luxurious as the petrol and diesel versions, and you barely notice the extra weight of its batteries, even in corners. You can't have seven seats, but that's the only significant downside. Indeed, it has a much longer electric range than the rival Volvo XC90 Recharge T8, a far more user-friendly infotainment system and attracts significantly lower company car tax bills so, unless you need those extra seats, it's the better car.

With the auto industry pivoting toward complete electrification, it shouldn't be surprising that the development of new hybrid cars has basically screeched to a halt. Toyota/Lexus makes the bulk of them, while only Honda, Hyundai, Kia and Ford offer them at all. Nevertheless, there are still hybrids out there, and the irony is that they've gotten extremely good at roughly the same time people stopped paying attention to them. That's a shame. We've already listed our choices for best hybrid SUVs and did a comparison test between the two hybrid minivans, and here you can see our choices for the best hybrid cars. And nope, the car synonymous with "hybrid," the Toyota Prius, is not one of them.

And to be clear, we specifically mean "hybrid" in the traditional gasoline-electric sense where the car recharges its batteries with its engine and by recouping energy from coasting and braking. The gasoline engine and electric motor(s) then pair in some arrangement to power the car together, hence the term "hybrid." You don't need to plug it in, and it doesn't offer an appreciable amount of electric-only range. That's what differentiates them from plug-in hybrids, which many car brands (most notably those from Europe) are introducing instead these days. They're also not to be confused with the growing number of "mild hybrids" that may enhance acceleration a tiny bit with an electric motor, but not nearly as much as full hybrids like those listed below can. Their efficiency improvements are also far less.

You'll be forgiven for not realizing the Insight is a hybrid. Its conventional compact sedan body shape and general lack of weirdness stand in sharp contrast to the hybrid expectations established by the Toyota Prius. Again, you'll note that car is not found on this list. That's because the Insight effectively gets the same fuel economy as Toyota's definitive hybrid, but betters it substantially in terms of interior quality and design, overall comfort and noise, driving response, and quite honestly, it's not extremely ugly. Quite the opposite, actually. Basically, the Insight is just a better car than the Prius.

If the Insight is a better car than a Prius, the Ioniq is a much better deal. Though it lacks the polish of the Insight and definitely goes by the Prius design playbook, the Ioniq undercuts the price of both, offers a much better warranty and gets better fuel economy. Most Ioniqs get 55 mpg combined, which is better than every Insight and fall just short of the special Prius Eco model's 56 mpg combined, while the special Ioniq Blue rules them all at 59 mpg combined. At the same time, the Ioniq is surprisingly fun to drive, and it has the best in-car tech of this trio of compact, dedicated hybrid models. There are also Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid and Ioniq Electric models, which are certainly worth a look as well. Just note that none of the above are to be confused with the upcoming Ioniq 5 electric car.

The Honda Accord is our top choice among midsize family sedans, and that doesn't change when it comes to hybrid versions. In fact, the Hybrid is the Accord version we recommend first as its superior fuel economy and agreeable electric-like power delivery don't come with substantial tradeoffs. Yes, it's more expensive than a regular gas-only Accord, but like the other hybrid sedans here, the price premium is manageable given the gas savings. Like every Accord, though, the Hybrid stands out with a truly colossal amount of interior space (the trunk is just enormous), a well-made interior, and a driving experience that sets a just-right balance between ride comfort and handling response. And unlike other Hondas, including the Insight and CR-V Hybrid, the Accord has a newer, more user-friendly tech interface.

The Camry would definitely be our third choice in this group of midsize hybrids, but that's because the Accord and Sonata do most things just a little better. The Camry Hybrid is still really good. Indeed, it's the pick of the Camry litter. Its electric motor adds the low-end pull the base four-cylinder lacks, while also smoothing things out considerably. Furthermore, the battery's placement under the back seat lowers the car's center of gravity and lessens the front weight bias, making for improved dynamics around corners. A heavy right foot still results in a fair bit of droning from the powertrain, but it is better than past Toyota hybrid efforts, as is the brake-pedal modulation. That you can get it in the sportiest, more luxurious XSE along with a variety of luxury- and sport-oriented "flavors" is icing on the cake. Importantly, it can get the same fuel economy as the Prius while being a wildly more refined and just better car.

The Lexus LS long ago got a reputation as a dull-as-ditch-water luxury sedan, but that's just not the case with the latest version. It actually has the same powertrain and shares its rear-wheel-drive platform with the LC 500h, and although it isn't as sharp as that, this isn't the Grandpa's couch that previous LS generations were. We legitimately enjoy driving the LS more than most versions of the BMW 7 Series (imagine saying that 15 years ago!), and that includes the compelling LS 500h hybrid. This does make up for the fact that this hybrid Lexus' fuel economy isn't that much better than the gas-only BMW 740i, but that says more about BMW's engineering wizardry, as no other flagship luxury sedan comes close to either. You'll also be dealing with Lexus reliability, and although the brand's design isn't always for everyone, the LS generally appears more athletic than its more conservative, stately rivals. Its "Signature Spindle Grille" even seems subtle compared to the faces of the flagship BMW, Audi and Genesis sedans.

The gas-powered Highlander has been a consistent favorite with North American drivers, and that appeal rubs off on its hybrid sibling, which combines great build quality with strong driving manners, an efficient powertrain, a wide array of standard features, and a brilliant, modern interior that's posh and unmistakably high-class.

Despite having only joined the Santa Fe range in 2021, this hybrid has already grown into a hugely important midsize SUV. A combination of high-end interior materials, generous passenger and cargo space, comfortable ride, smooth acceleration, and standard all-wheel drive make it undeniably desirable. 041b061a72


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