True MPG: most efficient hybrid cars
What Car?'s independent fuel economy tests show what MPG you can really expect from a car. Here, we reveal the best performing hybrids we've ever tested...
The official government MPG figures published in sales brochures can tempt you into buying a particular car, but those results are often misleading. So, What Car? has its own True MPG figures which reveal what fuel economy you can expect in the real world.
To ensure accuracy and repeatability, we use strictly controlled conditions, with the tests simulating a mix of town, rural and motorway driving.
As a result, they reflect what's achievable if you’re driving gently and sticking to speed limits but aren’t resorting to any unrealistically slow acceleration or special 'hypermiling' techniques.
Below we count down the top 10 the hybrids we've tested that you don't have to plug in, culminating in the new number one.
10. Toyota RAV4 2.5 Hybrid
True MPG 37.1mpg
The previous-generation RAV4 makes quite a bit of sense as a used buy, because it's frugal, practical, well priced and has an excellent reliability record. Just bear in mind that it handles more like an old-school 4x4 than a Mazda CX-5 of the same vintage.
9. Toyota RAV4 2.5 Hybrid 2WD
Test MPG 42.3mpg
To drive, the latest RAV4 is fine rather than great, while its infotainment system is as slow as it is fiddly. However, when you factor in its impressive kit tally, Toyota’s stellar reliability record and the fact that nothing on this list is as efficient around town, there's still plenty to recommend it.
8. Honda CR-V 2.0 i-MMD Hybrid
Test MPG 43.3mpg
The main reason for not choosing the RAV4 is that Honda's CR-V Hybrid offers similar strengths, along with better comfort, refinement, passenger space and real-world economy.
7. Lexus ES 300h
Test MPG 44.7mpg
Modern luxury saloons tend to use diesel engines, but the ES is different, combining a 2.5-litre petrol unit with an electric motor. This approach makes for a car that's whisper-quiet around town and when cruising on the motorway but a bit noisy under acceleration. Company car tax bills are comparatively low and fuel economy is competitive.
6. Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
True MPG 46.9mpg
Hyundai's Ioniq is a former What Car? Hybrid Car of the Year, because it's spacious, well priced and feels reassuringly normal to drive. What's more, it's been refreshed since our True MPG test, so should be even more efficient now.
5. Toyota Yaris 1.5 Hybrid
True MPG 49.2mpg
The previous-generation Yaris Hybrid's average True MPG is good rather than great for a small car, but it's urban figure is one of the best around: 80.0mpg. Throw in light controls, a tight turning circle and a supple yet well controlled ride, and it makes a fine used city car.
4. Toyota Corolla Touring Sports 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid
Test MPG 49.4mpg
If you're in the market for a new family estate, the Corolla should definitely be on your shortlist, regardless of whether or not you're specifically looking for a hybrid. It's more efficient in the real-world than many diesel rivals, comes loaded with safety kit and offers a very comfortable ride.
3. Kia Niro Hybrid
True MPG 50.1mpg
We're huge fans of the Niro's fully electric sister, the e-Niro, naming it our overall Car of the Year in 2019. But the hybrid version doesn't make as much sense because it costs more than conventional rivals and isn't as practical or good to drive. Still, 50.1mpg in the real world isn't to be sniffed at.
2. Toyota Prius 1.8 VVT-i
True MPG 50.5mpg
The Prius is the most famous hybrid of them all, and offers slightly better real-world economy than its main rival, the Ioniq. However, overall we rate the Hyundai slightly higher, because it's quicker, better equipped and more fun to drive.
1. Toyota Yaris 1.5 Hybrid
Test MPG 59.9mpg
Hybrid cars don't come any cheaper than the latest Yaris, yet it has the best average fuel economy figure of any car we've put through our True MPG test. It's also well priced and offers perky performance, although there are plenty of small cars that are more spacious.