- Parkers pick of the best hybrid cars to buy now
- Models to suit most lifestyles
- Wide range of budgets covered
- Self-charging and plug-in hybrids reviewed
Should you buy a hybrid car? It's the question that's on everyone's lips right now – especially as the UK Government recently announced that the sale of new non-hybrid petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2040, so understandably the move to a hybrid car is worth considering.
Many hybrid cars have sufficiently low emissions to qualify for lower BIK costs as well, minimising or even reversing the increase in list price. This means that in the current market conditions, where diesels are being placed under close scrutiny, more and more people are looking at hybrid hatchbacks, SUVs and saloons.
What are the best hybrid cars in the UK?
We’ve chosen our favourite hybrid cars available for you to buy now, both new and used, from a range of budgets and suiting a variety of lifestyles. They come in a variety of forms, but the easiest way of considering the different types of hybrids are that some come with a plug and others don't.
Those that don't need plugging in are more straightforward, but offer little – or zero – capability of running on its battery. Plug-in Hybrids (PHEVs) are gaining in popularity and typically need a couple of hours charging, claiming to run up to around 30 miles on battery alone. Once that's depleted, they behave more like a conventional hybrid.
Whether you’re looking for a small hybrid car, or a large SUV hybrid, we’ve picked the best ones for you to consider investing in.
The best small hybrid cars
If you’re looking for a small hybrid car as a runaround or if you mainly do city driving, then these are great options.
The Yaris remains a popular small-car choice, coming in behind competent rivals such as the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa, and Volkswagen Polo. It's built in Europe and although often overlooked by supermini buyers, it's still very much on the pace of the opposition.
What’s appealing about the Yaris? Its spaciousness, cast-iron reliability, and the ease-of-use and urban efficiency of the petrol-electric hybrid powertrain are all reasons to love it. In hybrid form, it's smooth, refined, and a clear demonstration of Toyota's long-standing excellence in hybrid tech.
You can’t even get a diesel version any more - it’s just available in the hybrid or petrol versions, and with five doors, not three.
- New price: £15,995-£20,495
- Fuel economy: 80-85 mpg
- CO2: 75 g/km
- Insurance group: 2-12
The C-HR is one of our favourite Toyotas - in fact, it won Car of the Year in the Parkers New Car Awards 2018. We've also run a Toyota CH-R on long-term test, and it proved supremely economical when driven accordingly, and a hoot to drive when not.
It has an excellent ride, supportive seats, quiet cabin, plus a stand-out design and loads of practicality. Although It’s certainly quirky this isn’t a novelty car, and although other rivals are more practical, it's a great all-rounder.
The engine and drivetrain are borrowed from the Prius, so you might wonder how enjoyable it is to drive - the C-HR has an involving, enjoyable setup as it’s been engineered with European driving in mind.
- New price: £21,065-£29,680
- Fuel economy: 74 mpg
- CO2: 86 g/km
- Insurance group: 14-16
The best used hybrid cars: Honda Jazz (2008-2015)
The previous generation Honda Jazz was available with two petrol engines and the hybrid, instead of a diesel. The hybrid isn’t available, sadly, on the newer model (from 2015 onwards), but you can still find a good used Honda Jazz for sale.
This model is spacious and practical, comfortable and quick around town, and of course easy to manoeuvre in tight spots. For a small hybrid car the interior is really spacious, suitable even for a young family.
- Used price: £2,170-£12,275
- Fuel economy: 50-62 mpg
- Road tax cost: £10-£115
- Insurance group: 13-19
A ground-breaking car for the German manufacturer, you can now only buy the i3 as a pure electric model as this range-extender version went off sale in 2018. The Rex adds 180 miles of range to the electric version’s clamied 80-100 miles between charges.
The i3 manages to blend efficiency with desirability. It has two pedals - a throttle and a brake - but can actually be driven in normal conditions using just the accelerator pedal. This is due to the effect of the car's energy regeneration system, which will slow down the car when the driver comes off the throttle.
Steering is light but sharp, and the i3 is more fun to drive than you might expect.
- New price: £33,070-£38,220
- Fuel economy: 150 mpg
- CO2: 14 g/km
- Insurance group: 21-23
Volkswagen hoped the Golf GTE would revolutionise the PHEV market in much the same way the GTI did in the hot hatch sector back in the 1970s and '80s. It went off sale in 2018 as a result of tighening emissions and fuel economy legislation.
But as a used car, it's a technological tour de force, with none of its kit intimidating to use. It drives pretty much like any other Golf, although the performance uplift you get from hitting the GTE button is only significant with a fully-charged battery.
Speaking of which, the battery range in the real world runs to 15-20 miles, but as a hybrid, it works extremely well, feeling brisk and responsive, and only dropping to GTI-levels of fuel consumption with the battery completely flattened.
Downsides are that you need to park nose-in – the charge socket is behind the grille badge – and the boot is considerably smaller than a standard front-wheel drive Golf.
