Petrol-electric hybrids have been with us for over 20 years and there’s no argument they work really well.
The technology improves fuel consumption compared with a conventional petrol car by 20-30 per cent, by essentially eliminating waste: energy normally lost in braking and coasting is captured and stored in a battery, then used to help the combustion engine when required. Hybrids can even crawl along on battery alone for short distances in very heavy traffic.
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But for every Prius fan there are 10 who’ll make a face when you mention the name. It’s not exactly a vehicle with a sexy image and it was never intended to be a great drive.
So with thanks to Prius for its groundbreaking work, let’s put it aside for a moment - including its smaller C and larger V variants. Also, take it as read that you can go and buy a Camry hybrid, which is another great Toyota execution of petrol-electric technology - but also another car with a taint of taxi.
Here are five other used hybrids that you could own and be proud of.
Mazda3 hybrid (2013-18)
If you don’t want a Prius but do think Prius tech works well, how about this? In 2013 Mazda launched a hybrid version of the Mazda3 sedan (or “Axela” if you’re looking at an ex-Japan model) that kept its Mazda SkyActiv 2.0l engine but added Prius-sourced batteries and electronics.
At the time, Mazda said it wanted to unite hybrid tech with its more driver-focused character, so it took pains to ensure the hybrid had good steering and handling. At 3.2l/100km it’s also still super-thrifty.
To view all Mazda3 models listed on DRIVEN, click here
Hyundai Ioniq hybrid (2016-)
The Prius you have when you’re not having a Prius might well be the Hyundai Ioniq. Launched in 2016, the Ioniq was clearly aimed at Toyota’s eco-icon, right down to the Kamm-tail body shape.
Uniquely, the Ioniq was available with three different powertrains: hybrid, plug-in hybrid and a pure-electric version. The straight petrol-electric hybrid was the cheapest and still offers staggeringly good fuel economy of 3.9l/100km.
To view all Hyundai Ioniq models listed on DRIVEN, click here
Lexus is legendary for its quality and reliability, especially for its hybrid models. That might have a lot to do with the fact that the luxury brand’s petrol-electric technology is essentially lifted from parent company Toyota.
Lexus has been making a hybrid RX SUV since 2004 - first as the 400h and later and the 450h - so there are no shortage of model variations and prices to choose from. Petrol-electric power doesn’t just add to the economy and refinement, either: Lexus is fond of calling the RX a “performance hybrid”, because the electric tech makes the car faster as well.
To view all Lexus RX450h models listed on DRIVEN, click here
Toyota Corolla (2016-)
In 2016, Toyota NZ set about “mainstreaming” its hybrid technology by introducing it in the best-selling Corolla. Again, it’s essentially a Prius powertrain under there – but there’s nothing wrong with that.
The hybrid line-up has been expanded with the new-generation Corolla and of course that mainstreaming now continues with other models like the RAV4 SUV.
Fuel economy is 4.1-4.2l/100km across the two generations, depending on the model.
The previous-generation Corolla was called Auris overseas (although it’s back to “Corolla” now), so keep an eye out for used-import hybrid models carrying that badge as well.
To view all Toyota Corolla models listed on DRIVEN, click here
Mitsubishi Outlander (2012-)
We’ve tried to keep this list clear of Electric Vehicles (EVs) – ones with plugs, in other words – but when you’re talking hybrids in NZ you really can’t ignore the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV).
Putting a PHEV powertrain into an SUV body was a genius move by Mitsubishi back in 2012. Let’s not forget that we didn’t see a hybrid-powered Toyota RAV4 on sale in NZ until last year.
The Outlander is not only well-proven, it’s now plentiful on the used market because it’s been around so long. There are both used import and NZ-new examples to choose from, starting with the second-generation Outlander in 2012 and continuing in the present model.
Don’t expect a whole lot of pure-EV range from the early versions (less than 30km), but as an urban hybrid it still works really well.
To view all Mitsubishi Outlander models listed on DRIVEN, click here