Best hybrid cars 2021

Everyone from Toyota to Porsche sells hybrid cars these days, but which models should you consider and which should you avoid?...


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What Car? team

Best hybrid cars

Not so long ago, hybrid cars were the reserve of minicab drivers looking to save a bit of money on fuel, and people living or working in London's congestion charge zone.

However, with an ever-growing number of models on the market, they're increasingly becoming a mainstream alternative to conventional petrols and diesels, with many people preferring them to fully electric cars because there's no range anxiety.

The thing is, though, knowing which to consider and which to avoid can make the difference between a fuel-sipping investment and a costly mistake. So, here we count down the top 10 – and reveal the hybrid that's best steer clear of.

And remember, if you decide any of the cars in the top 10 are right for your needs, you could potentially save thousands without the hassle of haggling by using our New Car Buying service.

10

Hyundai Ioniq 1.6 GDi Hybrid

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£22,207

RRP from £24,045 to £35,050

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The Ioniq is a great first step into hybrid ownership, because it combines low running costs and a relatively low price with a reassuringly normal driving experience. What's more, it's more practical and smarter inside than its main rival, the Toyota Prius. Hyundai offers conventional hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric versions, but it's the former that we rate highest.

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Pros

  • Good-quality interior
  • Low running costs
  • Hybrid is good to drive

Cons

  • Limited rear-seat head room
  • Unsettled ride around town
  • EV model expensive
9

Audi Q5 55 TFSIe

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£41,002

RRP from £43,765 to £75,040

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Like every Q5, this plug-in version feels like a luxurious choice, because its very quiet and has a beautifully built interior. And despite being incredible frugal in official tests, it's nearly as quick as the SQ5 performance model, covering the 0-62mph sprint in just 5.3sec. It's an expensive private buy, though, making more sense as a company car.

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Pros

  • Smooth and punchy engines
  • Good to drive
  • High-quality interior

Cons

  • Fiddly touchscreen infotainment system
  • No seven-seat option
  • Firm ride on S line and Edition 1 versions
8

Honda CR-V 2.0 I-MMD Hybrid

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£28,384

RRP from £30,880 to £39,840

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Honda's latest CR-V SUV offers excellent space for both passengers and luggage, and the hybrid version – which combines a 2.0-litre petrol engine with an electric motor – provides plenty of poke. It's also the most efficient and refined CR-V you can buy, so makes a great family car.

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Pros

  • Vast passenger and boot space (five-seat models)
  • Economical Hybrid model
  • Comfortable ride

Cons

  • CVT gearbox sends the engine racing
  • Poor infotainment system
  • Seven-seat versions hard to justify over rivals
7

Volvo XC90 Recharge T8

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£51,140

RRP from £56,135 to £75,190

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The XC90 Recharge T8 hides an ace up its sleeve: it's the only plug-in hybrid SUV on sale today with seven seats. As if that weren't enough, it's also the quickest XC90 by some margin, and yet it doesn't compromise what made the biggest Volvo appealing to begin with: its classy and family-friendly interior.

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Pros

  • Classy interior
  • Seven seats come as standard
  • Plug-in hybrid options

Cons

  • Unsettled ride
  • Road and suspension noise
  • Fiddly infotainment system
6

Toyota Corolla 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid

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£22,600

RRP from £24,485 to £31,435

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The Corolla's rear seats are cramped for six-footers, but this hybrid family hatchback offers super-low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions that make it an excellent choice for both private and company drivers. In addition, the Corolla's ride is cosseting and its standard spec generous, while even the cheaper, 1.8-litre version offers all the performance you need.

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Pros

  • Seriously low CO2 emissions
  • Comfortable ride
  • Loads of standard kit

Cons

  • Cramped in the back
  • Below-par infotainment system
  • Lots of road noise
5

Honda Jazz 1.5 i-MMD

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£17,547

RRP from £19,045 to £23,445

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The Jazz is the small car to beat for passenger and luggage space, while its unique and incredibly flexible rear seating only adds to its practicality. Visibility is excellent, too, which helps make it easy to manoeuvre and park, while generous standard equipment, strong resale values and low running costs offset its rather high list prices.

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Pros

  • Very spacious with great seating flexibility
  • Lots of standard equipment
  • Slow depreciation

Cons

  • Pricey by small car standards
  • Not the quietest cruiser
  • Disappointing infotainment system
4

Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate

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£37,793

RRP from £39,440 to £39,440

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Volkswagen recently treated the plug-in Passat to a host of updates, including a longer all-electric range. Plus, it's quiet at all speeds, has lots of passenger space and is available in an estate bodystyle that gives it a very practical boot. The batteries do take up the spare wheel well, though.

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Pros

  • Cheapest Passat for company car drivers
  • Spacious interior and big boot
  • Quieter than most rivals

Cons

  • Makes little sense for private buyers
  • Rivals have longer pure electric range
  • Limited modern safety aids
3

BMW X5 xDrive45e

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£57,657

RRP from £61,510 to £78,635

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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 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.

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Pros

  • Fantastic plug-in hybrid version
  • Great to drive
  • Classy, well-designed interior

Cons

  • Potential for road noise at speed
  • Third row of seats costs extra
  • There are more spacious and practical rivals
2

Skoda Superb iV

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£23,788

RRP from £25,645 to £42,035

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In iV form, the Superb combines a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine with a battery big enough for an electric-only range of 34 miles. It's essentially the same guts that you get in the Volkswagen Passat GTE , yet the Superb is just as comfortable and even more spacious, particularly in the back.

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Pros

  • Vast interior and boot space
  • Exceptional value for money
  • Classy, high-quality interior

Cons

  • Some rivals are more fun to drive
  • Diesel engines sound a little gruff
  • Automatic gearbox can be a tad jerky in traffic
1

BMW 330e

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£31,770

RRP from £32,595 to £50,900

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The thing that makes the 330e so special is that, aside from a shallower boot, it's much like any other 3 Series, meaning great fun to drive. There's simply nothing in the way it handles to suggest you're carrying around enough batteries for 36 miles of zero-emission motoring. What's more, every material feels suitably expensive, the infotainment system is a cinch to use and there’s a good amount of space in the back. The 330e is a truly great car.

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Pros

  • Brilliant fun to drive
  • Class-leading infotainment system
  • Great range of engines

Cons

  • Ride is rather firm – particularly in M Sport versions
  • Not as well finished inside as an Audi A4
  • Adjustable lumbar support costs extra

And the hybrid car to avoid...

DS 7 Crossback E-Tense
DS 7 Crossback

There are some versions of the DS 7 Crossback SUV that are worth considering, but sadly the E-Tense isn't one of them, because it just isn’t as polished as its plug-in hybrid rivals. Even if you overlook its sloppy handling, its ride goes from wallowy to crashy in... Read our review

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