Best hybrids of 2020 and 2021

Hybrid vehicles

Mainstream hybrid cars may have been popularized by hatchbacks like the Prius, but these days their ranks also include hybrid SUVs and hybrid versions of traditional cars. If you're looking to maximize your fuel economy, you're in the right place.
2020 Honda Insight
1
Redesigned in 2019

Honda Insight

MSRP
$22,930 - $28,340
Edmunds Rating
8.1 out of 10
Combined MPG
48 - 52
2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
2
Redesigned in 2020

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

MSRP
$27,750 - $35,300
Edmunds Rating
8.1 out of 10
Combined MPG
47 - 52
2020 Ford Escape
3
Redesigned in 2020

Ford Escape

MSRP
$28,265 - $35,050
Edmunds Rating
8.0 out of 10
Combined MPG
40 - 41


Plug-in hybrids

Plug-in electric vehicles, or PHEVs, use a gasoline engine coupled with an electric motor and a large battery pack that can be charged by plugging it in. They offer a limited all-electric range, and they can also operate as normal hybrids.
1
Redesigned in 2017

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

MSRP
$39,995 - $45,545
Edmunds Rating
7.9 out of 10
Combined MPG
30
2
Redesigned in 2019

Toyota RAV4 Prime

MSRP
$38,100 - $41,425
Edmunds Rating
7.8 out of 10
Combined MPG
38
3
Redesigned in 2018

Subaru Crosstrek

MSRP
$35,145
Edmunds Rating
7.6 out of 10
Combined MPG
35

Luxury hybrids

Luxury hybrids offer impressive fuel economy, of course, but healthy power from their electric motors can also make them quicker than their gas-powered counterparts. Expect all the luxury trappings, along with better mileage and maybe even more oomph.

RankVehicleAdditional Information
1
Redesigned in 2019

Lexus ES 300h

The Lexus ES 300h admirably combines high fuel efficiency with luxurious accommodations. We're not as fond of the distracting infotainment interface, however.
MSRP
$41810 - $45660
Edmunds Rating
7.9 out of 10
Combined MPG
44
RankVehicleAdditional Information
2
Redesigned in 2014

Acura MDX

Among midsize luxury crossover SUVs, the Acura MDX hybrid is one of the most practical entries. Its standard third-row seat, extensive features and trick hybrid all-wheel-drive system make it an attractive choice. There are more luxurious and sportier options out there, but you won't find one for the same price.
MSRP
$53000 - $59750
Edmunds Rating
7.7 out of 10
Combined MPG
27
RankVehicleAdditional Information
3
Redesigned in 2016

Lexus RX 450h

Comfort, utility and performance are certainly priorities for luxury automakers, but what about fuel economy? The Lexus RX 450h hybrid answers the call, earning excellent fuel economy ratings while transporting passengers in absolute serenity.
MSRP
$46800 - $52920
Edmunds Rating
7.6 out of 10
Combined MPG
30


Luxury plug-in hybrid SUVs

Luxury PHEV SUVs offer improved fuel efficiency and limited all-electric range in refined packages. These premium vehicles don't sacrifice comfort or acceleration to earn their green cred.

RankVehicleAdditional Information
1
Redesigned in 2018

BMW X3

The BMW X3 plug-in hybrid's comfortable ride, sharp handling and well-executed infotainment system make it a standout in this class. The turbocharged-hybrid powertrain is tuned more for performance rather than efficiency, though, so don't expect stellar mileage. It has an estimated electric-only range of 18 miles.
MSRP
48550
Edmunds Rating
8.1 out of 10
Combined MPG
24
RankVehicleAdditional Information
2
Redesigned in 2016

Volvo XC90

Elegant and stylish, the Volvo XC90 is exquisitely appointed and decidedly classy. The T8 plug-in hybrid drivetrain makes healthy power, yet it is one of the more efficient plug-in hybrids in its class. It has an estimated electric-only range of 18 miles.
MSRP
$63450 - $70250
Edmunds Rating
7.8 out of 10
Combined MPG
27
RankVehicleAdditional Information
3
Redesigned in 2020

Lincoln Aviator

The Lincoln Aviator is a stand out for its top-notch interior, modern tech, and excellent ride quality. As a plug-in hybrid, it has a useful electric range of 21 miles and impressive straight-line speed, but it's exclusively available as a top-level trim which will cost you quite a bit of extra money.
MSRP
$68800 - $87800
Edmunds Rating
7.8 out of 10
Combined MPG
23



Edmunds' experts test 200 vehicles per year on our test track. We also test them using a 115-mile real-world test loop of city streets, freeways and winding canyons. The data we gather results in our ratings. They’re based on 30-plus scores that cover performance, comfort, interior, technology, utility and value.



