Types of hybrid cars | Mild hybrid vs Full hybrid cars: benefits and comparison (2023)

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by Morgan Carter /



Understanding hybrid car tech and why it's beneficial

Read in this article:

  • What is a Hybrid Car?
  • How Do Hybrid Cars Work?
  • Benefits of Owning a Hybrid Car
  • Types of Hybrid Cars
  • Parallel and Series Hybrid Cars
  • Plug-in Hybrid Cars
  • Hybrid vs Mild Hybrid Cars
  • What Type of Hybrid is Best?
  • Popular Brands
  • PHEV
  • HEV
  • MHEV - 2021 models
  • FAQs

What is a Hybrid Car?

With more and more people looking for an eco-friendly means of commuting, the popularity of alternative-fuel vehicles has soared in the USA. With the automotive industry under pressure to electrify or hybridize its vehicles, this market has also become significantly more accessible. But, while these specialized vehicles are becoming more prominent, some people are still asking "What is a hybrid car? How does a hybrid car work? And what are the benefits of owning a hybrid car?"

The definition of a hybrid car is a vehicle that has more than one power source, both of which operate independently. This includes plug-in and regular hybrid vehicles but is not the same as vehicles that feature mild-hybrid assistance. There are a variety of cars that fall into the category of the best hybrids in the USA, ranging from hatchbacks and sedans through to SUVs and even sportscars.

Types of hybrid cars | Mild hybrid vs Full hybrid cars: benefits and comparison (1) CarBuzz

How Do Hybrid Cars Work?

When a conventional combustion engine is augmented with at least one electric motor to propel a vehicle, it is considered a hybrid. This system includes a battery pack, which stores energy generated by the car's regenerative brakes. Basically, the electric motors alleviate some of the strain on the gasoline engine, sometimes even doing all the work, which means less fuel needs to be consumed to properly the car.

Hybrid cars can be either plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, dubbed PHEV, or standard hybrid electric vehicles, also known as HEV cars, and while the PHEV variants have the option of plugging into an external charger, it's not a requirement of standard hybrids.

(Video) Hybrid vs. Electric vs. Plug-In Hybrid — What's the Difference? Which Is Best for You?

Benefits of Owning a Hybrid Car

There are several advantages to owning a hybrid vehicle and while a hybridized system may be complex, the vehicles they're used in are typically very modern and well-built, meaning disadvantages and problems are relatively few and far between;

The primary benefit is the improved fuel consumption, which means drivers can drive further for less. They may be a little more expensive to purchase in comparison to similar gasoline-only cars, but they prove to be more economical over time thanks to a lower running cost.

Because some propulsion comes from the electric motors, emissions from hybrids are lowered as well. This eco-friendly quality is a notable perk for many individuals and the automotive industry as a whole, considering the current policies around global warming.

The electric propulsion from the hybrid engine also delivers an upshot in torque over standard engines, benefitting acceleration responses from off-the-line and onwards. This advantage is exhibited mostly from fully-electric vehicles but the benefits can certainly be felt in hybrids, albeit to a lesser degree.

Further justifying their initially high cost is the possibility of reduced annual road tax charges - though this only applies within certain states - and the exemption of congestion charges.

Types of Hybrid Cars

There are various types of hybrid vehicles, with some differences in how these work:

Parallel and Series Hybrid Cars

In the standard configuration of gas engine with electric motors, parallel hybrids use a common transmission to manage power from either source. This is the most common setup, and is found in cars like the Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Volt. Series hybrids are slightly different: this type of hybrid car has electric power driving the wheels, while the engine functions to recharge the battery. These feel much like a pure EV, with powerful, smooth, and silent acceleration. The BMW i3 with the range extender is the best representation of a series hybrid.

Plug-in Hybrid Cars

Plug-Ins come equipped with a combustion engine, electric motor, and a hybrid system battery pack and can be either series or parallel hybrids. Usually, the electric motor assists with acceleration and maintains control at lower speeds. As the car increases in speed, the combustion engine will take over. In the case of the PHEV, the battery pack, which is typically larger than those in regular HEVs, can be charged via a charging station.

Types of hybrid cars | Mild hybrid vs Full hybrid cars: benefits and comparison (2) Hyundai

(Video) HYBRID or ELECTRIC? What Car Is Better Long Term?

Hybrid vs Mild Hybrid Cars

Like a full hybrid, mild hybrid cars are equipped with a gas engine aided by an electrical motor setup. In the full hybrid cars, the greatest benefits come in the form of improved performance and fuel economy whereas mild hybrid vehicles show only slightly improved fuel efficiency over standard gasoline power.

The difference between mild hybrid cars vs full hybrid cars is that the former make use of electric motors to support the engine during acceleration and when cruising, while the latter allows you to utilize electric power on its own. Full hybrids offer a few more benefits, including more savings on fuel consumption, and they can travel some distances on electrical power alone, depending on specification and technology used. They are, however, usually a lot more expensive. Mild-hybrid electric vehicles, abbreviated as MHEV vehicles, have made a comeback recently with the 48-volt systems already standard in some Mercedes and Audi sedans.

