Best Hybrid Cars
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Best Hybrid Cars

By Autolist Editorial | March 9, 2021

The best hybrid cars for 2021 include the Honda Accord Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Toyota Prius, Toyota Avalon Hybrid, Honda Clarity, and Honda Insight.Even with cars declining in popularity as SUV demand soars, there is a wide variety of options for those who prefer hybrid vehicles as sedans and hatchbacks.

These new cars also offer advantages to crossover SUVs and trucks by often being less expensive to buy, more fuel-efficient with fewer emissions because they are lighter, and more maneuverable because of their size. Several even offer all-wheel-drive when normal, safe driving conditions deteriorate. And they don't suffer range anxiety like fully electric cars.

There is only one brand new hybrid model for the 2021 model year, but the list of hybrid cars has continued to expand. From a reliable commuter car or you have a small family of four, there are still plenty of hybrid car options from which to choose. Here are several.


2021 Honda Accord Hybrid

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Honda gave the already up-to-date Accord a modest makeover for 2021, with thoroughly modern styling, class-leading passenger space, an array of standard safety and driver assistance features, and a comfortable ride. Even though the larger Honda CR-V Hybrid is a popular alternative now, the Accord can be the better choice in several ways. And its newly-updated hybrid system gives it better overall performance.

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According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the 2021 Accord Hybrid is rated at 48 mpg in both city and highway driving. Its hybrid powertrain consists of two electric motors, a lithium-ion battery, and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, all of which produce 212 horsepower.

Standard technology features include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and an 8-inch touchscreen display. Standard driver assistance features include adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning. MSRP for base models is $26,370, which is very reasonable for a midsize hybrid sedan.

Browse 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid listings here.


2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

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The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is not a new player in the market, but giants like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord Hybrids often overshadow it. Hyundai wanted to change that by redesigning it last year. As a result, its combination of modern styling, non-compromised cargo space, easy-to-use infotainment system, excellent fuel-efficiency, a low $27,750 MSRP, and spacious interior place it at the top of the hybrid class rankings, according to many reviewers.

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It is slightly underpowered compared to some competitors, producing 192 horsepower from its 2.0-liter engine and electric motor. An oddity in the hybrid world, it uses a six-speed automatic transmission rather than a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Its powertrain enables 50 mpg in city driving and 54 miles per gallon on the highway. These numbers drop slightly when climbing the trim ladder.

Standard features are plentiful and include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HD radio, BlueLink telematics with emergency calling, and an 8-inch touchscreen. Adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, driver attention monitoring, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert round out the numerous standard features. Hyundai's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty also comes standard.

Browse 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid listings here.


2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid

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Like the Accord Hybrid, the Toyota Camry Hybrid will tick the practical, affordable, and comfortable family car boxes for buyers. Despite its slightly higher starting price tag - $27,270 – and not as up-to-date styling, the Camry Hybrid beats the Accord in predicted reliability ratings and its 51 mpg city and 53 mpg highway EPA fuel economy estimates. These numbers are only achievable in the base LE trim, though. Higher trim levels drop to 44 and 47 mpg in city and highway driving, respectively.

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The Camry Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that combine to produce 208 horsepower, put to the wheels through a continuously variable transmission. It's a system like that found in Toyota's hybrid SUVs like the Venza and RAV4 Hybrid. Most reviewers are pleased with the powertrain's torquey output and rather sporty overall feel, but some note that the electric motor's typical jerkiness when braking and accelerating are present.

Buyers are treated to a host of standard technology features that include an easy-to-use Entune 3.0 infotainment system, a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. Standard driver assistance features include adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning.

Browse 2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid listings here.


2021 Toyota Prius

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The Toyota Prius is in the hybrid hall of fame, and Toyota has continued to use it as a benchmark for all of its other hybrid technology. It's relatively affordable, with a starting MSRP of just over $24,500. It offers tons of practicality, with a vast amount of cargo space from its hatchback design. And it's very fuel-efficient, returning estimates of 54 mpg and 50 mpg in city and highway driving, respectively.

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An additional perk of the Prius is its flexibility. Toyota offers both an L Eco trim which raises its fuel efficiency even farther to 58 MPG and 53 MPG. All-wheel-drive is also available, unusual at this price. It drops fuel economy by three miles per gallon in the city and highway but adds driving assurance. All Prius models are powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor.

Adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and forward-collision warning are all standard, along with a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android, Auto, Amazon Alexa, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. All of this makes for one of the most compelling packages on this list.

Browse 2021 Toyota Prius listings here.


2021 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

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The Toyota Avalon Hybrid is very similar to the Camry Hybrid but with more space, more luxury, a more comfort-oriented driving experience, and a little more power. Its $37,000 starting MSRP is higher compared to other hybrid sedans. Still, a newly-upgraded lithium-ion battery, quality interior, and exceedingly smooth ride make it worth the price for the right buyer.

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The Avalon Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, two electric motors, and a continuously variable transmission producing 215 horsepower, traveling through the front wheels. EPA estimates of 43 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway lag behind competitors. But that's the price of a larger interior and more standard equipment to up the luxury factor.

Standard features include a 9-inch touchscreen Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and an 8-speaker audio system. And standard driver assistance features are abundant with adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. That makes the Avalon Hybrid a worthy option for midsize hybrid sedan buyers who want more space and a premium atmosphere.

