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Best used hybrid cars

Thinking of buying a hybrid car? There are plenty of reasonably priced ones to buy used now. Here are our top 10 picks...

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by
Mark Pearson
Published09 May 2024

Best used hybrids

With the Government proposing to ban the sale of new pure petrol or diesel-engined cars from 2035 onwards, those anxious to dip their toes in the future can either opt for a full-fat electric vehicle now or experiment first with a little petrol-electric hybrid action, that is to say, a car powered by a petrol engine combined with an electric motor. 

There are two hybrid types: 'self-charging' models, which mix petrol and electric power to maximise efficiency, and plug-in hybrids that can travel many miles purely on electricity before their engines need to cut in. 

There are plenty of either to buy used now, so many in fact that picking your way through the maze isn’t as easy as it once was. So here we bring you our guide to the best used hybrid cars.

And our top pick? It's the brilliant BMW 330e plug-in hybrid. Read on to find out if there's one for you.

Our pick: 330e 22.3 kWh M Sport 4dr Step Auto

0-62mph: 5.9 sec
MPG/range: 353.1mpg
CO2 emissions: 19g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 375 litres
Insurance group: 34E

Strengths

  • Great fun to drive
  • Sharp steering and superb body control
  • Intuitive infotainment system
  • Well equipped

Weaknesses

  • Interior not as well finished as Audi A4
  • Lumbar support was an expensive extra
  • Rather firm ride, especially on M Sport models

The 330e takes all that's good about the current BMW 3 Series saloon - and that's a lot - and adds a plug-in hybrid capability that gives it up to 37 miles of electric-only motoring. It goes without saying that it handles beautifully, rides well and is comfortable inside. It's also endowed with a great interior and a class-leading iDrive infotainment system. On top of that, it's really good value too. In short, it's a terrific buy. 

We found: 2019 BMW 330e M Sport, 43,000 miles, £19,995

Read our used BMW 3 Series review

Search for a used BMW 330e for sale

Strengths

  • Good range of engines
  • Spacious interior and boot
  • Classy interior

Weaknesses

  • Slightly unsettled ride
  • Base S trim misses out on some kit

Available in both saloon and estate forms, the Volkswagen Passat GTE is a smooth, quiet plug-in hybrid executive car with a smart, capacious interior. It can cover up to 31 miles on a full charge (39 miles in later versions), leading to potentially impressive fuel economy. It’s great to drive and impressively practical too, especially so in estate car form. With a strong reliability record and a long list of standard equipment, it's a great all-round package. 

We found: 2018 Volkswagen Passat 1.4 TSI GTE Advance, 35,000 miles, £18,950

Read our used VW Passat GTE review

Search for a used VW Passat GTE for sale

Our pick: 2.0 B5P [250] Core 5dr AWD Geartronic

0-62mph: 7.7 sec
MPG/range: 33.6mpg
CO2 emissions: 190g/km
Seats: 7
Boot: 302 litres
Insurance group: 37E

Strengths

  • Classy interior
  • Seven-seat versatility
  • Well equipped

Weaknesses

  • Ride slightly unsettled
  • Road and suspension noise
  • Reliability average

The Volvo XC90 T8 offers all the quality and practicality of the regular Volvo XC90. It's good to drive and well equipped, too, with a wonderfully stylish and comfortable interior. What’s more, unlike some hybrid and plug-in hybrid SUVs, the T8 doesn’t lose its third row of seats, meaning it's still a full seven-seater. It can drive on its electric motor alone, and do so for around 25 miles - useful if you travel in town. 

We found: 2016 Volvo XC90 T8 Momentum, 60,000 miles, £25,795 

Read our used Volvo XC90 review

Search for a used Volvo XC90 for sale

Strengths

  • Spacious and practical interior
  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Well equipped

Weaknesses

  • Noise under heavy acceleration
  • Infotainment system can be clunky in use
  • Not as good to drive as one or two rivals

The Honda 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 make it even more desirable. It's good to drive and, so far, very reliable too. 

We found: 2020 Honda Jazz 1.5 i-MMD Hybrid SE, 28,000 miles, £14,500 

Read our used Honda Jazz review

Search for a used Honda Jazz for sale

Our pick: 530e M Sport 4dr Auto

0-62mph: 6.3 sec
MPG/range: 470.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 13g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 520 litres
Insurance group: 39E

Strengths

  • Delightful to drive
  • Well equipped
  • Very economical

Weaknesses

  • A little pricey
  • Average rear seat space
  • Slight question mark over reliability

We love the BMW 5 Series – especially the plug-in hybrid version. Like the rest of the range, the 530e is great to drive and wonderfully refined. It’s also able to see off the 0-62mph dash in less than six seconds and polish off motorway cruises in spectacular style. The 530e can officially cover up to 36 miles on electric power, leading to potentially low running costs for such a large, luxurious car. Inside, the 530e is spacious, comfortable and classy, with the most user-friendly infotainment system on offer. 

