Used Cars: The Most Satisfying 5-Year-Old Hybrids

These reliable vehicles, with outstanding fuel economy and advanced safety systems, have satisfied owners for years

By Benjamin Preston

Hybrids have long served as a more fuel-efficient alternative to conventional gasoline cars, which means there are probably plenty of them on the market now as used cars. Their most attractive feature is outstanding fuel economy, but there are other facets to like as well, among them trouble-free ownership and the versatility that comes from not having to plug in.

Consumer Reports recommends getting the most fuel-efficient vehicle possible. As recent gas prices show, there are fluctuations in what you have to pay at the pump. These spikes make hybrids and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) attractive. And the smarter investment is buying a used hybrid.

Hybrids use an electric drive that augments the gas engine. They can glide on electric power at low speeds, and they typically yield strong fuel economy. Unlike plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, hybrids don’t need to be charged, so there’s no need to change your routine. The large hybrid battery gets charged by the gasoline engine as well as regeneration from coasting and braking.

To help guide members in their selection, we focused on models that earn a CR recommendation for their test performance, reliability, and safety, then we took a closer look at the Owner Satisfaction data collected from member surveys.

We combed through our data to find the 2017 models most people said they would buy again, models in the small, midsized, and large sedan categories. We picked those known for strong reliability and fuel economy, vehicles that are the most likely to provide years of relatively trouble-free service.

All of these models carry our Green Choice designation, which highlights the vehicles with the cleanest emissions. And because they aren’t that old, some of them come standard with active safety features like forward collision warning (FCW) and automatic emergency braking (AEB)—features that have since become standard on most new cars.

If you’re a Consumer Reports member, the list below is available to you. CR members also have full access to the results of our Annual Auto Surveys; first-drive reviews of the newest cars, SUVs, and trucks; our full road-test results; and exclusive ratings for each vehicle we buy and test.

If you’re not a CR member, click below to become one to access the list and all our exclusive ratings and reviews for each vehicle we buy and test. Joining also gives you full access to exclusive ratings for the other products our experts evaluate in several categories, including electronics and home appliances.

2017 Toyota Prius

The Prius has a lot going for it: generous interior room, hatchback versatility, and a reasonable price, among other factors. But its most remarkable feature is its outstanding fuel economy. Among its other attributes, the 2017 model has a relatively quiet interior and comes standard with a number of active safety features, including FCW, AEB, lane departure warning (LDW) with lane keeping assistance (LKA), and adaptive cruise control (ACC).

2017 Toyota Avalon

With its spacious interior, comfortable ride, and good reliability, the Avalon is a practical cruiser that can—if properly equipped—skirt luxury car territory. The hybrid version is a gas sipper that still offers strong acceleration. Starting with the 2017 model year, all trim levels come standard with a suite of active safety features that includes FCW and AEB.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime

Looking for all the benefits of a Prius but with the ability to drive farther on electric power alone? Look no further than the Prius Prime, the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of Toyota’s popular hybrid. It can drive 25 miles in EV mode as long as you have a light foot and are on flat terrain. It takes 5 hours to fully charge on a portable 120-volt charger. Like the conventional Prius, the PHEV model comes standard with FCW, AEB, LDW with LKA, and ACC.

2017 Toyota Prius V

The Prius V is essentially a Prius wagon. It has a roomier rear seat and a larger, 32-cubic-foot cargo area behind the rear seats. All in all, it’s an ideal blend of versatility, fuel economy, and reliability. A precollision system that slows the vehicle is available on top trims.

2017 Ford C-MAX

The C-Max boasts strong fuel economy, a quiet interior, a luxurious ride, and engaging handling. The hatchback layout is based on the Ford Focus, and it features a fairly roomy, easy-to-access interior contained within a small footprint. There are no active safety features available on the C-Max.

2017 Toyota Camry

There’s a reason the Camry always sells well, even amid the decline of sedan popularity: It’s roomy, quiet, comfortable, and reliable. And the hybrid option offers outstanding fuel efficiency for a car of its size. Forward collision warning and AEB are optional features on the 2017 model.

2017 Toyota Highlander

The Highlander is a practical three-row SUV with a manageable footprint and civilized road manners. It’s reliable and has a spacious interior and simple controls, and the hybrid version gets great gas mileage. It also comes standard with active safety features including FCW and AEB.

2017 Honda Accord

A top seller among sedans, the Accord is practical and easy to live with. That’s because it’s comfortable, reliable, fuel-efficient, and even a little bit sporty. The hybrid version gets good gas mileage and comes standard with FCW and AEB.

2017 Toyota RAV4

The RAV4 is popular among small SUVs because of its spacious interior, smooth ride, and wagonlike utility. It’s also among the most reliable SUVs on the market, and the hybrid version gets better fuel economy than other similar models. Standard active safety and driver assistance features include FCW, AEB, LDW with LKA, and ACC.

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