Electrification is currently a headline trend in the auto industry, but not all of us can afford to buy a brand new electric car – or even a used one, as these models are still so new that second-hand prices are still high. This is where one of our best used hybrid cars comes in.
Hybrids have been around for decades and they have many advantages. They use a small electric motor and a battery that can be used to drive the wheels for a short time. This increases efficiency, lowers emissions and enables very quiet operation at low speeds.
Some hybrids, which we call traditional hybrids because they came first, have batteries that can only be charged with the engine. Some, called plug-in hybrids or PHEVs, can be charged through a plug, which means you can actually use them like an electric car that happens to have a motor when you need it. They usually have much smaller batteries than all-electric cars, so they can only go about 30 miles or so on a single charge.
PHEVs tend to be less efficient than traditional hybrids in using the engine because they are often heavier. However, if you charge regularly, you may not be able to use the engine at all, which means they’re as cheap to run as an electric car.
There are also hybrids called range extenders, although they are rare – the only model here is the BMW i3 Rex. It’s essentially an electric car, but it has a tiny motor that can charge the battery with gasoline in an emergency. The motor cannot drive the wheels, it can only charge the battery.
Which one works for you depends on your lifestyle. A range extender works for those who rarely make long journeys and need a commuter car. PHEVs are great for commuters who make the occasional long drive, and regular hybrids are a solution for those who either cannot charge at home or are prone to making many longer journeys.
Read on to see the best used hybrids for 2021 …
It is best to buy used hybrid cars
- Toyota Prius
- Hyundai Ioniq PHEV
- BMW 330e
- Kia Niro
- Toyota C-HR
- BMW i3 Rex
- Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
- Volkswagen Golf GTE
1. Best used hybrid car: Toyota Prius
The Prius has a good reputation for environmentally friendly driving. It’s a great option if you want to minimize your fuel bills without sacrificing other features like convenience or technology.
This is because this fourth generation Prius, which was introduced in 2015, was converted to an entirely new chassis based on Toyota’s New Global Architecture platform. A sophisticated chassis setup ensures a refined driving experience and impressive body control. So while the Prius is focused on drinking fuel, it’s actually surprisingly good to drive.
The 1.8-liter petrol engine and the electric motor required emissions below 100 g / km when they were launched, which means that earlier models are tax-free.
The CVT transmission means the engine can hum if you ask for maximum acceleration, but this runs counter to the laid-back and efficient nature of the Prius. Keep things organized, and it’s perfectly nifty and comfortable.
You can also add practicality to the wide list of attributes. The platform was designed with hybrid drives in mind so that the batteries don’t take up space in the rear while the 343 liter trunk is still fair.
Just look for examples with high mileage. Many Priuses were used as taxis because of their efficiency. The batteries are known to be reliable, but we’d go for a lower mileage model as it’s more of a private car.
See the latest Toyota Prius prices on our sister site BuyaCar …
2. Hyundai Ioniq PHEV
The Hyundai Ioniq PHEV (plug-in hybrid) is a great alternative to the Toyota Prius when you’re looking for a comfortable, quiet, and simple car that is more than enough for the average commuter.
It also has a 1.6 liter gasoline engine so it is no problem if you have to take a long highway trip. In our experience – we operated one for long-term operation when it was new – it proved to be very efficient even with an empty battery.
The Ioniq is a little bland inside, but it has everything you could want including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, both of which work really well on the large touchscreen display on the dashboard. There’s plenty of space inside and models that are less than five years old are still covered by the manufacturer’s original warranty.
See the latest Hyundai Ioniq prices on our sister site BuyaCar …
3. BMW 330e
You can now pick up a BMW plug-in hybrid starting at around £ 10,000, which is a little bargain for this upscale PHEV. The 330e was the German brand’s first foray into PHEVs, but with emissions as low as 44 g / km and still getting 0-62 mph in 6.1 seconds, you could have your cake and eat it. Remember to charge religiously to maximize efficiency.
The 330e looks and drives like a normal 3 Series – so it’s fun on winding roads, but it’s also comfortable and sophisticated. It is a good motorway cruiser, but also at home in the city, as the electric motor runs almost noiselessly in pure electric mode.
