If it seems like hybrid vehicles have fallen out of the national conversation a little bit in recent years, it’s because they have. After the success of the Toyota Prius set every automaker scrambling to market with their own version, gas prices have fallen, new efficiency advancements caused fuel economy in gasoline vehicles to climb, and the Tesla Model S replaced the Prius as the fuel efficiency icon for green-minded celebrities and elites. Hybrid technology is also expensive to develop, and sales have never quite held up their end. Plenty of brands have dipped out of hybrids altogether, but others are still holding tight and have produced remarkable results. Here are ten of the very best hybrid sedans out today.
10 Hybrid Sedans
Photo Credit: BMW
While the BMW i3 has both a battery and an engine, it’s somewhat cheating to call it a hybrid. Rather than working in tandem, the engine provides power to the battery when needed, so it’s essentially an electric vehicle charged by an engine. They even call it a Range Extender — not a hybrid. Either way, the results are impressive. The i3 with Range Extender is rated at 117 MPG-equivalent (MPG-e), and when the engine is running it clocks 39 MPG combined. The battery sends 170 horsepower to the rear wheels and delivers an almost shockingly exciting drive. A total range of 150 miles, carbon fiber construction and tax credits galore make the i3 quite enticing — hybrid or not.
Photo Credit: General Motors
Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid
One of the few remaining models that seems to be trying to push hybrid technology forward, the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid uses two electric motors and a 4-cylinder engine to bring both power and efficiency to the forefront. The result is an impressive 48 MPG city and 45 MPG highway rating, making the new 2016 Malibu Hybrid one of the most efficient hybrid sedans available today. The system delivers power smoothly and without the abrupt braking that plagues other models, and ride quality is excellent as well. Cargo capacity and some interior materials are lacking, but all in all, the new 2016 Malibu Hybrid brings a wide range of positives — from good looks to advanced connectivity — to the table.
Back for its second generation, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt is another hybrid sedan that drives under electric power only. With a full charge, the 2016 Volt offers 52 electric miles from two batteries, plus a 1.5-liter gasoline engine that extends the range to 420 miles. Chevrolet would really prefer you call the Volt an electric car with a gasoline-powered generator; like the i3, the Volt is essentially a plug-in hybrid — unlike the i3, the Volt is only available with the range-extending engine. With fuel economy ratings of 106 MPG-e, or 43 MPG city and 42 MPG highway with the engine, the Volt is no doubt an impressive machine and one of the best hybrid sedans out today.
Photo Credit: Honda
Honda Accord Hybrid
After taking a couple of years off, the 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid is back in a big way. By mating lithium-ion batteries to a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, the Accord Hybrid has been rated at best-in-class fuel economy of 49 MPG city and 47 MPG highway — truly whopping figures by any measure, even if Honda just missed the 50 MPG mark they desired. If there’s a car that will bring hybrids back into fashion, this is it. The Accord Hybrid boasts an attractive new design, seats five comfortably, offers the customary Accord smooth ride, and starts from just $29,605 MSRP. Efficiency is just part of the total package here, and the total package is a good one.
Photo Credit: Hyundai
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
If you’re looking for a hybrid to fit every style and need, the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid may not be for you. But it will be perfect for a lot of people, especially those who prioritize value, appreciate comfort, and mostly drive on the highway. Fuel economy ratings for the 2016 Sonata Hybrid clock in at 40 MPG city and 44 MPG highway with 193 total horsepower, and there’s also a Sonata Hybrid Plug-In that hits 99 MPE-e along with 27 all-electric miles. These numbers aren’t setting the hybrid market on fire, and Hyundai hasn’t fixed the numb braking that plagued past Sonata Hybrids. But it does offer near-luxury materials and ride quality, and better efficiency than most.
Photo Credit: Kia
Kia Optima Hybrid
Though it’s getting a little long in the tooth, and the fuel economy figures aren’t as impressive as they used to be, the 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid offers an efficient package for good value. Starting from $25,995 MSRP, the 2016 Optima Hybrid is rated at 36 MPG city and 40 MPG highway, which some gasoline-powered sedans are beginning to catch up to rather quickly. Hybrids have moved past the compromises that once dogged them (slow acceleration, tricky braking, average ride quality), but the 2016 Optima Hybrid still struggles with them. It’s certainly nice to look at, and interior comfort and technology are better than you might expect, but an update would be very welcome any day now.
Photo Credit: Lincoln
Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
Available now, the 2017 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid still carries more questions than answers. The raw statistics are enticing: 41 MPG city and 38 MPG highway on a luxury hybrid sedan that starts around $35,000. But it’s unclear how buyers will react to the MKZ Hybrid. The design, new this year, is certainly an improvement, and the hybrid system is the same very good one in the Ford Fusion Hybrid. But fuel economy isn’t exactly earth-shattering, and the previous MKZ didn’t do much to bring customers running back to the brand. A premium interior and standard SYNC 3 infotainment will certainly help, and with any luck the 2017 MKZ Hybrid will signal a rebirth of efficient American luxury.
Toyota Avalon Hybrid
You may have noticed a trend: many hybrid sedans are luxury cars, or near-luxury cars. Some automakers have made hybrid technology less about efficiency, and more about saving luxury owners from huge gas bills. The 2016 Avalon Hybrid is another example, offering affordable luxury at $38,100 as an alternative to the Lexus ES Hybrid at $41,020; with an almost identical hybrid system and the same 40 MPG city and 39 MPG highway rating. The ES Hybrid used to share more in common with the Camry Hybrid, boasting up to 43/39 MPG and a price tag just over $26,000, but the shift to Avalon internals may signal that Toyota sees luxury as the future for hybrids.
Photo Credit: Lexus
Lexus GS 450h
If you can’t shake the idea of a sluggish hybrid, book a test drive with the Lexus GS 450h. There’s little question that this legitimately luxurious hybrid sedan is the best of the GS family, with better acceleration and efficiency than its gas-powered siblings. The 3.5-liter V6 engine and two electric motors pull the GS 450h hard off the line, and 29 MPG city and 34 MPG highway are significant improvements (over 21/30 in the GS 200t), even if the $63,000 MSRP is awful steep. Still, the 450h is a suitable leader for the GS family — that is, of course, until you get to the 467-horsepower GS F. But that’s a story for another time.
Photo Credit: Toyota
It’s simply remarkable that no one has beaten the Prius at its own game yet. This once diminutive little hatch owned the national conversation for more than a decade, and now returns with its highest efficiency marks ever: up to 58 MPG city and 53 MPG highway. Cargo space is still jaw-dropping, while handling and interior noise have shown marked improvement. Styling is… well, the Prius has never been a looker. But now with the larger Prius v and smaller Prius c, the brand is stronger than ever. Affordable fuel will come and go, but for the last twenty years, the one thing in efficiency that has stayed consistent is the domination of the Prius over the hybrid market.