Buying Guides

2017 Best Hybrids

A mix of electric and gasoline power has never been better

Wade Thiel, Senior Staff Writer

Hybrid cars have come a long way from the early days of the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius. There are numerous hybrid cars out on the market today and they're all pretty good. Still, some are better than others. Modern hybrid cars offer great fuel economy, practicality, decent driving dynamics, and prestige among certain circles. While you used to compromise a fair bit with a hybrid car, today, you can get a hybrid that satisfying on the road and affordable to buy and maintain.

2017 Toyota Prius

  • PROS: Fantastic fuel economy, comfortable and composed on the road, better infotainment system than previous Prius models, and up to date tech.
  • CONS: Ugly space-ship looks, not fun to drive, smartphone integration not as smooth as competitors.

When most people think hybrid, this is the car they see. The Toyota Prius is the affordable and reliable go-to for many environmentally conscious drivers. If you can get past its polarizing styling and funky cabin design, it’s really a good car. There’s plenty of available tech, including Bluetooth and navigation. The driving dynamics are on par with other commuter cars, and, of course, the gas mileage is great.

The Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that’s mated to a CVT. Total power output is 121 hp. The regular Prius gets 54 mpg city ahd 50 mpg highway. If you really want an efficient car, go with the Prius Eco. It gets 58 mpg city and 53 mpg highway.

2017 Kia Niro

  • PROS: Only hybrid subcompact crossover, better gas mileage than some smaller hybrids, spacious and comfortable, great infotainment system, better to drive than most other hybrids.
  • CONS: Fuel economy worsens as you climb the trim ladder, transmission could be smoother, no all-wheel drive option.

The Kia Niro is Kia’s first attempt at a designated hybrid vehicle, and the company has made a good but not perfect vehicle. The Niro offers non-hybrid like styling inside and out in a package that’s as practical as it is good looking. Kia’s UVO infotainment system is easy to use and feature packed with navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The vehicle manages to get better gas mileage than many other hybrid cars, and driving dynamics will likely impress you.

The Niro has a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor working together to push you down the road. Attached to that is a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Total power output is 134 hp. The most efficient version of the Niro gets 52 mpg city and 49 mpg highway. This decreases a bit in higher trim levels, with the Touring trim getting 46 mpg city and 40 mpg highway.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq

  • PROS: Can be fun in sport mode, sleek exterior, simple and attractive cabin, plenty of space, efficient.
  • CONS: The power delivery could be smoother, numb steering, ugly wheels.

If you want a hybrid car that gets excellent gas mileage and is about the same size as the Prius, but you hate how the Prius looks, consider the Hyundai Ioniq. It’s a sleek and straightforward car. The exterior is attractive but somewhat simple, and the cabin features a layout much like all of Hyundai’s other vehicles. The infotainment system offers Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and navigation, should you choose to equip it.

The Ioniq hybrid comes with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an electric engine under the hood. That combination is mated to six-speed dual-clutch transmission. Altogether, the car makes 139 hp. While that’s not very impressive, what you should pay attention to is its gas mileage. The Ioniq gets 55 mpg city and 54 mpg highway, though if you drive the car sportingly in any way, you won’t get near those numbers.

2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

  • PROS: Fun to drive, upscale and comfortable cabin, classy exterior, versatile interior, plenty of features.
  • CONS: Small third row, numb steering, fuel economy could be better, missing some tech features found in much cheaper cars.

The Acura MDX Sport Hybrid might surprise you with just how sporty it actually is. Its hybrid powertrain design was lifted right from the NSX. It’s not as quick or amazing as that supercar, but it does have that car’s ethos, making it engaging. Technology is good, featuring Bluetooth and navigation, but it lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Despite this particular downside, the MDX Sport Hybrid is one of the best vehicles out there with a hybrid powertrain.

Under the MDX Sporty Hybrid’s skin is a 3.0-liter V6 and three electric motors that make 321 hp combined. Power filters through a seven-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels. Despite all this wonderful powertrain technology, the MDX Sport Hybrid still only makes 26 mpg city and 27 mpg highway, which is good but not excellent.

2017 Toyota Prius V

  • PROS: Spacious and comfortable for all occupants, large cargo area, good efficiency for size.
  • CONS: Slow acceleration, poor handling, still not good looking, cheap interior materials.

The Toyota Prius V is a larger version of the regular Prius. Its larger size diminishes its fuel economy, but for its size, it still performs well from an efficiency standpoint. The interior materials aren’t the best, but the cabin makes up for it by offering tons of passenger space and plenty of cargo room, not to mention a good infotainment system with navigation and Siri Eyes Free technology.

Powering the Prius V is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor mated to a CVT. In total, the car puts out 134 hp. While that’s not anything to get excited about, the Prius V’s 43 mpg city and 49 mpg highway makes it worthy of your attention. If you like the Prius but find it just a little too cramped, the Prius V is for you.

2017 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid

  • PROS: Comfortable seats, good trunk size, plenty of available technology, good looking exterior.
  • CONS: Too much chrome and cheap-looking trim, small capacity battery limits amount that the battery can help mpgs.

The Chevrolet Malibu is one of the best mid-size sedans out on the market today. It’s comfortable, good to drive, spacious, and packed with the latest technology. The Malibu Hybrid takes things to a new level by adding efficiency to the equation. While the car isn’t necessarily as efficient as something like the Prius, it makes up for it with an attractive exterior and features like 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

Powering the Malibu Hybrid is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors mated to a CVT. The total power output comes in at 182 hp. All of this might sound great, but the best part about the Malibu Hybrid is that it gets about 47 mpg city and 46 mpg highway.

2017 Honda Accord Hybrid

  • PROS: Efficient, comfortable and well-laid-out interior, quiet cabin, good handling, powerful.
  • CONS: Engine can drone and make a lot of noise, poor feedback to brakes and steering, infotianment controls could be better.

The Honda Accord is a solid car that everyone knows. What they probably don’t know is how good the hybrid version of the car is. It looks almost exactly like the other Accords but offers improved efficiency. The vehicle offers a spacious and comfy cabin, a well-laid-out dash, a decent infotainment system, and plenty of features, including adaptive cruise control, HondaSensing safety suite, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Powering the Honda Accord Hybrid is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that together make 212 hp. That power is pushed to the front wheels via a CVT. The car does a good job sipping gas, making 49 mpg city and 47 mpg highway.

Why buy a hybrid?

  • Excellent gas mileage save you money and helps the environment.
  • Latest powertrain technology.
  • Available tax incentives.