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Video reviews

Hybrid vs. Electric vs. Plug-In Hybrid — What's the Difference? Which Is Best for You?

Hybrid vs. Electric vs. Plug-In Hybrid — What's the Difference? Which Is Best for You?

[STATIC] DAN EDMUNDS: I'm Dan Edmunds, and I'm an automotive journalist-- Ever wish Jeep made a Wrangler pickup? --and an automotive engineer. I spent the majority of my career developing and testing cars and trucks behind the scenes. And then I switched to rating and reviewing cars-- Ooh. --to help consumers like you make informed choices. [MUSIC PLAYING] As new technologies continually emerge, carmakers sometimes struggle to explain their newest products. Lately, it has become apparent that some consumers are confused about the difference between hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles. Surveys have shown that some consumers think that they all require a certain amount of gasoline, while others worry that the move towards 100% electrification means the end of the gasoline engine and the freedom of movement that comes with it. On top of that, carmakers don't always market them consistently, which only adds to the confusion. So I'm going to try to untangle all of that for you. We'll start with the basics and build up from there. What is meant by electrification? Electrification just means some degree of electric drive. Of course, that includes electric vehicles, which have no gasoline engine, but it also means part-time EVs, such as plug-in hybrids, and regular gasoline hybrids that you can't plug-in. Charge points aren't as common as gas stations, so range is important. But it's not the big number that catches your eye on the window sticker. We're familiar with MPG and what it means to a gasoline vehicle. But the window stickers of electric cars and plug-in hybrids has something called MPGe. But MPGe isn't what you think it is. It's an attempt by engineers to equate the fuel efficiency in terms we can all understand. But I think it also gives some people the false impression that electric cars somehow use gasoline-- a terrible cost yardstick, because the prices of gasoline and electricity are not related in this way. Ignore it. It's best to focus on kilowatt hours, because that's what you're buying. The rating is right there, on the window sticker-- kilowatt hours per 100 miles. That's the efficiency number you should be looking at when you shop for an electric vehicle. So what's a kilowatt hour? It's a quantity of electricity. But to understand a kilowatt hour, you first have to understand a kilowatt. And guess what? You already do. Let's have a look at this light bulb. It's rated at 100 watts. It says so, right at the top. That's its brightness, its power output if I were to turn it on. Incidentally, the W in watt is capitalized, because it stands for James Watt, a Scottish inventor. Now let's imagine we have 10 of these 100 watt bulbs turned on all around the house. 10 times 100 is 1,000 watts. Kilo stands for 1,000. So that's 1 kilowatt. If we leave them on for an hour, we get 1 kilowatt times 1 hour, which is 1 kilowatt hour. And because of the time element, we're now talking about an amount of electricity. And it's not kilowatt per hour. It's kilowatt hour. It's multiplication, not division. Now, let's take the idea of a kilowatt hour and apply it to cars. It's an amount of electricity that you use, but it's also an amount you can store. The battery size of an electrified car is measured in kilowatt hours. Think of it like gallons in a gas tank, but don't dwell on gallons any more than that. We need to stay focused on kilowatt hours. Why? Because electricity is sold in kilowatt hours. Look, it's right here on my bill. I pay $0.25 per kilowatt hour when I plug-in my electric car. Now, we all know that if you drive a regular car around like a maniac, we'll use more gasoline, because we're asking the engine to develop more horsepower. Well, the same is true with electrified vehicles, except this time our lead footed behavior is draining more kilowatt hours out of the battery pack. And that reduces range and costs money. All right. So now we know a little bit more about electrified car batteries. And the main bit we know is the amount of energy they can hold is measured in kilowatt hours and what that term means. [MUSIC PLAYING] So now we can talk about the three main types of electrified vehicles. Hybrids-- [APPLAUSE] --plug-in hybrids-- [APPLAUSE] --and electric vehicles. [GASPS AND APPLAUSE] Electric vehicles are in the spotlight these days, so I'll start with them. When we say electric vehicles, we mean all electric vehicles, or EVs for short. They are technically known as Battery Electric Vehicles, BEV. So you're geekier, EV-owning friends might call them Bevs. Here, there's no engine, no gas tank. They use zero gasoline and have no tailpipe. EVs have large electric motors, because they are the sole source of propulsion. And their batteries are large-- so big, in fact, that they usually form a layer under the entire floor of the car. Their storage capacity ranges from 32 to over 100 kilowatt hours, depending on the model and how much you're willing to pay. Like any other vehicle, consumption varies by size and type. The most efficient EVs are rated to use about 25 kilowatt hours per 100 miles, while heavier and sportier models are in the mid to high 40 kilowatt hour per 100 mile range. And contrary to MPG, lower is better here, because this is a consumption rating. Use less, pay less. Say you drive 12,000 miles a year. That's 1,000 miles a month. If your car is rated to use 26 kilowatt hours every 100 miles, simply multiply by 10 to get 260 kilowatt hours for 1,000 miles. In my case, I'd multiply that by $0.25 per kilowatt hour and get $65 per month for fuel. Range is overhyped. Few, if any of us, drive 300 miles in a day. And for those who do, well, an EV probably isn't the right solution. If you can plug-in every night, well, it's better to think about how many miles you drive in a day, not a week. In my own experience, 100 miles is fine. And I think that's true, especially if you have a second vehicle to use on longer trips. OK. Maybe you want 150 or 200 miles, because you like to take weekend trips. I get it. But don't over-buy. Batteries cost more, way more. They take up space. Buying too much could be a barrier to entry that you don't need to really worry