In simple terms, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (EVs) work by using both an internal combustion engine and electric motor to run the car.
Most of them allow you to choose whether you drive on electricity or petrol, with most drivers choosing to use the battery in and around town and the engine (or a combination of the two) on longer motorway journeys.
With that in mind, here are our favourite plug-in hybrid cars:
Hyundai Santa Fe
What makes the Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV stand out from most other plug-in hybrid models is that it has seven seats – a feature that very few have. This means you can take more people around and often have more boot space when seats are folded flat.
If you’re after a new (to you) family car that can do it all while being economical, there are very few better than the Santa Fe.
The Peugeot 508 PSE (Peugeot Sport Engineered) PHEV is the most powerful car the French brand has ever made, and it’s one of the more stylish models in its arsenal too.
This four-wheel drive plug-in hybrid produces 360hp, with 200hp of that coming from its petrol engine and the rest from its two onboard electric motors.
On electric power alone, the Peugeot 508 PSE can travel up to 26 miles, which is ideal for most city driving scenarios. It works alongside the petrol engine in other scenarios to maximise its overall mpg rating.
Lexus NX 450h+
The NX 450h+ is Lexus’s mid-sized SUV that offers some of the best electric-only range found in any plug-in hybrid, sitting at 45 miles on a single charge – the equivalent of driving from Cambridge to Watford.
Mated to the electric motors is a 2.5-litre petrol engine, which together can launch the NX from 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds – very impressive for an SUV.
Volvo XC60 Recharge
If you’re looking for your next family car to be comfortable, fast, good-looking and economical, then the Volvo XC60 Recharge may just be the one for you.
There are two different Volvo XC60 hybrid models on offer: the T6 and T8. The latter produces more power at 450hp and therefore is a little quicker off the line, posting a 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds.
In terms of all-electric range, you should be able to get 30 miles on a single charge, adding to the XC60’s impressive overall 282.1mpg rating.
When it comes to all-rounders, very few cars come close to what the BMW 3 Series offers. It's comfortable, quick, spacious, economical, and offers plenty of space for your family.
But the one that’s really special is the used BMW 300e, which has a very clever onboard plug-in hybrid system that offers a claimed 32 miles of all-electric range and a great overall mpg figure of 148.7.
It’s also packed full of great interior technology like all other BMW models, making those longer journeys even more enjoyable.
See the BMW 330e in action
Volkswagen Golf GTE
While the fully-electric Volkswagen Golf didn’t have the success the company hoped for, the hybrid one certainly has.
It’s called the Golf GTE, and it's basically a standard VW Golf with a 1.4-litre engine but with the addition of hybrid technology.
This means you can travel up to 37 miles on the electric-only range. You can also go up to 80mph in this mode – not that you should be on UK roads.
We also like that it’s just so familiar. Being a Golf, there is nothing out of the ordinary, and that’s going to appeal to many people who don't want a futuristic-looking electric car.
They can be slightly pricier than standard Golf models, but choosing a used Volkswagen can help keep costs down.
BMW X5 xDrive45e
When you think of a big and bulky SUV such as the X5, you don’t necessarily think about saving the environment, but in actual fact, that’s exactly what the BMW X5 xDrive45e PHEV is all about.
Thanks to its punchy 112hp electric motor and 285hp 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged engine, the X5 hybrid is capable of travelling up to 50 miles on a single charge – something you don’t expect from a 2.5-tonne SUV.
With it being an X5, it’s also very large and has more boot space than you could possibly need, sitting at 650 litres and growing to 1,720 litres when the rear seats are folded flat.
Range Rover Sport P400e
The new Range Rover Sport hybrid came out a few years ago, and was a relief for those in big cities like London who were being butchered by the new ULEZ charge to drive around in their big V8 SUVs.
The P400e, as it’s dubbed, still retains the standard Range Rover luxury but with a hefty hybrid system.
Sitting alongside its 300hp 2.0-litre petrol engine is a 115hp electric motor, which not only offers impressive performance but also a 31-mile electric range – enough to drive across London.
Ah yes, the trusty Toyota Prius. This is the pick of the bunch for all taxi drivers around the world, and it isn’t hard to see why.
There’s one engine option on offer – a 1.8-litre petrol engine that’s mated to a small but mighty electric motor.
The Prius’s total power output is 122hp, and Toyota claims it will return up to 94 miles per gallon.
Most of the time it will drive around in electric mode only if you’re below 37mph, but occasionally the little engine will fire into life.
Hyundai IONIQ PHEV
If a faff-free hybrid is what you’re after then the likelihood is you’ll want a Hyundai IONIQ.
On battery power alone, the IONIQ PHEV can do around 30 miles on a single charge, which would cover most people’s daily commute with ease.
It’s also really solid. Being a Hyundai, there’s little chance of it ever going wrong, and it’s even good on longer journeys because of the backup from its petrol engine.
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