Hybrids, which are partially electrified vehicles and still use an internal combustion engine, are a good compromise between 100% electric cars with limited range and traditional petrol and diesel-powered vehicles.
Not only do they use less fuel, but they have lower CO2 emissions, there's no range anxiety, you pay lower road tax (VED), you can also potentially dodge congestion charges and you can slash your tax bills if you're a business user.
Broadly speaking, there are three types of hybrid:
The key difference between a mild hybrid and a self-charging/plug-in hybrid is that the former is only able to assist the engine, while the latter duo can power the car for limited periods.
The joy of plug-in hybrids is that if you have a short daily commute you can potentially drive in EV mode for the whole journey, meaning you avoid using fuel.
And, of course, with any hybrid there’s no more range anxiety than driving a conventional car – an issue which plagues electric car owners, though with real-world ranges heading towards 300 miles, that may soon be a thing of the past.
If you’re wondering how much electric car insurance might cost and if it’s more expensive than insuring a petrol or diesel-powered vehicle, look at our guide to the cheapest hybrid and electric cars to insure.
We've chosen 20 of the best hybrids from all three categories to give you some idea of what's available. Happy eco-friendly motoring…
If you're looking for a pocket rocket with green credentials, then the latest Suzuki Swift Sport could be just the ticket. This hot hatch is huge fun to drive, yet practical, economical and dependable.
Suzuki's mild hybrid system effectively combines the starter motor with a 48-volt lithium-ion battery, so it acts as a generator harnessing energy during braking and boosting the 127bhp 1.4-litre petrol turbo engine when demanded, helping to reduce CO2 emissions and improve fuel efficiency.
The second-generation Range Rover Evoque is a real step-up from its popular predecessor which was Land Rover's biggest-selling model in the UK.
It may not seem any different at first sight but look closer and you'll see it's taken design cues from its bigger brother, the Velar – inside and out – and is now even cooler.
The car generally is more spacious, packed with the latest tech, very refined and offers a surprisingly dynamic driving experience. All Evoque models, apart from the entry-level diesel, are fitted with a new 48V mild hybrid (MHEV) system.
A first for Land Rover, MHEV works by harvesting energy normally lost under deceleration and storing it in a lithium-ion battery. When pulling away, the stored energy is redeployed seamlessly to assist engine acceleration and reduce fuel consumption.
Toyota has been leading the way with hybrids ever since 1997 when the original Prius was launched. Self-charging hybrids are now available across the range from the Yaris to the Corolla, to the Prius, CH-R and Camry.
Newest out of the box is the fifth-generation Toyota RAV4 – and it's something of a revelation because it's big, good looking, spacious, comfortable and packed with the latest safety features.
Take it easy and the 2.5-litre hybrid will return 50+ mpg on a journey and it can run in electric-only mode for short periods. It's up against tough rivals including the Volkswagen Tiguan, Mazda CX-5 and Nissan X-Trail, and you can choose all-wheel-drive or front-wheel drive versions.
Now in its fifth generation, the CR-V has come a long way since it was launched in 1995 as a ‘Comfortable Runabout Vehicle’.
One of the biggest-selling SUVs in the world, the new version is the best-looking, most practical and advanced ever. Honda’s Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) hybrid system comprises of a 2.0-litre i-VTEC engine, two electric motors and a lithium-ion battery. At low speeds the battery powers the electric motors that drive the front wheels, and the engine is kept out of the equation (the pure EV range is about 1.2 miles).
When switching to Hybrid mode the engine supplies power to the electric motors, which then drive the wheels – plus it can charge the battery.
Finally, there’s Engine Drive, which comes into play at higher speeds. This allows the engine to directly drive the wheels, bypassing both the battery and the electric motors.
The classy Lexus UX is the baby of the Japanese premium brand’s SUV family, slotting in below the RX and NX in the range.
It’s marketed as a “self-charging hybrid”, which means it can’t be charged overnight like a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) – instead, you simply drive it like a conventional car and the system does all the clever stuff smoothly and out of sight. In real-world driving, Lexus claims it can use electric power for some 55% of the journey.
When cruising or gently accelerating the electric motor at the front (there’s an additional unit at the rear on 4×4 models) can propel the car silently with electricity supplied from the battery.
At higher speeds, under heavy acceleration or on uphill stretches of road, the 181bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine imperceptibly kicks in, while still receiving a boost from the electric motor(s) when needed.
