Like the idea of an electric car but need the ease of long distance petrol or diesel power? The best plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) allow you to travel around in EV-style silence but fire up the engine when you need it.
Hybrid cars fall into two distinct camps: 'self-charging' hybrids and plug-in hybrids. The best 'self-charging' hybrid cars will only go into EV mode for short distances but don't need to be plugged in to deliver fuel savings, while the best plug-in hybrids offer more electric range but, as the name suggests, work best when you can plug-in regularly.
Plug-in hybrids serve as an ideal stepping stone into fully electric cars for those who aren't ready to commit. They also help avoid the possible disruption on longer journeys when it comes to using public charging, because the petrol or diesel engine kicks into life once that battery range is depleted.
All of 2024's best plug-in hybrids/PHEVs can do at least 30 miles in smooth electric silence with a full battery. But once that's done there's no need to faff about finding a nearby charger that works. Check out our guide to hybrid cars for more information.
Whether you're buying or leasing a plug-in hybrid car they usually cost a fair bit more than an equivalent petrol or diesel model. They can be thirsty on fuel with no charge left thanks to their heavy batteries, while they often lose some boot space too.
But we've selected the best plug-in hybrids from a variety of price points and bodystyles. Many will also be relatively efficient even with a depleted battery, while they still have plenty big enough boots for most people's needs. And why not see what deals can be found on heycar on new or used plug-in hybrids to save you money?
If you're ready to buy we've got over 10,000 Used Hybrid Cars for Sale, while if you want more choice, we have over 70,000 Used Cars for Sale. If you're looking to save money, check out our guide to the Best Car Deals.
Best plug-in hybrid cars 2024
1. BMW 530e/545e
PHEV: 37-mile range
The BMW 5 Series is one of a small number of cars that have been awarded a 10 out of 10 heycar rating. And even though it's five years old, it still stands up as one of the best all-round cars money can buy.
As a plug-in hybrid the BMW 530e is not quite as cutting-edge as the Mercedes below, but it's still a great choice for company car drivers and new or used buyers alike. With a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine mated to an electric motor for a combined 292PS and 420 Nm of torque, it's plenty perky enough for most people's needs.
More importantly, it can travel up to 37 miles under electric power alone – great for tackling the school run or commute in silence while saving the petrol engine for beautifully refined trips further afield.
If your budget is a bit higher and you want the ultimate in smoothness and performance from your plug-in hybrid, check out the excellent BMW 545e.
Its creamy six-cylinder 3.0-litre petrol motor is paired with an electric motor to produce 394PS and a huge 600Nm of torque, while standard xDrive four-wheel drive helps it to rocket to 62mph from a standstill in just 4.6 seconds. That'll certainly surprise many people, although its electric range is reduced to 33 miles.
2. Mercedes-Benz C 300 e
PHEV: 68-mile range
What two things do company car users love? Cars with class and style, and saving money. That's why a plug-in hybrid compact executive like the Mercedes-Benz C 300 e might be the ultimate company car.
Plug-ins like this C-Class offer massive Benefit-in-Kind tax savings as a company car. What's more, the C 300 e sits in a super low tax band because its electric range is so impressive: it'll do 68 miles on a charge, which is among the best of any plug-in hybrid.
Even the petrol version has a range nearly twice that of the BMW 330e, making it quite a bit cheaper to run for business users. But it's not just saving money, and there's plenty to like for private buyers too. Like the posh mini S-Class design, the luxurious and high-tech cabin and the excellent refinement.
To drive, the C 300 e is quicker than you might think thanks to a combined output of 312PS. It's no sports car, but that doesn't matter for a motorway cruiser with a lovely cushy ride yet tidy enough handling. It's not exactly cheap, but it's half the price of an S-Class and doesn't feel it.
3. Kia Sorento
PHEV: 35-mile range
There are plenty of plug-in SUVs in this list, but only two of them – this and the much more expensive Land Rover Defender – are seven-seaters.
We could make a good case for the Kia Sorento PHEV being one of the best all-rounders you can buy for below £55k. It's a proper seven-seater in that it can take adults in the third row without too much complaint, but it also comes with a classy cabin absolutely packed to the gills with standard equipment, and impressive tech.
