Buying Guides

2017 Best Small Hybrids

These small, efficient cars offer quite a lot

Wade Thiel, Senior Staff Writer

Hybrid cars and electric cars are quickly gaining popularity. More automakers have produced hybrid vehicles and this means there are plenty of options to choose from. Once vehicle segment that you'll find a number of great options is in small cars. A hybrid powertrain paired with a small car can equal excellent fuel economy while still providing a practical package for an urbanite driver. If you need a small car and want to spend very little money on fuel, the following vehicles are a smart choice.

2017 Toyota Prius C

  • PROS: Lots of safety features, user friendly infotainment system, Toyota's reliability reputation
  • CONS: Slow, some larger hybrids get better mileage, not as nimble as you’d expect.

Toyota’s Prius C ($20,150 base MSRP) brings a hybrid powertrain to consumers at a lower price than the standard Prius. The Prius C is smaller, less powerful than its sibling and well-equipped from a safety and technology standpoint. Toyota’s Safety Sense-C system is standard and includes features like pre-collision warning, automatic high beams, and lane departure warning.

Powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor, the powertrain puts out a combined 99 hp. While it may not be powerful, the vehicle is efficient at 48 mpg city and 43 mpg highway. That might sound great, but it still comes up short compared to some other larger hybrid vehicles.

2017 Ford C-Max

  • PROS: Spacious and comfortable cabin, higher-end materials for the price point, not as slow as some other hybrid cars.
  • CONS: Not very efficient by hybrid standards, not exciting to drive, similarly sized vehicles offer more cargo space.

Ford’s C-Max ($24,175 base MSRP) isn’t long for this world. The company plans to discontinue the model come the middle of 2018. That said, you should be able to get a good deal on it as dealers try to liquidate it from their lots. The C-Max isn’t a bad car. Available is Ford’s Sync3 infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it has plenty of available safety features as well, including a reverse sensing system.

Under the hood, the car gets a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor. The powertrain makes 188 hp and manages 42 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. It’s a little more engaging to drive than Toyota’s Prius lineup and offers plenty of power, even at highway speeds.

2017 Lexus CT 200h

  • PROS: Good fuel economy, upscale interior, comfortable seating up front, decent handling with F Sport suspension.
  • CONS: Not very quick, difficult to use infotainment system, tight back seat.

If you want hybrid efficiency in a compact and luxurious package, the Lexus CT 200h is certainly a smart choice. The vehicle features an upscale interior with great front seats. The rear seats are a little small and cargo space is just okay, but overall it’s very satisfying. The infotainment system can be well-equipped with Bluetooth and navigation, but it’s difficult to use. Also, it's important to note that Lexus will discontinue this model come 2018 so you should see some great deals on these cars.

Powering the CT is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that work together to produce a combined 134 hp. The duo work to yield 43 mpg city and 40 mpg highway. If you prefer a sportier ride, consider the F Sport suspension package, which improves handling.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

  • PROS: Well laid out infotainment controls, attractive exterior and cabin styling, good driving dynamics, comfortable interior excellent efficiency.
  • CONS: Power delivery isn’t as smooth as some competitors, numb steering.

The Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid is one of the best smaller hybrid cars out there. It has non-polarizing styling, a simple and attractive interior layout, is good to drive, and an excellent infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and navigation. It’s a well-rounded package that many different types of people can enjoy.

Under the hood is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder paired with an electric motor. Total system output is 118 hp, and the car manages to get your 57 mpg city and 59 mpg highway in its most efficient form. One thing that sets this model apart is that it has a sport mode that actually makes the car somewhat fun to drive, which is rare for a hybrid.

The Benefits of a Small Hybrid?

  • Compact size makes them good city cars.
  • Hybrid powertrain for the environmentally conscious.
  • Still practical despite their smaller overall size.