Hybrid

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If you want to burn less gas, you have to get your power from somewhere else. Hybrid cars combine battery-powered electric motors and gas-powered internal combustion engines to provide impressive fuel economy gains. Most hybrids are capable of running solely on electricity or combining both power sources to boost acceleration, depending on the situation. Plug-in hybrids have larger batteries that can be filled by plugging in at a charging station, allowing them to run for much longer, and at much higher speed, on electricity alone.

It all sounds pretty convoluted on paper, but current hybrid systems have been refined to the point where the driving experience is similar to that of a traditional car. Sure, you'll hear some different noises — or hardly any noise, if you're running on electricity — but unlike fully electric cars, you can treat a hybrid the same as any traditional car you've driven. Just don't expect to fill up the gas tank nearly as often. We've put together a list of the best hybrid cars to help you pick the fuel-sipper that's right for you.

Best Hybrid Cars for 2018

Edmunds puts every rated car through a rigorous testing process. We test acceleration, braking and handling on our test track, and then we drive a real-world test loop that mixes city streets, twisting back roads and highway miles. Then our experts assign a score to each vehicle based on its results and how it compares to class competitors. For this article, we've only selected hybrid cars that have been through our testing process and earned a score of at least four out of five stars.

Best Hybrid Sedans

These hybrid sedans are based on traditional mainstream cars, the kind that have been a mainstay on American roads for decades. For hybrid duty, the familiar gas engines have been replaced by hybrid gas-electric powertrains. Thanks to clever engineering, newer hybrid sedans generally don't lose much cargo or passenger space compared to their traditional counterparts. You also get all the comfort, refinement and technology you expect from a modern sedan.

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid - Front 3/4

The Accord Hybrid takes one of the best midsize sedans on the market and makes it more efficient.

Edmunds Rating: 8.3 out of 10

The Accord is one of our favorite midsize sedans, and it also happens to be one of the best hybrid cars on the market, combining huge passenger space with a high-quality interior, refined ride and the latest technology features. While the Accord Hybrid returns excellent mileage, accelerates faster than the base 1.5-liter gas model, and is quiet and smooth around town, the powertrain can sound unrefined when pushed. Still, Honda has done an impressive job with the Accord, and if you opt for a higher trim level you'll get a sedan that feels more like a luxury car. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $25,100
Type of hybrid: Conventional hybrid (HEV)
EPA estimated mpg: 47 combined (47 city/47 highway)

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid Overview and Pricing

2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid

2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid - Front 3/4

The Camry Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient sedan you can buy, especially in LE trim.

Edmunds Rating: 7.6 out of 10

In its super-efficient LE trim, the Camry Hybrid returns the best fuel economy of any sedan. We like the Camry for being easy to drive, with a usable interior that features logically laid-out controls. Ride quality in the Camry Hybrid marks an improvement over the regular car, and it accelerates slightly faster as well. But infotainment is a weak point since the Camry lacks its competitors' easy smartphone integration. As hard as Toyota has tried, this generation of Camry still doesn't have as much personality as some rivals, but the Hybrid is an undeniable value. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $27,950
Type of hybrid: Conventional hybrid (HEV)
EPA estimated mpg: up to 52 combined (51 city/53 highway)

2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid Overview and Pricing

2018 Ford Fusion Hybrid

2018 Ford Fusion Hybrid - Front

Even though it's an aging model, the Fusion Hybrid is still an eager handler with easy-to-use technology features.

Edmunds Rating: 7.9 out of 10

The current-generation Fusion has been around for a long time. We'd like to see a new one, but, sadly, that won't be happening. The 2018 model year is the swan song for this sedan. It may be showing its age, but the Fusion Hybrid is still comfortable, roomy, and an eager handler. However, it's also the least efficient sedan on this list. While Ford's technology is very user-friendly, the older Fusion's tech does feel a bit dated compared to that of competitors. A plug-in hybrid version, the Fusion Energi, is available, but we prefer the standard hybrid. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $25,390
Type of hybrid: Conventional hybrid (HEV)
EPA estimated mpg: 42 combined (43 city/41 highway)

2018 Ford Fusion Hybrid Overview and Pricing

Compare Hybrid Sedans

Best Hybrid Hatchbacks

When most people think of a hybrid car, they picture a hybrid hatchback. The Prius originally popularized this body style, which is still a great choice thanks to the practical and accessible cargo area it provides. Other typical benefits include generous rear passenger headroom and a highly aerodynamic form.

2018 Chevrolet Volt

2018 Chevrolet Volt - Front 3/4

With 53 miles of all-electric range, the Volt might be able to make your daily commute gas-free.