The plug-in hybrid is more expensive and rarer than the self-charging hybrid and diesel Kia Sorentos, but if you can find a nearly new one for a good deal you'll be getting a strong do-all family car. With 265PS from a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine and electric motor it's reasonably perky, while officially managing 35 miles on a charge and triple-digit MPG.
The Sorento PHEV is not a cheap option, with petrol or diesel versions of the SEAT Tarraco and Skoda Kodiaq undercutting it on price. But neither feel as upmarket and offer the same levels of equipment, comfort and space, or a plug-in hybrid variant.
4. BMW X5 xDrive45e
PHEV: 54-mile range
The BMW X5 is already one of our favourite large, posh SUVs, and its refined driving experience is made even better in the plug-in hybrid X5 xDrive45e.
The key thing about the xDrive45e model is that its electric range of between 50-54 miles is over double that of the old model, the xDrive40e. Even in a worst-case scenario with cold weather and high speed driving it'll be high thirties, which for many will let them commute both ways without the engine ever starting.
The 200mpg-plus official fuel economy figure is pretty impressive for a two-plus-tonne luxury SUV. It's also good to drive with a smooth 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine, while its 394PS output means it's quicker than you might think. While it's hardly a sports car, it handles well for a tall and heavy car, and if you avoid the biggest wheel options it rides superbly.
Combine all that with a cosseting, premium and high-tech cabin and plenty of space for five adults and it's nearly the full package. We say nearly, because its big battery pack means a smaller boot and no seven-seat option unlike other X5s.
5. Skoda Octavia iV Estate
PHEV: 43-mile range
It's hard not respect how accomplished the Skoda Octavia Estate is. It's got loads of space for passengers and luggage, plenty of technology and equipment, is refined and comfortable to drive and – in plug-in hybrid iV form – offers a decent turn of pace.
All this, yet it's pretty affordable to buy and very cheap to run. You can have your Skoda Octavia Estate as a cheaper petrol or diesel model, but you can also have the 1.4 TSI iV PHEV that mates a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine to an electric motor and battery pack.
It'll do 43 miles before the battery is depleted, yet it also puts out 204PS, enough for a 0-62mph time in 7.8 seconds. If that's not fast enough for you check out the sportier vRS model – it can also be had as a plug-in hybrid, but with 245PS and a 38-mile electric range. Admittedly it's not quite as fun as the regular vRS, but it is a hot estate car with no efficiency downside.
6. Lexus NX
PHEV: 47-mile range
Don't be fooled by the similar styling, the latest Lexus NX is a much better premium SUV than the old Lexus NX. It's also now available as a PHEV as well as the brand's familiar self-charging hybrid, so there's a choice to suit every buyer.
Behind the angular, striking exterior is an impeccably built, posh cabin, with greatly improved infotainment over the usual fiddly Lexus system. There's also more room for passengers and luggage than before, but really
Behind the NX's bold bodywork is an interior of peerless quality, while the normally fiddly Lexus infotainment has been greatly improved. It's more spacious, too. But it's the driving experience that's the biggest revelation.
The old NX wasn't a very enjoyable drive and rode pretty poorly, which meant it was wholly outclassed by the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60. The new model manages to offer much more sorted ride and handling alongside improved performance and refinement.
The NX350h self-charging hybrid is a decent buy, but if you can stomach the price jump the NX450h+ plug-in hybrid is an excellent choice. Its electric range on a charge is a very impressive 47 miles, but it's also pretty punchy thanks to 309PS.
7. DS 4 E-Tense
PHEV: 38-mile range
A DS has always been a left-field choice. The French firm doesn't have the brand recognition of, say, Volkswagen, Ford or Toyota, but the DS 4 is a solid, stylish machine, and the E-Tense plug-in hybrid version is the best version of it. With a 38-mile range from its battery and electric motor, coupled to a 1.6-litre engine, it's got the potential to be extremely easy on fuel.
