10 Best Hybrid Cars Under $40,000
Today’s hybrid vehicles aren’t just more efficient than ever, they’re also better equipped and more enjoyable to drive. This year’s list of standout hybrids presents a wide range of options including several midsize sedans, a pair of SUVs and three entries rated to return 50 mpg or better. And while our cutoff is $40,000, all but two of them actually start under $30,000.
Three rows of seating, 30 mpg in the city and Toyota reliability make the Highlander Hybrid a tempting SUV. There’s even a cherry on top, as highlighted in our expert review: “The Highlander Hybrid also benefits from the new V6, and with a combined total of 306 horsepower, it's actually the hot-rod of the Highlander family.”
Starting price: $37,230
Fuel economy: 29 mpg combined (30 city/28 highway)
Total system power: 306 horsepower
Start with the best-selling car in the country, add 40-mpg fuel economy, and you’ve got something special. The Camry Hybrid is available in several flavors, including an LE model that marries combined fuel economy of 40 mpg with a starting price under $28,000. Stepping up to the sport-tuned SE or top-of-the-line XLE will cost you money and a bit of fuel economy, but it’s good to have options.
Starting price: $27,675
Fuel economy: 40 mpg combined (42 city/38 highway)
Total system power: 200 horsepower
The Malibu Hybrid is among the most fuel-efficient midsize sedans on the market, leveraging a version of the same gas-electric hybrid architecture that drives the newest Chevrolet Volt. It’s also stylish, a pleasure to drive and offers a long list of tech highlights including built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.
Starting price: $28,750
Fuel economy: 46 mpg combined (49 city/43 highway)
Total system power: 182 horsepower
Equipped with the same proven Hybrid Synergy Drive system that powers the Camry Hybrid, the all-wheel-drive RAV4 Hybrid combines excellent fuel economy with the ride height, cargo flexibility and go-anywhere attitude that are driving compact SUVs to the top of the sales charts.
Starting price: $29,990
Fuel economy: 32 mpg combined (34 city/30 highway)
Total system power: 194 horsepower
The third of five midsize sedans on this list, the Sonata Hybrid is appealing for all the same reasons the traditional, gas-only Sonata has become a staple on our annual list of 10 Best Sedans Under $25,000. It’s roomy, comfortable and has one of the segment’s best designed and most practical interiors.
Starting price: $26,835
Fuel economy: 42 mpg combined (39 city/45 highway)
Total system power: 193 horsepower
Like its Hyundai Sonata corporate cousin, the edgier Kia Optima midsize sedan is also available as an efficient, smooth-driving hybrid. Available infotainment and driver-assist features include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, smart cruise control and autonomous emergency braking.
Starting price: $26,890
Fuel economy: 42 mpg combined (39 city/46 highway)
Total system power: 192 horsepower
The new-from-the-ground-up Kia Niro is a dedicated hybrid vehicle for efficiency-minded drivers who’d rather drive something that looks more like a regular car. It even drives like a regular car, thanks to well-sorted interplay among the gas, electric and braking systems, as well as a sophisticated 6-speed automatic transmission that feels more familiar than the continuously variable transmissions more common in today’s hybrids.
Starting price: $23,785
Fuel economy: 50 mpg combined (52 city/49 highway)
Total system power: 139 horsepower
The Honda Accord is our Midsize Sedan Best Buy of 2017, and the Accord Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient midsize sedan you can buy. That’s a pretty compelling combination. In addition to its highly efficient, well-integrated hybrid powertrain, the Accord Hybrid delivers all the comfort, convenience and excellent resale value of its more established sibling.
Starting price: $30,480
Fuel economy: 48 mpg combined (49 city/47 highway)
Total system power: 212 horsepower
Hyundai’s first foray into the dedicated hybrid market, the Ioniq debuts as nothing less than the most fuel-efficient hybrid on the market. It even offers more passenger and cargo volume than the Prius. Other bonuses are the Ioniq’s commendable handling and braking. From our first review: “Lightweight, independent rear suspension and a low center of gravity provided handling that was better than expected. One of the most pleasant surprises with the Ioniq was the linear braking feel. The brakes weren't grabby or jerky. Despite the ability to regenerate energy, they simply felt like regular brakes, a detail that made it easy to forget we were driving a hybrid.”
Starting price: $23,035
Fuel economy: 58 mpg combined (57 city/59 highway)
Total system power: 139 horsepower
The competition has never been stiffer, but the proven Prius remains king of the hybrids. If city/highway combined fuel economy of 52 mpg isn’t quite enough for you, the latest Prius is available in an Eco version that delivers 56 mpg combined. And while the refined, reliable and recently restyled Prius is also more agile than ever, as we explain in our expert review it’s also quite composed: “On the highway, the 2017 Prius hybrid delivers a smooth ride and a quiet cabin with very little wind or road noise evident.”
Starting price: $25,570
Fuel economy: 52 mpg combined (54 city/50 highway)
Total system power: 121 horsepower