7 Best Hybrid Cars (and the Prius isn’t one)

7 Best Hybrid Cars (and the Prius isn’t one)

Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid ($22,400 – $28,550)

The Hyundai Ioniq is making a direct play for the Prius's fuel economy crown, and, according to Hyundai, is succeeding. The Ioniq's basic 55 mpg city and highway combined number is impressive, but the Blue trim's 58 mpg is exceptional. That's more than double the national new car average of 25.1 mpg estimated by the EPA, and getting close to doubling Mazda's record average 29.6 mpg for its range. Hyundai has also been steadily making sure it has a reputation for reliability, but the second major selling point for the Ioniq is that it doesn't look like a hybrid. We're beyond the point where hybrids are an oddity, something to show off, or a political statement, and the Ioniq is embracing that.

The best hybrid utility vehicle: Land Rover Range Rover P400e

Why you should buy this: It’s a hybrid that can climb every mountain.

Who’s it for: People who don’t use roads.

How much will it cost: $97,000+

Why we picked the Land Rover Range Rover P400e:

Land Rover’s Range Rover helped define the modern SUV, and it’s still one of the best examples of the breed around. With a luxurious interior and impressive off-road capabilities, it’s hard to think of a vehicle that offers more in a single package. Now, the Range Rover is also available as a plug-in hybrid, part of a plan by Land Rover and sibling Jaguar to offer electrified powertrains in every new model.

The Range Rover P400e uses a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine assisted by an electric motor. Land Rover claims the P400e will do zero to 60mph in 6.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 137mph on pavement. But, as with other Range Rover variants, the P400e is set apart from other utility vehicles by genuine off-road capability.

Land Rover promises the plug-in hybrid powertrain doesn’t compromise off-road ability, and it even claims the Range Rover P400e’s all-electric mode allows for greater control at low speeds on slippery surfaces (on the road, Land Rover estimates 19 miles of all-electric range). This plug-in hybrid SUV can wade into 35.4 inches of water, according to Land Rover, without sacrificing comfort. It also sports a luxurious, leather-lined interior and Land Rover’s latest InControl Touch Pro Duo infotainment system with two 10.0-inch touchscreens.


1. Tesla Model 3

Many trims of the Model 3 are thrilling to drive. Those who want to break free of the Prius’ stereotypes can do so by spending more money on a Tesla Model 3. These shoppers won’t save money on a Model 3. In fact, its average transaction price is about 50% higher. Nor will they save money on energy. A Prius Prime can operate on the same electrons and is pretty affordable when it operates in hybrid mode. What Tesla Model 3 buyers are trying to achieve is a better driving car.

Many trims of the Model 3 are thrilling to drive. All of them drive very well. Whether you are trying to make an SR+ trim fit a tight budget or have the coin to upgrade to a Performance trim, any Tesla Model 3 is cooler than any Prius – if you care about such things. In bumper-to-bumper traffic, it’s hard to argue a Model 3 is “faster.”

Except for other Tesla models, Tesla says that one of its most frequently traded-in models by Model 3 buyers is a Prius.

The Takeway: If you want to follow the migrating green car masses, the Model 3 is the way to do so.

The best all- or four-wheel-drive hybrid: Ford F-150 PowerBoost

Why you should buy this: It’s a hybrid that

Why you should buy this: It’s a hybrid that works hard and plays harder

Who’s it for: Adventurers, contractors, and anyone with bulky hobbies.

How much will it cost: $44,460+

Why we picked the Ford F-150:

On paper, four-wheel-drive pickup trucks and hybrid cars exist on opposite ends of the same spectrum. Ford bundled them into one vehicle when it released the F-150 PowerBoost. Positioned at the top of the range, the truck receives a gasoline-electric system built with a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, a 10-speed automatic transmission, and a small electric motor. It puts 430 horsepower and a stout 570 pound-feet of torque under the driver’s right foot.

The PowerBoost can haul up to 2,120 pounds and tow up to 12,700 pounds. Its fuel economy checks in at 24 mpg in the city, 24 mpg on the highway, and 24 mpg combined. These figures are impressive, but they’re not enough to allow it to claim the segment’s mileage crown. Its diesel-burning sibling returns 24 combined, too, and rival Ram offers a turbodiesel-powered 1500 that posts 21 city, 29 highway (!), and 24 combined with four-wheel drive.

