Best hybrid family cars

Looking for a petrol or diesel alternative as your next family car? Take a look at our list of the best hybrid family cars

BuyaCar team
Mar 19, 2021

Have you decided its time to start thinking about buying a more economical car? If you're considering leaving your petrol or diesel guzzling past behind, then you could do far worse than to look for a hybrid alternative. You'll need some fuel, but you'll be burning much less of it thanks to some very clever technology.

With a broad range of models, manufacturers and technologies competing for your money, there is a greater choice than ever of hybrid cars available – vehicles that combine a fuel-burning petrol or diesel engine together with an electric motor.

The general idea of a hybrid car is that the standard engine is supported by an additional electric motor, which provides assistance under acceleration that means the engine uses less fuel, therefore making it more efficient. There are different levels of hybrid car, and each offers a slightly different variation of the theme.

For maximum efficiency (at a higher price) look for plug-in hybrid cars with bigger batteries that can be charged up, enabling them to power the car on electric power alone, typically for 20 to 30 mile, but these only make sense if you're able to keep them charged regularly.

The fact hybrid cars are more efficient means they also bring some other benefits to the table such as cheaper road tax - by virtue of their lower emissions.

Best hybrid family cars

Best hybrid hatchbacks

1. Toyota Yaris

Best hybrid family car for short trips

Fuel economy 58.8mpg
CO2 emissions 84g/km
Used deals from £11,295
Monthly finance from £204*

Not everyone needs a large family car. For many drivers, especially those who don’t travel far or live in city centres, having a compact car is a positive advantage.

That’s where the Yaris hybrid can make a deal of sense, offsetting its inflated price. It will seat four in comfort yet can hold its own in the cut and thrust of urban congestion, and with emissions of just 84g/km, short of an electric car it’s one of the cleanest ways to get from A to B.

TOYOTA YARIS BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Hyundai Ioniq hybrid

Best hybrid family car for conventional design

Fuel economy 62.8mpg
CO2 emissions 84g/km
Used deals from £15,600
Monthly finance from £268*

The styling of the latest Toyota Prius is a bit of an acquired taste. That’s a shame, because more’s the pity if it puts off drivers from the considerably improved hybrid tech beneath the surface.

However, it could play into Hyundai’s hands. The Korean company’s competitively priced Ioniq – which sounds like something from the treatment list at a detox sanctuary – is less challenging to look at and almost as good to drive.

The Hyundai Ioniq is efficient on the motorway, as well as at slower speeds and has a spacious interior Hyundai has kept the dashboard and controls mercifully simple to use too. You’ll also benefit from a five-year warranty, matching Toyota. For extra efficiency, there's a plug-in hybrid Ioniq.

HYUNDAI IONIQ BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Toyota Prius hybrid

Best hybrid family car for smooth hybrid power

Fuel economy 94.2mpg
CO2 emissions 70g/km
Used deals from £18,490
Monthly finance from £269*

The Toyota Prius is the car that put hybrid on the map with Britain’s drivers, and the latest model is excellent - with efficiency that's not far off the Toyota Yaris, the smaller, lighter hybrid found in Toyota showrooms. At the time of writing, the manufacturer had not published the fuel economy figures from the latest WLTP test.

As with any hybrid, part of the appeal beyond the on-paper benefits is just how smooth and relaxing it is to drive. That’s especially the case with the Prius, as its electric motor has enough oomph to make headway at low speeds, and the suspension gives a pliant ride that does a good job of smothering Britain’s broken roads – a real boon with children on board.

TOYOTA PRIUS BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Suzuki Swift 1.0 Boosterjet hybrid

Best hybrid family car for value

Fuel economy 51.8mpg
CO2 emissions 98g/km
Used deals Limited stock

The smart little Suzuki Swift is an agile small family hatchback that’s enormous fun to drive and offers plenty of space inside for a small family. Its mild hybrid technology is quite subtle, but it does provide both a boost to performance and economy – albeit one not quite as extreme as some of the other models in this list.

If you want a small hybrid that slots simply into your everyday motoring life but don’t really want to show off your eco credentials with a hybrid that shouts ‘look how green I am’ every time you drive it, there are few better directions to point your money.

SUZUKI SWIFT BUYERS' GUIDE

Best hybrid SUVs

1. Toyota C-HR hybrid

Best hybrid family car for turning heads

Fuel economy 57.6mpg
CO2 emissions 86g/km
Used deals from £17,995
Monthly finance from £262*

The Toyota C-HR is one of the most interesting looking SUVs on the road. If you superimposed it into Blade Runner, it wouldn’t look out of place with officer Deckard at the wheel, hunting down replicants.

Those intersecting angles and curves come at a small price, as there’s not as much headroom in the back seat as in other family SUVs, but hey, you can’t have everything. And unlike those competitor cars, this one is available with a petrol-electric hybrid drive system, which means drivers can achieve diesel-like fuel economy without worrying about the particulates being left in its wake.

Surprisingly good to drive, if less comfortable and not as quiet as the Prius, it’s another impressive hybrid from Toyota.

