Best used hybrid cars 2024
Want to embrace electrified driving but need the reassurance of an internal combustion engine? Try one of our favourite used hybrid cars
Hybrid and electric cars have firmly entered the automotive mainstream, offering efficiency benefits over pure petrol and diesel powered counterparts. However, with higher list prices of electrified cars, not all of us can afford to buy a brand new hybrid car fresh off the production line. This is where one of our best used hybrid cars comes in.
Hybrid cars have been around for years now and can provide the benefits of electric power alongside the reassurance of a petrol or diesel engine. They use a small electric motor and battery pack that can be used to drive the wheels for a short amount of time. This boosts efficiency, lowers emissions and allows for very quiet running at low speed.
Some hybrids, which we call traditional hybrids as it's what came first, have batteries that can only be charged using the engine. Some, called plug-in hybrids or PHEVs, can be charged up using a plug, meaning you can actually use them like an electric car that happens to have an engine if you need it. They tend to have much smaller batteries than pure electric cars, so can only drive for around 30 miles or so on a single charge.
Which one works for you depends on your lifestyle. A range extender works for those who rarely do long trips and need a commuter car. PHEVs work for commuters who occasionally do long trips, and normal hybrids are a solution for those who either can't charge up at home or tend to do plenty of longer trips.
Best used hybrid cars
- BMW 330e
- Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
- Vauxhall Ampera
- Mercedes C 350 e
- Toyota Prius
- Hyundai Ioniq PHEV
- Kia Niro
- Toyota C-HR
1. BMW 330e
- Our pick: Sport (2018/18, 39k miles, £15,490)
Matching electric vehicle eco-friendliness and efficiency with sports saloon performance and poise, the BMW 330e is the second-hand hybrid that does it all. It’s brilliant to drive and beautifully built, and the plug-in tech adds smooth and silent EV running without any range anxiety. Factor in upmarket kerb appeal, a first-class cabin and intuitive tech, and the 330e is head and shoulders above the competition.
At the heart of its appeal is the brilliantly engineered petrol-electric drivetrain. With an all-electric range of about 25 miles from a modest 7.6kWh battery, the BMW can’t travel as far as modern PHEVs, but it should be enough for most daily duties. What’s more, the cells can be replenished in around three hours, even when using a standard three-pin plug, so it’s easy to start each day with a full charge.
Better still, the torquey 87bhp electric motor is paired with the smooth, turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine to deliver an impressive 249bhp. Not only does that allow the 330e to sprint from 0-60mph in just 6.1 seconds, but the transition between battery power and internal combustion is also almost imperceptible. What’s more, with regular electric running, the BMW delivers a claimed 148.7mpg, while official emissions of 44g/km mean you’ll not pay a penny for road tax.
Apart from an extra filler flap in the front wing for the charging port, the 330e is almost identical to a standard 3 Series. It has the same handsome and well proportioned lines while, inside, the classy, well equipped cabin is carried over unchanged, although the need to accommodate the lithium-ion battery pack means the boot capacity shrinks from 480 to 370 litres. The similarities even extend to the driving experience; the BMW’s direct steering and balanced handling make it a perfect plug-in for keen drivers.
Despite all the talent and tech on offer, this PHEV doesn’t cost the earth to buy. In fact, just £7,500 is all you’ll need to bag an example of this BMW.
2. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Mk3)
The Mitsubishi Outlander was once Britain’s best-selling PHEV, and used examples are significantly cheaper and more plentiful than the alternatives. Its practical cabin is a big plus, as is a near-30-mile EV range. Smarter post-2015 facelift cars are the ones to go for if your budget allows.
3. Vauxhall Ampera (Mk1)
A sales flop when new, the angular Vauxhall Ampera now has all the makings of a modern classic. Distinctive looks hide a clever 1.4-litre range-extending powertrain that promises a 300-mile range and a smooth, effortless EV driving experience. It’s a strict four-seater and the interior feels a little cheap, but it’s good to drive and bursting with kit.
4. Mercedes C 350e
The C-Class has been a multiple winner in our annual New Car Awards, so it’s easy to see why it makes a used car bargain. Comfort, refinement and quality are Mercedes' main calling cards, but with the plug-in hybrid you can add extremely low running costs to the mix.
