Until relatively recently, the idea of a hybrid car seemed like it came straight out of a science fiction story. In the last few years, though, they have become ubiquitous on city streets in the United States and around the world. Originally designed only for the budget conscious buyer, hybrids now come in all shapes and sizes and price ranges…from the stripped down low-end to large luxury models.
For those searching for economy in the hybrid category, there are multiple options. The 10 listed here are based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price but it is important to keep in mind that these prices do not take into account cost of operation or any dealer incentives that can be had at time of purchase. The list of the least expensive hybrid cars that can be found in North America, based on MSRP, is varied and provides a model for buyers with almost any taste.
10. 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid
The new XV Crosstrek hybrid model has been re-vamped for 2014, with additions like aerodynamic wheel design, updated suspension and steering calibration to give it a sportier driving experience, and several new, unusual colors. All-wheel drive is standard, and fuel-saving measures include low rolling-resistance tires, active grill shutters, and automatic stop/start technology. The Crosstrek gets an unimpressive 23 miles per gallon/city and 30 miles per gallon/highway. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), which crash tests all new vehicles and which uses a 5 star rating system gives this crossover 4 and 5 stars on all tests performed.
9. 2014 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid
The hybrid version of the Malibu was redesigned in 2013 but even more changes were added for 2014. A 2.5-liter 4-cylinder is standard for nearly all models, and is equipped with automatic stop/start technology for better fuel economy. There is an optional turbocharged engine, and revisions have been made to the steering, suspension, and transmission in an effort to make the Malibu more fun to drive. In terms of fuel efficiency the Malibu is not a standout in the field. It gets 25 mpg/city and 36 mpg/highway. But on safety it is rated mostly 5 stars by the NHTSA.
8. 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid
With features like a 2.4L I-4 159hp engine, 6-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes side seat mounted airbags, curtain 1st and 2nd row overhead airbags, airbag occupancy sensor, driveline traction control, and electronic stability, this luxury entry into the hybrid class looks and feels like some of the most luxurious gas guzzlers on the market today. Its gas mileage is not that impressive for a hybrid, perhaps due to it’s relatively large size: 36 miles per gallon in the city, 40 miles per gallon highway. In terms of safety, it receives a 9 out of 10 from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which is among the highest safety ratings for any hybrid.
7. 2014 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
Coming in a very close #9 in terms of price, Volkswagen has made huge changes to the hybrid Jetta for 2014. A new turbocharged, 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine replaces the old 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine, providing quicker acceleration and better fuel economy. All models except the Jetta S offer new Car-Net telematics. The Jetta SE adds standard equipment and options like keyless passive entry with push-button starting. The Jetta SEL also has a standard reversing camera and automatic transmission. It received an “Acceptable” rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA ) and gets 42 mpg City / 48 mpg Highway. Like all Volkswagens in 2014, The Jetta Hybrid’s maintenance plan is reduced in coverage: it covers scheduled visits to the dealer for one fewer year and 12,000 fewer miles.
6. 2014 Ford C-Max Hybrid
This is a 4-door, 5-seat hatchback, available in an SE and an SEL version, ranging from the SE to the SEL. The low-end SE is equipped with a standard 2.0L, 4-cylinder, engine that gets 45 mpg in the city and 40-mpg on the highway. In NHTSA crash tests the Ford C-Max consistently got 4 and 5 star ratings. A version of the C-Max has been available in Europe for several years but has been slightly retooled and given a hybrid engine for its American introduction this year.
5. 2014 Honda Civic Hybrid
For the third year in a row, Honda has made major changes to its Civic hybrid model. The coupes are restyled for 2014 and the hybrids feature expanded-view driver’s side mirror as standard equipment. All but the Civic LX and HF are equipped with a new 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a smart entry passive entry system with push-button starting, and a LaneWatch blind-spot monitoring system. Also new for 2014, Honda is now offering a natural gas model with optional leather seats and navigational system. The Civic hybrid gets 28 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway and was given an overall 4 star rating by the NHTSA .
4. 2014 Toyota Prius
There are no real changes to the 2014 model of the Prius. Four versions are available,and Toyota also makes a Prius plug-in model in standard and advanced model series. All Prius models are 5-door hatchbacks rated as a midsize car by the EPA. It’s worth noting that options with a number of Toyota Racing Development components can be added to make it more fun to drive. The NHTSA rates the Prius good or acceptable in all areas of safety except for on structure and cage safety on the highway, where it gets a marginal rating. The Prius’ mileage continues to be among the best, getting 51 mpg/city and 48 mpg/highway.
3. 2014 Honda CR-Z
The standard features of the Honda CR-Z base mode include 1.5L I-4 122hp engine, 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, SmartVent side seat mounted airbags, curtain 1st and 2nd row overhead airbags, airbag occupancy sensor, automatic air conditioning, 16″ aluminum wheels, cruise control, and VSA electronic stability. It is somewhat lackluster in terms of gas mileage, getting 31mpg/city and 38mpg/Hwy. The NHTSA gives it mostly 4 and 5 star ratings, but in the areas of side barriers it only get 3 stars.
2. 2014 Toyota Prius c
This is the diminutive, 5-door, 5-seat hatchback version of the Prius, available in 4 trims and in a variety of unusual colors like Summer Rain Metallic, Blue Streak Metallic, and Habanero. The entry model is equipped with a standard 1.5L, 4-cylinder, engine that achieves 53 mpg in the city and 46 mpg on the highway and has a standard automatic transmission.The NHTSA gives the Prius c 4 and 5 star ratings for safety. The 2014 Prius c was honored with the title “Greenest Vehicle” by the American Council for Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
1. 2014 Honda Insight
The 2014 Honda Insight is a 4-door, 5-seat Hatchback, available in 4 versions, ranging from the Base to the EX. The base model is equipped with a standard 1.3L, 4-cylinder, engine that gets 41 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway and automatic transmission is standard. The lower-than-expected gas mileage may be due to the Insight’s relatively large size and its use of what Honda calls “mild hybrid” technology. The NHTSA gives the Insight mostly “Good” and “Acceptable” ratings, with it’s overall rollover rating a standout 5 star. Honda was the first car company to sell a gas/electric hybrid in North America, and the Insight appeared on the American market even before the popular Toyota Prius.