Edmunds Rating: 8.0 out of 10

The Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid hatchback wins points for its good infotainment system, practical trunk, smooth driving characteristics, and its astonishing electricity-only range, which exceeds 50 miles. It's not as efficient in hybrid mode as competitors, but if you have somewhere to charge it up on a consistent basis, the Volt will likely cover most or all of your daily commute without using any gas. It might even be a good lease option for someone considering switching to an electric car but who isn't ready to live with range anxiety. But if you don't have ready access to a charging station, you might want to consider a more fuel-efficient conventional hybrid. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $33,220
Type of hybrid: Plug-in hybrid (PHEV)
Electric range: 53 miles
EPA estimated mpg: 42 combined

2018 Chevrolet Volt Overview and Pricing

2018 Toyota Prius

2018 Toyota Prius -  Action Front 3/4

This household name hasn't missed a beat. It still returns fantastic mileage and is incredibly practical.

Edmunds Rating: 8.2 out of 10

This household name was the first to bring hybrid cars into the mainstream, and it's still one of the best hybrid cars you can buy. It offers abundant cargo and passenger space, it's impressively efficient, and it's supremely easy to drive. Taller drivers may have more trouble finding a comfortable driving position, and the Prius isn't as engaging to drive as some of the other vehicles on this list, but we should add that the current model is easily the most responsive Prius yet. Any way you slice it, the Prius is a top pick for a practical, easy-to-live-with hybrid. Notably, there is also a plug-in version of the Prius called the Prius Prime, but we've been less impressed by that model — it didn't make the four-star cut for this list. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $23,475
Type of hybrid: Conventional hybrid (HEV)
EPA estimated mpg: 52 combined (54 city/50 highway)

2018 Toyota Prius Overview and Pricing

Compare Hybrid Hatchbacks

Best Luxury Hybrids

Luxury marques are adding hybrid systems not just for better mileage, but also for the instant torque delivery of an electric motor. In general, these hybrid models are quicker than regular gas versions of the same model, as well as being more efficient. It's also worth noting that all of these luxury hybrids come standard with all-wheel drive. For most, the focus is on refinement rather than all-out efficiency gains.

2018 Lexus RX 450h

2018 Lexus RX 450h - Front 3/4

The RX 450h is surprisingly good to drive and very comfortable.

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Edmunds Rating: 8.4 out of 10

The Lexus RX balances a roomy cabin with impressive performance. It's a well-built midsize luxury SUV with one major weakness in the form of Lexus' clunky, mouselike infotainment interface. The hybrid model comes with a price premium, but it improves on the standard car's acceleration and especially its fuel economy, with no undue hybrid weirdness to sully the driving experience. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $45,895
Type of hybrid: Conventional hybrid (HEV)
EPA estimated mpg: 30 combined (31 city/28 highway)

2018 Lexus RX 450h Overview and Pricing

Volvo XC60 T8

2018 Volvo XC60 Hybrid - Front 3/4

Volvo's at the top of its design game right now, and the XC60 is a stunner both inside and out.

Edmunds Rating: 8.0 out of 10

Volvo's been on a roll recently, producing vehicles that look gorgeous both inside and out. The latest XC60 is no exception, combining stellar craftsmanship and sleek technology in a thoughtful and practical SUV. The T8 PHEV isn't our favorite version of the XC60: There's plenty of power, but the hybrid isn't as pleasant to drive as its gas-powered sibling, and it comes with a notable price hike. That doesn't change the fact that the XC60 is one of our favorite luxury SUVs, and the hybrid doesn't have much competition. We also didn't have any issue meeting — and sometimes exceeding — the estimated all-electric range in the real world. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $52,900
Type of hybrid: Plug-in hybrid (PHEV)
Electric range: 18 miles
EPA estimated mpg: 26 combined)

Volvo XC60 T8 Overview and Pricing

2018 BMW 740e xDrive

2018 BMW 7 Series Hybrid - Front 3/4

The 740e xDrive offers all the refinement and luxury of the 7 Series along with 14 miles of all-electric range.

Not surprisingly, BMW's big sedan is big on luxury and technology. This 7 Series is all about the latest in comfort and refinement, and it delivers admirably. It's worth keeping in mind that lots of features, from advanced driver aids to improved interior materials, are optional, and once you start ticking those boxes the price can increase dramatically. But not many cars can coddle four people in first-class accommodations, go 0-60 mph in about 5 seconds, and return hybrid-grade fuel economy. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $90,700
Type of hybrid: Plug-in hybrid (PHEV)
Electric range: 14 miles
EPA estimated mpg: 27 combined)

2018 BMW 740e xDrive Overview and Pricing

Compare Luxury Hybrids

Best MPG Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids

Hybrid cars are making impressive gains in mileage, with the most efficient flirting with 60 mpg. Here's a list of the hybrids and plug-ins with the best mpg ratings. Not all of these cars made our list of Best Hybrids, but if your goal is to spend as little at the pump as possible, these are the top contenders.

Hyundai Ioniq Blue — 58 mpg

An efficiency-oriented trim level that forgoes equipment to maximize weight savings, the Ioniq Blue is a bit stripped-down but supremely frugal. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a lot to recommend it beyond its impressive mileage. See also the regular Ioniq, which checks in at 55 mpg combined.

