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Top 10 best hybrid family cars 2024

Need a practical car with very low running costs? Read our guide to the best hybrid family cars

Top 10 best hybrid family cars

These days hybrid cars are a mainstay of the new and used-car market – hybrid family cars take the low running costs and better fuel efficiency they offer, and combine them with the practicality and space necessary for family buyers. Some don’t even need to be plugged in, making them a great stepping stone for those not ready to buy a fully electric car. 

Hybrid vs plug-in hybrid vs electric carsHybrid vs plug-in hybrid vs electric cars

Here we’ve listed our top 10 best hybrid family cars, to make it easier to choose the one that suits you and your family best. There are SUVs, estate cars, saloons and hatchbacks that all offer the benefits of hybrid and plug-in hybrid drivetrains – some of which will enable you to do some shorter trips around town on electric power alone.

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Most of our picks are mid-sized cars for the average family, but if you need even more space, we’ve also put together our lists of the best seven-seaters and large family cars. If you’re currently deciding between a hybrid or electric car, make sure to check out our list of the best electric family cars, too.

Finally, we’ve also included some detailed advice about the differences between hybrid and plug-in hybrid technology and how to choose your hybrid family car – this can be found at the bottom of this page. 

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Continue reading for our run-down of the best hybrid family cars to buy, or check out our guides to the best hybrid estates and best hybrid SUVs on sale.

Hyundai Tucson review - a great family car

Carbuyer best family car Hyundai Tucson
Carbuyer rating

4.5 out of 5

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We were so impressed by the Hyundai Tucson during our time with the car that it won our 2022 Best Family Car of the Year award. Car buyers get a choice of mild hybrid  or plug-in hybrid models, meaning that even if you don’t have access to a charger there is still a hybrid option for you. Inside you’ll find plenty of space for family and luggage and sharp graphics for the infotainment screen.

The hybrid systems on the Tuscon don’t just save you money at the pumps either, the electric motors on the plug-in hybrid can boost power for a quick overtake if needed.

Volvo V60 Recharge hybrid review

Volvo V60 Recharge
Carbuyer rating

4.5 out of 5

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If you want a smooth, powerful and economical estate, you’ll be well served by the Volvo V60 Recharge. The Volvo has a 529-litre boot (unchanged from the non-hybrid models), which is bigger than the BMW 3 Series Touring and Audi A4 Avant - not to mention the larger Skoda Superb. The cabin is shared with more expensive Volvo models, and includes a crisp portrait touchscreen and lots of plush materials.

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With a total output of 399bhp, the V60 Recharge hits 0-62mph in just 4.9 seconds and is capable of travelling for up to 30 miles on electric power alone. A fuel economy figure of 134mpg is quoted but you can expect to knock the ‘1’ off when you’re only using petrol power. Besides the V60’s price and it not being particularly compelling to drive, there are very few downsides.

Skoda Superb Estate (2015-2023) review

Best Used Estate Car: Skoda Superb Estate
Carbuyer rating

4.8 out of 5

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There are very few cars better suited to families than the Skoda Superb Estate, thanks to its combination of a huge boot, a well-equipped spacious interior, handsome looks and great value-for-money. Car buyers that have previously purchased a diesel Skoda Superb may be hesitant to switch to a hybrid because of the great fuel economy of the diesel. However, the plug-in model offers cleaner exhaust emissions, more power, and great running costs meaning only high mileage drivers are likely to benefit from sticking with the diesel.

It’s said to manage up to 148mpg, emits between 27 to 33g/km of CO2 and can hit 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds. Recharging the 13kWh battery takes about five hours, and the charging port is cleanly hidden within the front grille. Hybrid models have 150 litres less boot space than the petrol and diesel cars, but the 510-litre boot is still generous.

Mercedes C-Class hybrid review

Best Plug-in Hybrid: Mercedes C-Class
Carbuyer rating

4.3 out of 5

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The latest Mercedes C-Class is available as a plug-in hybrid model in either saloon or estate guise, known as the C300e. It offers a class-leading electric range of up to 71 miles on a single charge (68 miles for the estate) according to the official tests, meaning you’ll be able to do plenty of shorter trips without using a drop of petrol.