Under braking, or when you take your foot off the accelerator, regenerative braking charges up the battery. The result is fuel economy of up to 53.2mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 120g/km.
Originally launched in 2014 and treated to an update in 2018, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was the world's first plug-in hybrid SUV and has been the UK’s bestselling plug-in vehicle since its introduction.
With its 2.4-litre regular petrol engine, plus two electric motors (one at the front, the other at the back), it has a theoretical average fuel economy of 139mpg (though the longer the journey the less efficient it becomes), while CO2 emissions are still just 46g/km.
As well as recharging overnight at home or at your workplace, you can charge up the PHEV’s batteries while driving via “regenerative braking”.
You can adjust the amount of regenerative braking via paddles behind the steering wheel, and after a bit of practice, it’s possible to use the paddles as brakes when coming up to junctions or downhill, for instance.
So, the Outlander encourages a whole new way of eco-driving and appeals to those of us with an inner Scrooge.
If you’re looking for an eco-friendly, relatively compact estate with four-wheel drive, then try the MINI Countryman for size.
Its 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine and rear-mounted 65kW electric motor produce 221bhp together making it capable of 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds.
As you'd expect, it’s quirky (just like its traditionally powered siblings), fun to drive and has an all-electric range of up to 26 miles.
Well-equipped and boasting superb build quality, it has claimed fuel economy of up to 156mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 40g/km. There are three different driving modes available via a switch toggle, allowing the driver to best utilise the electric power on offer.
Launched in 2016, the Ioniq was the first car available as an electric, plug-in hybrid or hybrid.
Futuristic-looking, comfortable, easy to drive and well equipped, the self-charging hybrid version is the cheaper hybrid option, and both use a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine.
The self-charging hybrid model's electric motor works with the petrol engine to improve fuel economy, lower CO2 emissions and maximise acceleration when required, while the switch between pure electric, hybrid and petrol-only driving modes is seamless in the PHEV.
Volvo committed itself to a greener future when it announced that every new car launched from 2019 onwards will have an electric motor. The Volvo XC60 Recharge is one of the newest arrivals, joining plug-in hybrid saloon, estate and SUV siblings.
Using the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor set-up as the XC90 Recharge, the combined power output is a very decent 400bhp.
The XC60 is one of the more expensive PHEVs, but you're getting superb build quality, badge appeal and stacks of Scandi chic.
With CO2 emissions as low as 55g/km and theoretical fuel economy of 113mpg, it has an electric-only range of 33 miles.
Like its South Korean cousin, the Hyundai Ioniq, the Niro crossover is available as a self-charging hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric car.
Again, the self-charging hybrid version is the cheaper version, and both combine a 1.6-litre petrol engine with varying electric back-up – and they're also blessed with a superb seven-year warranty.
The basic hybrid has claimed fuel economy of up to 58.9mpg with CO2 emissions as low as 110g/km, while the plug-in can manage up to 201.8mpg, CO2 emissions of just 31g/km and a 30-mile electric only range.
Practical, well equipped and competitively priced, the Niro PHEV should definitely be on your shortlist.
Slotting in between the EcoSport and Kuga in Ford's SUV range, the athletic Puma takes on the likes of the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur and Volkswagen T-Cross in a competitive sector.
Fitted with a 48V mild hybrid version of Ford’s eager 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost engine, it can’t be driven solely on electric power. Instead the electric motor provides additional support to the petrol engine when needed and uses regenerative braking technology to recharge the battery, helping both to increase vehicle fuel economy (up to 51.4mpg) and reduce emission figures (as low as 96g/km).
Distinctive, entertaining to drive, refined, economical, well-equipped and cleverly packaged, the Ford Puma is a great buy.
Available as a hatchback and estate, the spacious Skoda Superb iV plug-in hybrid is a fantastic addition to the range.
Combining a 154bhp turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine and a 114bhp electric motor, on paper it can go for 34 miles on electric power only. Skoda claims fuel economy of up to 176.6mpg, while CO2 emissions are as low as 38g/km.
Swift, spacious, comfortable and slick, it's well worth a test drive. You can charge it in five hours using a three-pin plug or 3.5 hours using a 3.6kW wallbox, and like other PHEVs, it will also recharge the battery using energy created when braking.
