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Top 10 best plug-in hybrids 2024

Plug-in hybrids offer an excellent compromise between petrol and electric power – here are our 10 favourites

Best plug in hybrids

With impressive fuel economy, silent electric driving around town and low Benefit-in-Kind rates, plug-in hybrid cars make a lot of sense for many car buyers. They’ve grown in popularity in recent years, acting as a stepping stone towards electrification for many drivers.

As the name suggests, PHEVs differ from traditional hybrids as their batteries can be recharged through an external source. The batteries are also much larger than those found in regular hybrids, allowing for a longer electric driving range and, therefore, even better fuel economy.

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Below, we list the best plug-in hybrids. You might also want to check out our guides to the most economical cars, the best company cars and the best electric cars.

Mercedes C-Class saloon review

Mercedes C-Class saloon driving
Carbuyer rating

4.3 out of 5

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  • Priced from £49,860

The Mercedes C 300 e won the Best Plug-in Hybrid award at our 2024 Carbuyer Best Car Awards and it isn’t hard to see why. The interior is not only comfortable but fitted with the latest MBUX infotainment software, making it feel like you’ve stepped into a smaller version of the Mercedes S-Class saloon. 

The quoted electric-only range of 62 miles is not only impressive on paper, but when we tested it we managed to get nearly exactly the same figure before the petrol engine chimed in. Charging can take as little as 30 minutes if you can find a fast 55kW charger, which will be useful for drivers stopping for a coffee break on longer journeys, while a total output of 328bhp means the plug-in variant is actually one of the fastest C-Class models you can buy.

Lexus NX SUV review

Best Large Plug-in Hybrid: Lexus NX
Carbuyer rating

4.3 out of 5

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  • Priced from £54,945
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Plug-in hybrid powertrains work well in SUVs as they can boost efficiency without the need to sacrifice engine power. There’s no better example of this than our Best Large Plug-In Hybrid, the Lexus NX. Like most Lexus models, the NX gets a striking exterior design and a well-appointed interior. The NX has ditched the clunky touchpad Lexus infotainment systems of old in favour of a stunning 14-inch touchscreen, with sleek-looking digitised climate control dials.

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The NX 450h+ plug-in hybrid is rather expensive to buy, but it should no doubt be a hit with company car drivers. With an electric range of up to 40 miles, the NX not only should be able to cover most commutes on electric power alone, but it falls into the low 8% BiK tax bracket, too. With the petrol engine working in tandem with two electric motors, the plug-in NX offers a smooth and refined driving experience and will even act as a regular self-charging hybrid once the battery is depleted.

Kia Niro SUV review

carbuyer best car awards 2023 hero
Carbuyer rating

4.3 out of 5

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  • Priced from £35,325

The Kia Niro won our Car of the Year prize at the 2023 Carbuyer Best Car Awards thanks to its combination of low running costs and outstanding technology. With a head-turning exterior design, buyers can pick between a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or fully electric version of the Niro, making it an impressive all-rounder.

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The plug-in hybrid Niro scores well on our list thanks to a great driving range, along with surprisingly few compromises in any other area – bar the boot space which measures only 348 litres in capacity. Its official 40 miles of battery range should be enough for most commutes, and when the battery is out of charge the Niro becomes a regular hybrid, maximising the efficiency of the petrol engine until its next top-up.

Mercedes GLC SUV review

Mercedes GLC SUV
Carbuyer rating

4.4 out of 5

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  • Priced from £58,860
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It’s no surprise that the Mercedes GLC features on this list – it’s essentially a higher-riding version of our favourite plug-in hybrid, the Mercedes C-Class. You get the same class-leading interior tech and comfortable ride, along with a plug-in hybrid system capable of up to 76 miles of electric range thanks to its huge 31kWh battery.

Where the GLC differs from its saloon twin is the option of a diesel plug-in hybrid. The GLC 300 de combines a 2.0-litre diesel engine with the same electric motor and 31kWh battery as the petrol model. The result is a frankly astonishing official fuel economy figure of over 700mpg. We admit that you’ll struggle to achieve that number in the real world unless you spend most of your time driving in electric mode, but it’s one of the most efficient plug-in hybrids on the market, regardless.

