The 3 Hybrid Models With the Most Improved Reliability, According to Consumer Reports

Purchasing a hybrid or plug-in hybrid (PHEV) is wise for preserving your fuel budget. Hybrids can be more expensive than their traditional counterparts, but they often boast more powerful base engines and upgraded interiors. However, they can also have annoying drivetrain elements, such as continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) and complicated gear shifter setups.

Recently, Consumer Reports surveys have also shown that some hybrids have spotty reliability ratings. If you’re looking for a model that doesn’t have unreasonable maintenance costs, consider these hybrids with improved reliability.

Specific problems with PHEVs and EVs

2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Plug-in Hybrid
2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Plug-in Hybrid | Hyundai Motor America

According to Consumer Reports, a handful of EVs have proven less reliable than their gas-powered versions. These cars are usually prone to in-car electronic problems like blacked-out infotainment screens. This year, CR received more surveys detailing motor and battery pack issues.

Some owners even had problems charging their EVs and PHEVs and experienced drastic range decreases when temperatures dropped. Interestingly, regular hybrids don’t have nearly as many issues and are generally more dependable than their electrified counterparts.

Which hybrids improved the most in reliability this year?

Though the Ford Escape Hybrid still isn’t as reliable as many competitors, its score improved slightly for the 2023 model. The 2022 Escape is reportedly prone to major transmission issues, brake problems, and poor body integrity. However, the hybrid version uses a different transmission — a CVT instead of an eight-speed automatic — that owners find easier to use.

The Ford Escape Hybrid is also faster than the gas-only model by half a second and averages 34 mpg overall. CR also said the hybrid version has the best brakes and the quietest cabin. However, the Ford Escape Hybrid passed the avoidance maneuver test with a lower speed than its gas-only sibling.

The Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid’s reliability has improved in each category. This version has a turbo-four engine and an electric motor generating 226 hp, paired with all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission. CR preferred this version over the standard Santa Fe because it has the best ride quality and acceleration.

During real-world testing, CR determined the Santa Fe Hybrid gets 30 mpg city/highway combined. Each Hyundai Santa Fe variant has good brakes and scores highly for rear-seat comfort. CR also praised the performance of the SUV’s safety features.

Detailed reliability scores for the 2022 Kia Sorento midsize SUV haven’t been posted, but CR says the hybrid versions have been improved. Though the regular hybrid is faster than the gas-only Sorento, 28 mpg overall is slightly subpar by hybrid standards. Power delivery is unobtrusive, though CR detected some noticeable bumps when the transmission downshifts and upshifts.

CR says the Sorento Hybrid’s brakes are a bit mushy, and its overall handling feels less engaging than the Sorento’s. Even so, its body lean is surprisingly restrained for a vehicle of its size. The interior is also slightly upgraded, though CR didn’t appreciate the dial gear selector.

Other models boasting reliability boosts

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If you’d rather avoid hybrids for a while, CR says the regular Hyundai Santa Fe is also a safe buy. In addition, the Toyota Corolla Hatchback, Nissan Rogue, and Mitsubishi Outlander have promising predicted reliability scores. Unlike the outgoing model, the 2023 Chevy Corvette even received a CR recommendation this year.

The luxury Genesis GV70 and G80 are also more dependable now, along with the Lincoln Nautilus and Audi Q3. And the latest Lincoln Corsair has a perfect predicted reliability score, with testers praising its smooth driving experience and overall interior quality. Automakers can make many tweaks between model years, which shows promise for even the most problematic EVs and PHEVs.