Hybrid Cars: 5 of the Best Alternatives to the Toyota Prius
When most people picture a hybrid in their minds, they almost exclusively think of the Toyota Prius. Thanks to some brilliant work by Toyota, the term “Prius” may as well be interchangeable with the term “hybrid” in America. Even though the interior of the Prius is pretty outdated, it’s still a comfortable, reliable vehicle that gets spectacular gas mileage.
The Prius isn’t even only one car either. The Prius family has grown, offering several different models under the Prius name. Just because Prii are great hybrids doesn’t mean they’re the only hybrids worth buying, though. There are actually quite a few options to consider. Some of them are better deals than others, and average fuel economy varies widely among the different models. Depending on the model, the list of available features is huge, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
It may be easy for hybrid buyers to buy a Prius by default, but if you take the time to shop around, you may find that there’s another car on the market that you end up liking better. Depending on what you want out of a car, these are five great hybrid options to consider instead of a Toyota Prius.
5. Lexus CT200h
The Lexus CT200h starts at $32,200 is EPA rated at 42 miles per gallon combined. It might be a little more expensive than the Toyota Prius it shares a platform with, but the Lexus offers two things you won’t find in the Toyota – a luxurious interior and sporty driving dynamics.
The CT200h’s fuel economy isn’t quite as strong as the Prius’, but it’s still much better than average, and it’s a small price to pay for the increased livability that comes with a more comfortable, high-end interior. The other benefit is that the CT200h is a surprisingly attractive car. In fact, especially in F Sport trim, it’s easily one of the best looking hatchbacks on the market.
4. Ford C-Max
The C-Max starts at $24,170 and is EPA rated at 40 miles per gallon combined. That’s almost exactly the same as the $24,200 starting price on the Prius, but you give up 10 miles per gallon if you go with the Ford. What you do get, however, is a hybrid that’s designed to look a lot more like a conventional hatchback. The interior also looks a lot more like what you would expect from a conventional vehicle.
While the fuel economy difference between the two is substantial, the C-Max attempts to make up for it with a more powerful engine, sportier handling, and a significantly more spacious cabin. The interior is also more nicely appointed, and the list of available features is longer. Buyers leaning towards the Prius v may find they get most of what they want for less money in the Ford C-Max.
3. Honda Accord Hybrid
The Honda Accord Hybrid starts at $29,305 and is EPA rated at 47 miles per gallon. While that’s a few miles per gallon lower than what the Toyota Prius gets, not everyone shopping for a hybrid wants a hatchback. Some people just want a regular car that gets great gas mileage. In that case, assuming you can swing the price tag, you should seriously consider the Accord Hybrid.
When you buy the hybrid, the car you’re getting is still a Honda Accord, so it has everything you’d expect from an Accord, just with better fuel economy. For your money, though, you get a well-optioned car with an interior that puts the Prius to shame. If you want to take your car to near-luxury levels, though, you can always bump up to the Touring trim level for $35,055 and drive what may as well be a de-badged Acura.
2. Chevrolet Volt
The Chevrolet Volt starts at $34,170 and is EPA rated at 98 miles per gallon equivalent. While it occasionally uses the engine to power the wheels, most of the time, the Volt operates as a series hybrid: That means it’s an electric car that uses its engine as a range-extending generator to charge the batteries. As a result, you can drive it around town in electric mode and recharge it at night, but you also don’t have to worry about range anxiety or not being able to go on a road trip.
Your real world fuel economy will obviously vary wildly depending on how you drive and how often you use the engine. For people who would really prefer an electric car but can’t spring for a Tesla, the Volt is a great option. Between federal and state tax credits, you’ll also probably pay significantly less than the over-$30,000 MSRP. If you rarely drive more than 40 or 50 miles per day, it may be hard to beat the Volt.
1. BMW i3 with Range Extender
The BMW i3 with the range extending engine starts at $46,250 and is EPA rated at 117 miles per gallon equivalent. It can be purchased as an electric car without the range extender, but for drivers who want to use it as their primary form of transportation, it would be wise to add that option. With the range extender equipped, the i3 has an effective range of up to 150 miles and can be refueled at a gas station.
Despite having an engine, the BMW i3 is a true series hybrid and only uses it as a generator to recharge the batteries. It was also designed from the ground up to be an electric car and is the first mass produced car to be constructed using carbon fiber-reinforced plastics. With its high strength-to-weight ratio, CFRP is regularly used in everything from high-end supercars to airplanes and even a spaceship. Sure, it looks a bit odd, but the BMW i3 is one of the coolest hybrids in production.