Are Hybrids Better Than EVs? 6 Made the List of the Year's 10 Best Cars

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Hybrid cars boast environmental and cost-saving benefits, without the expensive price tag of EVs.
Updated April 11, 2024
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Before electric vehicles (EVs) took the market by storm, there was the humble hybrid. The first Prius was released for global sale in 2000, gaining popularity with some segments of the population and derision from others. When EVs became mainstream, hybrids faded into the background, pushed out of the spotlight by their flashy sibling.

But hybrids may be reclaiming their place in the sun. Consumer Reports just released its annual Best Cars of the Year list, and hybrids led the pack, earning six of the top ten entries. If you’re in the market for a new car, is a hybrid worth considering?

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EV vs. hybrid — What’s the difference?

Herr Loeffler/Adobe electric vehicle of the future using smart electric car charging station

Hybrid vehicles combine the best of two worlds — the gas-powered internal combustion engine and the electric motor. In a nutshell, both engines can work together or separately. To charge the hybrid motor, power created during braking is siphoned into the motor’s battery and occasionally takes power from the internal combustion engine. There are plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and non-plug-in hybrids.

Electric vehicles run completely off a battery-powered motor, removing the need for fossil fuels to power the engine. Electric vehicles must be plugged in to charge as the energy created by the braking system isn’t enough to power the entire vehicle.

Top hybrid vehicles of 2024

Courtesy of Toyota toyota prius

Six of the ten vehicles on Consumer Reports’ Best Cars of the Year list are hybrids, edging out a surprising number of more common gas-powered vehicles and flashier all-electric vehicles.

Here are the hybrids CR thinks you should check out:

Toyota Prius

Starting at $27,950, both the plug-in and non-plug-in of the hybrid standard bearer made the list this year.

Toyota Camry Hybrid

The Camry has been the epitome of the sensible sedan for decades. At $26,420, the hybrid version of this roomy highway staple is priced lower than many of its smaller, gas-powered competitors.

Ford Maverick

Consumer Reports' pick for the best small pickup is the Ford Maverick and its hybrid counterpart. Starting at $23,815, the hybrid is a great choice for anyone who needs hauling capabilities without the price tag attached to larger models.

Toyota RAV4 Prime

The hybrid version of Toyota’s fun compact SUV starts at $43,690. The RAV4 Prime is a plug-in hybrid with a four-cylinder gas engine.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid

The Highlander Hybrid is unique with its enviable fuel efficiency: 35mpg. Starting at $39,120, the popular midsized SUV even offers all-wheel drive.

BMW X5 Plug-in Hybrid

The X5 PHEV is the only luxury hybrid on the list this year. Starting at $72,500, drivers sacrifice none of the BMW luxury with this plug-in model.

Can you save money with a hybrid?

Serhii/Adobe african american man charging electric car

If you’re in the market for a new car, a hybrid might save you a little money in the long run compared to both gas and all-electric models. Hybrids generally have a higher sticker price than gas models but are significantly less expensive than EVs.

Obviously, you’ll pay less for gas with a hybrid than you would with a gas-powered vehicle, thanks to the electric motor, and there’s no need to pay for a charging station with non-plug-in hybrid models, as you would need with an EV. There’s also less range anxiety when driving a hybrid than with an EV.

Regular maintenance for hybrids is a little challenging since the gas engine has electrical components. You’ll still have to do routine maintenance like oil changes and new spark plugs, but because of the electrical components, parts might be difficult to source at oil change places, meaning the dealership, with its higher service fees, will be your best bet for routine maintenance.

Insuring hybrids is more expensive than insuring gas vehicles but significantly less expensive than insuring an EV. Still, the extra money spent on your premiums could balance out with the money you save on gas, depending on your insurance plan and provider. Whatever car you drive, make sure you're not overpaying for car insurance.

Bottom line

logoboom/Adobe electric cars in que getting charged at charging station

All things considered, hybrids are a great compromise between environmental responsibility and human practicality. As EV companies work out the kinks with materials sourcing and until they become more affordable, a hybrid is a sensible choice that will keep more money in your wallet and won’t leave you stranded with a dead battery.

Also, there may be ways to offset the purchase price with tax credits and incentives. Talk to your dealer to find out what purchase programs are available.

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