Best plug-in hybrid cars 2024
Plug-in hybrids offer enough range to be free of tailpipe emissions on the daily commute, with a petrol or diesel engine for longer journeys. Here are 10 of the best.
If you are looking to cut your emissions and fuel costs, but don’t have the ability to make the switch to a fully electric car just yet, a plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) could well be the perfect compromise.
Much like a standard hybrid, a plug-in hybrid combines a petrol (or more rarely diesel) engine and at least one battery-operated electric motor to maximise efficiency. The difference with a plug-in model is that rather than the combustion engine charging the brakes on the move, you plug the vehicle into an electric car charger when the batteries need a top up.
It’s the ideal solution if you have the ability to charge a car on the driveway at home, as the electric range will give you the power you need to do the daily commute on electricity alone, without having to worry about running out of battery as the petrol or diesel motor will take over.
The upside of these independently charged batteries is that your car will be able to travel a longer distance than a traditional hybrid can on pure electric power – usually around 30-40 miles. This is particularly useful for short-distance trips and in cities with emissions regulations such as London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).
Be aware though, that all of this electric equipment adds weight to a car. This means that when you are running on fossil fuel only, the added weight can actually have a detrimental effect on your fuel consumption. Here are the best plug-in hybrid cars you can buy new or used.
Best plug-in hybrids
- Kia Niro PHEV
- BMW 3 Series
- Volvo XC60 Recharge
- Skoda Octavia iV
- Mercedes C-Class
- Range Rover Sport P400e
- Peugeot 308 Hybrid 180
- Ford Kuga PHEV
- Honda CR-V e:PHEV
- Vauxhall Astra
Best plug-in hybrid for a long warranty
Our pick: Kia Niro PHEV 3
Read our Kia reviews
In addition to the Kia Niro Hybrid – which can’t be plugged in – there is also a plug-in hybrid version of theKia Niro SUV. It has an electric range of 30 miles, which should be enough for daily use, provided you remember to charge it when you get home.
Standard equipment is a strong point for the Korean brand’s models and the fact that the Kia Niro came with a seven-year warranty means you shouldn’t need to worry about reliability when buying a used model. True, the Kia Niro isn’t the most exciting machine – total power amounts to 143PS and 0-62mph takes 10.4 seconds, so it’s not particularly quick – but it’s a steady performer that’s reasonably practical.
Early examples of the Kia Niro PHEV are available for as little as £21,000. The ‘3’ trim level is the most common. It adds leather upholstery and an eight-inch touchscreen media system to the already-present LED daytime running lights, dual-zone air-conditioning and digital radio.
Best plug-in hybrid for driving appeal
Our pick: BMW 330e Sport
Read our BMW 3 Series review
The BMW 3 Series is one of the best saloon cars going, so it stands to reason that the 330e – the plug-in hybrid version – should be one of the best too.
The first-generation model was sold between 2015 and 2018 and could do 25 miles on electric power only at speeds of up to 50mph. The latest model now returns 37 miles of range at speeds of up to 68mph, according to official tests. This means you can make much more use of the electric power, which should, in turn, cut your fuel bills.
But it isn’t all about saving money. The latest model produces a substantial 255PS (briefly rising to 296PS with a boost function) and combines rapid acceleration with agile handling. So, if you want to save some pennies, but still put a smile on your face every now and again, this is the car for you.
Most of the three-year-old examples available have done at least 30,000 miles, with prices starting in the region of £19,000. Fortunately, BMWs have a reputation for being well-built and if you’re more comfortable with a one-year-old model that’s seen less use, then a budget of £37,000 should be enough.
Best plug-in hybrid for sophisticated design
Our pick: Volvo XC60 Plus Recharge
Read our Volvo XC60 review
The plug-in hybrid version of the Volvo XC60 (older models are identified by their ‘T8 Twin Engine’ name, newer ones fall under the ‘Recharge’ badge) is typical of the Swedish company’s PHEVs in that it delivers oodles of power and performance.
The Volvo XC60 plug-in hybrid uses a 2.0-litre petrol engine that’s both turbocharged and supercharged to boost power, alongside an electric motor to produce a hefty 395PS. As a result, 0-62mph takes just 5.5 seconds, which is astoundingly fast for a family SUV.
An 11.6kWh battery pack gives the Volvo XC60 an electric range of up to 32 miles. And like a lot of PHEVs the charging capability is capped at a relatively low 3.7kW. This means a full top-up will take at least three-and-a-quarter hours. While this sounds quite slow, it’s plenty if you’re plugging in at work or leaving the car to charge overnight at home. As well as performance, you can expect a sophisticated interior and lots of passenger space.
Best plug-in hybrid for carrying capacity
Our pick: Skoda Octavia Estate iV SE
Read our Skoda Octavia review
The Skoda Octavia Estate is one of the best all-round cars on the market right now. It has sophisticated looks, along with loads of space for passengers and luggage, and top-end technology and equipment. It’s also refined and comfortable to drive, plus – in plug-in hybrid iV form – offers a decent turn of pace.
But in true Skoda style, it’s also affordable to buy and cheap to run. You can have your Skoda Octavia Estate as a cheaper petrol or diesel model, but the 1.4 TSI iV PHEV that mates a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine to an electric motor and battery pack is worth a look.
