2019 Honda Insight

The best new hybrids for 2019

2019 Honda InsightWhen hybrids first appeared back in the late 1990s, their engineering cred far outweighed their style and performance.

A lot has changed in 20 years. Hybrids have grown up to be far more that just eco-warrior econoboxes that appeal only to middle-aged Woodstock survivors. They’re now stylish and well-equipped, offering economy and lower emissions with few drawbacks.

Bang for the buck, these are the best new hybrid cars for 2019.

More green car news from Motoring Research:

Honda Insight

2019 Honda Insight

  • Starting MSRP: $22,930
  • Combined fuel economy: 55 mpg
  • Tailpipe CO2 per year: 2.8 tons

The Insight is all-new for 2019 and slots between the Civic and Accord in the Honda lineup. A refined exterior, ample amenities, and friendly handling belie the sedan’s eco-engineering nerd roots and create a vehicle with distinctions beyond its green cred.

The third-generation hybrid drivetrain works a bit differently than most. Under most driving conditions, the gasoline engine runs as a generator that either powers the electric drive motor or recharges the battery pack, or even both at the same time. When needed, the gasoline engine will also supplement the drive motor for either maximum power or maximum efficiency. Other than that, the engine does not directly drive the wheels; there’s not even a transmission.

There’s plenty of room for five adults in the cabin and all their gear in the full-size trunk. The battery is neatly placed under the rear seat, allowing maximum cargo space and a foldable seat back.

Being green has changed quite a bit since the Insight’s introduction in 1999. An available 8-inch infotainment system offers the latest Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, and the top Touring trim is even fitted with 450-watt, 10-speaker audio.

Toyota Prius

2019 Toyota Prius

  • Starting MSRP: $23,770
  • Combined fuel economy: 52 mpg
  • Tailpipe CO2 per year: 2.8 tons

The Prius has been around for over two decades. For 2019, there are refreshed fascias and new available all-wheel drive.

We have always found the Prius a perfect city or commuting companion. The stop/stop system works unnoticeably and there’s ample usable torque available at low speeds. No Prius is going to break track records or be exhilarating on a twisty mountain road, but it’s completely possible to surprise the hell out of Porsches off the line (at least for the first 100 feet). The handling is precise and predictable, and the ride is completely agreeable.

In the real world, with kids and errands and grocery runs, we have year after year found the Prius to be one of the most sensible cars on the market today. It’s quiet, comfortable, and sips fuel.

There is an Eco version offered that boasts 56 mpg in the combined cycle.

Ford Fusion

2019 Ford Fusion Hybrid

  • Starting MSRP: $27,555
  • Combined fuel economy: 42 mpg
  • Tailpipe CO2 per year: 3.5 tons

Ford has announced the imminent discontinuation of its sedan lines, but the Fusion continues to be one of America’s best-selling midsize cars. The hybrid versions rate high for their everyday usability, ample amenities, and standard driver assistance technologies.

The hybrid model starts at SE trim level with powered front seats, active noise control, blind spot and cross traffic alerts, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and other premium niceties. The mid-range SEL upgrades the audio, adds memory function to the seats, and a bit of shiny bling to the exterior trim and wheels The top Titanium model turns the style dial up to 11 with 12-speaker Sony audio, 18-inch wheels, and chromed honeycomb grille, and leather sport seats.

A plug-in hybrid is available in Titanium trim only and starts at $34,595.

Chevrolet Volt

2019 Chevrolet Volt

  • Starting MSRP: $34,395
  • Combined fuel economy: 42 mpg
  • Electric economy: 106 MPGe*
  • Tailpipe CO2 per year: 0.8 tons

Like Ford, General Motors has confirmed that it will discontinue many of its sedans; among them will be the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid. We think that’s kind of sad, because the model is roomy, quick, and features best-in-class all-electric range of 53 miles. The range is so good, in fact, that Chevy brags Volt owners go 1,100 miles between fill-ups with regular charging. We believe it.

New for 2019 is a charging system that cuts recharging times nearly in half, a refined heating system that allows more all-electric operation in cold climates, and an updated infotainment system featuring an 8.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Volt distinguishes itself by being a good car that just happens to be a hybrid. It is fun to drive, surprisingly capable, and, for owners who take advantage of its all-electric range and adjustable regenerative braking, very economical.

Honda Accord

2019 Honda Accord Hybrid

  • Starting MSRP: $26,240
  • Combined fuel economy: 48 mpg
  • Tailpipe CO2 per year: 3.0 tons

The Hybrid version of Honda’s popular Accord packs all the driving fun into a smaller carbon footprint. There’s 212 horsepower to play with, paired to a delightful chassis, but the eco-minded midsize sedan still returns 48 mpg in the combined cycle.

Though it packs scoot, the award-winning powertrain is lauded for the seamless and quiet way it delivers the power. The Accord Hybrid uses Honda’s third generation two-motor drive system, with a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle inline-4 engine paired to an electric propulsion motor. The conventional automatic clutch is done away with, allowing the engine to hit an impressive 40 percent thermal efficiency.

