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Pursuit of the perfect blend: The best hybrid cars

Simply put, the automotive industry is changing. A few years ago, hybrid models had a reputation for being more expensive and less powerful than their gas guzzling counterparts. These days, however, that’s not the case. Thanks to advancing technology and a growing interest in green vehicles, hybrid cars are not just more efficient than they were two years ago, they preform better on the road.

There are lots of options out there. Most manufactures offer a few hybrid options. There are dozens of options priced under $30,000. Going gas electric might cost you more, but it’s likely that you’ll make up for it in the long run.

Here’s our updated list of the best Hybrids currently on the market. Whether you’re looking for a traditional hybrid like the Toyota Prius, or have the money (and voltage) to burn on a luxury laden option like the Tesla Model S, there is something here for everyone. While you’re at it, check out our car reviews and our guide to the best used car websites.

This article was originally published August 14, 2012 and has been updated to reflect new hybrid offerings and model years. Amir Iliaifar contributed to this article.

Small/Compact:

Toyota Prius C

Toyota Prius C 2014

Toyota Prius C 2014

The smallest option from the Toyota hybrid family, the Prius C is one of the most attractive hybrid hatchbacks on the market for several reasons. Toyota claims the “c” stands for city. It might stand for cheap as well because the Prius C, modestly priced hybrid at $19,080. And considering its 53 mpg in the city, 46 mpg on the highway, and 50 mpg combined, the Prius C is arguably the best option for entry-level hybrids on the market.

Toyota Prius (Liftback)

2013 Toyota Prius Liftback

2013 Toyota Prius Liftback

What can’t we say about the Prius? Now in its third generation and enjoying a 14 year spell at the summit of hybrid vehicles, the Prius is without question the most popular hybrid on the market, selling over 3 million units in U.S since its introduction back in 2000 . On top of sporting a spacious cabin with a comfortable ride, the Prius possesses the uncanny ability to forgo even modest amounts of fuel and carries an EPA rating of 51 mpg city, 48 mpg on the highway, with a combined 50 mpg and a $24,200 sticker price.

Honda Insight

Honda Insight 2014

Honda Insight 2014

Generally speaking, being first to market gives you an edge over the competition, but unfortunately the Insight has bucked that trend. And although it has long-lived in the shadow of the successful Prius (and its ever growing Prius family) the Insight provides a nice alternative to Toyota’s troupe, even if its redesign bears a striking resemblance to its Japanese rival. Nevertheless fuel economy is the name of the game here and the Insight proves its chops with 41 mpg city, 44 mpg highway, and 42 combined making it one of the more attractive 5-door hatchback hybrids on the market. Added bonus: the Insight starts at $18,725.

Mid Size:

Ford Fusion Hybrid SE

Ford Fusion Hybrid SE

Ford Fusion Hybrid SE

The Ford Fusion Hybrid has proven to be a perennial petrol sipper. Since its introduction in 2009, the Fusion had established itself as one of the best hybrid vehicles on the market. Showcasing a truly impressive design, the 2014 Fusion Hybrid stands out in the sea of Toyotas and Hondas. Recently, the Fusion Hybrid SE swapped out its previous nickel-metal hydride batteries for lighter, energy efficient lithium-ion batteries instead. The result is a dashing hybrid that is estimated to achieve 47 mpg in city and highway driving. In addition, the new Fusion comes packed with impressive tech features such as driver assistance technologies and a dynamic lane keeping system, adaptive cruise control, an integrated blind spot information system, and a respectable price of $27,280.

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

2014 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

2014 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is a real looker. Hyundai’s relatively new streamlined aesthetic embodied in the Sonata. Nevertheless, the Korean automaker has managed to pack in a whole lot of substance. Aesthetics aside, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid delivers excellent fuel economy, netting 36 city, 40 highway, and a combined 37 mpg all on its lithium polymer battery pack, and still manages to sneak in at an equally attractive price point of $26,000.

Toyota Camry Hybrid

Toyota Camry  Hybrid

Toyota Camry Hybrid

For those willing to forgo flair for function, the Toyota Camry Hybrid is perhaps the best option. While not a particularly stylish set of wheels the Camry Hybrid makes up for its lack of character by offering up workmanlike fuel economy. The standard Camry has been one of the most popular vehicles in America for years now, and it seems customers are not opposed to throwing down an extra $3,500 for a hybrid model (MSRP $26,330). Especially when that hybrid model can deliver a respectable 43 mpg in the city, and 39 on the highway. In a segment that is generally all about those numbers preceding “mpg,” the Camry is truly one to be reckoned with.

