As we move closer to the end of the road for new petrol and diesel cars more drivers are looking to begin their electric vehicle (EV) journey. One way in which drivers are easing into the transition is by going for a hybrid model before transitioning to a full EV.
Hybrid models combine the internal combustion engine, which is powered by either petrol or diesel, with an electric battery and motor system. Some hybrid cars will need charging, and these are known as plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). Typically a PHEV will have a larger battery which means a longer electric powered range for you. There are also hybrids that will use the combustion engine and clever technology like regenerative braking to charge themselves which is why they’re sometimes referred to as self-charging hybrids. We’ve included both PHEVs and non-PHEVs in our top five pick so you’ll be sure to find a hybrid that’s right for you.
If you’d like to learn more about hybrids, how they work and the differences between the different types available then you should take a look at our range of EV guides.
The Top Hybrid Cars for 2023
It’s unsurprising that a Toyota would make it into our top pick of considering they were the first company to introduce a hybrid with the Prius. There’s no shortage of hybrid models available in their current catalogue either, from the small Yaris hatchback up to the large Rav4 SUV. We’ve opted for the Toyota Corolla as our pick – a spacious hatchback that’s suitable for new drivers, families and company car drivers alike.
It’s a self-charging hybrid so you won’t need to worry about how you’re going to keep the electric motor going, the car will take care of that. The smart hybrid system in the vehicle will move between the electric batty power, combustion engine and a combination of them both as needed depending on your driving style and the road at the time. You’ll get the choice of a 1.8 or 2.0 litre petrol engine, and both come with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) which is a type of automatic gearbox that will help make the most of the drivetrain power available.
We’ve focused on the hatchback, but you can also get the Toyota as an estate in the Touring Sports body if you need a car with a little more cargo room.
The Honda Civic is another hatchback that’s a favourite of UK drivers. It’s a fantastic car that is popular with a large range of different drivers due to its versatility.
Now in its 11th generation, it’s safe to say that Honda knows what drivers expect and want from the Civic, which is why the current model retains the styling we’ve come to expect from the Civic, with a sweeping roofline, bold front grilles and spacious interior but given it a modern refresh to update it.
Honda has given drivers very little choice with only one engine option and two trim levels however, we don’t think this will detract drivers. The Civic has everything you could need or want, and plenty of features come as standard that you’d pay extra for with other brands. There’s a nine-inch touchscreen infotainment system, that includes sat nav, smartphone mirroring and wireless phone-charging to name just a few.
As we mentioned the Civic is only available with one engine option, a 2 litre four-cylinder petrol hybrid. It is a self-charging hybrid so uses the petrol engine to recharge and power the electric system.
There’s plenty of room in the Civic with a roomy 404 litre boot, space for three adults to comfortably fit in the rear and low, wide driver’s seat. All this room makes it the ideal choice for drivers that want a family car with style and substance.
We’ve focused on the standard Civic for this article, but there is also the Type-R available for those after a hot hatch, though it doesn’t have a hybrid engine.
Like Toyota’s flagship Prius the Niro is known as Kia’s stand out electric model. It’s available as a hybrid, PHEV or fully electric car depending on what you’re looking for.
The hybrid has a 1.6 litre four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric battery. If you opt for the self-charging option then this will be a 1.32 kWh and offer up to 33 miles of purely electric power. As there’s more room for the battery in the PHEV, thanks to it not needing the self-charging system, it has a slightly larger battery at 11.1 kWh which has a range of 40 miles between charges.
As a compact SUV The Niro has a spacious cabin, and thanks to its boxy design this includes plenty of head and shoulder room for rear passengers. Thanks to the roomy interior and compact exterior it’s a great choice for your next family car, and as a car really allows your family space to grow, with the boot space more than enough to take you from prams to sports kits.
It received a revamp in 2022, for fresher styling and improved interior, including the optional head-up display, smartphone mirroring and larger infotainment system. We think it’s a stylish choice for drivers that want a hybrid SUV, and with the option of self-charging or PHEV you can really chose the best hybrid for you.
Lexus is a brand known for it’s premium quality and the NX oozes luxury in the way only a Lexus can. With impeccable build quality, premium materials and high comfort it’s the only choice for drivers looking for a luxury SUV.
It’s the first Lexus to be available as a PHEV and offers a mileage range up to 40 miles.
It is also available as a self-charging hybrid, which is a technology Lexus have been offering since the late 90s. When looking at models anything with 350h in the name will be the self-charging and anything with 450h will be a PHEV.
Our final selection is the BMW X5 xDrive45e, the plug-in hybrid version of their popular X5 SUV. It is also available with a range of petrol and diesel engines if you’re not ready for a PHEV, but we think it’s particularly impressive as a hybrid due to the long electric range of 54 miles.
Paired with a six-cylinder 3 litre petrol engine there’s plenty of power whether you’re in electric mode or relying on the engine, with a 0-62 mph of 5.6 seconds and 388 bhp there’s plenty of power.
As it’s a BMW the X5 has a comfortable and luxurious interior, finished to a high quality with plenty of features for your convenience like the iDrive infotainment system that be controlled by a touchscreen or dial and buttons when on the move, or the surround-view camera option that lets you see everything when you park.
BMW has skilfully placed the electric batteries so that you don’t feel the extra weight, even when cornering. They’ve also given it all-wheel drive for better traction no matter the weather or road conditions.
One thing to be aware of is that only the five-seat version of the X5 is available as a hybrid due to the space needed for and weight of the EV battery and motor systems.
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