Best hybrid cars 2024
Hybrid cars are the perfect choice if you aren’t in a position to go electric, but want to save money on running costs. Here’s our pick of the best hybrid models that you can buy right now.
Hybrid cars have never been so popular. Indeed, the last few years has seen sales of both hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars rocket, with so signs of that trend slowing down.
If you can’t make an electric car work for you, but want to reduce your fuel costs and complete long journeys with no range anxiety, then a hybrid car makes a lot of sense.
Hybrid cars are popular partly because they offer some of the benefits of an electric car – with lower fuel costs than conventional petrol or diesel alternatives – but with the back-up of a decent fuel tank. As a result, long journeys aren’t an issue, even if you want to drive to the other side of the country or across continents.
A self charging hybrid has a small battery that’s charged by the car’s engine and when braking. It can usually only cover very short distances at low speeds using electric power only. Unlike a plug-in hybrid, there is no requirement to plug in any cables for charging.
Here, we look at the best self-charging hybrids on sale at the moment. If you're after a plug-in hybrid, we've covered those separately in our Best Plug-In Hybrid Cars.
Best hybrid for upmarket appeal
Our pick: Lexus NX350h Premium Plus Pack FWD
Read our full Lexus NX review
With its clever self-charging system, the Lexus NX is a mid-sized SUV with plenty of appeal, not least the fact that via regenerative braking and using the 2.5-litre petrol engine as a generator, the on-board battery can give it enough juice to cover an impressive 40 miles on electricity alone.
Indeed, it’s the perfect compromise if you like the idea of a plug-in car but don’t have the facility to charge one, as the EV mode is useful in urban environments.
The electric motor powers the rear axle, meaning that in petrol mode it’s front-wheel-drive, and in electric mode it’s rear-wheel-drive, but if you wish to press on then the hybrid system allows it to become four-wheel-drive. Clever stuff. It’s not cheap, but the Lexus NX is a great car.
Best hybrid for families
Our pick: Toyota RAV4 Excel
Read our full Toyota RAV4 review
The latest generation of the Toyota RAV4 SUV uses the very same technology as sister brand Lexus’ NX to deliver a similar dynamic package, along with a comparable electric-only range of around 40 miles.
When the Toyota RAV4’s electric motor and petrol engine work together under hard acceleration, it’s surprisingly quick, but at the expense of fuel economy – you should be getting at least 40mpg out of it in daily use otherwise.
It’s a great family SUV and a good car to drive, but do bear in mind that the hybrid powertrain affects its towing capacity (800kg max), so don’t go buying one to replace your caravan tow car.
Best hybrid for sporting fun
Our pick: Renault Clio esprit Alpine E-Tech
Read our full Renault Clio review
Stylish and sharp to drive, the Renault Clio is one of an increasingly popular batch of small hybrid cars on the market. Despite the fresh looks, this is actually a revamped version of the existing Renault Clio, but the big changes are under the bonnet.
The new E-Tech model has a 1.6-litre petrol engine, combined with a battery that takes over at low speeds and gains charge through kinetic energy and regenerative braking.
The overall power output is 143PS – similar to a 1990s hot hatch, a character that works beautifully alongside the agile chassis and smart new looks. Offered only as a five-door, it’s quite practical for a small car with a boot capacity of almost 400 litres.
Best hybrid for all-round appeal
Our pick: Kia Niro Hybrid 3
Read our Kia reviews
The revamped Kia Niro, now in its second generation, aims to build upon the incredible success of its predecessor. With enhanced appeal both inside and out, the Kia Niro continues with the winning qualities of the previous model: notably, low running costs, a high quality interior and attractive prices.
No surprise then that this is the second most popular model in the Kia line-up, after the Kia Sportage. Prices start at around £30,000 and it comes well equipped for the money.
As the Kia Sportage has expanded in size, the Kia Niro finds its niche in offering greater practicality than small SUVs while remaining more economical and easier to live with than full-fledged family SUVs. Of course being a Kia it also comes with a seven-year warranty and given Kia's track record, the Kia Niro should prove to be extremely reliable.
Best hybrid for seven seats on a budget
Our pick: Dacia Jogger Extreme TCe 140 Hybrid
Read our Dacia reviews
Not content with ruffling feathers with its pricing, the Dacia Jogger also introduced a hybrid model featuring a 1.6-litre petrol engine and two electric motors under its bonnet, a 1.2kWh battery and automatic transmission.
In urban use, Dacia claims it will do 80% of its driving on electricity, while its average fuel economy of 56.5mpg in general use is also pretty impressive. Equipment levels are good, too – it’s a tough car to ignore if you want the peace of mind of a new car on a used car budget. It’s bound to be a bargain second-hand, too.
Best hybrid for pedigree engineering
Our pick: Honda Civic i-MMD eCVT Sport
Read our full Honda Civic review
Now in its 11th generation, the current Honda Civic looks less outrageous than its predecessor and is a wholly more civilised car to drive, as well.
It’s also one of the very best full hybrid cars you can buy today, using Honda’s proven 2.0-litre e:HEV powertrain developing 184PS from its petrol and electric combo.
It returns an official combined figure of 60mpg and uses an electronically controlled automatic transmission, while the cabin is well equipped and features high-end materials and a comprehensive touchscreen infotainment system, with smartphone mirroring. It’s a terrific all-rounder and a genuinely enjoyable car to drive, like many Honda Civic versions before it.
Best hybrid for contemporary style
Our pick: Renault Arkana esprit Alpine E-Tech
Read our Renault reviews
When it came to predicting what car buyers in 2024 would really want to go for, Renault read the room perfectly.
The Renault Arkana ticks all of the popular boxes – SUV chunkiness, coupé sleekness and impressive dynamics. This is all coupled with a no-nonsense full hybrid powertrain (the same 1.6-litre petrol engine and battery pack used in the Renault Clio E-Tech) that offers enough performance for any family motorist, coupled with 50mpg+ fuel economy and the ability to drive in urban environments with zero tailpipe emissions.
It’s a car that doesn’t stand out on paper in any particular area, but which comes together as a package beautifully. A really convincing all-rounder and a very satisfying car to own.
Best hybrid for proven technology
Our pick: Toyota Corolla 1.8 GR Sport
Read our full Toyota Corolla review
It was the original pioneer of full hybrid technology, so it’s no surprise that Toyota gets another entry on this list thanks to the Toyota Corolla.
Best served in estate car flavour, the Toyota Corolla uses the firm’s tried-and-tested ‘self-charging’ petrol-electric hybrid technology, which allows for an electric-only range of over 30 miles in urban environments depending on engine choice.
There are 1.8 and 2.0-litre models available, both of which use the car’s petrol engine to charge the battery, with a CVT transmission meaning minimal drivetrain resistance, improving electric range. Equipment levels are generous no matter which model you go for and although it may appear like a vehicle that prioritises function over form, the Toyota Corolla is actually quite an enjoyable car to hustle along.