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Consumer Reports’ Top-Rated Hybrid Vehicles

When you are not sure that an EV is a good choice, but you really want fuel efficiency you cannot get with a gas-only vehicle, then here’s what Consumer Reports analysts have to say that makes a Hybrid the smart choice for you right now and which models they selected as the best, as well as those to avoid.

Why Go Hybrid Instead of Gas or Electric Right Now?

The arguments for going Hybrid over gas or electric comes down to two current fundamental truths: Hybrids significantly cut down on carbon emissions in comparison to gas-only vehicles; and, the charging infrastructure for a totally electric vehicle world is not there yet and may be as far as a decade down the road.

While EV purists argue that their EVs are more efficient, there’s a lot to be said about just how environmentally friendly these vehicle types actually are. Be that as it may, however, Hybrids straddling both the EV and ICE worlds, might be a more commonsensical approach during what will be an inevitable EV world.

The Benefits of going Hybrid

According to the recent CR newsletter, the benefits of owning a Hybrid include:

Higher mpg: Most hybrid SUVs get more than 35 mpg and most hybrid sedans get more than 45 mpg. That’s about a 40 percent improvement over non-hybrids, on average.

Easy to use: Unlike a pure electric vehicle, you don’t have to plug in a hybrid. Simply refuel at any gas station.

Better to drive: CR’s tests show that the hybrid versions of many cars have more power and smoother acceleration than the gas-only models.

Not Yesteryear’s Hybrid

If shoppers do consider going Hybrid, they need to understand that a lot has changed toward the improvements of Hybrids that has focused not just on fuel economy, but the overall ride and ownership experience as well. While yesteryear models of Hybrids are popular and remain recommended, buying a newer model of Hybrid has much more to offer with the caveat that “Not all Hybrids are equal.”

That was message in the latest Hybrid-related news from Consumer Reports analysts who hand-picked Hybrid models they consider to be the best, and some “Mild Hybrids” that don’t make it as a true Hybrid in their ratings system, and are best avoided right now based on costs and reliability. The Hybrids in the listing are compared against their gas-only equivalent models in the summary below.


(Those Recommended as Smart Choices)

1. 2023 Lexus NX Hybrid (NX350h model) Price Range: $41,955 - $57,805

When you’ll start saving: Day One. The NX350h we bought costs $175 less than the gas-only NX350, so you save right away. The hybrid gets 13 more mpg.

Fuel savings per year: $549

2. 2023 Hyundai Tucson (Hybrid SEL model) Price Range: $31,150 - $44,560

When you’ll start saving: Three years. The Hybrid SEL we bought costs $1,225 more than the comparable gas-only version, but the Hybrid gets 9 mpg more.

Fuel savings per year: $398

3. 2023 Ford Maverick (Hybrid model) Price Range: $22,595 - $28,355

When you’ll start saving: Day One. The gas-only Maverick costs more, so you save right away by buying the standard hybrid. The gas-only version has greater towing and AWD.

Fuel savings per year: $663

4. 2023 Toyota Highlander (Hybrid XLE model) Price Range: $36,420 - $52,625

When you’ll start saving: Two years. The Hybrid XLE costs $1,267 more than a comparable gas-only XLE, but the hybrid version gets 13 mpg more overall.

Fuel savings per year: $679

5. 2023 Hyundai Elantra (Elantra Hybrid) Price Range: $24,550 - $29,150

When you’ll start saving: About five years. The Elantra Hybrid costs $1,900 more than the gas-only version, but the hybrid version gets 15 mpg more overall.

Fuel savings per year: $381

6. 2023 Toyota Camry (Hybrid model) Price Range: $26,220 - $36,645

When you’ll start saving: Six years. The Camry Hybrid we tested got 47 mpg overall—15 mpg more than the non-hybrid—but it costs $2,585 more. Your payback period will be shorter if you drive a lot or if gas prices are higher where you live.

Fuel savings per year: $401

Those Without the Love

“Mild Hybrids” ---Also known as 48-volt Hybrids, these are the ones that cannot be driven on battery power alone, hence the “mild” moniker because they provide “…only minor fuel savings compared with a true hybrid,” say CR analysts. These models “…include BMW’s eBoost, Ram’s eTorque, and similar offerings from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo.”

Hybrid Models Not Recommended

Reliability problems and comparative costs and overly long-expected savings return periods are shared factors that make the Ford F-150 Hybrid, the Ford Escape and Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrids, and the Kia Sorento Hybrid SUV models not recommended by CR analysts under their recent listing of “CR’s Top Rated Hybrid Vehicles.”

And finally…

For a more detailed breakdown of each listed vehicle to get the full picture of its pluses and minuses, please visit the CR website. Note that while access to some information requires a CR membership, the potential savings make it negligible in comparison when looking for the latest information to aid your car buying research.

For additional articles important need-to-know info for potential Hybrid shoppers, here are a few recommended articles:

Recommended Compact Hybrid Cars Per New Consumer Reports Survey

Toyota Hybrid Owner Experience with an Aftermarket Hybrid Battery

Roomiest and Comfiest Compact Hybrid Cars Tested by Consumer Reports

Timothy Boyer is a Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily new and used vehicle news.

COMING UP NEXT: The Most Fuel-Efficient Hybrid Cars, Minivans, and SUVs

Image Source: Pixabay


Jan Chmielewski (not verified)    March 7, 2023 - 9:48AM

Stupid comparison. Comparing gas vs hybrid in same vehicle doesn't matter to consumer who is deciding which hybrid to buy. Comparing milage between hybrid vehicles in the same class would be more helpful. Warranty is also important when Toyota gives 36k and Hyundai and Kia give 100K drivetrain and 60K bumper to bumper.