Hybrid cars have been around for many years now, but in the last decade they’ve become more popular and offered on a variety of car types for sale. For many buyers who aren’t ready to go fully electric, hybrid cars offer a useful stepping stone, allowing them to reduce their fuel costs and run on battery power for short distances without having to fully rely on EV charging networks. Hybrids can also reduce your tax bills both in VED (road tax) and, for company car users, massively lowering your benefit-in-kind bill. See what we think are the best hybrid cars around right now.
The main reason to buy a used hybrid car is to reduce your fuel costs and emissions. Hybrid cars are usually a lot more efficient than a traditional petrol car, without the environmental concerns of owning a diesel car. You also often pay less road tax, and you can avoid paying fees in some city low emission zones. Hybrids are often smoother to drive, too, and can be more reliable. There are two types of hybrid cars for sale: full (self-charging) hybrids, which don’t need to be plugged in and offer better long-distance efficiency, and plug-in hybrids (often referred to as PHEVs), which can be more expensive but can run for up to 50 miles (or more) on electric power alone. We'll explain the differences in more detail below...
A hybrid car (also called a self charging hybrid) is a vehicle that uses an internal combustion engine (ICE) backed up by a battery-powered electric motor – cars like the standard Toyota Corolla for example. Most of the time, the Corolla’s electric motor runs in parallel with the ICE – giving a slight performance boost when accelerating to help save fuel. However, at town speeds the Prius can run for short distances on electric power alone. Unlike in a PHEV, you can’t plug a hybrid car in to recharge its battery, instead, the battery is recharged using the ICE and via the car’s regenerative brakes.
Self charging hybrid cars make a lot of sense if you often drive in town, with some of the best small hybrid cars around proving very popular. In stop-start city traffic, a hybrid car can deliver strong fuel economy and low emissions because it spends lots of time running on electric power, plus its regenerative brakes have plenty of opportunities to recharge the battery.
Hybrid cars make less sense if you do most of your driving on free-flowing A and B roads, and motorways. At these faster speeds, hybrids deplete their batteries quickly so they're less efficient.
The most obvious difference between self-charging hybrid cars and a PHEV is that a PHEV can be plugged in to quickly recharge its battery. For this reason, the best plug-in hybrid cars tend to have larger batteries than conventional hybrid cars allowing them to run for longer periods on battery power alone – usually well over 40 miles but the figure is growing steadily with every new model that’s released.
That means you can treat your PHEV just like an electric car and run purely off the battery - perfect if you're regularly driving round town or covering other short distances, while the battery power can be used in conjunction with the engine to boost performance. Run out of battery? That's when you car's engine fully kicks in. Most PHEVs will have selected modes so you can tell the car whether you want to run on the electric motors, via the engine on a combination of the two. Or there's always an auto mode so the car can decide what's the most efficient combination.
PHEVs are an excellent choice if you have a short commute and somewhere to charge the car – their 40-mile plus battery range (though some older used hybrid cars for sale might have smaller ranges) means you should be able to get to and from work on battery power alone, slashing your running costs.
That said, PHEVs aren’t great at faster speeds on the motorway because they soon run down their batteries. When that happens, a plug-in hybrid essentially becomes a normal car that’s lugging around a heavy battery.
You can charge your plug-in hybrid car three ways – using a three-pin plug, a home-installed wall charger or using a public charger.
The three-pin plug might be the easiest system to charge your hybrid car – your garage will likely already have a three-pin plug installed – but it will also be the slowest way to recharge your battery. You can expect it to take around seven hours to charge a PHEV battery from flat. A quicker home wall charger makes a lot more sense as you can charge your plug in hybrid car’s battery in five hours or less at a rate of up to 7kW an hour. Many PHEVs aren’t capable of fast charging, so public charging isn’t as easy.
Mild hybrids, on the other hand, cannot solely turn the wheels with electric power: the system is there to assist the petrol or diesel engine and boost efficiency.
The best hybrid car to buy or lease for you depends on what size of car you want. Small cars are usually self-charging hybrids, and models such as the Toyota Yaris and Honda Jazz are our favourites in this sector. Need more space? Hybrid family cars such as the Toyota Corolla and Honda CR-V would be our picks. You’ll find more plug-in hybrid options when looking at larger SUVs or luxury cars, but there is still affordable models such as the Skoda Octavia iV. Our favourite premium saloon hybrid is the Mercedes-Benz C 300 e which manages up to 62 miles on a charge. The Lexus NX, Kia Sorento and BMW X5 are great SUVs with hybrid power options, too.
Whether it is better for you to get a hybrid or an electric car depends on the type of driving you’ll do. Electric cars make lots of sense if you only ever do town driving, but their limited range means they're not so good for longer drives. PHEVs, meanwhile, are cheap to drive in town but have the range of a regular car thanks to their internal combustion engine.Used SUV cars for sale with heycar
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