If you’re not ready to make the move to a pure electric car just yet, but you want to do your bit to reduce tailpipe emissions, a hybrid is the way to go. There are several different types of hybrid, but generally speaking any hybrid combines an internal combustion engine with an electric motor. This reduces fuel use because the electric motor assists the engine, decreasing its workload.
Some hybrids will run using only the electric motor in short bursts, either at low speeds in cities and towns, or at motorway speed by allowing the petrol engine to shut down for a time. And because they do this with the ‘backup’ of a fuel tank, they’re a great way of getting some zero-emissions electric driving without any range anxiety.
Our list contains a great mix of SUVs, family hatchbacks and compact small cars that all have either plug-in hybrid powertrains (PHEV) or a battery that is charged by regenerative braking (HEV).
The Top 10 Best Hybrid Cars 2023
- Audi A3
- DS 4 E-Tense
- Ford Kuga
- Hyundai Tucson
- Kia Niro – hybrid
- Peugeot 3008
- Toyota Yaris Cross
- Vauxhall Astra
- Volvo XC90
Audi A3 TFSI e – plug-in hybrid (PHEV)
The plug-in hybrid Audi A3 ‘TFSI e’ uses a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine assisted by an electric motor and a battery pack. The result is 245hp in total - about the same power as the high-performance VW Golf GTI - but with the ability to go up to 37 miles using electricity alone. In other words, it’s quick and it’s easy on fuel. Aside from that, the A3 is just a lovely car. It’s a spacious family hatchback with a beautifully finished interior and one of the best touchscreen infotainment systems in the business.
DS 4 E-Tense – plug-in hybrid (PHEV)
Compared to most family hatchbacks, the DS 4 is a little different from the norm. It’s chiselled and eye-catching from the outside, and its interior is both luxurious and unique. The window switches are placed next to the gear selector, for example. Its main quality is comfort, though. It rides softly and is one of the quietest family cars on the market. The ‘E-Tense’ plug-in hybrid feels quick and will do up to 38 miles on electric power only, while its 232mpg economy rating means it’s a very tax-efficient company car.
Ford Kuga – plug-in hybrid (PHEV)
The latest Ford Kuga is truly brilliant, a spacious family hybrid SUV that’s both comfy and fun to drive. It comes with a range of hybrid options, from ‘mild hybrids’ with a small electric motor linked to the engine to help save a little fuel, to the top-of-the-range plug-in hybrid model. The PHEV can do up to 41 miles of electric-only driving and has a fuel consumption rating above 200mpg.
Honda Jazz – hybrid (HEV)
The Honda Jazz is a small car that could easily be used as daily family transport for four. Few cars of any size are as cleverly packaged. For example, its ‘magic’ rear seats fold up from the base, giving you a big area for loading tall objects through the rear doors. It’s a ‘self-charging’ hybrid rather than a plug-in one, but that means 61.4mpg fuel economy day-to-day from a 1.6-litre petrol engine, and without ever having to plug the car in to charge. A highly practical, highly efficient and very likeable small car.
The Jazz also made it onto our list of the best hatchbacks in 2023.
Hyundai Tucson – plug-in hybrid (PHEV)
Very few family SUVs are as all-round brilliant as the Hyundai Tucson. The exterior styling is striking from any angle, the interior feels exceptionally high-quality throughout, and it’s beautifully comfortable. The plug-in hybrid system is only available with upper spec models, but the low running costs mean you’ll save a fortune in fuel, road tax and company car tax. It officially claims 201.8mpg, 31g/km of CO2 and an electric-only driving range of up to 38 miles.
If you’d like to know more about the Hyundai Tucson, our team of car experts have plenty of helpful articles such as th. Hyundai Tucson PHEV Review, Nissan Qashqai vs Hyundai Tucson and the Tucson colour guide.
Kia Niro – hybrid (HEV)
Kia’s cars have taken huge strides over the last decade or so, in terms of their quality, design and general refinement. The latest Niro is a great example. It’s available as a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and even a full EV, so there’s something for everyone. The ‘plain’ hybrid (called Niro HEV) has a 141hp petrol engine hooked up to a 44hp electric motor. A relatively small battery pack means it won’t get very far in electric-only mode, but the fuel savings are significant; the Niro HEV has a 60.1mpg average fuel economy rating, which is fantastic for a spacious, family-friendly SUV.
Find out how the hybrid version compares against the electric model in our e-Niro vs Kia Niro hybrid test.
Peugeot 3008 – plug-in hybrid (PHEV)
The Peugeot 3008 is a superb family SUV, with a cabin that’s both daring and user-friendly. Its unusually small steering wheel feels weird at first, but it makes for a very comfortable and distinct driving experience. There are two plug-in hybrid options, one with a single electric motor called ‘HYbrid’, and a version that uses two electric motors called ‘HYbrid4’. The latter gives the 3008 four-wheel drive and more power, up from 225hp to 300hp. In fact, the HYbrid4 is one of Peugeot’s most powerful cars ever, a genuine high-performance SUV but one that can also do up to 40 miles of electric-only, zero-emissions driving.
