Best plug-in hybrid cars 2024 – best and worst PHEVs named
Plug-in hybrid cars can reduce fuel consumption to an absolute minimum, but which models are the best all-rounders and which ones should you avoid?...
We all want the world to be a cleaner, greener place, but when it comes to plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), what's good for the planet can be good for your finances too. That’s because their low CO2 emissions make them affordable company car choices, and if you charge them regularly, they can be cheap to run for all.
By combining a small petrol engine with an electric motor and a battery that can be topped up via mains electricity, there's the potential to eke out incredible fuel economy, without suffering the range anxiety that’s often associated with fully electric cars.
After thousands of hours spent testing all of the latest plug-in hybrids, our highly experienced road testers have concluded that the Mazda MX-30 R-EV is the best of the bunch – read on to find out why it’s our pick.
If you decide that the MX-30 or any other car on this list is right for you, you can click on the review links to discover more or follow the deals links to find more discounts with our free New Car Deals service.
Top 10 plug-in hybrids
1. Mazda MX-30 R-EV
Many company car drivers choose plug-in hybrids because of the tax savings available on such models. And, with a 53-mile electric only range, the MX-30 sits in an enticingly low company car tax bracket. Additionally, the MX-30 costs significantly less to buy outright than most of its rivals – this allows it to appeal to private buyers, too.
Despite that affordable price, the MX-30 is a nice place to be: the interior is beautifully made, in-part, from recycled materials, and it’s easy to get comfy thanks to a highly adjustable driving position.
For Good ride and handling balance | Great infotainment system | Smart interior
Against Poor rear-seat space | Limited rear visibility | Average resale values
Read our in-depth Mazda MX-30 R-EV review
2. Mercedes GLC 300e
With its official electric-only range of 80 miles, the Mercedes GLC 300e has one of the longest ranges of any plug-in hybrid on sale.
However, there’s more to the GLC 300e than just range. The system is very smooth and refined, while performance is brisk. Also, the ride is comfortable with its standard fit rear air suspension, while the latter helps keep the car composed in the corners.
As with many other new Mercedes models, the GLC is offered with a shedload of tech, with an infotainment system that’s responsive and easy to navigate. The boot is also a good size, while rear space is better than in the rival Lexus NX. Overall, it’s a brilliant package that’s ideal for both company car drivers and families alike.
For Well equipped | Plug-in hybrid has impressive electric range | Spacious interior
Against Slightly firmer ride than rivals | Stylish interior doesn't feel the most sturdy | Petrol engines need working hard
Read our in-depth Mercedes GLC review
3. Lexus NX 450h+
The latest Lexus NX is one of the most compelling reasons to go green that we've yet seen, with a long electric-only range that should not only slash your running costs, but also makes for tempting company car tax rates.
This large SUV is good to drive, too, and has an interior that's hard to fault in any respect – indeed, it places you higher above the road than the rival Audi Q5, giving you a more commanding driving position. Plus, it’s a car your family will enjoy, because they’ll have more room to stretch out than they would in some rivals, and the boot will have no trouble swallowing your holiday luggage.
In short, Lexus has proved that driving an electrified car without accepting compromises need not be a fantasy.
For Strong performance | Promise of stellar reliability | PHEV has impressive electric range
Against Petrol engine isn't the smoothest | Choppy high-speed ride on F Sport versions | Takumi versions are pricey
Read our in-depth Lexus NX review
4. Mercedes C-Class C300e
Plug-in hybrids tend to be less comfortable than their conventionally powered siblings, because the extra weight of the batteries requires a stiffer suspension set-up, but the C300e comes with rear air suspension, which helps to solve this problem.
In addition, the C300e can officially run purely on electric power for 68 miles at a time. As a result, it qualifies for a low company car tax rating.
The C300e can be a relatively practical choice, too, with a boot that’s just as long and wide as that of the regular C-Class. And while interior build quality falls some way behind rivals such as the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series, there’s no denying the visual wow factor.
For Plug-in hybrid has an impressive ride | Fuel economy and emissions compare well with rivals |Low company car tax
Against Disappointing interior quality | Not as much fun to drive as the BMW 3 Series | Some road noise
Read our in-depth Mercedes C-Class review
5. Audi A3 Sportback 40 TFSIe
If you’re in the market for a relatively compact plug-in hybrid with a premium badge on its nose, we’d recommend taking a look at the Audi A3 40 TFSIe.
As well as having a high-quality interior, the A3 impresses with an excellent driving position and a comfy ride.
Yes, a Mercedes A-Class A250e has a slightly cheaper purchase price and a marginally better electric-only range, but it’s not as refined, it doesn’t handle as well and at times its ride is more fractious.
Company car buyers should take note, too, because this A3’s low CO2 rating and electric range places it in a low tax bracket.
For Sharp handling | Excellent driving position | Strong and frugal engines, including the excellent plug-in hybrid
Against Interior quality is good but it could be better | Fiddly infotainment system | Audi's unimpressive reliability record
Read our in-depth Audi A3 Sportback review
6. BMW X5 xDrive50e
Only a handful of plug-in hybrids can travel further on a charge than the BMW X5, which is particularly impressive given that it’s a big, luxurious SUV. In fact, if you commute less than 30 miles each way to work, the 67-mile electric range of the X5 xDrive50e could mean you’ll not burn a drop of fuel. Keep the battery charged, and you could see the official figure of 235mpg, although we recorded 27mpg when driving with a flat battery. Most drivers should see fuel economy between those two extremes, and company car drivers will enjoy low tax bills regardless.