What Type of Hybrid is Best?

Choosing a hybrid vehicle will really come down to what you can afford and your everyday driving habits. In terms of the latter, a full hybrid will be ideal for city driving where the system will deliver the best performance in terms of power and efficiency. A PHEV is certainly better for having a longer all-electric driving range, and will be beneficial for those who can charge frequently. The USA's charging network is growing extensively, and automakers are beginning to electrify most of their vehicles, and many are looking to transition all of their regular gas-powered vehicles into hybrids in one form or another.

The Kia Sorento Hybrid is a good example, as an SUV that seamlessly combines the advantages of hybridization without any compromise in performance, boasting class-leading driver and passenger comfort and convenience, livability, and general practicality. If you'd prefer something other than an AWD SUV or something that offers more luxury, browse through the CarBuzz review section to find the best options. Other names that make our 'best of' list include the popular Toyota RAV4, the Volvo S60 sedan, and the Hyundai Ioniq.

Popular Brands

With the advancement of hybrid technology, many automakers are now producing hybridized vehicles for every segment. Accessibility is high and just about anybody can get their hands on one these days. Here are just some of the most popular nameplates for sale in the US right now:


  • Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid
  • Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid
  • Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid


  • Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
  • Lexus ES Hybrid
  • Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

MHEV - 2021 models

  • Audi A8
  • BMW M440i
  • Mercedes-AMG E53
  • Ram 1500

Types of hybrid cars | Mild hybrid vs Full hybrid cars: benefits and comparison (3) Volvo

(Video) Hybrid VS Plug In Hybrid | Which One Is Really Better To Buy?


Do hybrid vehicles earn good quality and reliability ratings?

Because there has been a lot of innovation in and around this technology, most of the newer vehicles prove to be highly reliable and are even offered with extensive warranties on hybrid components.

Which is more affordable, full or mild hybrid?

This will really depend on the brand and type of vehicle but, typically, a full hybrid will be more expensive than a mild-hybrid version. However, lifetime costs might be lower, especially when you factor in tax rebates, other incentives, and lower fuel consumption over time.

What’s recommended, a new hybrid car or used models?

Because hybrid vehicles are extensively covered by warranty, it wouldn't be a bad idea to opt for a used model that is around three or four years old. Remember to check the service and maintenance history and buy from a reputable dealer.

Are there many mild hybrid cars available in 2020?

Yes, and automakers are producing even more as we move beyond 2020. In time, it's likely that there will be no purely gasoline-run vehicles available.

Tags: #Ford News #Lexus News #Mercedes-Benz News #BMW News #Essential Car Knowledge

Types of hybrid cars | Mild hybrid vs Full hybrid cars: benefits and comparison (4)

Morgan Carter

Associate Editor

Morgan has always had a love for the written word, which is why he obtained an Honours Degree in English Language Studies. Having spent several years as an editor for a variety of trade magazines, he decided he wanted to try something a bit more exciting and hands-on. This led him to CarBuzz, where he has been writing and editing reviews and blog posts since 2018. A level-headed academic, Morgan enjoys reading about the latest tech in the automotive industry, even though he drives an economical hatchback.

Contact Morgan

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(Video) The REAL Reason Why You Should NOT Buy A Hybrid Car..

Types of hybrid cars | Mild hybrid vs Full hybrid cars: benefits and comparison (11)


What is the difference between hybrid and full hybrid? ›

While a full hybrid can drive on battery power alone and operate in fuel efficient, zero emissions mode up to 62% of the time on average (due to its powerful battery), a mild hybrid cannot drive on pure battery alone and therefore delivers considerably fewer benefits than a full hybrid.

Which is better full hybrid or plug-in hybrid? ›

a full hybrid. A plug-in hybrid may be able to get a little charge through regenerative braking. But since a plug-in car has a larger battery that it relies on more, it needs to be connected to an external power source to fully recharge. Full hybrids can recharge their electric batteries through regenerative braking.

What are the 3 types of hybrid cars? ›

There are three main types of hybrid vehicle; full hybrids, mild hybrids and plug-in hybrids. A full hybrid (FHEV) can run on just the combustion engine (i.e. diesel/petrol), the electric engine (i.e. power from batteries), or a combination.

Are full hybrids worth it? ›

Is a hybrid car worth it? If you want the flexibility that a combustion engine AND electric motor offers, then yes - to put it simply. The reality is that reliability and performance will vary between makes and models and how they suit you is down to, well, you!

Which type of hybrid car is best? ›

Best Hybrid Cars For 2022
  • Hyundai Ioniq Starts at $24,695, EPA-Rated 58 MPG Combined.
  • Toyota Prius Starts at $26,170, EPA-Rated at 56 MPG Combined.
  • Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Starts at $25,445, EPA-Rated at 54 mpg Combined.
  • Honda Insight Starts at $25,760 EPA-Rated 52 MPG Combined.
1 Nov 2022

What are the disadvantages of a plug-in hybrid car? ›

The main downside of owning a PHEV is that it's likely to have poorer fuel economy than a conventionally-powered alternative when it's driven using the engine rather than the electric motor. This is because you're lugging around the additional weight of its electric battery pack.

