If you are in the market for a new car that gets excellent fuel economy, a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) may be the right choice for you. Most hybrids combine fuel-sipping engines with advanced batteries and electric motors to return stellar fuel economy without the added costs associated with higher-priced plug-in hybrids or full-electric vehicles. Depending on your driving needs, hybrid cars can be a great fit, but knowing which type of hybrid to buy is dependent upon your budget and the amount of fuel savings and tailpipe emissions reduction you’re hoping to achieve.
Keep reading to find out the differences in various types of hybrid drive systems, and see which are the best hybrid cars on the market.
Types of Hybrid Cars
Since not all hybrids are created equal, here’s a breakdown of the three main types of hybrid vehicles that are currently available:
Mild Hybrid Vehicles
Mild hybrid cars cannot move solely on electric power. Instead, the electric system is used to boost the vehicle’s gasoline engine, generally during acceleration from a complete stop, and to help remove the weight of power-hungry systems — like air conditioning — on the gasoline engine.
Mild hybrids, which are typically 48-volt electric systems, do not need recharging. Instead, the batteries are charged using a combination of electricity from the gasoline engine, and energy recovered when the vehicle stops. Volvo, BMW, and Ram are examples of automakers that use mild hybrid systems.
Hybrid Electric Vehile (HEV)
HEVs are also referred to as full hybrid vehicles, and they are currently the most prevalent form of hybrids. Full hybrid cars contain both a gas engine and an electric component. They can also switch between being powered by gas and electricity. They have a large battery pack that can store a lot of energy.
Full hybrid cars are the best option if you’re looking for something that will perform well and be extremely efficient. The most significant advantage of a full hybrid car is its ability to operate solely on electric power, especially for long-distance rides. The Toyota Prius is perhaps the best-known hybrid, but the current market for full hybrid vehicles varies greatly from small cars to large SUVs.
Plug-in Hybrid Cars
As the name indicates, plug-in hybrids can be plugged into an electrical outlet using the same J1772 outlet as most EVs to charge the batteries. PHEVs combine a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) with a more advanced battery pack and electric drive system, and they can power the wheels by one or a combination of both systems.
PHEVs cost more than HEVs, but when the battery is fully charged, plug-in hybrids can be powered by electricity alone for a further distance. Current PHEVs are helping car buyers bridge the between hybrid cars and full EVs, and examples of plug-in hybrids sold in 2022 include the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, Toyota Prius Prime, and many more.
Best Hybrid Cars
There is a vast difference between the various types of hybrids you can choose from, but here are the top five best hybrid cars for 2022:
2022 Hyundai Ioniq
Being the “best” at something is very subjective, but the 2022 Hyundai Ioniq is definitely one of the best hybrid cars. Not only does the Ioniq give buyers the option of EV, PHEV, and HEV variants, the Ioniq Blue is the most-efficient HEV for 2022 with EPA fuel economy estimates of 58 mpg in the city and 60 mpg on the highway. The Ioniq HEV is being phased out in favor of the all-electric Ionic 5, but you can still find these in great shape and with low mileage as pre-owned cars.
2022 Toyota Prius
The Toyota Prius is the poster child for hybrids, and since it’s introduction in 2001 (for U.S. buyers), the Prius is still among the best hybrid cars on the market. Thanks to its Eco trim level, the 2022 Prius is rated at 58 mpg city and 53 mpg highway. Similar to the Ioniq, the Prius also offers even more efficiency with a plug-in model, called the Prius Prime.
2022 Kia Niro
Since SUVs are the most popular type of vehicle, the 2022 Kia Niro might be the best hybrid car as it toes the line between hatchback and SUV. The Niro has the tall roofline and bountiful interior space of an SUV, while it has the low, smooth ride of a compact car. No matter what you call it, the Niro FE trim level stands out with EPA fuel economy estimates of 58 mpg in the city and 48mpg on the highway.
Things to Consider About Hybrid Cars
Below, there are several factors to consider when shopping for a hybrid car to ensure that you make the right choice.
These cars are more expensive than conventional cars because of their advanced technology, although this cost has come down considerably in recent years. That being said, while the sticker price may be higher in some cases, the fuel savings usually offsets that amount.
Better Resale Value
When buying a hybrid car, you should keep in mind that hybrids retain their value better than gas-powered cars and often have a higher resale value than non-hybrids. Therefore, you can sell your hybrid car at a higher price down the road. The resale value of hybrid cars is better than that of conventional cars, thanks to their better fuel efficiency, low emissions, and long lifespan.
Despite being more advanced than a conventional car, the maintenance costs for HEVs is usually about the same. Regular maintenance like tire rotation, fluid top-ups, and checking and fixing minor problems will keep your hybrid car running in top condition.
Hybrid cars typically have a longer lifespan than non-hybrids because they have less stress on the engine and are easier on the brakes. Hybrid cars are also less likely to break down because of their sophisticated electrical systems, and even if there is a problem, most automakers provide a longer warranty for hybrid system components.
Owning a Hybrid Car is Great
Hybrid cars are a good option if you want to reduce your carbon footprint, cut down on your fuel expenses, and reduce your dependency on fossil fuels. This list of the best hybrid cars is a great place to start if you’re in the market for one.
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