Combining a 2.0-litre petrol engine with an 81bhp electric motor and a 6.4kWh lithium-ion battery, it can deliver an EV range of just under 20 miles, which should be enough for most daily commutes, especially if you frequently plug it in to charge. Power is plentiful and the air suspension can easily soak up harsh road conditions.
There’s all the in-car tech and gadgets you could ask for, while the easy-to-use MBUX infotainment system allows you to stay connected on the move. And of course, many examples are fitted with Mercedes’ cutting-edge driver-assistance systems, including adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist, helping make the C 350 e one of the safest PHEVs you can buy.
5. Toyota Prius (Mk4)
The Prius has a fine reputation for environmentally-friendly motoring. It’s a great option if you’re looking to minimise your fuel bills without sacrificing other features, such as comfort or technology.
That’s because this fourth-generation Prius, which was introduced in 2015, moved to an all-new chassis, based on Toyota’s New Global Architecture platform. A sophisticated suspension set-up delivers a refined ride and impressive body control, so while the Prius focuses on sipping fuel, it’s actually surprisingly good to drive.
The 1.8-litre petrol engine and electric motor set-up claimed sub-100g/km emissions at launch, meaning earlier models are free to tax. The CVT gearbox means the engine can drone if you ask for maximum acceleration, but this is at odds with the Prius’s relaxed and efficient character. Keep things settled, and it’s perfectly refined and comfortable.
You can add practicality to its broad list of attributes too. The platform was designed with hybrid powertrains in mind, so the batteries don’t eat into space in the rear, while the 343-litre boot is still fair.
Just watch for high-mileage examples. Many Priuses have been used as taxis thanks to their efficiency. The batteries are known to be reliable, but we’d hold out for a lower-mileage model as it's more likely to be a privately-owned car.
6. Hyundai Ioniq PHEV (Mk1)
The Hyundai Ioniq PHEV (plug-in hybrid) is a great alternative to the Toyota Prius if you want a comfortable, quiet and easy car to drive to work in. It has a range of around 39 miles if you charge the battery up, which is more than enough for the average commute.
It has a 1.6-litre petrol engine too, so if you do need to do a longer motorway trip there won't be an issue. In our experience - we ran one as a long termer when new - it proved very efficient even with the battery run dry.
The Ioniq is a little dull inside but it has all the kit you could want, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which both work really well on the large touchscreen display on the dash. There's plenty of room inside and models under five years old will still be covered by the manufacturer's original warranty.
7. Kia Niro (Mk1)
The Kia Niro is related to the Hyundai Ioniq. Both were available in fully-electric form as well as PHEV and traditional hybrid models. It's the latter we're looking at here for the Niro, which has a 1.6-litre engine and a small electric motor. Notably, it uses a dual-clutch automatic gearbox instead of a CVT, which means it's more refined than rivals such as the Prius when you're accelerating.
It's not quite as smooth, comfortable or quiet as the Toyota in general driving, though. The Niro has looks on its side, as SUV fans will like its high-sided appearance. It's relatively practical as a result too, with a 382-litre boot capacity.
It's well equipped with all models having cruise and climate control, a multifunction steering wheel and sat-nav - and the infotainment set-up is good. Efficiency is strong and you should see over 50mpg at least, though a Prius or Ioniq will be even cheaper to run as they're more aerodynamic.
8. Toyota C-HR (Mk1)
If you want a stylish SUV that's also a hybrid then the Toyota C-HR is a top choice. It uses similar running gear to the Prius, with a 1.8-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, using a CVT gearbox. It has a similar chassis set-up as well, so the C-HR is good to drive and comfortable.
The interior is a little cramped, as the rear roofline cuts into headroom and it feels a little dark in the back seats. Yet there's still enough room for a family and the boot is decent, so it has plenty of appeal.
The C-HR is one of the best mid-size SUVs to drive that you can buy, despite the heavy battery. It's nice and quiet at low speed and deals with potholes very well. It's a great used buy because the Toyota engineering means it's bound to be really reliable and cars under five will still have warranty left.
Now find out more about the best used cars you can buy...