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The hybrid system robs the C-Class of some boot space so we’d recommend the estate version - it offers extra practicality over the saloon model at the expense of just those few miles of electric range. In general, the hybrid C-Class may not be as engaging to drive as the BMW 330e, but it is very comfortable and the hi-tech interior makes it a great car to ride in for all occupants. The Mercedes C-Class is a great hybrid family car for buyers after an extra dose of premium feel.

BMW 330e hybrid saloon review

BMW 330e UK
Carbuyer rating

4.3 out of 5

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For a long time, the best-selling BMW 3 Series has been the 320d diesel, thanks to its blend of performance and economy. But now that diesel sales are dropping, BMW expects a lot of buyers to convert to the 330e plug-in hybrid. It hasn’t rested on its laurels, though, as the latest 330e is much better than the previous model. When the battery’s fully charged, it’ll manage between 37 and 41 miles of zero-emission driving and so it has fantastically low running costs, which both business and private buyers will appreciate.

Despite its tax-busting credentials, the 330e is just as good to drive as any other 3 Series, and the two forms of power come together to surpass 0-62mph in just six seconds. Like other cars on this list, the boot is smaller than standard because of where the batteries are placed but BMW introduced a 330e Touring estate version last year for those who require more luggage space.

Lexus NX SUV review

Best Large Plug-in Hybrid: Lexus NX
Carbuyer rating

4.3 out of 5

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You won’t miss the Lexus NX if it passes you on the road – the angular styling and prominent grille has become a signature of the brand. A sombre colour tones down the edgy styling for those that like to be a little more incognito when on the road. Inside, the cabin is spacious and well equipped with a clear centre screen that has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and everything falls within the driver’s eyeline when you’re sitting behind the steering wheel.

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The NX is available both as a hybrid and plug-in hybrid, with up to 40 miles of range on a single charge if you go for the NX450h plug-in hybrid model. This version is also faster but more expensive to buy than the hybrid NX350h. Both models are slightly larger than the previous generation and offer more space than plug-in rivals such as the BMW X3 or Mercedes GLC.

Cupra Formentor review – our favourite hot SUV

Best Hot SUV: Cupra Formentor
Carbuyer rating

4.2 out of 5

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Cupra became its own brand after spinning off from the SEAT brand, although it is still influenced by the Spanish manufacturer. The Formentor was the first fully fledged Cupra vehicle and has an angular body that at a glance appears more like a sports car than a family SUV. This compromises boot space compared to a Cupra Ateca but the seating front and rear is still roomy enough for a family.

The Formentor won our Best Hot SUV award in our Best Car Awards 2022 and is available in several specifications and engine types to include two plug-in hybrid models that vary in power. If you want to match the sportier styling with the larger wheels and trim pieces, you will want to look for the V2 model or higher. However if a comfortable ride is a priority the V1 model will be a better match.

Kia Sportage review – a popular, economical hybrid SUV

Kia Sportage drive front quarter
Carbuyer rating

4.2 out of 5

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The Kia Sportage offers three levels of hybrid power, starting with the mild hybrid, then the self-charging hybrid and finally the plug-in hybrid. The one that will work best for you will depend on your mileage and budget, but the plug-in model has a range of 43 miles from a full charge.

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The interior features premium materials that help the Sportage compete with more expensive brands. Headroom and shoulder room is ample for four adults, so a family with older or taller children should feel comfortable in the Kia. This is matched by a large boot so long journeys or packing for a holiday shouldn’t be a problem.

Overall, the new Sportage impresses us, despite strong competition from the Hyundai Tucson and Volkswagen Tiguan.