about. So-called DC fast charging can become important if you do opt for more range, and most current EVs can support it. It's mainly only necessary if you'll take the car on long journeys, though. And your route will generally be confined to where the networks go. But honestly, anything with over 100 miles of range is going to be comfortable to all but the most lead butt road warriors. Daily charging is where it's at. And that's typically done at home, while you're asleep. The car's included cord will have a 120-volt plug that's designed for a household socket. But that's not fast enough if you're going to drive more than 30 miles a day. In that case, a 240-volt home charging station is the way to go, because it's significantly faster. You'll have to have an electrician install one, but it's a worthwhile expense. [MUSIC PLAYING] EVs are best for people who are homeowners, the household has more than one car, and they have consistent access to a 240-volt home charger if you drive more than 30 miles per day. But maybe you're not sure you can plug-in every day. Maybe you'll only have one car. Perhaps you like to take spontaneous road trips. You should consider a plug-in hybrid, or a PHEV-- a part-time EV that is initially powered by its electric motor and battery but also has a gasoline engine and a gas tank. You fuel them up two ways. You plug them in, and you gas them up. PHEVs have medium sized plug-in batteries that enable them to operate as electric vehicles for 17 to 53 miles. And when the juice runs out, the gasoline engine comes on automatically and powers the car, like a regular gasoline hybrid. Now, some of them will turn the gasoline engine on-- even if the battery is full-- if you floor it, to give you a little extra acceleration. But that's far from universal. Their window stickers contain two ratings. On the left, electric range in miles and consumption in kilowatt hours per 100 miles. On the right, the familiar MPG on gasoline. The electric side will also have an MPGe rating. But again, that's a useless number. You're buying kilowatt hours when you're plugged in. Statistically, you probably drive less than 30 miles in a day. In that case, if you plug-in nightly and have that sort of commute, you might not buy gas for weeks or even months. Longer commute, road trip? No problem. The gasoline engine will keep you moving. So how much smaller is the battery of a PHEV compared to an EV? Well, it varies along with range. But the biggest ones measure about 16 kilowatt hours. Why 16 kilowatt hours? That's what it takes to qualify for the maximum amount of the $7,500 federal tax credit. PHEVs with smaller batteries qualify for less. Examples with 16 kilowatt hour batteries include the Honda Clarity PHEV, good for 48 miles, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Minivan-- which is, in fact, a plug-in hybrid that is confusingly marketed-- is good for 32 miles, because it's bigger and heavier. PHEVs with batteries smaller than 16 kilowatt hours include the plug-in Prius called the Prius Prime, a made up marketing term. But I guess you could say that you're priming the battery by charging it. There's also the Subaru Crosstrek hybrid, which is another example of a badly termed plug-in hybrid. PHEVs are best for people who are homeowners with one car, have consistent access to a charger at home or work but not necessarily 240 volts, want an EV but don't want to be limited by range concerns. Hybrids have been around the longest. They're known as Hybrid Electric Vehicles, or HEVs for short. And right there, the electric part, is what gets some people confused. Basically, any true hybrid is 100% gasoline fueled. And by that, I mean you can't plug them in. [BUZZER] Their window stickers have regular MPG on them. Yes, sometimes they're driven by electricity. But other times, they're driven by gasoline. And oftentimes, it's both. So they have a gasoline engine, an electric motor, a clever transmission that can combine the two, and a battery. Where does the electricity for that battery come from, you might ask? From braking, mainly, and to a lesser extent, by siphoning off a little excess power from the engine while it's driving the car. Hybrids are electricity scavengers. The braking bit is called regenerative braking. And that's a key feature that all three types of electrified cars share. Basically, the electric motor becomes a generator by working in reverse, so to speak, when you press on the brake. The generated power is transferred to a dedicated battery. But that battery doesn't need to be big, because it only has to hold the electricity that comes from a few city stops. So a typical Prius battery is only 1 kilowatt hour big, maybe less. A Prius can achieve over 50 miles per gallon in the city, because the kinetic energy that is normally wasted as heat in the brakes is recovered, saved in the battery, and then used to get the car moving again and delay the ignition of the gasoline engine every time you leave a stoplight. Now, some hybrids choose to use their stored energy for performance instead of outright fuel economy. The Acura NSX comes to mind, even Formula One race cars and Le Mans Prototypes. Such cars are still hybrids, and they still count as electrified vehicles. But-- and this is important-- true hybrids have no rating for electric range. If they did, it would be measured in yards, not miles. Don't let them run out of gasoline, in other words. In this respect, they're just like any other normal vehicle. HEVs are best for people who live in apartments, want high gas mileage or a low carbon footprint but don't have consistent access to a charger or don't want the hassle. So there you have it. Electrification doesn't mean the end of gasoline engines. It simply means a wider range of choices. At the one extreme, we have EVs, which are 100% electric. But at the other, we have pure gasoline fueled hybrids that recycle normally wasted energy to reduce their use of gasoline or, in some cases, to go faster. In the middle, we have plug-in hybrids, which act as EVs around town but can use gasoline for longer trips. Among these three choices, there's an electrified vehicle for everyone. Thanks for watching. And if you have any questions or comments, please, leave them below. For more on this car and others in our long term fleet, go to Edmunds dot Tom. Dot Tom? Go to Edmunds dot To-- I did it again. What the [BLEEP]? Who's Tom?