Luxury:

Lexus GS Hybrid

2014 Lexus GS 350 Hybrid

2014 Lexus GS 350 Hybrid

Saving the planet is not a cheap endeavor — not if that endeavor involves buying a more eco-friendly and fuel-efficient vehicle. As automakers quickly realized the willingness of the masses to spend green to go green, the not-so-long march to a premium branded hybrid was inevitable. Enter the Lexus GS hybrid 350. This stylish little entry-level premium sedan signals the Japanese automaker’s continued effort to evolve and offer its hybrid drivetrain system in more than just its Toyota-badged vehicles. The GS 350 Hybrid touts a respectable fuel economy – which is estimated at 29 mpg city, 34 highway – but for its dynamic handling, sporty ride, you’ll have to spend upwards of $60,000.

Infiniti Q50 Hybrid

Infinity Q50 Hybrid 2014

2014 Infinity Q50 Hybrid

While the luxury hybrid segment is still somewhat in its infancy, a moderate amount of choices exist for those willing to travel down this path. One such vehicle is the Infiniti Q50, starting at $44,400. Pairing a 3.5-liter V6 with an electric motor, the Q50 hybrid is admittedly more fun than frugal, but despite its greater thirst for fuel the Q50 does so with impressive efficiency, carrying an estimated 29 mpg in the city, 36 on the highway.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

Ok, so the Model S isn’t a hybrid car, technically. It’s a full-on electric car that can drive up to 265 miles on a single charge. The Model S touches all the bases: style, performance, luxury, and saving our wonderful Mother Earth. Chances are, if you’re up on the automotive totem pole so much so that you hardly bat an eye at the Panamera S Hybrid’s nearly $70,000 asking price we can’t imagine paying three, four, or even five dollars for a gallon of gas will cause you to lose much sleep at night. Coincidently, Porsche’s hybrid doesn’t do too terribly in the performance department, delivering a fully electric ride (in both senses of the word) with a 0-60 MPH in 4.2 seconds. The induction motor produced 302 hp and 427 lb-ft of torque. Not bad at all.

SUV:

Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

It’s true: a majority of hybrids are compacts and subcompacts of various ilks, but there are vehicles out there that possess more heft and utility from their eco-minded counterparts. Enter the Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid. This fuel efficient crossover not only boasts some impressive numbers for its segment, 29 mpg city/33 mpg highway, but also boasts a spacious cabin. The car might not be spirited on the road as other hybrids, but it certainly preforms well in just about any condition at comes in at $26,000 better than most in its class.

Lexus RX 450 H:

2015 Lexus RX 450 Hybrid

2015 Lexus RX 450 Hybrid

The RX 450 Hybrid is like a doctor’s prescription. A true luxury crossover that delivers a full package. For starters, there’s the affordable price tag, a respectable MSRP of $46,410 and a best in class, 32 MPG City/ 28 MPG highway fuel efficiency. And there’s a good dose of luxury included. The roomy cabin has looks you’d expect from Lexus, with a distinct bamboo matte finish. The RX 450 H includes two electric motors and a V6 3.5 liter engine, which provide lots of gusto, which will get you to that youth soccer game just as fast as all those gas guzzling SUVs.

Toyota Prius V

2014 Toyota Prius V

2014 Toyota Prius V

Completing our Prii trifecta is the Prius V. While technically not an SUV, we’re lumping the largest member of the Prius family in this category simply because we can; it’s our list. Regardless of classification, those needing some added flexibility with their fuel-efficiency will surely appreciate the V, which according to Toyota stands for “versatility” and not some misguided nod to what’s arguably the worst Rocky film of all time. But we digress, and because it’s numbers we’re interested in the Prius V delivers with its EPA estimated 44 mpg city, 40 mpg highway, and 42 mpg combined rating. Add to that ample cargo space which sits at 34.3 cubic feet and balloons to 67.3 cubic feet with the rear seats down, and the Prius V encroaches on SUV-like utility, with a sedan price (MSRP $26,750).

That’s it! What do you think of our list? Let us know in the comments below.

[Header image courtesy of wellphoto /Shutterstock]