There are plenty of high end luxury hybrid cars on the market, but what about the more affordable options? We're talking about low cost hybrid cars that are designed to appeal to buyers who aren't looking to park a Lexus or a BMW in their driveway.
Hybrid technology has fortunately reached the point where cheap - or at the very least, inexpensive - hybrid cars are now relatively common. How common? We were able to put together a list of 10 low cost hybrid cars that retail for between $18,500 and $27,000, which is one of the most heavily-shopped price ranges out there. Let's take a quick look our affordable hybrid car candidates.
The 2013 Honda Insight is the least expensive of the low cost hybrids, and it manages to snag this title by keeping things relatively low-frills. The Honda Insight is a compact hatchback that features steel wheels, automatic climate control, a CD player, power windows and door locks, and a trip computer right out of the box. It also offers a 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine that teams up with an electric motor to deliver 98 horsepower and fuel mileage of 41-mpg city and 44-mpg highway. These are respectable numbers for a car at its price point, even if they don't represent the top figures in its segment.
Low Cost Hybrid Cars - 02 - 2012 Toyota Prius C - MSRP $18,950
The 2012 Toyota Prius c is just a bit more expensive than the Insight but it delivers considerably better fuel economy numbers. The 1.5-liter, four-cylinder gas engine and tandem electric motor Hybrid Synergy Drive system found in the Toyota Prius C is good for 99 horsepower and 53-mpg in stop and go driving - a figure that crushes the Honda hybrid. Highway mileage is listed at 46-mpg. In base form the Prius C is similarly equipped to its nearest rival, and it also offers the entry-level ride and low cost plastic interior that are part and parcel of the larger Insight's experience.
Low Cost Hybrid Cars - 03 - 2012 Honda CR-Z - MSRP $19,695
The 2012 Honda CR-Z is a bit of an outlier, as it represents an attempt to inject a bit of fun into the driving character of an inexpensive hybrid car. The success of this effort is debatable, for while the Honda CR-Z offers better acceleration and lively handling when compared against other gasoline/electric automobiles, it doesn't approach true sports car capabilities. It's also worth noting that the CR-Z is a hatchback that can only seat two people at a time, which is a significant practicality penalty to pay.
Honda has given the car a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder gas engine that meshes with a battery-powered electric motor to produce a total of 122 horsepower, and unlike most other hybrids it is available with a traditional six-speed manual transmission, if desired. Fuel economy for the Honda CR-Z is listed at 35-mpg city and 39-mpg highway - figures that are not far off from gas-only hatches similar in price.
Low Cost Hybrid Cars - 04 - 2012 Toyota Prius - MSRP $24,000
The 2012 Toyota Prius is bigger than its Prius C stable mate and enjoys a utility advantage as a result. Its pricing also reflects the additional equipment, size, and power that come with the Toyota Prius, and this vehicle is the first on our list to jump into the mid-$20k price range. All versions of the Prius, including the base model, are motivated by a 134 horsepower hybrid system that combines a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder gas engine with not one but two electric motors. Fuel mileage for the iconic Toyota hybrid is listed at 51-mpg in stop and go driving and 48-mpg on the highway.
Low Cost Hybrid Cars - 05 - 2013 Honda Civic Hybrid - MSRP $24,200
The 2013 Honda Civic Hybrid is an interesting option for eco-conscious drivers, as it offers considerable fuel consumption benefits wrapped up in almost the same package as the standard gas-powered Civic. Feature content remains modest, but the Honda Civic Hybrid's comfortable passenger compartment and decent trunk space are a bonus for hybrid shoppers on a budget. The Civic Hybrid features an upgraded gasoline/electric setup for the 2012 model year that takes the shape of a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine and a single electric motor that together generate 110 horses. Fuel economy for the four-door sedan shows as 44-mpg city and 44-mpg highway.
Low Cost Hybrid Cars - 06 - 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid - MSRP $24,995
The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid - or the 'turbo hybrid' as it is being marketed - doesn't cost a whole lot more than the Civic Hybrid, and while it might not provide the same bulletproof reputation for reliability enjoyed by its Japanese counterpart it does pull ahead in terms of style and performance. A 1.4-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine works together with an electric motor to deliver 170 horsepower in the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, a figure which provides decent get-up-and-go off of the line. Fuel mileage for the Jetta Hybrid is also strong, checking in at 42-mpg city and 48-mpg.
Low Cost Hybrid Cars - 07 - 2013 Ford C-Max - MSRP $25,200
The 2013 Ford C-Max is a full-on assault against the Toyota Prius, as it matches Ford's Euro-spec compact hatchback people mover platform with an all-new hybrid drivetrain. The Ford C-Max delivers excellent interior room, especially when it comes to cargo space, and it also features dual automatic climate control, the SYNC vehicle interface, and Bluetooth as standard equipment. A 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that is aided and abetted by an electric motor work in tandem to produce 188 horsepower in the C-Max, and fuel mileage is reported by the EPA as 47-mpg city and 47-mpg highway.
Low Cost Hybrid Cars - 08 - 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid - MSRP $25,700
The 2013 Kia Optima Hybrid is a stylish mid-size family sedan that just happens to have hybrid drivetrain stuffed under the hood. With good interior space and a design that makes us forget all about the lackluster Kias of old, the Kia Optima Hybrid is high on the list of buyers who want the benefits of a hybrid car without necessarily advertising what they are driving. Hybrid versions of the Optima are outfitted with a decent amount of comfort and convenience features, and the car's 206 horsepower hybrid system is composed of a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder mill and a single electric motor. The Optima Hybrid delivers 34-mpg in city driving and 39-mpg during highway cruising.
Low Cost Hybrid Cars - 09 - 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid - MSRP $25,990
The 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid sedan is a mainstay of the mid-size market, and its ubiquity is proof of just how effectively Toyota has managed to promote its ground-breaking hybrid technologies. The Toyota Camry Hybrid drives in many ways like its gas-powered sibling, which is a boon for families attracted to the automobile's conservative looks, comfortable ride, and affordable pricing. All-new for 2012, the Camry Hybrid provides 43-mpg city and 39-mpg highway in base form, and its 2.5-liter, four-cylinder gas engine and electric motor churn out a healthy 200 horsepower when the pedal is to the metal.
Low Cost Hybrid Cars - 10 - 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco - MSRP $26,095
The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco is an interesting addition to this list of low cost hybrid cars, as it doesn't target traditional hybrid buyers. Instead, the Chevrolet Malibu Eco is presented as a fuel efficient trim level of the standard mid-size sedan, one that comes with dual automatic climate control, a touchscreen entertainment system, and the MyLink connectivity feature. The Malibu Eco's 2.4-liter, four-cylinder gas engine is augmented by an electric motor in a mild hybrid design that is good for 184 horsepower. An automatic start/stop system helps the vehicle achieve fuel mileage ratings of 25-mpg city and 37-mpg highway.