BMW X1 SUV review

BMW X1 SUV
Carbuyer rating

4.2 out of 5

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  • Priced from £42,670
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Buyers are spoilt for choice with the latest BMW X1, with petrol, diesel, electric (badged iX1) models, and the plug-in hybrids we’re interested in here – the xDrive25e and 30e. Both use a three-cylinder petrol engine paired with an electric motor, producing 242bhp in the xDrive25e and 322bhp in the xDrive30e. The xDrive25e is available on the entry-level Sport models with a claimed 53-mile official range, while xLine xDrive30e models can go for up to 51 miles between charges.

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There’s a lot to like about the latest X1 – it’s a small SUV with a very premium feel to it. The interior is superb, with a minimalist design that feels sturdy and well-built, complete with the latest BMW iDrive software that sports slick graphics and intuitive controls. While the all-electric iX1 will be cheaper still to run, the plug-in hybrid X1s are your next best choice if you’re buying one as a company car, given that they emit as low as 16g/km of CO2, placing them in a low BiK (Benefit-in-Kind) tax bracket.

Kia Sorento review – a great SUV now made even better

Kia Sorento 2024 front quarter driving
Carbuyer rating

4.3 out of 5

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  • Priced from £47,295

The Kia Sorento was treated to a mid-life facelift in 2024, bringing updated styling and a more up-to-date cabin. The plug-in hybrid engine option was unchanged, but that’s no bad thing – the 1.6-litre petrol engine and 13.8kWh battery work together to deliver a refined driving experience with impressive fuel efficiency. Keep the battery topped up and you’ll see economy figures well into the triple digits, while CO2 emissions of just 38g/km mean company-car drivers will benefit from a low BiK rate.

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No matter which Sorento model you pick, you get an upmarket cabin with a clean, modern layout. Above the dashboard you’ll find a pair of 12.3-inch screens – one for the driver and one for infotainment – while there’s masses of space in the back. Seven seats are fitted as standard, and you’ll even be able to squeeze a couple of adults into the rearmost pair for short journeys. While the boot is slightly smaller for the PHEV compared to diesel and MHEV Sorentos, you still get a decent 604 litres of space.

Hyundai Tucson review - a great family car

Carbuyer best family car Hyundai Tucson
Carbuyer rating

4.5 out of 5

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  • Priced from £39,275
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The current generation of the Hyundai Tucson is a previous winner of our Car of the Year Award, and the plug-in hybrid version is definitely worth your consideration. It uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine combined with a powerful electric motor for a total output of 261bhp – more than enough for an SUV of its size. What’s more, the Tucson even feels fairly good to drive with nimble handling and good body control despite the weight of its hybrid setup.

We like the Tucson’s interior, which stands out with its sweeping, vertical dashboard which cocoons the driver and passenger, and feels rather Germanic in terms of quality and design – sturdy and well-built. The plug-in version is available in N-Line trim or above, so it gets a generous amount of equipment as standard, including a 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster and 10.25-inch infotainment screen with sat nav, wireless device charging, lane keep assist tech, front and rear parking sensors and a rear view camera among a long list of other features.

Toyota RAV4 SUV review

Toyota RAV4 front cornering
Carbuyer rating

4 out of 5

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  • Priced from £44,175
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Toyota has been building hybrid cars for longer than practically every other manufacturer, with models like the Prius synonymous with the technology. However, it's the plug-in hybrid RAV4 SUV that makes the most sense for families wanting to cut their fuel bills and CO2 emissions, or for company-car drivers looking for a spacious SUV. A pair of electric motors assist a 2.5-litre petrol engine, combining to deliver a healthy 302bhp. It’s a refined system, with the electric motors taking over for low speeds around town for a maximum of 46 miles.

