Best used hybrid cars
Read our guide to see the best used hybrid cars available to buy right now.
Hybrid cars are no longer just the preserve of eco-conscious celebrities and taxi drivers; an increasing number of people are turning to them to reduce emissions and fuel consumption. They’re also becoming increasingly popular as diesel sales fall.
Almost every manufacturer is turning to hybrid power, and that means there’s a huge range of models to choose from - even on the used car market. Whether you’re after a hatchback, saloon, estate or SUV, you’ll be able to find plenty of cars to suit your needs. As long as you don’t mind the car having a few thousand miles on the clock already, you can find great deals as the bulk of the depreciation (how much the car loses in value from new) will have been incurred by the first owner.
Many of these cars impressed owners in our latest Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, and some even come with the balance of the manufacturer’s warranty. Read on to see what our picks for the best used hybrid cars are, or check out our guides to the cheapest electric cars and best hybrid family cars.
According to our readers, the Toyota Prius is the best car on sale today - it finished top of our 2019 Driver Power survey. Owners gave it high marks in most areas, with efficiency and the level of safety kit on board receiving particular praise. Stick with the smallest wheels and you can see up to 67mpg. Servicing costs are attractively low, too. The Prius’ reliability is noteworthy - another reason it’s a favourite with private hire drivers - and if anything does go wrong, most things will be covered by the balance of Toyota’s generous five-year/100,000-mile warranty.
Lexus is part of the Toyota empire but it seems to be ahead of its parent company in some areas. The Lexus IS, a rival to the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, came second out of all the cars ranked in our 2019 Driver Power survey, and readers told us it was peerless in terms of reliability - just 4.2% of owners reported a fault in the first year of ownership. When you do need to visit a dealership, we’ve barely heard a bad word about the customer service and the overall experience. Fuel economy and the relaxed driving experience are both reasons to buy the IS, but the infotainment system seems to be a consistent bugbear across the Lexus range. If you don’t fancy the IS, the Lexus RX SUV, GS saloon and RC coupe all offer similar advantages (but the same infotainment screen).
Hybrids really shine in our Driver Power survey; the Niro rounded out the top 10 in 2019. Buyers love the low running costs and the intuitive infotainment system, and reliability was about average with under 16% of owners telling us about a first-year fault. Even so, the Niro makes a great used buy, as Kia’s market-leading seven-year warranty means that every Niro ever produced is still covered (providing they’ve covered fewer than 100,000 miles). It’s a curious mix of hatchback and SUV, being quite compact but still offering decent practicality for a family. You’ll get similar economy and performance to a diesel hatchback, while there’s a plug-in model that’s capable of even lower running costs if you regularly recharge the battery.
The Hyundai Ioniq is a little overshadowed by the Toyota Prius but it’s still an easy-to-recommend family-size hybrid. Coming in eighth place (out of 100 cars) in our Driver Power survey is highly commendable, and you told us that the running costs and safety features on offer won you over. The fuel consumption and servicing costs are both low, and the Ioniq gets a five-year unlimited-mileage warranty for extra peace of mind. We won’t pretend that there aren’t more exciting cars on the market, but the Ioniq should be dependable, comfortable and efficient.
The latest Volkswagen Passat offers buyers the option of a plug-in hybrid GTE model, which mates a 1.4-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and battery. Keep the battery topped up to allow for up to 31 miles driving on silent electric power, and you might even see fuel economy of up to 157mpg if you use the petrol engine sparingly. When the two forms of power work together, the Passat can hit 0-62mph in under eight seconds and go onto a top speed of 140mph. Unlike some other hybrids, the batteries don’t encroach on the available boot space, and you can choose from either saloon or estate bodystyles.
The Toyota C-HR combines the 1.8-litre hybrid engine from the Prius and a striking SUV appearance, so it’s bang on trend. Almost 60mpg is possible, so you get diesel-like fuel efficiency without straying from the petrol pump. The interior matches the eye-catching design of the exterior, and earlier hybrid models get an attractive blue splash across the dashboard and sat nav screen. All are well-equipped and the boot is the same size as a traditional family hatchback, such as the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf - although other SUVs offer extra practicality. However, for many buyers, the coupe styling will be more attractive than a few extra litres of luggage space.
The Volvo XC90 is a seriously luxurious SUV, rivalling the most expensive BMW, Audi and Mercedes SUVs, but used models can be picked up for about half the cost of a brand-new car. Sitting at the top of the range is the T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid, which is capable of a claimed 113mpg and over 28 miles of electric running - although, as with all PHEVs, this depends on keeping the battery charged and resisting the temptation to use the huge power available. The T8 produces 390bhp and hits 0-62mph in just 5.8 seconds - the same as a Honda Civic Type R. The XC90 is a practical, family-friendly seven-seater, with space in the rearmost seats for adults and even a decent boot with all seats in place.
There are few better saloons than the BMW 5 Series, and the 530e is the plug-in hybrid version that promises up to 201mpg and over 30 miles of electric range. Aimed at both business and private buyers, the 5 Series offers a huge array of standard equipment, including heated front seats with electrical adjustment, sat nav and a range of online features. Zero-to-62mph takes a whisker over six seconds, or you can choose to only run on electric power when the battery has enough charge. It’s only available as a saloon and the boot is a little smaller than a standard 5 Series due to the battery pack, but the 530e is still spacious and practical.
Given the MINI Countryman is a fashionable SUV, it’s hardly surprising that it has been available as a plug-in hybrid since 2017. You might wonder why it has a Cooper S badge but the Countryman Cooper S E All4 can launch from 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds, thanks to a combined output of 221bhp and four-wheel drive. Up to 32 miles from the battery is promised, and recharging from a standard three-pin socket takes just three hours. Despite the expected reduction in practicality, the Countryman PHEV is still a good family car, and comes with a lot of kit included.
The majority of PHEVs combine a petrol engine with an electric motor to give diesel-like fuel efficiency but Mercedes offers the C-Class with a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain. Aimed primarily at long-distance drivers, the C 300 de offers diesel fuel economy for long journeys and the ability to run on electric power for shorter distances of up to 35 miles. This sensible car, available as a saloon or estate, has the same 302bhp output as the Mercedes-AMG A35 hot hatchback, and 0-62mph is dispatched in a speedy 5.7 seconds - although we feel the extra weight of the battery does blunt the car’s responses slightly.