Fiat's popular retro-styled 500 hatchback is now available with a 1.0-litre mild hybrid petrol engine (68bhp) which is capable of up to 53.3mpg, while CO2 emissions are as low as 119g/km.
Competitively priced, it's ideal for nipping around town, and now it's just that little bit more eco-friendly.
Competing directly with the likes of the Range Rover Evoque, Audi Q5, Jaguar F-Pace and Volvo XC60, the distinctive NX plus the gap between the UX and RX in the Lexus range.
The hybrid system pairs a 2.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor offering up to 39.7mpg and CO2 emissions from 161g/km.
Beautifully built, generously equipped and safe, the NX is a premium choice backed up by Lexus's superb reputation for dependability.
The Mazda CX-30 is a stunning addition to the SUV scene. Plush, spacious, safe and refined, it offers huge kerb appeal.
Rivals include the Peugeot 3008, Toyota C-HR, Volkswagen T-Roc and Ford Puma, and it's offered with Mazda's M Hybrid system which recycles energy normally wasted during braking, powering an electric motor that assists the engine by minimising fuel consumption, increasing economy and lowering emissions.
Up to 47.9mpg is claimed and CO2 emissions are from 133g/km.
Now in its fourth generation, Honda's little Jazz supermini has evolved into a genuinely appealing car, thanks to its quirky looks, spacious interior and hybrid system.
Also available as the more rugged Jazz Crosstar, it uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine, two electric motors and a lithium-ion battery, all working harmoniously together to provide a smooth driving experience.
With CO2 emissions from 102g/km and a claimed fuel economy of 62.8mpg, it's affordable to run and should be dependable, because it’s a Honda!
Back in the UK after a 15-year absence and doing battle with the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus in the highly competitive family hatchback sector, the Toyota Corolla is better than ever.
Well equipped, safe and spacious, it uses Toyota's tried-and-tested self-charging hybrid system. Choose between 1.8 and 2.0-litre petrol engines, with the former offering fuel economy as high as 57.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 110g/km.
And naturally, there's no need to plug it in to charge the battery, because the recharging works seamlessly in the background.
Available as a saloon or estate ("Touring" in BMW speak), the 330e is the plug-in hybrid version of the all-new 3 Series.
The combination of an electric motor and 2.0-litre petrol turbo engine means the 330e is capable of 0-62mph acceleration in just 6.5 seconds, yet can travel for up to 37 miles on electric power only and has a theoretical 201.8mpg fuel economy and CO2 emissions as low as 30g/km.
As you'd expect from a BMW, it offers a dynamic drive, top build quality and big badge appeal.
The all-new Ford Kuga is an SUV that ticks all three hybrid boxes. Initially available with mild and plug-in hybrid powertrains, a self-charging version will follow.
The PHEV combines a battery-powered electric motor with a 2.5-litre petrol engine. Fully charged, the Kuga PHEV can drive up to 35 miles on electric power alone and it has a potential fuel economy of 201mpg, while CO2 emissions are as low as 26g/km.
The mild hybrid version has a self-charging electric motor that provides additional support to the conventional engine when needed.
This plug-in hybrid version of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class range combines a 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine, a battery and an electric motor to produce a punchy 215bhp, meaning it can sprint to 62mph in just 6.6 seconds.
More importantly from an environmental point of view, its CO2 emissions are as low as 26g/km. It can travel for up to 44 miles purely on electric power, while fuel economy is (on paper) north of 200mpg.
Charge it overnight at home from a three-pin socket, or for as little as 1 hour 45 minutes via a 7.6kW wallbox. A classy PHEV choice.
And finally, here's a bonus choice for lottery winners – or anyone with close to £100,000 to spare.
The sleek Panamera Sport Turismo is arguably the best-looking estate car on the market and it's also available as a PHEV.
Not only can it accelerate from 0-62mph in just 4.6 seconds and reach 170mph, but it has a theoretical fuel economy of up to 80.7mpg and its CO2 emissions are as low as 80g/km.
It can also travel in pure electric mode for up to 24 miles, while the finish and build quality are faultless.
I'm an experienced journalist, digital editor and copywriter, now specialising in motoring. I’m editor of Automotive Blog and have worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online for household names including the BBC, GMTV, ITV and MSN. I’ve produced digital content in the financial sector for Lloyds Bank, Nationwide and the Money Advice Service. I'm married with two children and live near Bath in Somerset.