Top 10 best hybrid cars 2022
The best hybrid cars on sale in the UK right now will help reduce your fuel bills without needing to be plugged in. These are our favourites...
Plug-in hybrid and electric cars aren’t the only ways to reduce your tailpipe emissions. If you don’t have access to a charger, don't have space for a home wallbox or maybe don’t want to pay the generally higher up-front cost of a new electric car, then a hybrid may be the answer. Hybrids reduce fuel consumption by having electric motors work in tandem with a petrol engine – with no external charging required.
There are various types of hybrid: full hybrids (sometimes called a parallel hybrids and sometimes branded as 'self-charging' hybrids) draw electricity from the engine and regenerative braking and can drive only short distances on electric power alone. Mild hybrids are similar, except they can't move under electric power only. Instead, electrical energy assists the engine, making acceleration easier and thus reducing fuel consumption.
And because their use of electric technology is more restrained, hybrid cars don't tend to be as expensive as their plug-in counterparts, making them more accessible to buyers. It’s worth noting that while hybrids tend to be cheaper to run than an equivalent petrol car, a plug-in hybrid will typically be even more efficient. These use larger batteries and more powerful electric motors to give longer electric ranges, lower emissions and increased fuel efficiency.
Interested? The best hybrid cars will give you everything a normal internal-combustion motor will, but with improved fuel economy and reduced emissions. We've put together the following list to get you started...
Renault Captur E-TECH
Like the Clio E-TECH, the Captur E-TECH combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with two electric motors and a 1.2kWh lithium-ion battery. It's an impressive compact SUV that can go toe-to-toe with the best in this hugely popular class. It’s comfortable, efficient and will effortlessly cover miles on electric power only around town without the need for you to ever top up the battery yourself. It does lose some practicality compared to the purely petrol-powered Captur, but still makes for a great small family car. Read our full review here.
The Kia Sorento is one of the best large SUVs on sale, and while the plug-in hybrid variant will be more efficient, the next best thing is the full hybrid. Power comes from a 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, which together produce 227bhp. Performance is adequate, but efficiency is more important here: up to 41mpg fuel economy is claimed, along with CO2 emissions as low as 158g/km.
Elsewhere, the Sorento sports a handsome design, a well made interior and enough space to swallow a family and their luggage. Crucially, there are seven seats and if you fold the third row down, there's an impressive 813 litres of load space on offer.
The Sorento is a comfortable cruiser, even if the powertrain can feel harsh under harder acceleration. The suspension sits on the firmer side of comfortable, so can feel fidgety on bad surfaces, but the tradeoff is decent handling on twisty roads. Read our full review.
Think of a hybrid and the Prius probably springs to mind. That’s because after four generations, Toyota has refined the formula to make a brilliant hybrid family car. It’s not fast, but it’ll be quick enough for most, with 121bhp on tap from its 1.8-litre petrol engine and electric motor setup. Keep the revs low and refinement is good too, as the electric motor plays a strong supporting role to reduce the work the petrol engine has to do.
The Prius’ infotainment is limited, but that’s about the biggest flaw, as otherwise there’s lots of space and light, a decent 343-litre boot and plenty of comfort if you stick with the smaller wheels. It rides nicely, even around town. It’s a bit noisy if you push the engine and the gearbox isn’t that responsive, but it steers and handles respectably and – importantly – delivers the sufficient real-world economy and emissions to make it one of the most affordable hybrids on sale to run. Read our full review.
Hyundai Tucson Hybrid
The latest Tucson marks a big shift for the familiar model; whereas previously it was rather plainly styled and came with traditional petrol and diesel engines, this version boasts sharp styling and a choice of mild-hybrid, full-hybrid or plug-in-hybrid power. The Hybrid was first out of the blocks, with a 'Smartstream' 1.6-litre petrol engine paired with an electric motor and a 1.49kWh battery, making 227bhp.The hybrid drivetrain is very well executed; there's a good amount of performance, with enough torque to make it feel faster than the on-paper 0-62mph time suggests. The engine doesn't get thrashy as those in some other hybrids can, instead producing a tuneful exhaust note under acceleration. Read our full review.
