Given that hybrids are still an emerging segment of automobiles, the spectrum of high performance options is still rather narrow. However, that’s not to say that the hybrid class is completely devoid of quality vehicles that deliver in the performance department. For those searching for the best in overall performance in the hybrid category, look no further than our list of top choices below.
2013 Toyota Prius
- Toyota’s Prius model has long dominated the hybrid vehicle segment, as it was one of the first hybrid vehicles to be mass produced. Powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine combined with a pair of electric motors, the Prius will by no means make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, but its 134 horsepower offers just enough ‘umph’.
- For the price, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better compact or midsized vehicle that will get you 51 mpg in the city and 48 mpg on the freeway. In fact, the Prius is only topped by its more diminutive relative, the Prius C.
- In track testing, Edmunds clocked the Prius from zero to 60 mph in 10.1 seconds; that’s about the same as the Honda Insight, but slower than the Ford C-Max Hybrid and other hybrid midsize sedans.
- “The [Prius] vehicle gets high marks for reliability, andConsumer Reports’ likes it so much, it recommends a used Prius Liftback – as the regular Prius is called – over a new Prius C…”
2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid
- Equipped with a “respectably powerful” 5-liter four-cylinder engine that, when combined with its electric motor, generates 200 horsepower, the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid boasts the quickest acceleration of all the hybrid sedans in its class.
- The improved braking system actually converts braking energy into electricity, helping this iteration of the Camry Hybrid achieve an EPA-estimated 41 mpg combined.
- Per Edmunds performance testing, Camry Hybrid XLE went from 0 to 60 in 7.4 seconds, which is quite fast for a hybrid family sedan.
- “Toyota’s Camry has been a best seller for the past several years because of the reliability record, and because it is such a clear mpg improvement over the 28 mpg four-cylinder counterpart,” says HybridCars.com.
2013 Toyota Prius V
- Like its regular hatchback counterpart the Prius, the Prius V is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that’s teamed with a pair of electric motors that churns out 134 horsepower and 153 pound-feet of torque. Also similar to the Prius (despite being bigger), the Prius V accelerates from 0-60 in 10.3 seconds, though gets a touch less in the fuel economy department at 42 mpg combined (44 mpg city/40 mpg highway).
- What’s the primary difference between the Prius and the Prius V? Six inches in length, three inches in height and 60 percent more cargo capacity. Indeed, the Prius V is essentially a more stretched out version of the Prius, with 34 cubic feet available for storage.
- Given the extension in dimensions, the cabin in the Prius V is also more spacious. The rear seats come with the ability to slide, recline and fold down, allowing for additional space for passengers and increased cargo capability.
- Says HybridCars.com: “Overall, while not a born athlete, the front-wheel-drive family hauler is average or better in all important points of comparison and its efficiency and utility make it worth a closer look.”
2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
- Predominantly powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine generating 166 horsepower, the Sonata Hybrid resides along the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to hybrids with vigor. When coupled with its electric motor, the Sonata Hybrid tops out at 206 horsepower. Its 0 to 60 split is identical to that of the Fusion Hybrid.
- The Sonata Hybrid’s impressive powertrain is curbed some by the vehicle’s comparative disadvantage in fuel economy with competitors in its class. The EPA estimates the Sonata Hybrid’s fuel economy to be around 34 mpg city/39 mpg hwy.
- Though the Sonata Hybrid has received some demerits due to a somewhat clumsy breaking system, the standard safety features on the vehicle rate rather highly, garnering a five-star rating for overall crash protection in government safety tests.
- The 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid seemingly has all the right stuff, but quirky driving dynamics keep it from being a top contender among fuel-efficient hybrid-powered family sedans. (Edmunds)
2013 Chevrolet Volt
- For those less concerned about fuel-economy and more interested in horsepower, the Chevy Volt is a fine choice, as it’s primarily powered by an electric motor that churns out 149 horsepower allowing it to accelerate to just over nine seconds when punched from 0 to 60. (Nearly a full second faster than the Prius.)
- With more under the hood when measured against a competitor such as the Prius, the Volt is considerably less economical by comparison, offering 35 mpg city and 40 mpg hwy.
- The Volt comes with excellent crash test scores, scoring an overall rating of five stars (the highest possible) in government crash tests.
- The 2013 Chevy Volt provides the best all-electric range of any plug-in hybrid, plus gasoline-fueled peace of mind that all-electric competitors can’t match. But it’s pricey for what you get. (Edmunds)