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The RAV4 may be fairly conventionally styled in a crowded mid-size SUV market, but it gets the fundamentals right. The cabin is simple but sturdy, while the plug-in hybrid gets 520 litres of cargo capacity, which stacks up positively against rivals like the Kia Sportage PHEV. Throw in Toyota’s renowned reputation for reliability, and you’ve got an impressive, fuel-sipping family car.

Range Rover Evoque review - style and substance?

Range Rover Evoque
Carbuyer rating

3.9 out of 5

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  • Priced from £49,000

The Range Rover Evoque may be the smallest model of the iconic luxury off-roader family, but it still offers almost all of the benefits of its larger brethren. The Evoque’s cabin oozes style and is on par in terms of quality with premium German rivals. While it misses out on Jaguar-Land Rover’s latest Pivi Pro infotainment, the Evoque does get a futuristic-looking dual-screen infotainment setup, along with part-digital dials.

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Producing 305bhp, the plug-in hybrid P300e is actually the most powerful version of the Evoque you can buy, with a 0-62mph of 6.4 seconds. As you’d expect from a Land Rover, this offers four-wheel-drive grip and the option of the brand’s Terrain Response system will only increase the Evoque’s off-road capabilities further. When on the tarmac, the Evoque can manage up to 38 miles on electric power alone, while ultra-fast 50kW charging means the battery can be topped-up from 0-80% in just 30 minutes.

DS 4 review – French model takes on premium rivals

DS 4 hatchback UK front 3/4 tracking
Carbuyer rating

4 out of 5

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  • Priced from £39,215
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Citroen’s premium DS spin-off brand is still not quite a household name in the UK, but the plug-in hybrid version of the DS 4, badged E-Tense, represents the pinnacle of what this hatchback can offer. Although it’s based on the same platform as the Citroen C5 X, Vauxhall Astra and Peugeot 308, the DS 4 is a more left-field choice if you’re after something a little more unique and with a premium feel. The plug-in gets an official range of 34 miles to a charge, and a combined power output of 222bhp.

The interior is minimalistic, but high quality materials make it a worthy rival to that of a Mercedes or Audi. All cars get LED headlights, keyless start, a seven-inch digital gauge cluster and a bright and responsive 10-inch touchscreen that comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. The luxury intensifies on higher spec models, with features like ‘watchstrap’ leather upholstery, a premium Focal sound system, heated and ventilated front seats, adaptive cruise control and even semi-autonomous driving tech.

Plug-in hybrid buying guide

Combining the swift and silent around-town driving experience of an EV with the range and dependability of a combustion engine, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) make a lot of sense for many car buyers. While the future of driving looks to be fully electric, not all drivers are ready to take the leap just yet, perhaps put off by the lack of charging infrastructure and relatively high purchase price of electric cars.

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Plug-in hybrids offer an excellent compromise. They use a traditional combustion engine mated to a battery and one or more electric motors, resulting in greater efficiency and improved refinement. Most PHEVs can switch to fully-electric driving for short drives too, ideal for those who frequently drive in urban environments or zero-emission zones. With both systems working together, plug-in hybrids tend to be quite powerful, so many claim acceleration times that are close to those set by hot hatchbacks and sports cars.

Don’t expect to be travelling very far on pure-electric power, though. The electric range will suffice for short trips around town, but most PHEVs will manage around 40 to 50 miles before the combustion engine has to step in.

Manufacturers often quote astronomical MPG figures for their PHEVs, sometimes into the 200s, but be warned that achieving these numbers in the real world is uncommon and depends on the types of journeys you do and how often you recharge the battery. On longer journeys where you’ve depleted the electric range, you’ll be relying on the engine to get you to your destination, and the car’s fuel efficiency will drop noticeably. That being said, PHEVs will return better fuel economy than their non-hybrid and mild-hybrid (MHEV) counterparts when charged regularly.

Because of the way emissions tests are undertaken, PHEVs offer very low quoted CO2 figures, and this makes them ideal for UK company-car drivers looking to slash their Benefit-in-Kind tax bills. But more and more private buyers are opting for plug-in hybrids too, often as a way to test the waters of electric-car ownership.

Want to go as far as possible on electric power alone? Check out our list of the Top 10 longest-range electric 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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