slideshow

Best practical hybrid cars you can buy

Want a new car but don't know where to start? Just send us your criteria and we'll give our new and used car choices, and tell you how much we can save you.....

26 Sep 2019 16:27

The question:

Toyota Corolla silhouette

Can you help, please? I've had several Honda-badged hybrids over the years, while my husband has had estate cars.

Now we want to downsize to just have the one car, and we want a hybrid (not a plug-in model, though) with an automatic gearbox.

An estate car would suit our needs, but I have heard that the big batteries for hybrid cars can take up a lot of room. We are keen to get a new car but also want to lower our fuel costs and emissions. - Jenny

The brief:

A hybrid, but not a plug-in hybrid; automatic gearbox; preferably an estate car.

Editor's note: Images are purely illustrative and may not reflect referenced trim levels

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Buying new:

Toyota Corolla Touring Sports 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon Tech Auto

Our recommended choices: Toyota Corolla Touring Sports 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon Tech Auto

List price: £26,075

Target Price: £26,075

The Toyota Corolla hatchback is our favourite hybrid car, because it offers perky acceleration, low C02 emissions, a comfortable ride and lots of kit. The Touring Sports estate version keeps all of those positives and throws a big boot into the mix as well.

The 1.8-litre petrol engine that powers the Corolla Touring Sports for most of the time is perky enough for most situations, and you can drive around town for short distances on purely electric power, thanks to an electric motor.

Toyota Corolla Touring Sports 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon Tech Auto - interior

 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon Tech Auto - interior

The boot isn't quite as large as that of some rival estate cars, but it can still take the results of an adventurous trip to the garden centre without any trouble.

Go for our recommended Icon Tech trim level and you'll get adaptive parking sensors and sat-nav to go with the adaptive cruise control, dual-zone climate control and automatic headlights that come as standard.

The Corolla Touring Sports should also prove tremendously reliable, since Toyota ranked second overall in our latest Reliability Survey, being beaten only by its own sister brand, Lexus.

Also consider:

Ford Mondeo Estate 2.0 Hybrid Titanium Edition Auto

Ford Mondeo Estate 2.0 Hybrid Titanium Edition Auto

List price: £29,430

Target Price: £27,605

The electric motor in the hybrid version of the Ford Mondeo allows you to cover short distances using purely electric power before switching to the 2.0-litre petrol engine on board.

Ford Mondeo Estate 2.0 Hybrid Titanium Edition Auto - interior

Ford Mondeo Estate 2.0 Hybrid Titanium Edition Auto - interior

We like the Mondeo Estate's agile handling, spacious interior and keen pricing, and our Target Price discount only sweetens the deal.

Also consider:

Hyundai Ioniq 1.6 GDi Hybrid Premium SE

Hyundai Ioniq 1.6 GDi Hybrid Premium SE

List price: £27,005

Target Price: £24,495

Before the Corolla came along, the Hyundai Ioniq was our favourite option in the hybrid car market – chiefly because it doesn't feel any different to drive than a conventional petrol-engined car, seamlessly blending power from its electric motor and 1.6-litre petrol engine.

Hyundai Ioniq 1.6 GDi Hybrid Premium SE - interior

Hyundai Ioniq 1.6 GDi Hybrid Premium SE - interior

And if you do decide to go fully electric or get a plug-in hybrid further down the line, the Ioniq is also available in both of those forms.

What about used options?

Buying used:

2019 Kia Niro 1.6 GDi Hybrid 2 DCT Auto

Our recommended choice: 2019 Kia Niro 1.6 GDi Hybrid 2 DCT Auto

Price: £19,995

Mileage: 8000

The Kia Niro is available in three forms: hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric. The last of those, the electric e-Niro, is so good that it won our overall What Car? Car of the Year Award last year.

It's a fantastic thing, with a huge range, but you're after a hybrid car that you don't have to plug in, so you'll be interested in this one we found.

2019 Kia Niro 1.6 GDi Hybrid 2 DCT Auto - interior

2019 Kia Niro 1.6 GDi Hybrid 2 DCT Auto - interior

It's a nearly new 2019 car with just 8000 miles on the clock from a franchised Kia dealer. It's in 2 trim, so it comes with plenty of goodies, including sat-nav.

Its official fuel consumption figure is a great 58.9mpg, with corresponding CO2 emissions of just 86g/km. It's good to drive, there's loads of space inside and, although it's an SUV rather than an estate, there's plenty of room in its easily accessible boot.

Also consider:

2019 Toyota C-HR 1.8 Hybrid Dynamic CVT Auto

2019 Toyota C-HR 1.8 Hybrid Dynamic CVT Auto

Price: £20,000

Mileage: 6000

It may be a tad smaller and less spacious than the Niro, but that means the Toyota C-HR is nimbler and easier to manoeuvre in town.

What’s more, your budget will get you an almost-new example of the Dynamic model, which comes loaded with equipment.

2019 Toyota C-HR 1.8 Hybrid Dynamic CVT Auto - interior

2019 Toyota C-HR 1.8 Hybrid Dynamic CVT Auto - interior

You also get eye-catching styling, both inside and out, and the boot is wide and easy to access.

Also consider:

2017 Lexus NX 300h Luxury

2017 Lexus NX 300h Luxury

Price: £19,995

Mileage: 20,000

The Lexus NX is undoubtedly one of the better hybrid SUVs out there. Integration of the petrol and electric motors is very good and, with the smooth CVT automatic gearbox, acceleration is seamless.

2017 Lexus NX 300h Luxury - interior

2017 Lexus NX 300h Luxury - interior

The ride is a little choppy around town, but it smooths out on the motorway. It’s quiet, too, if you’re gentle with the accelerator.

The NX has a beautifully appointed interior that, although hampered by a fiddly infotainment system, is generally a pleasure to sit in and use.

Verdict:

Toyota Corolla

The Kia Niro is a compelling choice, especially given the savings you can find by buying used. However, it's an SUV rather than an estate and thus doesn't fit Jenny's brief completely.

The new Toyota Corolla Touring Sports, on the other hand, fits the brief perfectly by being both a hybrid – the sibling of our reigning champion in this market, in fact – and a spacious estate.

It's so new that discounts are hard to come by, but we still think it's the best car for Jenny to buy. It's spacious, it's economical and it should be extremely reliable.

Our recommendation this time, then, is to buy new.