With the heavy electrification process in the auto industry all but set to commence from 2020 and beyond, hybrid cars find themselves in sort of a no man’s land. They’re neither conventional internal combustion vehicles nor fully fledged EV’s which might make them an increasingly tough sell with each passing year from now on.
Before they’re forced to start fighting for survival, however, hybrids should enjoy a few more successful years. The best 2020 hybrid cars we’re about to present are a testament to that statement.
Since we’ve already covered the best hybrid SUVs and crossovers of MY 2020 in a separate article, we’ll focus exclusively on more conventional body styles here. Also, we’ll exclude every single fully electric vehicle from consideration since these too have been covered separately already. The best hybrid cars of 2020 are just below if you’re looking to snag one up in near future.
07. 2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid
Regardless of what their competitors do in the hybrid cars field, the largest Japanese automaker often seems to be unaffected. Thanks to the Toyota Prius first and foremost, the Japanese have earned themselves quite a reputation as an automaker that specializes in affordable and reliable hybrids.
The best-selling mid-sized sedan in the U.S. is no different in that regard. The eighth-generation Toyota Camry made its debut during MY 2018 which means it’s still rather fresh for a mid-cycle overhaul. It won’t be come MY 2020’s time, however, and that’s when we can expect some minor revisions to both the Camry’s exterior and interior.
The hybrid models follow suit and continue to offer the same package for $4,000 to $5,000 more than their comparable internal combustion siblings. Of course, they’re limited to a single powertrain that emphasizes on fuel savings instead of performance – if either of the two Camry engines can be considered performance-oriented, that is.
Speaking of which, every single Toyota Camry hybrid is offered with a 2.5L inline-four engine working on Atkinson cycle. Good enough for 176, hp, the 4-cylinder gets help from a 118-hp electric motor in order to deliver a net hybrid output that amounts to 208 horsepower.
Although not particularly punchy, the Camry hybrid’s powertrain compensates with more than respectable fuel economy ratings from the EPA. The entry-level LE models which come with a lithium-ion battery are good enough for up to 52 mpg combined, while the more upscale SE and XLE models return only 46 miles to the gallon due to their nickel-metal hydride units.
A choice between a better fuel economy, and a more advanced and refined cabin, has to be considered one of Camry hybrid’s major downsides the way things stand right now. It’s also worth noting that the Camry is finally migrating to Europe after the Japanese decided to retire the Avensis which, until now, served as their mid-size representative across the Atlantic.
06. 2020 Honda Accord Hybrid
The Accord might trail the Camry in terms of overall sales in the U.S., but it’s on par in almost every other segment. In fact, the all-new tenth-generation Accord that debuted during MY 2018 is one of the best options money can buy when it comes to family sedans. The hybrid models started off at the same time as their conventional siblings which is another plus.
Although the Japanese are desperate to find a way to boost the Accord’s sales which fell from almost 390,000 units per year back in 2014 to a little over 291,000 units in 2018, the Accord carries over unchanged into MY 2020. The same goes for both the conventional lineup and hybrids.
The latest Accord hybrids don’t only offer extremely good fuel economy, but very impressive driving dynamics and ample of room at the back. They’re also highly tech-savvy and come with some of the most advanced tech goodies provided you’re prepared to cash in more than $25,000 which is the entry-level model’s starting sticker.
The Honda Accord hybrid’s powertrain is similar to that of its arch rival from Toyota. The Accord uses a smaller displacement 2.0L 4-cylinder engine which still manages to generate more net horsepower thanks to a more powerful electric motor. The total figure amounts to 212 horsepower which is by 4 ponies more than that of the Camry.
At the same time, the Accord hybrid returns up to 47 miles to the gallon regardless of where you drive it which is on-par with the $5,000 more expensive mid-grade Camry hybrid. However, the entry-level Camry hybrid still beats it by 5 mpg combined, but also warrants a $3,000 premium compared to the base Accord. Regardless of where your preferences lie, the aforementioned Toyota Camry and Honda Accord are some of the best 2020 hybrid cars money can buy.
