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The top five used hybrids: does going green have to cost the earth?Back

Over the past few years we have seen more and more hybrid cars launched – so what should you look for when making a used buy?

Powered by a combination of a combustion engine and electric motor – either working in parallel or together – hybrid cars have helped drivers slash fuel bills and combat global warming by cutting C02 emissions.

Packed full of technology and expensive battery packs; it’s of little surprise that hybrids are more expensive than conventional petrol or diesel-powered cars when bought new. Hybrids are increasingly popping up on the used market though, and in a world where fuel prices continue to rocket year-on-year, make considerable sense to buyers.

Some reports suggest that one out of every three car buyers is seriously considering buying a hybrid – so what are the best used hybrids currently on offer?

Toyota Prius

Once described as “the car of the stars”, the Toyota Prius has a whole host of A-list owners including Leonardo DiCaprio and Miley Cyrus. First introduced in 2001, it has since gained a cult following and the Japanese manufacturer has sold the model in its millions.

A full hybrid, the car can run on electric power only and the third generation model, which launched in 2009, offers fuel economy of up to 70.6 mpg. With a 1.5 litre engine emitting only 89g/km of C02 the Prius qualifies for free road tax.

View used Toyota Prius from £7,134.

Honda Civic IMA Hybrid

With a smaller petrol engine than the Prius (1.3 litre) the Civic hybrid uses battery power to supplement its performance.

It’s possible to squeeze a massive 720 miles out of only one tank of fuel. And the savings don’t stop there: it also benefits from low tax due to its minimal 109g/km CO2 emissions, fuel efficiency of 61.4 mpg, and boasts a low insurance group.

View used Honda Civic from £6,999

Honda Insight

Launched in the UK in 2009 the Insight claims fuel economy of 64 mpg and is currently the cheapest hybrid on the UK market.

Despite its cheaper price, the Insight’s emissions are higher than the 100g/km threshold, meaning the car is eligible for road tax.

Those slight shortcomings are reflected in the price, with used models commanding a lot less than equivalent Prius models.

View used Honda Insights from £11,971.

Toyota Auris Hybrid

If the exterior of the Toyota Auris Hybrid could speak, it would probably mutter “nothing to see here.” Unlike the Prius, the humble Auris is aesthetically unassuming. But don’t judge a book by its cover.

Another full hybrid model, the Auris has the capacity to average 74.3mpg and emits carbon emissions at a rate of only 93g/km – from a larger 1.8 litre engine. The first mass-produced hybrid vehicle to be built in Britain, it also boasts an 700-mile range.

View used Toyota Auris Hybrids from £17,395.

Lexus GS 450h

The last on our list isn’t like any of the above. It’s a luxury offering less concerned with low carbon emissions and fuel economy and more bothered about style, comfort and speed.

The Lexus GS 450h is pretty dirty, producing 179g/km of C02 while achieving an average of only 37.2mpg. But it will hit 0-60mph in less than 6 seconds – half the time it takes the Honda Insight.

On the plus side, it does have a built-in smog sensor. But at almost £44,000, we’re struggling to see the appeal.

View used Lexus GS 450H from £15,990.

Posted by Leana Kell on 25/07/2011