The Best Small Hybrid Cars – The best hybrid cars can be a good choice for drivers who want to save on fuel costs but don’t want to go with a full battery electric car.
The demand for hybrids is growing rapidly, and more and more car manufacturers are offering the choice of a hybrid engine in addition to petrol and diesel.
The Best Small Hybrid Cars
There are plenty of options available – useful if you want to avoid the signature styling (or even Uber driver connotations) of the pioneering Toyota Prius. From the compact Honda Jazz to full hybrid plug-in off-road sports cars like the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid, there’s now an electrified model for every taste.
Are Hybrids Worth It?
However, not all hybrids are built equally. We’ve tested models with disappointing reliability, surprisingly high emissions, and many models that simply don’t deliver the fuel economy promised when you hit the road.
Get the final verdict on every car we’ve tested, on all fuels, with our independent car reviews.
A hybrid car combines a conventional engine (usually gasoline, but there are also diesel hybrids) with an electric motor. Depending on the type of hybrid, the electric motor works in tandem with the gasoline engine, or only for short periods, to save fuel and reduce exhaust emissions.
Below are the best hybrid cars we tested, including the best SUV, the cheapest plug-in hybrid and the best plug-in hybrid (PHEV). They are all fantastic cars. Not only have they passed the same tests as their traditional petrol and diesel rivals, they can save you an impressive amount of fuel.
Top 10 Best Hybrid Cars To Buy 2023
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There are three main types of hybrid cars. What’s best for you depends on how you use it and – more importantly – whether you can easily install a charging point at home to charge the battery that powers the hybrid electric motor.
Best Small Hybrid Cars 2023
Full hybrids, also known as ‘self-charging’ hybrids, are petrol (and to a lesser extent diesel) cars with a battery that is separate from the standard 12V car battery. This battery is charged with energy recovered during braking or deceleration and is then used to power a small electric motor.
An electric motor can drive the wheels of a car in combination with a petrol/diesel engine, or even independently (although usually only for short distances and at moderate speeds).
The electric motor is particularly useful when the car needs less gas or diesel fuel, such as starting, and can significantly reduce fuel consumption during stop-start city driving. Some hybrids also charge the batteries directly from the petrol/diesel engine under certain conditions.
Some newer full-hybrid models simply use their gasoline engine to charge the battery, 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 drive the drive wheels, for example when faster acceleration is required.
Cheapest Hybrid Cars 2023
Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) – built in the UK by models such as the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV – have much larger batteries than full hybrids and have a much longer electric range – typically around 20 to 40 miles. However, to get closer to the advertised fuel economy for most models, plug it in to charge the battery as much as possible.
Most PHEV models can also use the motor to charge the battery, but this is much less efficient. When the battery is discharged, PHEVs operate as a full hybrid.
Our research has shown that compared to fully electric cars, PHEVs use more electricity due to their weight and smaller electric motors. If you can regularly plug in your car at home, you should consider switching directly to an electric car.
The amount of time it takes to charge a plug-in hybrid car battery depends on both the size of the battery and the speed of the electric charger. If you charge it at home, it may take several hours. It can take less than an hour at fast charging stations.
The 5 Best Hybrid Cars Of 2023
The main difference with full and plug-in hybrids is that mild hybrids cannot run on electricity alone. The battery is only there to support the internal combustion engine, not to take over. This limits their potential for low CO2 emissions and fuel consumption.
Some provide extra power during acceleration; others allow the engine to be turned off when braking or moving to save fuel. A mild hybrid battery can also be used with a regular 12V car battery to power non-motor systems such as a car’s air conditioning.
You probably won’t notice much difference between driving a mild hybrid car and a regular gasoline or diesel car. The exception is that while modern cars turn off the engine while stationary to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, some mild hybrids shut off the engine while driving or decelerating.
So, for example, if you brake at a slow speed at a traffic light, the engine will stop while you are still moving and will not start again until you release the brake and have to accelerate. It might feel a little weird at first to come to a complete stop without the engine running, but you’ll soon get used to it.
Best Used Self Charging Hybrid Cars
Hybrid cars run on fuel and electricity, so in theory they 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 car. If you mainly use your car for short trips where you can only run it on battery power, then your hybrid is probably better for the environment than a conventional car. But it’s important to remember that it still produces emissions in the same way as a normal car when it’s not using the battery. Our road and lab tests reveal the actual fuel economy of every car we test, in a variety of driving scenarios.
There is no definitive answer to this, as it depends on your personal circumstances. There’s no denying that electric cars are better for the environment in terms of emissions because they simply don’t produce them. But they’re not for everyone – or at least not yet.
Whether you’re charging an electric car or a plug-in hybrid, the public charging network can be confusing, thanks to all the different networks, connection types and powers available. Find out in our guide to charging an electric car, including charging at home.
Best Hybrid Cars Of 2023 And 2024
Our independent car tests reveal the true range of an electric car, giving you a clear idea of how far you can go on a single charge – see our best electric cars.
Because they run on gasoline or diesel (at least part of the time), hybrid cars cannot be considered zero-emissions in the same way as an all-electric car. This can have consequences when driving in clean air zones or other restricted areas in busy cities.
Hybrid cars, including PHEVs, are no longer exempt from London’s congestion charge, although you don’t currently have to worry about the capital’s biggest ULEZ (Ultra Emissions Zone).
Only fully electric cars are now exempt from the congestion charge in London. It’s important to remember that exemptions don’t apply automatically – you’ll need to register your car with Transport for London first. If you have not registered your car, you are still liable for the fee.
Top 5 Best Small Hybrid Cars
Currently, other clean air zones, such as those introduced in Bath and Birmingham, only apply to petrol cars built before around 2005, so the vast majority of cars are not affected. However, this may change over time.
It is part of a package of green initiatives to help meet the UK’s legally binding target of net zero emissions (by 2045 in Scotland and by 2050 in the rest of the UK).
From 2030, the sale of some new hybrids, as well as gasoline and diesel cars, will be prohibited. This includes banning the sale of all new mild hybrids and possibly some other hybrid models.
From 2035, the sale of all new full- and plug-in hybrids will be prohibited. As of this date, the only new cars you can buy are zero-emission cars. This includes all-electric cars plus zero-emission alternatives such as hydrogen cars.
With Electric Cars Prices High, The Hybrid Isn’t Going Anywhere Yet
According to the government’s ban guidelines, there is one more