The Accord Hybrid comes standard with many active safety features like lane departure warning, road departure mitigation, and forward collision warning and mitigation. Standard driver’s assists include traffic sign recognition, lane keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control.

Toyota Avalon

2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

  • Starting MSRP: $35,550
  • Combined fuel economy: 44 mpg
  • Tailpipe CO2 per year: 3.3 tons

Toyota’s flagship Avalon Hybrid woos buyers with the spaciousness of a fullsize car combined with the fuel economy of a motorcycle. Driver and passengers alike will appreciate the sedan’s smooth ride and easy handling.

For 2019, Toyota bumped up Avalon Hybrid horsepower to 215. While that may neither sound nor feel like a lot, the luxe interior and ample amenities of the roomy five-seater make up for it. Even in base trim, there’s 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment, Apple CarPlay, Siri Eyes Free, eight-speaker audio, five USB ports, and Wi-Fi hotspotting.

The XSE model adds sporty features like suede and leatherette upholstery and a moonroof. The top Limited trim wants for nothing with heated and ventilated leather seats, 14-speaker JBL audio, and navigation.

And did we mention the 44 mpg? Even if the straight-line performance errs on the side of economy, the Avalon’s fuel budget is tiny. Buyers can opt for higher trim levels knowing there’s more in the budget to pay for it.

Kia Optima

2019 Kia Optima Hybrid

  • Starting MSRP: $28,090
  • Combined fuel economy: 41 mpg
  • Tailpipe CO2 per year: 3.6 tons

The Optima Hybrid maximizes value for dollar like no other Kia before it. In addition to offering generous standard features, advanced safety, and easy-to-use infotainment, the five-seat midsizer requires far less fuel than its conventional counterpart.

Only one trim level is offered for 2019, the EX. A 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat has been added, along with with two USB ports and dual-zone automatic climate control.

There’s a peppy 192 horsepower on tap, which pairs well with the Optima’s composed ride.

An advanced technology package bumps up the bottom line by $5,200, adding 630-watt Harman Kardon sound, a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, and advanced safety features like collision warning and avoidance assist, lane departure warning, and smart cruise control.

Toyota Camry

2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid

  • Starting MSRP: $28,150
  • Combined fuel economy: 52 mpg
  • Tailpipe CO2 per year: 2.8 tons

The Toyota Camry roars out of the gate with a lively 208 horsepower on tap yet still returns a model-thin 52 mpg in the combined cycle. Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, and Wi-Fi hot spotting have been added as standard features for 2019, making one of America’s favorite midsize sedans even easier to live with.

A redesign for 2018 breathed a bit of fun into Toyota’s perennially best-selling midsizer. Looks have a modern, edgy quality. Ride and handling have stepped up the comfort game, yet driving dynamics are crisper and more connected than before.

The Hybrid starts at LE trim, with powered and heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, and a well-equipped 7.0-inch infotainment system paired to six speakers.

Hyundai Ioniq

2019 Hyundai Ioniq

  • Starting MSRP: $22,400
  • Combined fuel economy: 58 mpg
  • Tailpipe CO2 per year: 2.5 tons

Hyundai’s iconic Ioniq comes in three forms: EV, plug-in hybrid, and hybrid. While we like all three, our druthers is for the straight hybrid with its slightly larger space that its siblings, 27 cubic feet compared to 23.

There is a system total of 139 horsepower on tap. While straight line acceleration might not be shocking, the stellar fuel economy is: a whopping EPA-estimated 58 mpg in the combined cycle.

Allaying fears of battery failure, Hyundai also offers an unrivalled lifetime battery guarantee on the Ioniq’s power stack.

There also a lifetime of infotainment on the inside. Even in the affordable base trim, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported via a 7.0-inch touchscreen. There are USB ports and iPod jacks galore, Sirius and HD radio.

Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid

2019 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid

  • Starting MSRP: $33,400
  • Combined fuel economy: 42 mpg
  • Electric economy: 110 MPGe*
  • Tailpipe CO2 per year: 0.9 tons

We like plug-in hybrids for their zero-emissions electric-only driving combined with the peace of mind of a conventional hybrid, sort of like a hybrid hybrid, as it were. The Honda Clarity comes in a plug-in hybrid flavor as well as EV and hydrogen fuel cell (California only).

On battery only, the Clarity will cruise 47 miles, more than enough for the average daily American drive. Recharging takes just 2.5 hours on 220V, and 12 on 110. The commute to and from work can easily be accomplished for most of us without the need for a drop of expensive fuel.

Running as a pure hybrid, the Clarity still delivers 42 mpg in the combined cycle, and an impressive 44 city.

Drivers give up nothing in comfort, either. On the inside, the Clarity has all the conveniences of any modern vehicle: eight-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation, smartphone integration, dual-zone climate control, and power heated leather seats.

* 47 mile EV mode driving range rating; 340 mile combined driving range rating; 44 city / 40 highway / 42 combined miles per gallon of gasoline equivalent (MPGe) gasoline only rating.