Toyota C-HR Hybrid
Compared to conventional hybrid rivals, the Toyota C-HR’s relatively radical styling for an SUV sets it apart. Yet there’s not much of a penalty to pay for those individual looks. That’s because the car’s 1.8-litre petrol engine and electric motor setup, which it shares with the Prius, can deliver up to nearly 59mpg combined and as little as 109g/km of CO2. They’re good figures for a family crossover.
However, what’s not so impressive for a car of this type is the space in the rear. Unfortunately, the C-HR feels cramped compared to its main rivals, and this dents its appeal slightly. But with no conventional hybrid family SUVs to contend with, the Toyota offers something unique in this class. It’s also good to drive for a car of this type. The steering is relatively crisp, the ride is comfortable but composed and the suspension damping means ride quality and fun are nicely balanced. Read our full review.
Honda CR-V Hybrid
Honda has got form with hybrid cars, right from mainstream offerings like the (sadly, now defunct) CR-Z right up to the mighty NSX. The CR-V Hybrid has all the common sense appeal of Honda's big, friendly family SUV, with the added appeal of being the most efficient offering in the range.
That's not to say that conventional diesel alternatives won't be a better bet for some high mileage drivers, as the 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric motor in the CR-V Hybrid still only achieves a claimed maximum economy of 40.9mpg in its most efficient, front-wheel drive form. We're currently running a CR-V on our test fleet, and at least it's meeting this figure in the real world.
The CR-V is quiet, comfortable and also one of the most practical cars in the class. On top of that, the CR-V also has a stellar reputation for reliability; its predecessor was rated as the sixth most reliable to car to own in the 2018 Driver Power survey. Read our full review.
Toyota Corolla Touring Sports
After an absence of many years, the Corolla badge returned to the UK in 2019: the hatchback is a decent little runabout, but the Corolla Touring Sports estate variant is where the hybrid model comes into its own. It drives very well, and the added practicality from the larger bodystyle makes it highly suited to families.
There's a choice of 1.8- and 2.0-litre hybrid powertrains, returning in the region of 65 and 50mpg respectively. While the latter is a little less frugal, it is a tad faster, hitting 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds; the full seconds quicker than the smaller engine. Read our full review.
An SUV body might not be the obvious choice to combine with an efficient hybrid powertrain, but the Kia Niro proves the two aren’t mutually exclusive. This car uses a similar engine, electric motor and gearbox setup as the Hyundai Ioniq (Hyundai and Kia are sister brands, so share technology), but there’s only 104bhp on offer here, helped by the electric motor and 1.56kWh battery.
Performance isn’t what you’d call rapid, but then this car is more about efficiency, and the Niro maximises what’s on offer with claims of up to 59mpg and 110g/km CO2. Just be aware that if you go for the higher trim levels with larger alloy wheels these figures become slightly less impressive. If you’ve got a family, the raised body means it’ll be easier to strap children in and load up the 427-litre boot, proving the worth of a hybrid SUV like this in blending practicality with economy. Read our full review.
The previous Yaris was offered in hybrid form, but it wasn't great to drive, as well as having an unappealingly cheap and plasticky interior. The latest effort is a big improvement in almost every respect. It has a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine working in tandem with an electric motor. The Yaris feels most at home in the city, with direct steering and a willingness to operate under electric power for much of the time when in 'Eco' mode. It's great to drive on the open road, too, with a crisp, responsive feel through corners. Overall, the Yaris gets the basics right – including low running costs and hassle-free ownership. Read our full review.
In a luxury model, economy isn’t quite as important, but the RX definitely delivers. While it can’t match plug-in rivals, it does have running costs similar to a diesel when it comes to fuel economy, but much lower company-car tax bills. It’s a big SUV that’s on the expensive side, but a combination of a petrol V6 engine and Lexus’ Dual Motor drive means lots of easy, smooth performance and incredible cruising refinement on the motorway. It’s not the best-riding car and it steers and handles with stodgy, sluggish responses, but apart from that, the RX is a quality product that uses technology to its advantage. Read our full review.
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