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Hybrid vehicles hardly existed a decade ago, but now they're a constant part of the car landscape--if not a large part of it just yet.
Now that there's a growing number of hybrid car nameplates, the used hybrid market is expanding, too. And that's making better gas mileage available to more buyers, though many are concerned, of course, with the added issues of battery life expectancy, along with the usual reliability concerns.
Then there are the classic used-car conundrums: is it safe? Is it a good deal? Is there a better one that's going up for sale next weekend?
We're here to help remove some of the angst from the used-hybrid buying process, with our guide to shopping for a recent-vintage gas-electric vehicle. We've sifted through some widely available data to arrive at a list of hybrids that we think have the best reputation for safety and reliability, as well as driving satisfaction.
We've arrived at this Best Used Hybrid 2013 list by looking at vehicles that must score:
- At least an 8.0 rating on The Car Connection's full reviews from three years ago--in this case, the 2011 model year
- At least four circles on J.D. Power's predicted-dependability rankings, or at least average reliability on Consumer Reports
- At least four stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
These fllters may have removed some of the vehicles you're looking at specifically when shopping for a used hybrid vehicle. That first hurdle eliminated some of the most popular hybrids on sale in 2011--namely, the Toyota Prius, which has been the best-selling hybrid for more than a decade, but consistently posts low scores for driving satisfaction.
In one case, we've also eliminated a hybrid edition of two vehicles that would have qualified otherwise. Both the Kia Optima Hybrid and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid were introduced for 2011, but in our road tests, we observed poor hybrid drivability. Improvements were made for the 2013 model year, but they're not included on this list as a result. They're linked above, so that you can read more about them and decide for yourselves.
When all the data was sorted, we came up with the vehicles listed below. And with such a wide range of prices between them, we've put the three most likely choices at the top, with a set of more exotically valued hybrids grouped after them. Our Best Used Hybrid 2013 winners are:
The 2011 Ford Fusion comes in a few finely developed flavors; Sport, Hybrid and base are a few of the best tastes.
Much of the appeal of the 2011 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h rests in the way they provide comfort and security to driver and passengers while sealing out the world. Read more »
The 2011 Lincoln MKZ has a foot in both luxury worlds, with buttery leather and wood for traditionalists, and hybrid power with flower petals for the high-minded greens.
The novelty of the four-door coupe/SUV is wearing off, but the X6's combination of utility and composed driving style still pleases.
The 2011 Cadillac Escalade delivers solid, luxurious, and spacious accommodations with an advanced feature set. If you can live with the thirst of non-Hybrid models, it's unbeatable.
The 2011 Lexus LS sedans deliver a luxury-liner ride and hushed interior, with some options that are unmatched by all but ultra-luxury brands, but they sorely lack driving involvement.
The new 2011 Porsche Cayenne is one of the few vehicles you can take off-road and out to the track on the same day; it's leaner and more athletic than before, without giving up the off-road ability. Read more »
The 2011 Volkswagen Touareg has dropped some of its ruggedness in favor of the comfort suburban families want—but it's still not quite a rival to luxury-brand utes.