The best hybrid cars in 2021

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

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.

Best hybrid cars

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

Hyundai Ioniq

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.

Hyundai Ioniq (cont.)

Hyundai Ioniq 1.6 GDi Hybrid Premium - interior

What Car? Target Price from £22,571 RRP from £23,840 to £35,950 save up to £1,729

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

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

9. Audi Q5 55 TFSIe

Audi Q5 driving

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.

Audi Q5 (cont.)

Audi Q5 interior

What Car? Target Price from £40,448 RRP from £42,950 to £61,650 save up to £3,578

Smooth and punchy engines
High-quality interior
Excellent infotainment system

Steering could be more involving
No seven-seat option
You need pricey air suspension for the best ride

8. Honda CR-V 2.0 I-MMD Hybrid

Red Honda CR-V Hybrid front

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.

Honda CR-V (cont.)

Honda CR-V - interior

What Car? Target Price from £24,448 RRP from £27,270 to £39,050 save up to £3,532

Vast rear-seat space (on five-seat models)
Good-sized boot (on five-seat models)
Comfortable driving position

A rough-sounding engine under load
Poor infotainment system
Seven-seat versions hard to justify over rivals

7. Volvo XC90 Recharge T8

SEVEN-SEATER: Volvo XC90 Recharge T8 Inscription

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.

Volvo XC90 (cont.)

Volvo XC90

What Car? Target Price from £50,737 RRP from £54,400 to £73,970 save up to £5,112

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

Unsettled ride
Road and suspension noise
Fiddly infotainment system

6. Toyota Corolla 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid

Toyota Corolla GR 2020 RHD right wide front tracking

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.

Toyota Corolla (cont.)

Toyota Corolla GR 2020 RHD dashboard

What Car? Target Price from £22,731 RRP from £24,185 to £31,430 save up to £1,895

Seriously low CO2 emissions
Comfortable ride
Loads of standard kit

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

5. Honda Jazz 1.5 i-MMD

Honda Jazz 2021 front cornering

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.

Honda Jazz (cont.)

Honda Jazz 2021 RHD dashboard

What Car? Target Price from £18,486 RRP from £18,985 to £23,385 save up to £610

Very spacious with great seating flexibility
Lots of standard equipment
Superb all-round visibility

Lumpy ride in town and so-so handling
Harsh engine note when accelerating hard
High list prices

4. Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate

Volkswagen Passat GTE long-term test review

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.

Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate (cont.)

Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate - interior

What Car? Target Price from £23,349 RRP from £29,340 to £41,450 save up to £6,510

Low running costs for low mileage drivers
Spacious interior
Very refined

Purchase cost is high for private buyers
Rivals have better range
Batteries take up the spare tyre space

3. BMW X5 xDrive45e

BMW X5 45e front cornering - 69-plate car

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.

BMW X5 xDrive45e (cont.)

LUXURY SUV: BMW X5 xDrive45e M Sport dashboard

What Car? Target Price from £54,975 RRP from £59,135 to £76,760 save up to £5,342

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

Expensive to buy
Third row of seats costs extra
Relatively small boot

2. Skoda Superb iV

Skoda Superb iV

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.

Skoda Superb iV (cont.)

Skoda Superb 2021 RHD dashboard

What Car? Target Price from £20,236 RRP from £24,855 to £40,580 save up to £5,622

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

Some rivals are more fun to drive
Automatic gearbox can be a tad jerky in traffic
Batteries reduce boot space

BMW 330e

BMW 330e front cornering

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.

BMW 330e (cont.)

BMW 3 Series Saloon 2021 dashboard RHD

What Car? Target Price from £28,785 RRP from £31,110 to £50,365 save up to £3,766

Brilliant fun to drive
Class-leading infotainment system
Decent EV range compared with other plug-in hybrids

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...

2019 DS 7 E-Tense cornering

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 an instant, while the integration of the motors and engine is anything but seamless.

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