The F-150 has more going for it than just its drivetrain. The truck’s generous amount of ground clearance lets owners take advantage of the available four-wheel drive system, and it’s smarter than ever when properly equipped.

Ford offers a wide range of powertrain options, ranging from a rather basic 2.7-liter V6 to a tried-and-true 5.0-liter V8. If it’s the PowerBoost hybrid you’re after, note that it’s available on four-door variants of the XL, the XLT, the Lariat, the King Ranch, the Platinum, and the Limited trim levels.

Honda Accord Hybrid

Read our Honda Accord Hybrid Review

The Honda Accord is our top choice among midsize family sedans, and that doesn’t change when it comes to hybrid versions. In fact, the Hybrid is the Accord version we recommend first as its superior fuel economy and agreeable electric-like power delivery don’t come with substantial tradeoffs. Yes, it’s more expensive than a regular gas-only Accord, but like the other hybrid sedans here, the price premium is manageable given the gas savings. Like every Accord, though, the Hybrid stands out with a truly colossal amount of interior space (the trunk is just enormous), a well-made interior, and a driving experience that sets a just-right balance between ride comfort and handling response. And unlike other Hondas, including the Insight and CR-V Hybrid, the Accord has a newer, more user-friendly tech interface. 

Lexus LC 500h

EPA-Estimated Fuel Economy: 29 mpg combined

Lexus is literally the only luxury car brand that sells conventional hybrids these days, so the fact that it sweeps the podium here should not be taken for anything greater than it is. Its ES 300h hybrid even misses the cut — sure, it’s a hybrid, but it’s hardly a compelling car and the mechanically related Toyota Avalon Hybrid is a better buy. 

Now that that’s out of the way, how about the LC 500h! It’s a gorgeous luxury GT with an interior exquisite enough in design and quality to make up for the fact that its tech interface makes you want to pull your hair out. Although the regular LC 500‘s 5.0-liter V8 will always hold a special place in our hearts, there’s no denying that the LC 500h and its 29 mpg combined is a far more responsible choice — especially for a car that’s comfortable and pleasant enough to legitimately drive on a daily basis or on long road trips. The hybrid powertrain is also impressive enough that it won our 2018 Technology of the Year award. This is as close as you can get to a guilt-free luxury GT. 

4. Chevrolet Bolt Bolt EUV

Like the Prius, the Bolt has an outstanding reliabAs this is written, the folks at GM are struggling with battery issues, and every Bolt has been pulled from sale. We sincerely hope this issue passes and the Bolts return to the marketplace.

Like the Prius, the Bolt has an outstanding reliability record.

Unlike the Prius, we find the Bolt and Bolt EUV to be very enjoyable to drive in all situations. The all-electric torque of the pair makes them perfect for inner-city point and shoot driving, and their added matter mass makes them feel solid on the highway and on back roads.

The Bolt and Bolt EUV also have the best infotainment systems in the industry.

The Takeaway: The Bolt and Bolt EUV offer an all-electric option that Toyota has so far refused its shoppers.

Current Chevrolet Bolt Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021ChevroletBolt EV
2022ChevroletBolt EV
2022ChevroletBolt EUV

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month’s Chevrolet deals and average prices paid.

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid ($28,350 – $36,880)

The Ford Escape hybrid returns the same combined fuel economy as Toyota's RAV4, but the Japanese brand's crossover is one of our favorite hybrids overall. The RAV4 was the best selling vehicle in the US that wasn't a truck last year, and probably will be again in 2020. However, we think the hybrid version outclasses the pure combustion-engined version. Like its gas-only counterpart, it has lots of cargo and passenger space, comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it drives great. However, its 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with electric assistance is more potent than the gas-only version. On top of that, the continuously variable transmission is super smooth and more responsive than the eight-speed automatic in the gas-only RAV4.

At $28,350, it competes against the Prius in XLE trim, but the tradeoff is 40 mpg combined versus the Prius's 52 mpg. However, when we drove the RAV4 for a week, we managed 44.6 mpg with a bias to city driving compared with the EPA's city estimate of 41 mpg. That's only seven mpg less than our experience of 51 mpg with the Prius driven in similar conditions.


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