Volvo XC90 driving

10 best used plug-in hybrid cars

Plug-in hybrids are a great choice if you want a car that’s less polluting but aren’t sure whether an electric car would meet your needs.

You may want your next car to have a low impact on the environment, but you also may not be convinced that an electric car will fully meet your needs. A plug-in hybrid offers a great compromise. You can read more about plug-in hybrids and how they work here

A plug-in hybrid car could save you a lot of money on fuel and tax costs, and most have a zero-emissions, electric-only range that will allow you to make many journeys without using any fuel.

So which plug-in hybrid should you buy? Here are 10 of the best, showing there’s something for everyone.

1. BMW 3 Series

The BMW 3 Series is one of the best family saloons available. It’s spacious, well made, well equipped and fantastic to drive.

The plug-in hybrid version of the 3 Series is called the 330e. It has a powerful petrol engine and a strong electric motor and when both are working together, the car accelerates very quickly. It’s also smooth around town, easy to park and comfortable on long journeys.  

The latest version of the 330e, sold from 2018, has a range on battery power of 37 miles, according to official figures. The older version, on sale from 2015 to 2018, has a range of 25 miles. The latest version is also available as a Touring estate. The older version is only available as a saloon.

Read our BMW 3 series review

2. Mercedes-Benz C-Class

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is another of the best family saloons available and it’s very closely matched with the BMW 3 Series. The C-Class just beats the 3 Series by having an interior with a bit more space and a lot more wow factor. It feels luxurious and very modern.

The C-Class plug-in hybrid has a petrol engine to go with its electric motor. Its performance,  again, closely matches that of the 330e. But it feels more relaxed and calmer than the BMW which actually makes the C-Class even better on long journeys.

Mercedes has two C-Class plug-in hybrid models. The C350e was sold from 2015 to 2018 and has an official range of 19 miles on battery power. The C300e went on sale in 2020, has a range of 35 miles and its batteries are quicker to recharge. Both are available in saloon or estate form.

Read our Mercedes-Benz C-Class review

3. Kia Niro

The Kia Niro is one of the few compact crossovers available as a plug-in hybrid. It’s the same kind of car as the Nissan Qashqai – a midpoint between a hatchback and an SUV. It’s roughly the same size as a Qashqai, too.

The Niro is a great family car. The interior is roomy enough for children of all ages; the boot’s a useful size; and all models are very well equipped. It’s a doddle to drive around town and it’s comfortable on long journeys. Children will like the great view from the back windows, too.

A petrol engine works with the electric motor to give decent acceleration. According to official figures, the Niro can go 35 miles on a full battery charge.

Read our Kia Niro review

4. Toyota Prius Plug-in

The Toyota Prius Plug-in is the plug-in version of the revolutionary Prius hybrid. The Prius Prime has different front and rear styling that gives it an even more distinctive look.

It’s easy to drive, well equipped and comfortable. The interior is spacious, with a boot as big as other mid-size hatchbacks like the Ford Focus.

The Prius Plug-in has a petrol engine to go with its electric motor. It’s nippy around town and strong enough for long motorway journeys. It’s relaxing to drive, too, so those long journeys should be less stressful. It has an official range of 30 miles on battery power.

5. Volkswagen Golf

The Volkswagen Golf GTE is the sportiest plug-in hybrid on our list. It looks like the legendary Golf GTi hot hatch, and feels almost as good to drive. Like every other Golf model, it’s spacious, practical and you can really feel the quality of the interior.

Though there’s a sporty edge to the way it drives, the Golf GTE is great for nipping around town and always comfortable, even after hours on the road.

The Golf GTE has a petrol engine under the bonnet. Older models, sold from 2015 to 2020, have a range of 31 miles on battery power, according to official figures. The latest version has a range of 39 miles.

Read our Volkswagen Golf review

6. Audi A3

The Audi A3 plug-in hybrid is very similar to the Golf GTE. Indeed, everything that makes them go, steer and stop is exactly the same in both cars. But it has a more luxurious feel than the sporty Golf, which you’ll notice immediately in the brilliantly user-friendly, beautifully made interior. You do pay a premium for it, though.

The A3’s family car credentials are better than any other premium brand’s mid-size hatchback. Your children will have enough room whatever age they are, and the boot holds a week’s worth of family holiday luggage. It’s always quiet and comfortable, too.

Older A3 plug-in hybrids, sold from 2013 to 2020, are badged e-tron and go up to 31 miles on battery power, according to official figures. The latest version, badged TFSi e, has a range of 41 miles.

Read our Audi A3 review

7. Mini Countryman

The Mini Countryman packages the retro-infused style and fun driving experience that make the Mini Hatch so popular into a more family-friendly SUV. It’s actually smaller than it looks, but has a more roomy and practical interior than hatchbacks of similar size.

The plug-in hybrid Countryman Cooper S E feels great to drive and is small enough to make town driving easy. Parking, too. It’s good fun on a winding country road and gives a smooth ride on motorways. It even accelerates surprisingly rapidly when the petrol engine and electric motor give all the power they have.

According to official figures, the Countryman Cooper S E can travel 26 miles on battery power.

Read our Mini Countryman review

8. Mitsubishi Outlander

The Mitsubishi Outlander is a large SUV that’s ideal for families with older children and lots of stuff to carry in the boot. It’s comfortable, very well equipped and feels extremely robust. So it’ll easily stand up to the rigours of family life.

The Outlander plug-in hybrid was actually one of the first plug-in hybrid cars to go on sale in the UK and was the best-selling one for many years. It's been updated several times, with a new engine and an altered front-end styling among the changes.

It’s a big car, but driving around town is easy. It feels calm and composed on motorways, with an official range of up to 28 miles on battery power alone.

Read our Mitsubishi Outlander review

9. Skoda Superb

The Skoda Superb belongs on any list of the best cars available. It looks great, the interior and boot are spacious, it’s well equipped and well made. It’s also one of the very best cars you can get if you need to do regular, long motorway journeys. And it’s great value for money, costing quite a lot less than its premium-brand rivals.

The plug-in hybrid Superb iV has the same engine and electric motor as the latest VW Golf and Audi A3 plug-in hybrids – all three are made by Volkswagen Group brands. It gives strong acceleration and has a range of 34 miles on battery power, according to official figures. It’s available with a hatchback or estate body.

Read our Skoda Superb review

Volvo XC90

The Volvo XC90 SUV is one of the most practical cars you can get. A tall adult fits in all seven of its seats and the boot is absolutely cavernous. Fold down the two rows of back seats and it could double as a van.

It’s very comfortable and the interior is a nice place to spend a few hours. Or even a few days, if you’re going a really long way! It’s well equipped and extremely well made, too. The XC90 is a very big car so parking can be tricky, but it’s easy to drive otherwise.

The plug-in hybrid XC90 T8 is quiet and smooth to drive, and capable of rapid acceleration if you want it. Range on battery power is 31 miles, according to official figures.

Read our Volvo XC90 review