Consumer Reports: Hybrid Cars and SUVs Offer Fuel Efficiency, Reliability, and High Owner Satisfaction

With the recent volatility of gas prices, the hybrid vehicle segment continues to gain popularity. But evolving hybrid technology leaves many wondering which model offers the best value and most reliability. We’ll highlight three of the best hybrid cars and SUVs that Consumer Reports says will fill a variety of needs and pay you back with every fill-up. 

A blue Lexus NX350h hybrid crossover SUV driving through the desert for a promotional photo, cacti visible in the background.
2023 Lexus NX350h | Toyota Motor Corporation

Lexus makes the best hybrid SUV

According to data from Consumer Reports, the best hybrid SUV is the 2023 Lexus NX Hybrid. As a small luxury SUV, the various Lexus NX models carry sticker prices ranging from $38,000 to $58,000. 

The NX Hybrid starts at around $43,000, or about $5,000 more than its gas-only variant. With EPA estimated combined fuel economy of 28 mpg for the standard NX compared to 39 mpg for the NX Hybrid, expect the hybrid to save about $600 per year if gas stays around $4.00 per gallon and you drive around 15,000 miles per year. 

The Lexus NX Hybrid is an excellent choice for anyone seeking a small yet comfortable SUV with highly rated predicted reliability. While the Lexus NX Hybrid possesses the latest technology you’d expect from a top luxury brand, its driving dynamics fall short of competitors such as the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. Despite the competition’s superior driving dynamics, the NX Hybrid’s reliability is hard to overlook. 

Toyota makes the most reliable hybrid car

Consumer Reports named the Toyota Corolla Hybrid the most reliable hybrid car available based on its vehicle owner survey. The 2023 Toyota Corolla starts at $21,550 and gets an EPA-estimated combined fuel economy of 39 mpg, whereas the Hybrid Corolla begins at $22,800 and gets an estimated 47 mpg combined. 

That difference in fuel economy equates to savings of around $260 per year, but Consumer Reports achieved fuel economies that differ from EPA estimates in its testing. 

The Toyota Corolla is a perennial favorite for its low price, exceptional quality, high predicted reliability, and advanced safety features. The Hybrid Corolla meets or exceeds those expectations at every level and gets better fuel economy. 

The best hybrid pickup is the Ford Maverick

If you need more utility than sport from your sport utility vehicle but still want exceptional fuel economy and above-average predicted reliability, consider the 2023 Ford Maverick. The 2023 Ford Maverick XL starts at around $22,000 and seats five people with a payload of 1,500 pounds. 

Opting for the hybrid powertrain raises the price by about $1,700 and improves the EPA-estimated combined fuel economy from 26 mpg to 37 mpg. 

The Maverick Hybrid’s increased fuel economy results in savings approaching $690 per year, but like always, your results will vary. The bad news is that if you want AWD, you’re stuck with the non-hybrid powertrain. 

Will a hybrid car pay for itself at the pump?

With superior fuel economy, a hybrid will eventually pay for itself at the pump. How long it takes for that payback depends on how much extra the hybrid version costs, how many miles you drive, and the price of a gallon of gasoline. However, lower fuel costs are only one of the ways a hybrid could save money.

Most hybrids use a regenerative braking system that uses the electric motor to recharge the hybrid system battery bank. Regen slows the vehicle without using the traditional friction-type brakes relied on by non-hybrids. 

But don’t worry; a hybrid still has a typical friction-style braking system. However, regen uses the friction brakes less when slowing down, resulting in lower braking system maintenance costs and less brake dust on your wheels.

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