TOYOTA C-HR BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Lexus NX 300h

Best hybrid family car for an alternative to German SUVs

Fuel economy 37.1mpg
CO2 emissions 135g/km
Used deals from £22,350
Monthly finance from £354*

When drivers make a shortlist of upmarket SUVs to test drive, it will inevitably feature models from Audi, BMW, Mercedes and, increasingly, Volvo. But there is another option, Lexus – the car company with some of the most satisfied customers on the road.

The NX300h looks sharp and is more than capable of holding its own in the car park at work or at the golf club. The interior is equally contemporary in feel, the quality is impressive and there’s a good amount of space for four adults, or three younger children on the back seat.

Its hybrid system has been set up to give the NX300h four-wheel drive as and when extra grip is needed, as a second electric motor drives the back wheels. However, don’t expect especially impressive fuel economy. In day to day driving it will rarely better 40mpg.

LEXUS NX BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Kia Niro PHEV

Best hybrid family car for plugging in

Fuel economy 201.8mpg
CO2 emissions 31g/km
Used deals from £15,963
Monthly finance from £263*

The plug-in version of the Kia Niro can manage around 30 miles on electric power alone, so those with a short commute might be able to get to and from work without using a drop of petrol.

The rest of the Niro is pretty appealing as well. It offers plenty of equipment as standard, it’s fairly fun to drive and – because the whole range was designed to be hybrid from the outset – doesn’t compromise on interior space to make room for the batteries.

Other versions of the Niro include a non-plug-in hybrid and a fully electric option.

KIA NIRO BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine

Best used hybrid family car for a stylish premium SUV

Fuel economy 100.9mpg
CO2 emissions 51g/km
Used deals from £36,280
Monthly finance from £553*

The modestly stylish Volvo XC60 represents a classy alternative to the quality SUV offerings from Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Range Rover.

The T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid version brings plenty of power to proceedings, too, with around 400hp available from the combination of a 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine and an electric motor.

VOLVO XC60 BUYERS' GUIDE

Best hybrid premium cars

1. Mercedes E300de

Best hybrid family car for a beautifully-made interiors

Fuel economy 166.2mpg
CO2 emissions 41g/km
Used deals from £36,980
Monthly finance from £487*

Another diesel hybrid enters our list, this time it's in the form of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The new E300de combines a 2-litre diesel engine, with an additional electric motor. Take the official 201.8mpg figure with a pinch of salt, as you'll need to do a lot of electric-only driving to achieve it, but the E300de should do around 30 miles on just electric power. If you're not keen on diesel, then there's another plug-in hybrid option: the E300e, with a petrol engine.

Inside, expect the usual hallmarks of a Mercedes - top quality interiors and loads of tech.

MERCEDES C-CLASS BUYERS' GUIDE

2. BMW 530e

Best hybrid family car for a sporty drive

Fuel economy 128.4mpg
CO2 emissions 49g/km
Used deals from £24,995
Monthly finance from £387*

As a plug-in hybrid, the BMW 530e is able to operate for a short time without using its 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine at all. When used in combination, it offers enough performance to stand comparison with the powerful 530d diesel variant of the 5 Series.

The only compromise is slightly less boot space than you’ll find in a regular 5 Series, as the batteries take up 120 litres of potential cargo space, but the remaining 410 litres is more than adequate.

BMW 5 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Volvo V60 T8

Best hybrid family car for carrying luggage in style

Fuel economy 135mpg
CO2 emissions 48g/km
Used deals from £39,899
Monthly finance from £557*

Volvo is famous for making sensible and practical family cars, and the spacious Volvo V60, with its 529 litres of luggage space, is no different. These days, though, Volvos are fast gathering a reputation for being upmarket and sleek, too.

To this appealing mix, the V60 T8 Twin Engine adds a plug-in hybrid drivetrain that delivers the possibility of electric-only running for short trips, plus a real boost to both economy and performance thanks to the electric motor that drives the rear wheels.

You’ll need to plug it into a charging point either at home or at a public facility on a fairly regular basis to make the most of the V60’s extra electric power, but it’s (quite literally) a small price to pay for all that extra performance and economy.

VOLVO V60 BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Lexus IS 300h

Best hybrid family car for anyone without a charging point

Fuel economy 50mpg
CO2 emissions 109g/km
Used deals from £16,300
Monthly finance from £299*

High-priced upmarket cars are frequently sought after by business users looking to cut their company car tax. They want a car with low CO2 emissions to reduce their tax band, which means they will probably be looking at a plug-in hybrid car.

But if you're just looking for excellent fuel economy without having to plug your car in to the wall every evening, then the Lexus IS 300h uses the same type of hybrid system as the Toyota Prius, in a package that brings more performance and a much more interesting design.

It looks good, it's quite and it's reasonably stable in corners. For families, consider it a four-seat car and you won’t be disappointed by the level of space in the back seats.

LEXUS IS BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

Read more about:

Latest advice

  1. What is E10 fuel and can my car use it?

  2. Outstanding finance on a car

  3. Breakdown cover for older cars