05. 2020 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid
The ninth-generation Malibu was last updated for model year 2019 which means the 2020 Chevrolet Malibu have carried over basically unchanged. MY 2020 did bring two new color options (Stone Gray and Black Cherry) but at a cost of other three paint schemes available in 2019 (Iridescent Pearl, Pacific Blue, or Sandy Ridge). Considering the ninth-gen Malibu made its debut back in late 2015, the 2020 will either be its penultimate or ultimate year before an imminent complete overhaul. In America’s favorite pastime speak, 2020 will basically be the bottom of the ninth for the mid-size Chevy.
The hybrid models, which first appeared during the ninth-gen run, are highly competitive in their segment which is a pleasant surprise to be honest. In fact, the latest-gen Malibu is one of the better family sedans out there regardless of its powertrain. Good-looking, sophisticated, tech-savvy, and a class leader in rear seat passenger and cargo space – those are only some of Malibu’s credentials.
On top of this, the Malibu hybrid easily manages to deliver in the fuel efficiency game as well. Rated at 46 mpg combined, it’s on par with the rest of the pack leaders.
The Chevrolet Malibu hybrid uses a 1.8L 4-cylinder engine which, together with a 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, generates 182 horsepower combined. Chevy’s mid-size hybrid sedan might be slightly underpowered compared to most of its competitors, but it’s still capable of hitting 55 mph on electric power alone.
Unlike most of its competitors, the Malibu hybrid doesn’t support the full EV mode which means you can’t simply switch the electric drive on and off. Also, with prices starting from around $29,000, the Malibu hybrid is one of the more expensive options on the market. You do get a lot of tech for that money, though, and a refined cabin to boot.
It might not be the obvious choice when it comes to fuel-saving cars, but the Malibu hybrid actually ticks off all the necessary boxes in that regard. There’s one potentially major issue for all prospective Malibu hybrid buyers, however. The hybrid has been axed for MY 2020 and everything that’s left is a leftover stock from 2019. In other words, you’d better be quick if this particular model piques your interest.
04. 2020 Kia Optima Hybrid
The South Korean interpretation of a family hybrid sedan comes in two different versions – a conventional hybrid and a plug-in variant. The fourth-gen Kia Optima dates back to 2015 which makes it one of the older offerings out there. The 2020 Kia Optima doesn’t, however, bring any substantial changes since the 2019-year model has already done so. 2020 Optima hybrid models do get standard pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keeping assist even in base trims which wasn’t the case in 2019.
In spite of its aging underpinnings, the Optima hybrid is still more than capable of competing with the best of them. Especially the plug-in version which boasts very good fuel economy ratings. Although the plug-in’s 40 mpg combined fall short compared to most competitors, a fully charged battery allows up to 29 miles of range on electricity alone and boosts the overall figure to 103 MPGe. The conventional hybrid makes only 41 mpg combined, but offers more space in the trunk for cargo.
Starting prices of $28,000 and $35,000 are neither the most affordable nor the most expensive ones on the market.
Both the conventional and plug-in Optima hybrids draw power from the same 2.0L 4-cylinder engine and electric motor unit. The difference between the two is, naturally, the capacity of their respective battery packs. The former gets a smaller 1.62 kWh lithium-polymer unit, whereas the latter benefits from a larger 9.8 kWh unit. In total, the Optima hybrid generates 192 horsepower, whereas its plug-in counterpart makes 202 ponies.
Neither one is particularly sporty, but then again what family hybrid car is? Like it is the case with the Malibu, the Kia Optima hybrid doesn’t allow for a locked-in EV mode. Put a foot on the throttle and the internal combustion unit will kick in immediately. Still, when all of their pros and cons are taken into account, the Kia Optima hybrids are some of the best 2020 hybrid cars we’ll be able to buy.
03. 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
The redesigned eighth-generation Hyundai Sonata has finally arrived as a 2020-year model. Unlike it was the case with previous generation, however, hybrid models will be introduced at a later date.
The new car draws inspiration from the sublime Le Fil Rouge concept car, but no one expected it to be its exact carbon copy. Instead, the Koreans have subdued the final design in order to match the company’s hallmark design language, but the end-product is nonetheless striking. All new for the Sonata hybrid is a solar panel roof which helps with charging the battery. According to the Korean company, it could potentially recharge 60 percent of the battery in 6 hours of use, and add another 800 free and green miles a year on average.
The outgoing Sonata hybrids were far from being leaders in fuel efficiency. With 42 mpg combined at best, they fell short of Toyota’s class-leading models by quite a margin. However, the Sonata hybrid compensated with a long list of standard tech features. Furthermore, the company states it also boasted a class-leading passenger space.