What is a hybrid? What is an electric vehicle? What is a plug-in hybrid? In this video, Dan Edmunds walks you through each type of vehicle — hybrid, EV and PHEV — and goes over the pros and cons of each to help you decide which is the right car for your lifestyle.

FAQ

What are the best hybrids on the market?

If you're looking for stellar fuel economy in a refined vehicle, the Honda Insight is our top-rated hybrid. Our top-rated luxury hybrid is the Lexus ES 300h, combining premium comfort with hybrid efficiency. Shoppers with access to a spot to plug in could benefit from a plug-in hybrid's all-electric driving capabilities. Our top pick for a PHEV is the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. Learn more

What is the top-rated hybrid for 2019?

In 2019, some excellent new hybrid vehicles launched. The Honda Insight nabbed the top spot in our hybrid rankings, offering a sophisticated experience along with up to 52 combined mpg. Toyota introduced the RAV4 Hybrid, which became our top-rated hybrid SUV for combining family-friendly practicality with 40 combined mpg. A new generation of Lexus ES 300h was our top-rated luxury hybrid for the year. Learn more

What is the top-rated hybrid for 2018?

2018's top-rated hybrid vehicle was the Toyota Prius, the car that started the hybrid craze. The fourth generation Prius is efficient, easy to drive, and comfortable. Honda launched the Honda Accord Hybrid in 2018 as well, improving the fuel economy of our top-rated midsize sedan and providing an excellent alternative to buyers who need a slightly larger family car. For luxury shoppers, the redesigned Volvo XC60 is a small SUV with big power and elegant design, and our top-rated luxury plug-in hybrid SUV. Learn more

What are the best used hybrids to buy?

Look for "CPO" or certified pre-owned vehicles if you're shopping for used trucks, and check how long the warranty on the vehicle's battery pack has left (a high-cost item should maintenance be required). Among lightly used hybrids likely to be available via CPO programs, we like the Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius. Buyers investigating a used plug-in hybrid should check out the Chevrolet Bolt. Learn more

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