Toyota Corolla hatchback review

Toyota Corolla
Carbuyer rating

4.3 out of 5

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The name may not be associated with excitement, but the Toyota Corolla is a genuine alternative to the Ford Focus, Kia Ceed and Vauxhall Astra. The Corolla is even more efficient than the C-HR (with which it shares its engines), and both 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre engines can return over an average 60mpg. You don’t have to plug it in - just fill up with petrol like a normal car. We’d expect the 1.8-litre engine to be sufficient for most buyers, getting from 0-62mph in under 11 seconds. The 2.0-litre is much faster, at 7.9 seconds, but does sacrifice the size of the boot slightly.

It’s not particularly fun through corners, instead excelling at comfortable and relaxed driving. Inside is spacious, and the touchscreen now comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so you can use your phone’s apps on the screen.

BMW X5 review – an upmarket driver’s SUV

BMW X5 front quarter driving
Carbuyer rating

4.3 out of 5

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The latest hybrid version of the BMW X5, known as the xDrive50e, offers up to 67 miles on a single charge meaning you’ll manage to get more than enough short trips out of its electric motor around town before needing to top it up. Its powerful 489bhp output means there’s plenty of performance on offer when you need it too. We’ve not driven this very latest version, but the pre-facelift xDrive45e was still one of our top hybrid family cars. Whether you’re buying new or used, the X5 is a top pick.

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Of course, one of the main draws to the large SUV body style is the added practicality it offers for the whole family. While it’s not quite as spacious as the diesel or petrol X5 given the way the hybrid’s battery pack encroaches on boot space, it should be sufficient for most family buyers. Room for passengers is also excellent. Further to this, the X5 hybrid’s interior is one of the best in its class, built with top-notch materials and plenty of technology, giving it a premium family car feel.

Hybrid family car buying advice

There are plenty of hybrid family cars to choose from if you want something that’s spacious and economical but doesn’t run on diesel or petrol alone. On another positive note, hybrids tend to be much cheaper than pure electric cars too, so they occupy the middle ground and should be a good compromise between value-for-money and economy.

What are the different types of hybrid car? 

Broadly speaking, there are three types of hybrid car: regular, ‘full’ or 'self-charging hybrids' (sometimes called HEVs), mild hybrids (mHEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). All use a combination of an engine (usually petrol), an electric motor and a battery to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The first two types typically use the engine to recharge the battery, but plug-in hybrids have much bigger batteries and need to be charged from the grid. They can also manage a much longer range on electric power alone; current PHEVs manage between 30-60 miles of electric range, compared to just a couple of miles for full hybrids and nothing at all for mild hybrids. Plug-in hybrids offer incredible fuel economy figures on paper but it’s worth noting that you won’t achieve anywhere near these figures unless you keep the battery topped up and do most of your driving on short trips where you can rely on the electric power.

What features should I look for in a hybrid family car?

Wallet-friendly running costs aren’t the only attributes family-car buyers are looking for. In-car technology can be a big motivator behind a purchase, and the sheer amount of competition within the car industry means that carmakers are often including ever more impressive gadgetry in their cars, whether these be safety features, driver aids or infotainment systems to entertain your passengers. All of the cars in our top 10 hybrid family cars list can be ordered with sat nav, smartphone connectivity and multi-zone climate control, plus driver assistance features like cruise control, parking sensors and hill-start assist.

New cars actually need lots of onboard driver assistance tech to pass the stringent Euro NCAP safety tests, and all the cars we mention above have a full five-star score, which should particularly appeal to buyers with children.

Will a hybrid car have enough space for a family? 

Practicality is often a key consideration, too - a family car will be compromised if the boot isn't big enough for your requirements or there isn’t enough space in the rear seats. Fortunately hybrid cars come in all shapes and sizes these days and there’s a good range of models big enough for the family.

Cars with flat-folding seats impress us, as these can create a large, flat loading bay for bulky items when the seats are down. Sometimes, the batteries in a hybrid car can reduce boot space, which is worth remembering if you’re looking at boot space figures from a non-hybrid version.

Check out our guides to the Top 10 most economical family cars and the Cars with the biggest boots.

Top 10 best hybrid family cars

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Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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