The outgoing Hyundai Sonata hybrid could have been had in both the conventional and plug-in forms. Actually, the Sonata and the above mentioned Kia Optima are almost identical in terms of specs and performance. They share the same 2.0L inline-four engine and battery packs, but both the hybrid and plug-in hybrid Sonata used the same electric motor for a total output of 192 horsepower. You’ll remember that the Optima plug-in boasts 10 ponies more than its conventional sibling.
The remainder of the setup consisting of a 6-speed auto and front-wheel drive remains the same as well. The new 2020 Hyundai Sonata hybrid has retained the previous generation’s powertrain but now returns up to 47 mpg combined translated from official overseas figures. The EPA still hasn’t tested it, however.
02. 2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
Of all the available upcoming 2020 hybrid cars, the best of them might just be a minivan. Chrysler is no stranger to marketing high quality and practical people and cargo haulers. After all, they started the minivan revolution back in mid eighties. These days, however, minivans’ duties have largely been taken over by crossovers, so in order to save the day, the FCA went the hybrid way.
The Chrysler Pacifica hybrid wouldn’t have succeeded by relying on fuel economy alone, though. The Pacifica instead offers a comfortable ride, a highly refined interior for a family vehicle, and tons of advanced tech features that make ride easier to all occupants on top of being economical with gasoline. Or should I say gasoline and electricity since the Pacifica hybrid is effectively a plug-in vehicle.
The 2020-year models don’t bring any substantial changes apart from offering a new tri-pane panoramic sunroof. Although every Pacifica hybrid is subject to a $7,500 federal tax credit, starting stickers that range from $40,000 to $45,000 before extras don’t exactly allow for enough room to navigate.
The Chrysler Pacifica hybrid pairs the conventional models’ 3.6L Pentastar V6 mill with two electric motors (one with 84 hp and another with 114 hp) and a 16 kWh lithium-ion battery pack for a combined power output reaching 260 horsepower. It’s good enough for up to 33 miles of all-electric range and returns up to 84 MPGe according to the EPA.
Due to its battery pack, the Pacifica hybrid has enough seating for up to seven passengers which is one spot less than what the conventional models offer. It’s cargo space isn’t limited by the plug-in restrictions, however, and although the Pacifica isn’t a class leader in its segment, 140.5 cubic feet of space behind the front seats is more than respectable. This is possible due to revolutionary Stow-n-Go seats which provide unparalleled flexibility to their owners.
Let’s wait and see what the future has in store for one of the best minivans and hybrid vehicles the market has to offer at the moment.
01. 2020 Lexus ES 300h
Toyota has established itself as a market leader for economy hybrid cars, but its luxury division doesn’t trail behind either. The fully redesigned seventh-generation Lexus ES is a testament to that statement.
The all-new ES was introduced for MY 2019 which means the 2020 Lexus ES carries over without any significant changes. New models are stylish and elegant, which was always to be expected from them, but they also offer great practicality for the price and, finally, the Apple CarPlay integration. Speaking of prices, the base Lexus 300h starts from just over $41,000, while the Ultra Luxury trim levels cost around $45,000.
Needless to say, optional upgrades can push these prices higher up. The ES 300h hybrid is, however, only some $2,000 more expensive than its comparable internal combustion counterpart. However, since conventional hybrids don’t qualify for tax credits due to insufficient sizes of their battery packs, this is the least you’ll end up paying for one, before the mandatory destination fee and dealer markups.
The all-new Lexus ES 300h sports a 2.5L inline-four engine working on Atkinson cycle as its centerpiece. Coupled with an electric motor and a small nickel-metal hydride battery pack, it provides up to 215 combined horsepower. In other words, the ES hybrid is just a tad bit more powerful than a Camry.
It’s also less efficient since the Japanese company states it’s good for up to 44 mpg combined. However, luxury cars have the luxury not to worry about such trifle matters as fuel economy. The fact the ES 300h actually comes close to the class leaders is commendable to say the least.
So, it’s thrifty, plushy, tech-savvy, and pleasant to the eye. What else is there for an entry-level luxury hybrid sedan? It might not be the best of them, but the new Lexus ES 300h will certainly work its way towards one of the spots on the best 2020 hybrid cars lists.