10 great used hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles – with something for everyone, from an affordable supermini to a seven-seat SUV
There are two main types of hybrid vehicles: conventional hybrid or plug-in hybrid. A standard hybrid might be referred to as a ‘self-charging’ hybrid, while a plug-in might be known as a PHEV. In both cases, a petrol or diesel engine is required for the car’s primary means of propulsion.
A hybrid vehicle features a small electric motor to increase efficiency, improve fuel economy and deliver a small amount of electric range. A plug-in hybrid can be plugged in to provide enough range to tackle a typical daily commute using electric power.
While a hybrid cannot be plugged into the mains, it’s likely to be an economical alternative to a diesel car. A plug-in hybrid is a kind of half-way house between a conventional car and a pure electric vehicle (BEV). They’re more expensive to buy and you must remember to recharge the batteries to maximise efficiency.
We’ve pulled together a list of 10 great used hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles. There’s something for everyone, from an affordable supermini to a seven-seat SUV.
For many years, the Toyota Yaris Hybrid was the only small hybrid car you could buy. An all-new version arrived in 2020, but don’t dismiss the outgoing model. Few superminis offer the same blend of practicality, efficiency and reliability. Used prices start from around £5,000.
The 1.5-litre VVT-i Hybrid powertrain is paired with a CVT transmission to make the Yaris an easy car to drive in the city. Between 55mpg and 60mpg is likely in the real world.
The Hyundai Ioniq was the first car to be offered with three different forms of electrification: hybrid, plug-in hybrid or full electric. In all cases, you get a five-year unlimited mileage warranty, Hyundai’s excellent reliability record and extremely low running costs. It all comes down to the choice of powertrain.
Opt for the Ioniq Hybrid and you can expect to see nearly 63mpg and 625 miles from a tank of fuel. With a full tank and a fully charged battery, up to 660 miles is possible in the Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid, including 32 miles of all-electric range.
There’s a lot to like about the old ‘F30’ generation BMW 330e. The ‘e’ is shorthand for electric, in this case a plug-in hybrid offering 14 miles of electric range. Not a huge distance by today’s standards, but thanks to a great chassis and a 2.0-litre petrol engine, few hybrids are as good to drive as this one.
Used prices start from less than £15,000, which makes the 330e cheaper than a new Ford Fiesta.
The Toyota Prius is near enough the brand generic for hybrid vehicles. From greenwashed celebs to overworked Uber drivers, the Prius has become part of the world’s automotive furniture. Its popularity means there’s a huge amount of choice on the used car market.
Prices start from around £1,500, but it’d be worth opting for the current Prius for the best blend of efficiency and reliability. Low CO2 emissions and fuel economy of 60mpg make this an easy hybrid to recommend.
Meet the UK’s best-selling plug-in hybrid SUV. Thanks to a lack of direct competition, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has sold in great numbers, so there are plenty to choose from when buying used. The current version offers an all-electric range of 28 miles and CO2 emissions of just 46g/km.
The key to getting the best out of a plug-in hybrid is to recharge it overnight. If not, you’re simply carrying a heavy battery pack for no reward.
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine – now known as the Recharge T8 – is a seven-seat plug-in hybrid SUV. It’s not the cheapest electrified vehicle you can buy, but used prices have dropped below £35,000. Not bad for a car that costs at least £65,000 new.
You get a powerful turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-litre petrol engine, along with the ability to cover 31 miles on electric power if you opt for a version with the 11.6kWh battery.
It’s not exciting to look at, but there are two good reasons why the Kia Niro should be on your shortlist when buying a hybrid vehicle. Prices have dropped below £10,000, which is excellent value for a 2017 or 2018 hybrid compact SUV. You also get a seven-year warranty, so even the earliest versions will be covered for another three years.
The Niro is more practical than a Toyota Prius, and while it’s not as efficient, you do get a lot of equipment for your money.
The Volkswagen Golf GTE is a Golf GTI with an eco conscience. You get the same good looks and impressive interior, with the added benefit of a combined 160mpg and an official 31 miles of electric range. You can expect to see around 20 miles in the real world, which could be enough to complete your daily commute. Just remember to plug it in.
Its 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine delivers rapid acceleration, enabling the Golf GTE to sprint to 62mph in just 7.6 seconds.
The fourth-generation Lexus RX450h is a stylish alternative to a German SUV. Power is sourced from a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and an electric motor to deliver brisk performance and decent efficiency. You also get a five-year warranty from a company known for its reliability and service; Lexus dealers are rated among the best in Britain.
All of which makes the RX450h a used car bargain, especially when you take into account the standard equipment and delightful interior.
The Honda Jazz is one of the newest hybrids to hit the market. Its two-motor hybrid system is so ingenious it doesn’t need a gearbox, while the engine drives a generator, not the wheels. It’ll run like an EV whenever it can, so running costs should be extremely low.
Practicality is another strong point, with the ‘Magic Seats’ delivering great flexibility. It’s like owning a supermini with the space and practicality of a family hatchback. A fantastic nearly-new purchase.