Buying Guides

Best 2018 Gas-Electric Hybrids

Efficiency and enjoyment in one gas electric vehicle

Wade Thiel, Senior Staff Writer

Hybrid cars have been synonymous with boring cars for some time now, but that's changing. Automakers have learned how to make hybrids that are actually good to drive. Mushy regenerative brakes and loud, droning CVTs aren't totally gone from the hybrid car market, but they've become far less horrible than they once were. Many hybrids are now fantastic family vehicles offering, good power, quality brakes, commendable handling, and, of course, excellent fuel economy. Not all hybrids are the same. Here are seven of the best on sale in 2018.

2018 Kia Niro

 
  • PROS: Better driving dynamics than expected, feels pretty quick, practical and comfortable interior.
  • CONS: Efficiency drops in higher trim levels due to weight gains, spirited driving lowers mpg considerably, no all-wheel drive.

The Kia Niro is not only one of our favorite hybrid vehicles, it's one of our favorite crossovers, hybrid or no. The model is genuinely good to drive, with well-calibrated steering, progressive brakes, and plenty of power. It also looks better than most other designated hybrid models and is one of the most efficient vehicles of its size. MPG numbers vary depending on trim level, but the most efficient manages 52 mpg city and 49 mpg highway. The model also gets plenty of technology, including a high-quality UVO infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and navigation.

2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

 
  • PROS: Attractive styling, can be fun to drive in Sport mode, good power, progressive brakes.
  • CONS: Numb steering, back seats are kind of tight, divetrain could use a little smoothing out.

The Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid is the Korean automakers try at a Prius-fighter, and it puts up an admirable effort. The car is more attractive than Toyota's juggernaut and offers a fair bit of driving enjoyment in a small and practical package. While it's not perfect, if you can't stand the Prius's spaceship exterior and interior styling, you might find the Ioniq's simple approach to be a breath of fresh air. The Ioniq Hybrid manages 55 mpg city and 54 mpg highway. In addition to its driving characteristics, the Ioniq Hybrid gets one of the better infotainment systems in the business with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Hyundai's Blue Link connected car service.

2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

 
  • PROS: The most powerful RAV4 avaliable, comfortable and spacious, capable in bad weather thanks to all-wheeld drive.
  • CONS: Buzzy engine, weird interior layout, lower rent interior materials than some compeititors.

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is the vehicle you should get if you want a crossover with all-wheel drive but also want something that gets good gas mileage. It's a practical crossover with plenty of cabin and cargo room. The interior is oddly laid out, with cup holders and cubbies placed haphazardly around the cabin, and the vehicle features lower rent materials than the competition. That doesn't stop the RAV4 Hybrid from being an excellent vehicle. It's the most powerful and efficient version of the RAV4, and thanks to all-wheel drive, it's more capable than any other hybrid on this list. It manages 34 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, which isn't too shabby considering its size and drivetrain.

2018 Toyota Prius

 
  • PROS: Superb efficiency, smooth ride, good cabin and cargo space.
  • CONS: funkily styled inside and out, subpar infotainment system, less than exciting to drive.

A list like this couldn't leave out the Toyota Prius. Despite the vitriol it gets from many automotive enthusiasts, the Prius is a good car for a lot of folks. It offers high efficiency in a practical package. Its styling is about as polarizing as a President Trump rally, but it offers a safe, practical, and smooth riding car that's more efficient than just about anything else on the road. The infotainment system is decent, but it lacks features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the rest of the cabin is weirdly styled. The car's ride is smooth, but it's not thrilling to drive. Where the car truly shines is in its Prius Eco's 58 mpg city and 53 mpg highway efficiency rating.

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid

 
  • PROS: Spacious cabin, large trunk, excellent suspension and chassis tuning, quality infotianment system and tech features, adjustable regenerative braking.
  • CONS: Not as efficient as competitors, rougher powertrain than rivals.

Honda has a new Accord for 2018 that is more engaging to drive and better in just about every way. The company has a new Accord Hybrid, too, that benefits from the new Accord chassis, packaging, and features list. It's a good car to drive, with improved ride and handling over the previous model. It offers a new infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, and near-field communication technology. The powertrain for the 2018 Accord Hybrid was largely unchanged from the 2017 model year, and it manages 47 mpg city and 47 mpg highway. If you're after true efficiency in a car this size, the Camry Hybrid does better, but it's more expensive.

2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid

 
  • PROS: Excellent efficiency for a midsize sedan, good ride and handling, upscale and roomy interior.
  • CONS: Infotainment system still lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, CVT could be better.

The Toyota Camry is better than it's ever been before. It looks better, drives better, is more spacious and practical, and features high-quality interior materials. The fact that Toyota offers it in a super-efficient hybrid version is just icing on the cake. In the LE trim level, the Camry Hybrid manages a surprising 51 mpg city and 54 mpg highway. The cabin is more comfortable and upscale than the car's immediate competition, and its infotainment system is improved but still lacks some features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In short, the Camry Hybrid is a car with few compromises.

2018 Ford Fusion Hybrid

 
  • PROS: Agile handling, comfortable seats, excellent infotainment system.
  • CONS: Not as efficient as competitors, grabby brakes, not a ton of standard features.

Ford has plans to kill off the Fusion and as an extension the Fusion Hybrid. Until that happens, the Fusion Hybrid is still one of the better midsize hybrid sedans you can buy. It features agile handling, an upscale interior, respectable efficiency numbers, and one of the best infotainment systems on the market. Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system has Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and navigation. It's also fast and operates smoothly, not unlike the rest of the Fusion Hybrid. The car gets 43 mpg city and 41 mpg highway. Its cabin is upscale and roomy, too. It's a shame this sedan isn't long for this world.

What to look for in a hybrid

  • Combined EPA of 45+ mpg.
  • Seating for five occupants for everyday practicality.
  • Absence of cost compromises in the cabin to make room for hybrid tech.
  • A good automatic transmission or a responsive CVT.

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