Toyota Prius Eco — 56 mpg

Like the Ioniq Blue, the Prius Eco makes some trade-offs in the name of efficiency. You get less stuff, but you also burn less gas. On the flip side, other Prius trims are still highly efficient, and they're more pleasant to spend time in.

Toyota Prius Prime — 54 mpg

A plug-in hybrid, the Prius Prime is also capable of going 25 miles on all-electric power. We do prefer the regular Prius, though, so unless you really want the Prime's plug-in range, we'd say stick with the conventional variants.

Toyota Camry Hybrid LE — 52 mpg

The Camry Hybrid LE is another mileage-above-all-else model, but there's no denying its success. The regular Camry Hybrid checks in at 46 mpg, putting the LE's advantage at more than 10 percent. Every Camry Hybrid is actually a little more fuel-efficient on the highway than in town — it's usually the other way around for hybrids — so this Toyota could be a better option for freeway commuters, especially the LE with its 53 mpg highway rating.

Toyota Prius — 52 mpg

The regular Prius drops a few mpg compared to its Eco sibling, but you can load it up with technology features and creature comforts such as faux leather seating.

Pros and Cons of Hybrid Cars

Hybrid cars return excellent fuel economy, especially in city driving, without requiring drivers to change their habits. Plug-in hybrids cancel out the range anxiety of an all-electric car and allow many drivers to commute almost entirely without gas. Depending on where you live, there might be tax incentives for buying a hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicle, reducing the cost to you. With fewer tailpipe emissions, you help keep your community's air cleaner.

On the downside, hybrid battery packs eventually need replacing, which can be a big expense. Hybrids are also generally at their least efficient when cruising at high speed, so if you spend a lot of time driving on freeways with high-speed limits, you may not see the same mileage benefits. Hybrid cars also tend to come with a price premium over their non-hybrid competitors, which might offset your savings on gas.

What Is a Plug-In Hybrid?

A plug-in hybrid is essentially a conventional hybrid with a stronger electric motor and an extra-large battery that can be charged up to provide true all-electric motoring. With more ability to store and use electricity, a PHEV can run solely on electric power — even at freeway speeds — for a significant distance before the gas engine needs to come to life. Some conventional hybrids have EV modes, but they tend to be limited to either low-speed maneuvering or very short bursts. A PHEV is a great option for buyers who have access to a charge point either at home or at work but who don't want to opt for a fully electric car and the concomitant range anxiety.

Hybrid Cars vs. Gas Cars

One of the biggest advantages hybrid cars have over all-electric cars is that living with a hybrid is basically the same as living with a traditional gas-powered car, just with fewer dollars spent at the pump. You drive and fuel a hybrid just as you would a gas car, but because of the way a hybrid powertrain works, it's capable of recovering energy when the car brakes or slows — something a gas car can't do. Otherwise, nothing really changes.

The gas-electric system works in the background to respond to your inputs as naturally as possible without any special effort on your part. Just as with gas cars, the cost of maintenance for hybrid cars is bound to go up as the cars get older. The gas engines in hybrid cars don't get as much wear as in gas cars, but for high-mileage hybrids the batteries can become an issue, potentially even requiring replacement.

How Do Hybrid Cars Work?

Hybrid cars use both an electric motor and a gas engine for power. The gas motor can also be used to generate electricity and charge the hybrid's batteries. When slowing, hybrids can use regenerative braking to recapture some power that would otherwise be lost.

At low speeds, the torquey electric motors can do a lot of the work. This means that around town, where gas cars use the most fuel, hybrid cars can rely on their batteries and be amazingly fuel-efficient. The gas motor only needs to come into play when you need more acceleration or want to cruise at higher speeds.

Hybrid Vehicle Benefits

If your commute involves city driving or stop-and-go traffic, you'd likely see a lot of savings on gas with a hybrid car. And because hybrids can rely on their electric motors for torque, their gas engines don't have to produce as much power and can focus on fuel efficiency. So even when they're burning gas, hybrids' more efficient motors return better mileage. The benefit of a hybrid car is that you can spend less money on fuel without changing your habits or adapting to a different sort of ownership experience, like with an all-electric car. To learn more about what hybrids can and can't do, check out our "Green Car Myth Busters article.

Choosing the Right Hybrid Vehicle for You

The first step is to decide whether a plug-in hybrid or a conventional hybrid best fits your lifestyle. Once you know the type of hybrid you want, it's time to start researching your options and narrowing down your choices so that you can test-drive your short list. Don't forget to check out available deals and find out what sort of tax incentives or rebates are offered on the cars you're interested in. Edmunds has the ratings and reviews you need to find your perfect car, and our advice articles can get you ready to buy. Make sure to check out 9 Steps to Easier Plug-In Vehicle Shopping if you think a plug-in hybrid is in your future.

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