Finally, its refinement is excellent as when it's on electric power it's near enough silent. There's a button to get the GTE to make some noise, though, so you don't run the risk of pedestrian collisions in the work car park.
- New price: £17,765-£34,650
- Used price: £5,125-£30,195
- Fuel economy: 37-83 mpg
- Insurance group: 7-39
Best hybrid cars for a family
With more and more car manufacturers offering hybrid cars these days, there are plenty of family cars with hybrid engines to choose from. Here are our favourite hybrid cars for families:
The original hybrid pioneer faces lots of rivals these days, but the fourth-generation of this long-running Toyota franchise retains its familiar looks and class-leading efficiency. The cabin is comfortable, as is the ride, although enthusiastic drivers won’t be too keen.
We're big fans of the Prius here at Parkers because both in self-charging and PHEV forms, it's super-economical on petrol, but still surprisingly good to drive. Toyota has relocated the battery under the rear seat to liberate more boot space, and thanks to improvements in technology it recharges 28% quicker than previously.
Outlandish looks divide opinion, but it's fair to say that familiarity has softened its styling – and it's still the bestselling car in Japan. So it clearly has popular appeal.
- New price: £24,115-£33,895
- Used price: £16,110-£24,200
- Fuel economy: 85-85 mpg
- Insurance group: 14-22
If you’re looking for a larger car to cope with the practicalities of a big family, plump for an SUV – there’s an increasing range of hybrid SUVs to choose from these days.
Volvo XC60 T8
Volvo's transformation into class-leading premium carmaker was just about completed in 2018 – and this process has been accelerated by the excellence of its plug-in hybrid (PHEV) architecture used in its 60- and 90-series models. For the XC60 T8, the plug-in aspect has been used very effectively to boost power as well as offer electrified running.
The XC60 T8 offers a maximum power of 390hp, a 0-60mph time of 5.3 seconds and a 150mph maximum speed – and yet, if you keep it charged up, and drive it economically, there's the potential to get more than 100mpg on shorter journeys.
Plus points are its handsome, non-threatening styling, classy and usable interior and one of the best, most effective safety kit in the business.
- New price: £60,670
- Fuel economy: 141 mpg
- CO2: 51g/km
- Insurance group: 42
Range Rover P400e
Available in Range Rover Sport and full-size models, the P400e petrol plug-in hybrid (PHEV) is a class-leading setup, with impressive fuel economy and emissions figures for the size of vehicle. Company car drivers will also appreciate the significant saving in BIK tax, where the premium paid for hybrid is recovered twice in savings over three years.
All of the Range Rover's imposing image and luxury remains intact, as does much of the performance - though the soundtrack from the 2.0-litre Ingenium petrol engine and electric motors is somewhat different to the V8's classic growl. When you're saving this much, it's hard to see the sense in the traditional powerplant.
- New price: £70,785 (Sport SE P400e) - £113,050 (Autobiography LWB P400e)
- Fuel economy: 101 mpg
- CO2: 64g/km
- Insurance group: 50
The X5’s massive dimensions suggest eye-wateringly expensive running costs, and while versions such as the high-performance X5 M remain thirsty, the balance is redressed by the plug-in petrol-electric hybrid xDrive 40e.
This is a luxury SUV, but very practical too - there is an optional third row of seats, to which access has improved, and comfort for driver and passengers is very high. It's in the process of being replaced by a new-for-2019 BMW X5, but as the new one looks very similar to the old one, don't expect massive price drops on used examples just yet.
New price: £55,810
Fuel economy: 85.6 mpg
Insurance group: 37-50
It’s the first Mercedes SUV to offer a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Combining 440hp with CO2 emissions of just 78g/km, the part-petrol part-electric GLE 500 e 4MATIC can be topped up either at a charging station, by using a wallbox charger or conventional power outlet in as little as two hours.
It promises 85.6 mpg (on paper) and can be driven for 18.5 miles using electricity alone (again, in theory). The GLE-Class is really comfortable and great off road (possibly better than on-road), however some of its rivals are more enjoyable to drive.
The new-for-2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE will offer more widespread plug-in hybrid (PHEV) options in 2019/2020, but from launch, it's diesel only.
- New price: £66,675-£75,970
- Fuel economy: 76 mpg
- CO2: 84g/km
- Insurance group: 49
The Outlander PHEV qualifies for the Government’s plug-in grant of £3,500 and taking that into account is priced either the same as the diesel or very close, depending on which trim level you chose. Ownership costs are compelling: zero road tax and a claimed 139mpg average.
It has a spacious interior with lots of practicality; the third row of seats is ideal for children (although perhaps a bit snug for adults on long journeys), and the handling is pretty good given its size.
Facelifted in 2018, the Outlander PHEV is still one of the musy popular plug-ins you can buy – and it's set to remain so for some time to come.
- New price: £34,805-£46,055
- Fuel economy: 139 mpg
- CO2: 41 g/km
- Insurance group: 24-27
*Prices correct at time of writing