Consumer Reports Highlights the Top Hybrid Vehicles, Including PHEVs
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Consumer Reports Highlights the Top Hybrid Vehicles, Including PHEVs

  • Consumer Reports included three PHEVs on their annual list of top ten cars.
  • A plug-in hybrid can be a very reliable powertrain if it’s made by a reputable automaker.
  • Many car shoppers haven’t considered a plug-in as their new hybrid vehicle, but maybe they should.

Not ready to make the leap to a fully electric vehicle? Hybrid vehicles are a great alternative, and Consumer Reports includes a plethora of hybrid vehicles and fully electrified vehicles on its 2024 Annual Top Ten Cars list. Among those, the plug-in hybrid vehicle was the powertrain that really stood out for Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ Senior Director of Auto Testing.


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“A lot of people want something that is just reliable and gets them where they want to go, that is where plug-in hybrids have the opportunity,” Fisher told Electrify News in an interview. 

Sometimes called plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs, plug-in hybrids generally have an electric motor allowing them to run on fully electric power for short distances and a gas engine that takes over after that.

The plug-in hybrids on the top ten list were the Toyota Prius Prime, Toyota RAV4 Prime, and BMW X5 PHEV. The Toyota Prius Prime SE plug-in hybrid vehicle also was named the year’s most environmentally-friendly car by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.


Testing Hybrid Vehicles for Performance

Image care of BMW

To arrive at what Fisher calls the “unbiased truth” about different powertrains, Consumer Reports anonymously bought and tested 13 plug-in hybrid vehicles. 

“We are digging into the dark horse powertrain, which we think is the most misunderstood powertrain,” he said. Fisher thinks the benefits of a plug-in hybrid vehicle haven’t been explained well to consumers. Instead, “when people do talk about them it is like people want to pick a side” between powertrains, he says. “We are just laying out the facts.”

Consumers can compare the benefits of plug-in hybrids, EVs, and hybrids on the Consumer Reports website’s “Electrified Hub.” 


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The Best Hybrid Vehicles Are Very Reliable

Image care of Toyota

One trait of the best plug-in hybrid vehicles that stood out in Consumer Reports’ testing was their reliability, Fisher explained. 

“If you choose the right PHEV, it can be more reliable than an ICE vehicle,” he said. 

To be sure, a Consumer Reports survey from late 2023 did find that plug-in hybrids were the least reliable powertrains, and plug-in hybrid and battery electric powertrains do tend to be more trouble-prone, Fisher admitted.

That is partly because it is new technology. But also, “a lot of the unreliable [plug-in hybrids] are from automakers that don’t make reliable cars anyway,” he said.

According to Fisher, the best hybrid vehicles, including plug-ins, are made by very reliable automakers such as Toyota. “Toyota is making very reliable PHEVs on the shoulders of a very reliable hybrid powertrain they have been producing for a long time,” Fisher said. 

It really is a moment for plug-in hybrid vehicles, Fisher believes, and Consumer Reports wants to highlight that it can be the right choice for many who haven’t even considered the best plug-in hybrid vehicles that are currently out there.

“For a lot of people who say I either buy an electric vehicle or a gas vehicle, they may not even have considered that this option exists,” he said.


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FEATURE IMAGE: TOYOTA

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AUTHOR: 

ALYSHA WEBB

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