Like the rest of the X5 range, the plug-in hybrid is superb to drive, with comfortable yet sure-footed handling and responsive steering. Its trump card here is straight-line performance: it takes 4.8sec to accelerate from 0-62mph – fractionally faster than the Range Rover Sport.
Inside, the X5 – in any guise – is hard to fault. The quality is exceptional, and the tech is brilliant, easy to use and plentiful. It’s just a shame it’s not quite as practical as the Volvo XC90.
For Fantastic plug-in hybrid version | Great to drive | Classy, well-designed interior
Against Wide standard tyres generate road noise at speed | Third row of seats costs extra | There are more spacious and practical rivals
Read our in-depth BMW X5 review
7. Range Rover Evoque P300e
The plug-in hybrid P300e is our favourite engine in the Range Rover Evoque. It's the fastest model in the range (0-62mph takes just 6.1sec) and is smooth around town and punchy on the motorway. It combines a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor and 15kWh battery, and can officially travel up to 38 miles on electric-only power.
As you’d expect from a car that bears the Range Rover name, the Evoque’s interior is beautifully finished. It’s also surprisingly spacious for its size, although the boot isn’t as big as you’ll find in the BMW X1 or Volvo XC40.
For Great driving position | Well equipped | Slow depreciation
Against Limited boot space | So-so fuel economy and emissions | Land Rover's reliability record
Read our in-depth Range Rover Evoque review
8. BMW 3 Series 330e
You’re probably familiar with the BMW 3 Series; it’s long had a reputation for being among the best executive cars you can buy, and these days, our preferred version is also a plug-in hybrid.
Yes, the 330e model combines an electric motor with a punchy yet smooth 2.0-litre petrol engine, for an official electric range of 37 miles; that could be enough to cover your daily commute.
Elsewhere, the 330e is nearly as rewarding to drive as any 3 Series, with sharp handling and a firm, well-controlled ride. The interior, meanwhile, is classy, comfortable and exceptionally user-friendly. Indeed, BMW's infotainment system is easier to get along with than the touchscreen setups you'll find in the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class.
For Brilliant to drive | Class-leading infotainment system | Great range of engines
Against Ride is rather firm – particularly in M Sport versions | Not as well finished inside as the Audi A4 | Voice command or fiddly touchscreen only way to adjust climate control
Read our in-depth BMW 3 Series review
9. Hyundai Santa Fe 1.6 T-GDi PHEV 4WD
There are lots of impressive facts and figures associated with the Hyundai Santa Fe plug-in hybrid. There's the 36 miles that it can officially cover before it needs to burn any fuel. Then there's the 173.7mpg and 37g/km of CO2 that it averaged in official tests. But perhaps the most significant number of all is seven, because it’s one of the few plug-in hybrids that can carry that many people.
Altermatively, you can fill its massive boot with luggage instead – in our tests, we fitted 10 carry-on suitcases inside, which is more than the rival Nissan X-Trail.
The Santa Fe also impresses for value, because you get so much equipment as standard. Even entry-level cars come with adaptive cruise control, heated leather seats and keyless entry.
For Seven seats fit for adults | Loads of standard equipment | Long warranty
Against So-so performance | Some wind noise | Ultimate trim is pricey
Read our in-depth Hyundai Santa Fe review
10. Kia Sportage 1.6T GDi PHEV
The Kia Sportage is a hugely capable family SUV, with a vast interior that’s stylish and well made. The boot is also massive, although in the plug-in hybrid the space is slightly smaller than the petrol and hybrid versions (the battery is located under the boot floor).
The plug-in hybrid version is the most powerful version of the car you can buy, and produces 261bhp. Officially, it can manage a respectable 43 miles, which is more than the Hyundai Tucson PHEV can manage. Overall, the Sportage is slightly better to drive than that car, too, with a ride quality that feels slightly more polished.
For Lower spec models are great value | Smart interior | Generous rear leg room and boot space
Against Hybrid petrol engine sounds strained | Rear headroom compromised with panoramic roof | No clever rear seat functions
Read our in-depth Kia Sportage review
And the plug-in hybrid to avoid...
DS 7 Crossback E-Tense
The latest DS 7 Crossback is a practical choice, but rivals including the Audi Q3 and Lexus NX are better to drive. The hybrid system also isn’t the most smooth or refined, even though the official electric-only range is quite good at 40 miles.
For Spacious and practical | Competitive CO2 emissions | Good level of standard equipment
Against Interior quality poor in places | Pricey against rivals | Grabby brakes and so-so handling
The best plug-in hybrid cars in 2023
Plug-in hybrid cars can reduce fuel consumption to an absolute minimum, but which models are the best all-rounders and which ones should you avoid?
Skoda Octavia iV Estate long-term test
The Skoda Octavia Estate has a five-star What Car? rating, but does the plug-in hybrid version continue to impress when you live with it every day?