Toyota Yaris Cross – hybrid (HEV)
Toyota has been working on hybrids for years, having launched the original Prius way back in 1997. The Yaris Cross is the culmination of all Toyota’s hybrid know-how. It uses a really refined and very economical 1.5-litre petrol engine linked to an electric motor to return a good 60mpg in day-to-day driving. Aside from that, the Yaris Cross is just a really appealing family car, managing to squeeze space for four adults into quite a small, easy-to-park body. The interior is as solid as they come , and as with all Toyota cars, you’ll find it very reliable.
Vauxhall Astra – plug-in hybrid (PHEV)
The latest Astra is by far the best version in the long history of the model, going back to 1980. It has a spacious and practical interior, and the dashboard is both modern and user-friendly. Vauxhall has shifted most of the control buttons onto a large central touchscreen, but you needn’t worry - it’s all very easy to use. The 180hp plug-in hybrid version offers a great blend of performance and economy: it will hit 62mph in less than eight seconds, yet it returns 256mpg and can do up to 42 miles on battery power alone. The best of both worlds.
Find out more about Vauxhall Astra leasing.
Volvo XC90 – plug-in hybrid (PHEV)
Volvo’s current car line-up is predominantly made up of plug-in hybrids. And if you need to carry up to seven people in style and luxury, the XC90 SUV has to be in your thoughts. The T8 Recharge model is quick, quiet and efficient. With 455hp, it’ll get to 62mph in just 5.4 seconds, yet a fairly large battery allows for up to 43 miles of electric-only driving. Its 235.4mpg fuel economy figure means it’s surprisingly cheap to run, and a 28g/km CO2 rating makes company car tax especially low too.
Why Lease A Hybrid Car?
Hybrids are cheaper to run than ‘pure’ petrol or diesel cars, thanks to their excellent fuel economy and low CO2 tailpipe emissions. This is especially true of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), which have very low official CO2 figures and therefore some very significant tax breaks, both for private and business drivers.
Hybrids are also easier to live with than electric cars, especially for those who do lots of longer journeys, because they can continue to run on fuel even when the battery is flat. Keeping the battery of a PHEV charged up by plugging it in is essential for the best fuel economy, however.
Leasing is a great way to drive a brand-new car powered by hybrid technology at fixed and affordable monthly payments. For the latest prices on a wide range of models, take a look at our hybrid lease deals.
What’s the difference between a mild hybrid, a full hybrid (HEV) and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV)?
MHEV A mild hybrid has a small, low power electric motor linked to the petrol or diesel engine. The electric motor is ‘self-charging’ and can reduce fuel consumption by assisting the engine when accelerating.
HEV A full hybrid has a larger electric motor and battery pack that essentially does the same job as a mild hybrid, but to greater effect. It will allow short distances of electric-only driving, usually at low speed.
PHEV A plug-in hybrid takes things even further, with a much bigger motor and battery and therefore a bigger electric-only range. Most PHEVs are capable of motorway speed without using the petrol or diesel engine, but you’ll need to keep the battery topped up by plugging it in to get maximum fuel efficiency.
What are the most important things to consider when choosing a hybrid car?
If you do lots of motorway miles and not much in-town driving, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) might not be for you, as these are optimised for people who regularly plug the vehicle in to make the most of its electric-driving abilities.
If you’re looking for some electric-only driving but without having to plug the car in, a full hybrid will give you short distances at town speed before the engine kicks back in. A mild hybrid (MHEV) will never drive on electric power alone. Instead, the motor is used only to assist the petrol or diesel engine, to improve fuel economy a little.
What is the most reliable hybrid car?
You won’t go wrong with a Toyota hybrid. Toyota has been specialising in the technology for decades, so it has lots of expertise to call upon and always does well in owner reliability surveys, too. All brand-new hybrids leased through Vanarama will be reliable and covered by manufacturer warranty, giving you the ultimate peace of mind.
What hybrid car is the best value for money?
Dacia now does a full hybrid version of the Jogger estate, which is already a great value seven-seat vehicle.
Are plug-in hybrid cars easy and fast to charge?
Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) take less time to charge than full electric vehicles, because they normally have much smaller battery packs in comparison. Most PHEVs use the same ‘Type 2’ charging cable, which is suitable for use at a home wall box or a public fast charging station. Using those methods, a PHEV will normally take a few hours to fully replenish the battery.
Find out more about how car leasing works or why lease vs buy a car in our easy-to-understand leasing guides. Or if you're ready to browse for your next we've got a huge range of car leasing offers at unbeatable prices.