Cheapest hybrid cars 2023
Used hybrid cars can be affordable and cheap to run, making them a great way to save money on car costs. Here are some of the best value
Hybrid cars are nothing new, but drivers now have a greater choice of petrol-electric models than ever before, from extremely economical superminis to practical and cheap-to-run medium hatchbacks and large plug-in models that offer the prospect of 20 miles of real-world electric range from a full charge.
The purpose of hybrid tech is to reduce fuel usage, by providing the car’s engine with electric assistance. So, with sky high fuel costs, now could be the perfect time to buy a low-cost hybrid and reduce how much you have to spend at the pumps.
Manufacturers such as Toyota have been producing models that incorporate an electric motor alongside a petrol or diesel engine for many years, which means that there are plenty of affordable hybrid cars available on the second-hand market.
In this article, we've focused on the cheapest used hybrid cars available. So, if you have a limited budget for your next car and fancy a hybrid, check out the cars below, which start with the very cheapest hybrid car available, and go up to the eighth cheapest available on BuyaCar.
There’s a good amount of variety here, from superminis to large family cars, so even if one model isn’t right for you, there should be one further down the list that costs just a little more that could still come within budget.
You’ll notice that Toyota models dominate the list. This is because Toyota has been producing hybrid cars for the longest. That’s no bad thing because the hybrid tech is tried and tested, and known to be really reliable as a result.
In addition to traditional hybrids, though, you can also now get cheap second-hand plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models. PHEVs pair a battery pack and electric motor with a petrol or diesel engine - as with ordinary hybrids. However, in the case of PHEVs, you get a larger battery and the ability to plug the car in to charge. The larger batteries mean that you can travel further on electric power with a PHEV - potentially up to 20 or 30 miles from a full charge, compared with a maximum of a mile or two with a standard hybrid.
Charge a PHEV regularly and predominantly cover lots of short trips, therefore, and you can complete most of your driving on electric power alone, reducing your emissions and fuel spend to the bare minimum. Fail to charge, though, or do lots of fast journeys and PHEVs can prove particularly inefficient, as they have to lug all the weight of a large battery pack and electric motor around, but with little electric assistance, which puts more strain on the petrol or diesel engine.
Best cheap hybrid cars
1. Toyota Yaris Hybrid
Best cheap hybrid car for city life
The cheapest hybrid car is the Toyota Yaris Hybrid, which is a small car that works really well for driving in the city or for short hops around town. It’s reliable, easy to drive, practical for its size and very affordable to buy.
The great news is that for many drivers, the Yaris Hybrid will be all you really need. It’s not very exciting to drive, and it’s not as practical as some of the other cars below, but it’s simple to park, nippy enough at lower speeds and the cabin feels well put together.
As it’s a hybrid, it excels in traffic. It’s an automatic, which means there’s no clutch to deal with in stop-start jams, and the near-silent running of the electric motor means it’s really relaxing to drive. You can also expect very impressive fuel economy of more than 60mpg without much trouble, making it cheap to run.
Best cheap hybrid car for families
If the Yaris is too small for you and your family, the Toyota Auris Hybrid is well worth a look. It’s the next cheapest hybrid car available, and it’ll also be easily capable of 60mpg in normal driving, plus it’s simple to drive in traffic and is relaxing to spend time in.
Like the Yaris, though, it’s not very exciting. It’s less comfortable and less satisfying to drive than other family cars of its type, but the hybrid engine and gearbox combination does mean that it’s really efficient and quiet. The Auris is roomy in the back, with plenty of space for kids or teenagers. Even adults won’t have trouble fitting in the rear seats.
The boot is a decent size as well - at 360 litres, it’s bigger than that of a Ford Focus of the same era. You can fold down the seats for extra storage space and trips to the dump, for instance, and while the cabin is a little bit dull to look at, it’s well built and should stand up well even in well-used models.
Best cheap hybrid car for reliability
Lexus consistently scores highly in customer satisfaction surveys such as Driver Power, and the CT 200h is known as one of the brand’s most reliable models. This means the smallest Lexus model is a clever used purchase if you want a dependable everyday car.
The CT 200h wasn’t the most appealing choice when new because it didn’t feel as expensive as its price tag suggested, but as one of the cheapest used hybrid cars around, it makes a lot more sense as a second-hand purchase. The interior is better than that of the Toyota Auris, with higher-quality materials, yet because they use the same technology (as Lexus is Toyota's upmarket brand, so models from both brands share a lot of features), the CT 200h is just as efficient.