It's a very nice car to be in, too. Quite aside from the eye-catching looks, it's very comfortable, with several models to choose from, and you can specify tech called Active Scan Suspension, which reads the road ahead using a camera and adjusts the suspension to optimise the ride quality. Clever. The cabin is beautiful, full of premium materials and technologies to make life more relaxing.
The driving experience is definitely more comfort-focused than exciting, but there's a decent amount of power with 225PS driving the front wheels through an automatic gearbox. That means you can waft along in effortless serenity, and think about all the fuel you're saving.
8. Hyundai Tucson PHEV
PHEV: 38-mile range
Remember when the Hyundai Tucson was dependable, inoffensive and, frankly, bland? Hyundai has decided we all need livening up a bit, which is why the new model looks so bonkers for a humdrum family SUV.
That striking, love-or-hate design hides an impressively complete SUV, however. We like its sophisticated air for something that's still decent enough value, particularly inside where it has an upmarket yet spacious and practical cabin.
You also get eager handling and good refinement, although be wary of models with the biggest wheels that are firm on the UK's rougher surfaces. The plug-in hybrid Tucson also comes with four-wheel drive as standard, meaning it'll be capable of doing a lot more than just the school run in town if needs be.
The Hyundai Tucson PHEV uses the same 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine and electric motor combo as the bigger, heavier Sorento. That 265PS enough to make it feel reasonably potent, plus officially you'll get over 200mpg and an electric range of 38 miles.
9. Kia Sportage PHEV
PHEV: 43-mile range
The latest Kia Sportage builds on what made its predecessors so desirable – it's good at just about everything needed for family life. But now it's more stylish and more desirable, with even more equipment included as standard. And, of course, it's now available as a plug-in hybrid.
The Sportage PHEV uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and a battery that can deliver up to 43 miles of eletric-only driving on a full charge. Because of its high level of tech and relatively high price compared to the regular petrol and diesel models, it comes in a choice of top-end trims, which means loads of the latest features and infotainment capability. On the move it's an oasis of calm, despatching long motorway journeys with ease and serenity, and there's loads of room inside for passengers and luggage. The boot, while smaller than regular Sportages becuase of battery storage, is still more than capacious enough for family life.
Oh, and did we mention the brilliant seven-year factory warranty?
10. Land Rover Defender P400e
PHEV: 27-mile range
The Land Rover Defender's breadth of ability is almost unmatched by any car. Whereas the old one wasn't exactly sophisticated or refined, the new car is capable of going further off-road than just about any car yet also perfectly pleasant to drive on the road.
The plug-in hybrid P400e model is expensive, and its EV range of 27 miles isn't all that great in this company, but we're talking about a 2.5-tonne 4x4 with a three-tonne towing capacity. You also can't have seven seats like the X5, and again that's due to the battery pack.
But that's the negatives out the way. with 404PS from a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine mated to an electric motor it's faster than a Defender has any right to be. It's also even better than a diesel one at mud plugging because running in electric mode gives instant torque and smooth inputs.
Combine that with a sturdy yet high-end cabin, lots of great tech and plenty of space and it's probably the best 4x4 money can buy.
Best Plug-in Hybrid Car FAQs
The best PHEV (plug-in hybrid) in 2024 depends on what you need. As an affordable all-rounder for family buyers the Skoda Octavia iV is very difficult to fault, but if you want something a bit more fun the VW Golf GTE is a strong buy. The BMW 530e is a great executive plug-in, but the smaller Mercedes-Benz C 300 e is beats it for electric range. As for SUVs? We really rate the Lexus NX and Hyundai Tucson.
For years the undisputed champion of plug-in hybrids was the Polestar 1. It promises up to 77 miles on a charge thanks to its big 34kWh battery and sleek, aerodynamic coupe body. Oh, and it also has a whopping 609PS. However the latest Mercedes-Benz GLC 300de boasts an impressive 82 miles of range on a charge, which pips it to the post.
The main disadvantages and downsides of a plug-in hybrid are weight, space and cost. The big, heavy battery packs often add 200kg or more to the car's weight compared to a petrol or diesel version. This makes it less agile, reduces fuel economy once the battery is empty and often takes away from boot space. It also costs more to buy than a regular hybrid; often £5-10k more.
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