Browse 2021 Toyota Avalon Hybrid listings here.


2021 Honda Insight

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The Insight is Honda's answer to the Toyota Prius. Closer in size to a Honda Civic, it uses many of the Accord Hybrid's pieces and carries a lower MSRP of $22,930. According to reviewers, the interior is reportedly spacious and comfortable despite its smaller size, and the battery pack does not impede its 15.1 cubic feet of cargo space.

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Fuel economy numbers come in at an excellent 55 mpg in the city and 49 on the highway on most versions. Its 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, a lithium-ion battery-powered electric motor, single-speed transmission, and front-wheel drive help achieve these numbers while putting out 151 horsepower.

Standard technology features are not as robust on the Insight as in many competitors. But adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and driver drowsiness monitoring are all included on base models.

Browse 2021 Honda Insight listings here.


2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

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The Corolla Hybrid is mechanically similar to the Prius but uses a sedan body style of a car that's also available as a gasoline-only car. It was new for 2020 and the first Corolla model sold in the US as a hybrid. And a low $23,400 MSRP makes it an enticing choice even over the Prius.

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The same 1.8-liter four-cylinder that powers the Prius also powers the Corolla Hybrid, but the Corolla features two electric motors rather than one. A CVT sends power to the front wheels only. Fuel efficiency is excellent, with EPA estimates of 53 mpg in the city and 52 mpg.

Adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and forward-collision warning all come standard. An 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth, and a digital instrument cluster round out the standard technology features, making the Corolla Hybrid excellent value.

Browse 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid listings here.


2021 Toyota Prius Prime

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The Toyota Prius Prime is similar to the regular Prius in many ways, but it is different. The Prius Prime is the first plug-in hybrid on our list, so unlike the standard Prius, the Prius Prime can be driven up to 25 miles on all-electric power. It also beats the most Prius versions for fuel efficiency: 55 mpg in the city and 53 on the highway, and 133 MPGe for the electric rating. Unlike an electric vehicle, the Prime will still run after the electric charge is gone.

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The Prius Prime has a starting MSRP of $28,220, well above the base Prius, but it qualifies for some government tax incentives and is substantially cheaper than the RAV4 Prime SUV. It's still a hatchback, but it doesn't have as much interior space. A 1.8-liter gasoline engine with two electric motors produces 121 horsepower, just as in the Corolla Hybrids and Prius, with a similar lack of power. And the Prime is only available with front-wheel-drive.

A 7-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and Amazon Alexa connectivity come standard. Driver assistance features include adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning, but blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are options.

Browse 2021 Toyota Prius Prime listings here.


2021 Lexus ES 300h:

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The 2021 Lexus ES 300h technically punches higher than most other cars on this list since it is considered a luxury vehicle competing with Audi, BMW, and Jaguar sedans. It's similarly sized to the Avalon but offers a different design and some more premium features.

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Its starting MSRP is $41,810, which is higher than other offerings, but with that comes more passenger and cargo space than most other cars on this list. It bests the Avalon Hybrid slightly by returning 43 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway despite using the same 2.5-liter engine and two electric motors. Both combine to produce 215 horsepower through a continuously-variable transmission. Front-wheel-drive is standard.

The interior is well-appointed, the ride is very comfortable, and the seating is comfortable. An 8-inch infotainment display, HD radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, and a Wi-Fi hotspot all come standard. And standard driver assistance features include adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, and lane departure warning. The Lexus ES hybrid is a fine way to go green without giving up creature comforts.

Browse 2021 Lexus ES 300h listings here.


2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid:

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Hyundai is following Toyota's example and "hybridizing" their lineup, and the Elantra Hybrid was added to their offerings this year. It is offered as a value-oriented model in typical Hyundai fashion, starting at an MSRP of $23,550, about where last year's Hyundai Ioniq hybrid was priced. Its fuel-economy is stellar, returning EPA estimates of 53 and 56 mpg in city and highway driving, respectively. Climbing the trim levels again drops these figures by 4 mpg each.

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The Elantra Hybrid is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor producing a combined 139 horsepower. It has a six-speed dual-clutch automated transmission, and front-wheel-drive is standard. It shares some parts with the Kia Niro hybrid crossover, but in a stylish new package. Reviewers note that the Elantra's small size allows its powertrain to be adequate, and its interior space is considered roomy for its size.

The Elantra Hybrid shines in its standard features list: an 8-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HD radio, and Bluetooth. Standard driver assistance features include automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, and driver attention monitor. Its value is backed by Hyundai's standard 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Browse 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid listings here.


2021 Honda Clarity

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The Honda Clarity is a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) with a steeper starting MSRP of $33,400 compared to its siblings, the Accord Hybrid and Insight. It offers 48 miles of all-electric range as a plug-in, something the other Hondas do not offer. Its 42 miles per gallon combined fuel economy and 110 MPGe fall behind Toyota Prius Prime, though.

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The Clarity produces 212 horsepower from its 1.5-liter gasoline engine, two electric motors, and a lithium-ion battery. Reviewers note that this is ample power for a compact car and that the ride it produces is all-around well-mannered.

An 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HD radio, Bluetooth, and an 8-speaker audio system round out the standard tech features. Adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning all come standard, too.

Browse 2021 Honda Clarity listings here.