It can do 43 miles before the battery is depleted, yet it also puts out 204PS, enough for a 0-62mph time of 7.8 seconds. If that’s not fast enough for you, check out the sportier Skoda Octavia vRS model – it can also be had as a plug-in hybrid, but with 245PS and a 38-mile electric range. Who says plug-in cars are dull?
Best plug-in hybrid for diesel power
Our pick: Mercedes C300 de
Read our Mercedes reviews
Diesel plug-in hybrids are pretty uncommon, but on the Mercedes C-Class you have the option of either diesel or petrol power to work in tandem with the electric system.
The latest model clocks up to 235mpg under test conditions and while there’s little to discern from this inflated figure – as the test format isn’t particularly realistic – you’re likely to be better off with the diesel if you’re a high-mileage driver.
For lower-mileage drivers, the petrol will suffice. You have a further choice to make too, as the Mercedes C-Class PHEV is available as a saloon or an estate. The BMW 3 Series is more fun to drive, but the Mercedes C-Class is more comfortable and will suit you better if you drive at a relaxed pace. Newer models will manage over 30 miles of electric-only range on a full charge, although older cars from 2016 aren’t quite so capable.
Best plug-in hybrid for dynamic SUV luxury
Our pick: Range Rover Sport P400e HSE Dynamic
Read our Range Rover Sport P400e review
Going for a plug-in hybrid doesn’t mean you need to compromise on style, image or sophistication. Indeed, the previous Range Rover Sport P400e is one of the most desirable used plug-ins you can buy.
It uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, paired with an electric motor and 13.8kWh battery, giving a fully-electric range of up to 25 miles. That’s less than many of the cars on this list, but then the Range Rover Sport is much bigger and heavier.
With a charged battery, the Range Rover Sport P400e provides swift acceleration, achieving a 0-60mph time of just 6.3 seconds. The WLTP figure of 77-83mpg is a little ambitious in normal use, but use the battery strategically and it can still be quite frugal.
Best plug-in hybrid for affordable style
Our pick: Peugeot 308 Allure Premium Hybrid 180
Read our Peugeot reviews
The latest generation of the Peugeot 308 comes with not one but two plug-in hybrid options, and the French firm reckons they will outsell the regular petrol and diesel variants. As well as striking exterior styling you get a sleek, modern cabin with upmarket materials for a car at this price point. The quirky iCockpit driving position won’t suit all shapes and sizes, though, so try before buying.
You can choose between the Hybrid 180 with 180PS, or there’s also the punchy 225PS model. Both use a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine mated to a 110PS electric motor and battery pack.
The Peugeot 308 Hybrid 180 is the better bet – it’s noticeably cheaper and can do 40 miles of electric range (so is in a lower Benefit-in-Kind tax bracket than the 225) and it’s still plenty fast enough. That high-output electric motor also makes it easy to keep it in electric-only mode even at motorway speeds.
Best plug-in hybrid for pleasing handling
Our pick: Ford Kuga ST-Line X
Read our Ford Kuga review
There’s nothing in particular that makes the Ford Kuga PHEV stand out among a plethora of similar rivals, other than the fact it’s by far one of the best cars to drive in its size and price bracket. If you enjoy your driving, that’s a big selling point.
Lots of plug-in hybrids make bold claims about their EV range, but the Ford Kuga is a car that can actually deliver. It’s claimed to deliver 41 miles on a charge (which translates to a strong 35 miles or so in reality), but unlike some plug-ins it will provide excellent fuel economy of over 50mpg once the battery range is depleted.
It works around town and on longer runs, then, while the Ford Kuga PHEV also has a comfortable ride, great visibility and decent handling for a tall, heavy car. As a compromise-free family SUV, it’s one of the easiest and most appealing ways to go plug-in electric.
Best plug-in hybrid for safety-conscious families
Our pick: Honda CR-V e:PHEV Advance
Read our Honda CR-V review
The latest Honda CR-V is not only one of the most handsome SUVs on the market, but also now hybrid-only, with a choice of full hybrid (e:HEV) and plug-in hybrid (e:PHEV), the latter of which offers a decent electric-only range of up to 50 miles.
It uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and a 17.7kWh battery, which will take around two-and-a-half hours to charge up fully from a 7kW charging point or around seven hours from a domestic 240v supply. Maximum power is a lively 185PS, while it’s also well sorted dynamically, being one of the sharpest SUVs to drive on the market.
Another selling point is Honda’s Sensing360 driver assistance system, which removes blind spots around the vehicle and works in tandem with on-board safety systems to minimise the risk of accidents.
Best plug-in hybrid for familiarity
Our pick: Vauxhall Astra Plug-in Hybrid GS
Read our Vauxhall reviews
The current Vauxhall Astra is by far the company’s most convincing hatchback to date – it enjoys sharp handling, great steering and surprisingly good high-speed refinement, which makes it one of the best cars in its class.
Of even greater appeal, though, is its plug-in hybrid system which uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine, paired with an electric motor and a 12.4kWh battery pack. This gives an official range of 35 miles on pure electric power.
It also remains efficient on longer journeys, as the petrol engine is a naturally frugal unit. There’s an almost imperceptible transition from electric to petrol, too. It’s a well-engineered and extremely likeable car.