We found: 2018 BMW 530e M Sport, 45,000 miles, £20,990

Read our used BMW 5 Series review

Search for a used BMW 530e for sale

Our pick: 1.8 Hybrid Icon 5dr CVT

0-62mph: 9.1 sec
MPG/range: 64.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 100g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 361 litres
Insurance group: 17E

Strengths

  • Great economy in the hybrid cars
  • Good to drive
  • Top-notch reliability record

Weaknesses

  • Rear-seat space a little tight
  • Infotainment not the best
  • The 1.8 not as refined as 2.0-litre version

This latest Toyota Corolla was a major step forward for the Japanese firm. It's a great family hatchback and a great hybrid car, and one of the few on our top 10 list here that's actually a self-charging rather than a plug-in hybrid. The 1.8 version we've found here even racked up a True MPG figure in our tests of 60.6mpg, and on top of that it offers a good driving position, plenty of kit and a comfortable ride, while Toyota's reliability record is second to none. You can also choose between a regular family hatchback or an impressive estate version known as the Touring Sports. 

We found: 2020 Corolla Touring Sports 1.8 Hybrid Icon tech, 16,000 miles, £18,995

Read our used Toyota Corolla review

Search for a used Toyota Corolla for sale

Our pick: xDrive50e M Sport 5dr Auto

0-62mph: 4.8 sec
MPG/range: 313.9mpg
CO2 emissions: 20g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 500 litres
Insurance group: 49E

Strengths

  • Good to drive
  • Classy, well-designed interior
  • Class-leading electric-only range of the PHEV version

Weaknesses

  • Some models are expensive to run
  • Boot relatively small
  • Rivals have a more spacious third-row

BMW's plug-in hybrid version of its mighty BMW 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, and a far more user-friendly infotainment system. It's not as old as the XC90, so not as cheap, hence it doesn't finish further up our list. 

We found: 2020 BMW X5 xDrive45e M Sport, 60,000 miles, £30,995

Read our used BMW X5 review

Search for a used BMW X5 for sale

Strengths

  • Unique driving experience
  • Low running costs
  • Amazing styling

Weaknesses

  • Steering could be better
  • Cramped rear seats
  • Tiny boot

Here's a bit of a left-field choice. The BMW i8's Blade Runner looks are backed up by a novel plug-in hybrid set-up that combines a 228bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine with a 129bhp electric motor. This not only gives it enough punch for a 0-60mph time of 4.4sec but also enables near-silent electric cruising for up to 34 miles, leading to some impressive fuel economy. You can expect to beat 40mpg – remarkable for a sports car. And it's fun to drive, with sharp handling. We think it's an investment - buy now and its prices will only go one way. 

We found: 2016 BMW i8, 70,000 miles, £36,995

Read our used BMW i8 review

Search for a used BMW i8 for sale

Our pick: 1.5 TSI 150 SE L 5dr

0-62mph: 8.5 sec
MPG/range: 53.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 121g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 600 litres
Insurance group: 21P

Strengths

  • Comfortable ride
  • Enormous boot
  • Plenty of rear-seat space

Weaknesses

  • Ride can sometimes be a little too floaty
  • Fiddly touchscreen
  • Some rivals are more refined
  • Reliability can be an issue

The Skoda Octavia iV's official 282.5mpg shows what’s possible if you do lots of short journeys, and it can run for up to 34 miles on electric-only power from a full charge. Crucially, though, this is combined with a comfortable ride, loads of standard equipment and a boot that's big enough to house an aeroplane. It's a fantastic family car, and used prices are now looking quite tempting. Only issues with its infotainment system let it down. 

We found: 2021 Skoda Octavia 1.4 TSI iV SE Tech, 28,000 miles, £18,000

Read our used Skoda Octavia review

Search for a used Skoda Octavia for sale

Strengths

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

Weaknesses

  • Poor rear head room
  • Unsettled ride around town
  • Poor reliability – electric model only

The Hyundai Ioniq was the first car to be offered on sale with three forms of electrification: as a hybrid model that combines a petrol engine with an electric motor, a plug-in hybrid version with a bigger battery that you can charge externally or an electric vehicle (EV). The plug-in version gives a good potential electric-only range of up to 30 miles in earlier models and 39 miles in post-2019 cars - which really helps the overall fuel consumption, especially if your journeys are mostly short. It's good to drive, well equipped and roomy inside, too. 

We found: 2018 Hyundai Ioniq PHEV Premium SE, 48,000 miles, £12,000

Read our used Hyundai Ioniq review

Search for a used Hyundai Ioniq for sale


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