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.
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
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.)
What Car? Target Price from £22,571
RRP from £23,840 to £35,950 save up to £1,729
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
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.)
What Car? Target Price from £40,448
RRP from £42,950 to £61,650 save up to £3,578
Smooth and punchy engines
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
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.)
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
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.)
What Car? Target Price from £50,737
RRP from £54,400 to £73,970 save up to £5,112
Seven seats come as standard
Plug-in hybrid options
Road and suspension noise
Fiddly infotainment system
6. Toyota Corolla 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid
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.)
What Car? Target Price from £22,731
RRP from £24,185 to £31,430 save up to £1,895
Seriously low CO2 emissions
Loads of standard kit
Cramped in the back
Below-par infotainment system
Lots of road noise
5. Honda Jazz 1.5 i-MMD
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.)
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 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.)
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
Purchase cost is high for private buyers
Rivals have better range
Batteries take up the spare tyre space
3. BMW X5 xDrive45e
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.)
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
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.)
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
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.)
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...
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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