► Not all hybrids are hyper-expensive
► Electrified mobility from £18,745
► But are any of them worth the cash?
Electric cars are dominating the headlines, but not everybody can stump up the cash for a full EV just yet. And not everybody is capable of charging one, either – if you don’t have a driveway or easy access to a fast charging station, you can wave goodbye to those all-electric dreams.
A hybrid car seems a decent stopgap. They provide some benefits – including reduced running costs and the possibility of a few miles of silent electric running around town – but can be treated just like a normal petrol or diesel car, as most of them charge themselves up on the move.
Hybrid cars: further reading
In fact, with fuel economy often rivalling a diesel but with fewer complex exhaust treatment systems, a hybrid’s an ideal choice if you tend to do shorter journeys. The sort of school run or just-nipping-to-the-shops trips that can leave a diesel needing expensive regeneration of its particulate filters are easily shrugged off by the naturally-aspirated petrol engines utilised in hybrids.
Disadvantages? Well, the benefits are finite. A hybrid can only be efficient up to a certain point – and even the most efficient hybrid on sale won’t return much more than 60mpg in the most careful driving scenarios. If you do a lot of long trips, a diesel could well be more efficient.
Should you still buy a diesel car in 2020?
And if you do a lot of short trips, an EV will save you more money overall – while stumping up the extra cash for a plug-in hybrid could save you during the week as you drive around on electric power alone.
Cheapest hybrid cars 2020
We’ve rounded up the cheapest hybrid cars on sale in this list, for those who want to make the change but don’t have the largest budgets. We’ve concentrated our efforts on ‘proper’ hybrids – that is to say, cars that can run as pure EVs for a limited amount of time. We’re not including so-called mild hybrids, which tend to offer fewer benefits.
We’ve also sorted them by list price only – finance packages are available, though, and depending on your circumstances these could easily sway your decision.
Toyota Yaris Hybrid
We won’t pretend to like the Yaris Hybrid. In fact, its current iteration is pretty awful, with a rubbish interior, an awkward driving position and slightly less street cred than a mobility scooter.
Owners seem to enjoy them, though, and with Toyota’s well-proven 1.5-litre hybrid powertrain (as seen under the bonnet of every 500,000-mile Uber Prius in London) it should at least be reliable and efficient. A new model’s on the way but it won’t be here for a while.
Read our Toyota Yaris Hybrid review
Hyundai Kona Hybrid
Get past the divisive styling and the Kona Hybrid makes a decent case for itself as a bargain-priced hybrid car. For a start, all Hyundai and Kia models use a six-speed DCT gearbox as part of the powertrain, rather than a whiny CVT; this makes them much, much nicer to drive.
You’ll also find plenty of interior storage and some of the most straightforward in-car tech on the market. A winning package, then, as long as you don’t expect too much dynamically.
Read our Hyundai Kona hybrid review
In reinventing the miserable old Auris as the Corolla, Toyota called in the big guns from the chassis and styling departments. The net result is that this model feels great to drive and looks the part, too.
It’s a shame that for this bargain price you’ll be limited to the 1.8-litre Hybrid model instead of the more performant (and pleasant) 2.0-litre, but a genuine 60mpg is hard to sniff at. And if this hatch doesn’t catch your imagination, there’s saloon and Touring Sports (estate) models available too.
Read our Toyota Corolla Hybrid review
The original. OK, the Honda Insight beat the Prius to market, but it’s Toyota’s icon that’s the first thought on anybody’s lips as soon as you say ‘Hybrid’.
The fourth-generation Prius may be ugly as sin but it’s comfortable, absurdly reliable and very efficient. No wonder it’s the darling of so many Uber drivers – in fact, it’s so popular that a special Business Edition trim level is aimed at the trade.
Read our Toyota Prius hybrid review
Hyundai’s first purpose-built hybrid is available as a plug-in or as this cheaper self-charging model. If you want to ‘go green’ but don’t want to shout about it, the discreet-looking Ioniq is a good way to go.
It’s still plenty practical, with room for four adults, and the dual-clutch gearbox does away with the rubber-band effect of a CVT. Ultimately, though, it’s not as efficient or large as the cheaper Prius.
Read our Hyundai Ioniq hybrid review
The Niro successfully mixes SUV styling with a hybrid powertrain to make for a pretty accomplished car – if not an exciting one. Like the Ioniq, it’s available as a plug-in or even a full EV, but the plain old self-charging Hybrid is a good place to start.
It sits between the Stonic and Sportage in size, so there’s plenty of room for a family and all their gubbins inside.
Kia Niro hybrid review
The C-HR has become one of Toyota’s more popular products. We’re not entirely surprised – it felt like a real step-change for the Japanese brand when it launched, courtesy of a high-quality interior and fairly impressive dynamics for the class.
It’s definitely eye catching – it has hidden door handles and a faux-coupe roofline, but those do limit practicality for families. And the powertrain? That’s the same slow 1.8-litre hybrid unit from the Prius and Corolla – the 2.0-litre is available at extra cost, and well worth it.
Toyota C-HR hybrid review
Ford Mondeo Hybrid
We’ve not been too impressed by the Mondeo Hybrid in the past but as a base model, it’s hard to argue with the sheer value of a huge family car for the price of a high-end hatchback.
The Mondeo’s 182bhp hybrid powertrain is one of the most powerful here by a long way, and it’s surprisingly competent on the motorway – where it’s also superbly refined and comfy. The only problem is that it’s not actually that efficient, and anybody doing a decent mileage will be better off with a diesel.
Read our Ford Mondeo hybrid review
The UX uses as standard the same 2.0-litre powertrain as is optional for the Toyota Corolla and C-HR; this gives it a decent turn of pace, with 0-62mph dealt with in 8.5 seconds. It’s quite a good handler, too, so if you can get over the CVT automatic you might be pleasantly surprised at how the UX drives.
The Lexus interior quality is present and correct, too, which is a real boon. Better yet, the latest models now have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so you can bypass the brand’s dire infotainment system.
Read our Lexus UX hybrid review
Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In
The country’s cheapest plug-in just about sneaks onto this list. With around 30 miles of pure electric range on a full charge, this could be a brilliant way to reduce your bills, charging up overnight and commuting as an EV during the week and reserving the 1.6-litre petrol for longer trips at the weekend.
Other than this, the Ioniq Plug-in is virtually identical to the regular Ioniq – so it’s a discreet little car with enough space inside for a small family.
Read our Hyundai Ioniq plug-in review
Further hybrid car reading