There aren’t a lot of CT 200h models at the low end of the hybrid car market, but higher-mileage models are very cheap to buy and because they’re so reliable, we’d have no issue choosing one of these if it’s been looked after correctly. It’s not great to drive, nor as practical as some of the other options here, though.
Best cheap hybrid car for comfort
Not every cheap hybrid car uses Toyota’s hybrid setup. There’s also the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, which is an excellent alternative that focuses on efficiency and comfort. It’s also really practical, so works well as a family car - and many taxi firms love them for their reliability and fuel economy.
The Ioniq is available as a plug-in hybrid and an electric car, too, but the normal hybrid is the cheapest of the three options. It’s smooth over rough roads and the seats are excellent, so if you spend a lot of time in the car, the Ioniq could be an appealing choice. It’s really efficient too, as more than 60mpg is easy to achieve in normal driving.
It uses a petrol engine and a small electric motor, and in traffic it’s relaxed and smooth to drive as the engine rarely needs to kick on. When it does, it’s still quiet and doesn’t intrude too much. The Ioniq is great value, but some might be put off by the slightly dull exterior and interior design. Look beyond the styling, however, and this is a very sensible option.
Best cheap hybrid car for value
The Kia Optima is one of the largest cars on this list, with a huge boot and enough room in the rear seats to easily accommodate adults comfortably. The Optima is also good to drive, efficient and comes with lots of standard kit, so we rate it highly for value for money.
Perhaps most notably, though, is the fact that this is a plug-in hybrid. It has a driving range of around 30-40 miles from a full charge in electric-only mode, which is impressive for a plug-in that’s as cheap as this. It means a normal commute will be easily doable in electric mode, saving you lots on fuel costs.
To get the greatest fuel economy from the Optima PHEV, though, you’ll have to charge it regularly and mostly cover short journeys. Fail to plug in and you’re likely to be better off with a cheaper standard hybrid model from the list - so think about your situation before you choose one. If you can charge up every night ready for the next day’s driving, though, it could bring ultra-low running costs.
Best cheap hybrid car for efficiency
The Toyota Prius is probably the most famous hybrid car in the world, and there's more than one good reason for that. It’s effortlessly efficient, massively comfortable and incredibly reliable, so it’s a fantastic choice second-hand.
Ordinary drivers sometimes steer clear of the Prius because it has a reputation for being a taxi favourite. Yet taxi drivers love it because it’s reliable, ultra-efficient and comfortable to spend all day in, which are all good reasons to choose one as your own car.
The Prius is also practical and surprisingly enjoyable to drive, so don’t overlook it. Fuel economy of over 70mpg isn’t unheard of from these aerodynamic models, and there’s even a big boot and lots of passenger space.
Best cheap hybrid car for practicality
It’s good to see that there’s a hybrid option if you want a large family car - the Ford Mondeo Hybrid - among the cheapest hybrid cars you can get. The Mondeo is really big and roomy inside, and although the 383-litre boot is smaller than in non-hybrid versions of the Mondeo, it’s still a decent size and shape.
The version of the Mondeo isn’t as good to drive as older versions were, and the hybrid version’s heavy batteries mean it’s even less enjoyable on a twisty road. Yet the Mondeo is comfortable and sensible, with a smart cabin and a good amount of technology for the money.
The Mondeo is probably the least appealing option here if you are concerned about fuel economy, however. It’s difficult to match the claimed fuel economy figure, unlike in the Toyota and Hyundai models above, and in the real world it’s not really any more efficient than the diesel versions, which are easier to find and have a bigger boot.
Best cheap hybrid car for upmarket appeal
The Audi A3 e-tron is an interesting alternative not only because it’s a more upmarket car than most of the others on this list, but also because it’s a plug-in hybrid. It can travel for about 30 miles on electric power alone from a full charge, making it great for those who can charge up at home and maximise their time driving on electric power.
The 1.4-litre petrol engine is quiet and smooth too, although this early PHEV model was a bit jerky to drive, as the technology was still young when the car came out. However the Audi’s smart interior, roomy cabin and comfortable ride are all attractive when it’s among the cheapest hybrid cars around.
The A3 e-tron is less practical than a normal A3 as the batteries take up some boot space, so it’s not as practical as you might expect. However, the high-quality cabin will make everyday driving a highlight and you could save a lot of money if you have the right usage pattern to make the PHEV setup work in your favour.
*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:
48 monthly payments of £192
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
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.