The 3 Series is a sedan, so it doesn’t have the practicality of a hatchback, but it offers plenty of space for the rear passengers and the trunk is big enough. The interior is of high quality and should still feel quite modern and contemporary.
The current prices for the BMW 330e can be found on our sister site BuyaCar …
4. Kia Niro
The Kia Niro is related to the Hyundai Ioniq. Both were available in fully electric form as well as PHEV and traditional hybrid models. We are looking at the latter for the Niro, which has a 1.6-liter engine and a small electric motor. In particular, it uses a dual-clutch automatic transmission instead of a CVT, which means it is more refined than models like the Prius when it comes to accelerating.
However, it’s not quite as smooth, comfortable, or quiet as the Toyota in general. The Niro has looks on its side, because SUV fans will like its edgy appearance. This makes it relatively practical with a trunk volume of 382 liters.
It’s well equipped – all models have cruise control and air conditioning, a multifunction steering wheel, and navigation device – and the infotainment setup is good. The Niro should be efficient – expect at least over 50 mpg, although a Prius or Ioniq will be even cheaper to run as they are more aerodynamic.
See the latest Kia Niro prices on our sister site BuyaCar …
5. Toyota C-HR
If you are looking for a stylish SUV that is also a hybrid then the Toyota C-HR is the first choice. It uses a chassis similar to the Prius, with a 1.8 liter gasoline engine and an electric motor with a CVT transmission. It also has a similar chassis setup so the C-HR is good to drive and comfortable.
The interior is a bit cramped as the rear roofline cuts into the headroom and it feels a bit dark in the rear seats. But there is still enough room for a family and the boot is decent so it has a lot of appeal.
Despite the heavy battery, the C-HR is one of the best mid-range SUVs that you can buy. It’s nice and quiet at low speeds and handles potholes very well. It’s a great used buy because Toyota tech means it’s really reliable and cars under five years of warranty are still guaranteed.
See the latest Toyota C-HR prices on our sister site BuyaCar …
6. BMW i3 Rex
The BMW i3 is an electric car, and there are versions without a motor – so these versions are not hybrids at all. However, until 2018 the cars were available as Range Extenders or Rex, as you will see in the section titles. That means it has a tiny gasoline engine on board that can recharge the battery in an emergency.
It has a small fuel tank so you won’t get very far on gasoline, but if you can’t find a public charging station on a long trip, you can always top up with some fuel and add a few more miles on the go.
It’s a great solution for those who want an electric car but without the range fear. The i3 is a fantastic car in and of itself and a bargain second-hand for around £ 10,000 – the interior still looks fresh today and is great to drive too.
The current prices for the BMW i3 Rex can be found on our sister site BuyaCar …
7. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
There are plenty of second hand Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs out there because when the car first hit the market it was popular with company car buyers. This means that it’s great value for money for those looking for a larger, electric-powered SUV.
The best thing about the Outlander PHEV is its practicality as it offers a large trunk and plenty of room for passengers. Not great in other areas as it is a bit noisy, not as comfortable, boring to drive, and not as efficient as you might expect.
However, thanks to the electric motor, running costs are as low as you want them to be – if you’d rather not pay for fuel, just recharge regularly and just use the electric motor. You won’t get far, however – even if you are careful it will only make it about 30 miles. However, the engine is there as a backup should you need to go further.
But it should be reliable, so it is a good choice as a practical and robust hybrid used car.
The current Mitsubishi Outlander prices can be found on our sister site BuyaCar …
8. Volkswagen Golf GTE
If you want a hybrid car but still want to have fun on the commute to work, the Volkswagen Golf GTE could be the car for you. Okay, it’s nowhere near as much fun as the Golf GTI, but the GTE is still fun on winding roads, has a lot of power and the all-important electric motor.
That means you can use the motor for the fun parts of your ride and then let the near-silent electric motor do the little things around town. The GTE is a Golf, so it is practical, comfortable and packed full of equipment – all the characteristics of a great all-rounder.
The Golf GTE can currently be bought for around £ 10,000 which is good value for a car with this broad range of features. Unlike many other types of cars, models primarily used for low-speed commuting could be a good investment as they don’t have as much engine wear and tear as those used on the highway. This also applies to all other cars on this list.
The current prices for Volkswagen Golf GTE can be found on our sister site BuyaCar …