Hybrid Vehicle Best Cars 2023 – The best hybrids can be a good choice for drivers who want to save on fuel costs but don’t want to jump into the deep end with a full battery electric car.
The demand for hybrid cars is growing rapidly and car manufacturers are offering hybrid engine options along with petrol and diesel.
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There are plenty of options – useful if you want to avoid the flashy styling of the flagship Toyota Prius (or indeed the Uber driver connections). From the compact Honda Jazz to full-bodied, sporty plug-in hybrids like the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid, there’s now an electric model for every taste.
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However, not all hybrids are created equal. We’ve got models that offer poor reliability, high emissions and don’t deliver the fuel economy you’re promised when you’re actually on the road.
Get the ultimate verdict on every car we’ve tested with our independent car reviews on every fuel type.
A hybrid consists of a conventional engine (usually gasoline, but diesel hybrids are also available) and an electric motor. Depending on the hybrid model, the electric motor works together or in conjunction with the gasoline engine to save fuel and reduce emissions.
Below are the best hybrids we’ve tested, including the best sedan, cheapest hybrid, and best hybrid (PHEV). These are all great cars. Not only does it pass the same tests as conventional petrol and diesel rivals, it can also save you a significant amount in fuel costs.
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There are three main types of hybrids. The best depends on how you use it and most importantly, whether you can easily install a charging point at home to charge the battery that powers the hybrid electric motor.
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Full hybrids, also known as “self-charging” hybrids, are gasoline (and to a lesser extent diesel) vehicles that have a battery pack separate from the standard 12V car battery. This battery is charged with energy stored during braking or acceleration and is then used to drive a small electric motor.
An electric motor can drive the wheels of a car with a petrol/diesel engine, or by itself (usually only for short distances at moderate speeds).
An electric motor is best used when the car needs the least amount of gasoline or diesel, such as when it starts, and when it can reduce fuel consumption when driving around town. Some hybrids charge their batteries directly from the gasoline/diesel engine under certain conditions.
Some newer hybrid models use the gasoline engine only to charge the battery pack, which is then used to power the wheels, as some manufacturers find this more efficient. In some cases – such as the Honda Civic e:HEV – the petrol engine can power the drive wheels, for example when more acceleration is needed.
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In the UK, plug-in hybrids (full PHEVs) with models such as the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV – have larger batteries and a longer electric range than full hybrids – typically around 20-40 miles. However, for most models, you need to charge the battery as much as possible to get close to the advertised fuel consumption.
Most PHEV models can also use the engine to charge the battery, but this is less efficient. When the battery runs out, PHEVs operate as full hybrids.
Our research found that compared to EVs, PHEVs consume more electricity due to their weight and smaller electric motors. If you can regularly park your car at home, you may want to switch straight to an electric vehicle.
How long it takes to charge the battery of a plug-in hybrid vehicle depends on the size of the battery and the speed of the electric charger. If you are charging at home, it may take a few hours. Fast charging stations can take less than an hour.
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The main difference between full and plug-in hybrids is that mild hybrids cannot run on electricity alone. The battery is only there to help fuel the engine, not take away from it. This limits their potential for low CO2 emissions and fuel consumption.
Some provide extra power during acceleration; others allow you to cut the engine while braking or coasting to save fuel. The hybrid battery can also work with a standard 12V car battery to power non-engine systems, such as the car’s air conditioning.
You won’t notice much difference between driving a hybrid and a regular petrol or diesel car. The exception is that modern cars cut the engine when stationary to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, while some mild hybrids cut the engine when cornering or decelerating.
So if you’re slowing down for a traffic light, for example. at low speeds, the engine cuts out and you should not accelerate until you release the brakes. It might be a little strange at first to stop without the engine, but you get used to it quickly.
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Hybrid cars run on both gas and electricity, so you should reduce the amount of gas you use while driving. This in turn means that the car will emit less CO2.
However, it really depends on how you use your hybrid. If you primarily use your car for short trips where you can run it on battery power, your hybrid car is probably better for the environment than a regular car. But we must remember that when the battery is not in use, it will still produce the same emissions as a normal car. Our road and lab tests show real fuel consumption figures for every car we test in a variety of driving scenarios.
There is no clear answer to this because it depends on each person’s situation. There is no denying that electric cars are better for the environment in terms of emissions because they emit nothing. But they’re not right for everyone — or at least not yet.
Whether you’re charging an electric car or a plug-in hybrid, the typical charging system can be complicated due to different systems, plug-in types, and different power sources. Be smart with our guide on how to charge an electric car, including charging at home.
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Our independent driving tests show the true range of an electric car, so you can see exactly how far you can go on a single charge – see our best electric cars.
Because they run on gasoline or diesel (at least sometimes), a hybrid cannot be considered a fully electric car without endless emissions. This can have an effect when driving in clean air zones or other restricted areas in busy cities.
Hybrid cars, including PHEVs, are not exempt from road tax in London, but you don’t have to worry about the capital’s huge ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) these days.
Only electric cars are currently exempt from road tax in London. It’s important to note that exemptions aren’t automatic either – you’ll need to register your car with Transport for London first. If you have not registered your vehicle, you are responsible for the fee.
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Other clean air zones currently in place in Bath and Birmingham only apply to petrol cars built before 2005, so most cars will not be affected. But that can change over time.
It is part of a series of green projects to achieve the UK’s statutory target of net zero emissions (by 2045 in Scotland, 2050 elsewhere in the UK).
From 2030, the sale of some new hybrid cars will be banned, along with petrol and diesel cars. This would ban the sale of all new mild hybrids and possibly some hybrids.
From 2035 the sale of all new and plug-in hybrids will be banned. From this date on, the only new cars you can buy will be zero emission cars. This includes electric vehicles and zero-emission options such as hydrogen vehicles.
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According to the government’s directive on the ban, there are many things to be done