How long does a hybrid battery last? ›

Most hybrid batteries should take drivers about 100,000 miles. With excellent maintenance, some owners are able to push this number to 200,000. Warranties typically extend to about the 100,000-mile mark, so manufacturers do expect this to be the upper limit on battery life.

What is the most reliable hybrid? ›

So, we took a look at the data on the various hybrids seen on the market to make this list of the 10 most reliable hybrid models to buy.
10 most reliable hybrid cars
  1. Lexus NX. Source: Kārlis Dambrāns / Flickr.
  2. Toyota RAV4. ...
  3. Toyota Yaris. ...
  4. Kia Niro. ...
  5. Toyota Camry. ...
  6. Honda CR-V. ...
  7. Toyota Prius. ...
  8. Toyota Corolla. ...
19 Jul 2022

What are the different levels of hybrid vehicles? ›

There are three major types of hybrid vehicles available: mild hybrid, full hybrid, and plug-in hybrid.

Can hybrids run on electric only? ›

Plug-in hybrid electric cars offer both gas-only and electric-only driving—even at relatively high speeds. With smaller batteries than battery-electrics, plug-in hybrids achieve an electric-only range of 20‒55 miles, during which they produce no tailpipe emissions.

What is the most common type of hybrid? ›

Parallel hybrids—the most common HEV design—connect the engine and the electric motor to the wheels through mechanical coupling. Both the electric motor and the internal combustion engine drive the wheels directly.

What is the most common type of hybrid car? ›

Parallel hybrid cars

These are the most common type of hybrid, and the Toyota Prius is the most widely known example. The car's wheels can be powered in three different ways: directly by the engine, by the electric motor alone, or by both power sources working together.

What is the biggest problem with hybrid cars? ›

Disadvantages of hybrid cars

Less power: Hybrids combine both an electric motor and a gasoline engine, with their gasoline engine primarily operated as the power source. Therefore, neither the gasoline engine nor the electric motor works as strongly as they do in conventional gasoline or electric cars.

Is it worth buying a hybrid car in 2022? ›

One of the biggest advantages of a hybrid vehicle is its improved fuel efficiency. Hybrids are extremely efficient and use up to 30% less fuel per mile than traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. This means you'll save a lot of money on fuel costs due to unrequired diesel or petrol.

What hybrid will last the longest? ›

10 of the Longest-Lasting Hybrid Cars
  • 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid. ...
  • 2022 Honda Insight. ...
  • 2021 Lexus ES Hybrid. ...
  • 2021 Toyota Avalon Hybrid. ...
  • 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. ...
  • 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid. ...
  • 2021 Honda Clarity Hybrid. ...
  • 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid. The 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid has an excellent predicted reliability rating.

Which hybrid car is most fuel efficient? ›

Most economical hybrid cars of 2022
  1. Toyota Yaris Hybrid (69mpg) 7/10. carwow price from. ...
  2. Toyota Yaris Cross (65mpg) 7/10. carwow price from. ...
  3. Honda Jazz (63mpg) 8/10. carwow price from. ...
  4. Hyundai Ioniq (63mpg) 6/10. ...
  5. Toyota Corolla (62.7mpg) 8/10. ...
  6. Hyundai Kona Hybrid (58mpg) 6/10. ...
  7. Lexus UX (53mpg) 7/10. ...
  8. Lexus ES (53mpg) 6/10.

How much does it cost to replace a battery in a hybrid? ›

How much does a hybrid battery cost? Generally, a hybrid battery replacement cost can range from $2,000 to $8,000. The price can ultimately vary depending on the %%di_make%% model or even the service center.

Are hybrid cars good for long distance driving? ›

Your hybrid can certainly handle long distance trips efficiently. However, there are some things to keep in mind. A hybrid operates more efficiently when kept under 50 miles per hour. So, city driving is a more efficient way to travel.

Why do people avoid hybrid cars? ›

Poorer fuel efficiency and handling

Hybrids and PHEVs are packing two drivetrains into the one car, which means more weight, which can negatively affect fuel efficiency and handling, as well as the aforementioned need to compromise by downsizing both the battery and ICE.

What happens when hybrid battery dies? ›

If A Hybrid Battery Dies, Can You Still Drive The Car? Unfortunately, no. If your hybrid battery dies, you cannot drive the car anymore. You would have to replace the battery in order to keep driving the vehicle, even if it's a hybrid and it still has gasoline.

Do hybrids save a lot of money? ›

Although most hybrid vehicles cost more to buy up front than their gas-only counterparts, our analysis shows that many hybrids will save you more money in the first three years of ownership, even if gas prices continue to drop.

What happens if you never charge plug-in hybrid? ›

Do Plug-In Hybrids Need to Be Plugged In? No. Plug-in hybrids can be charged to run on mostly electric power usually for the first 25 to 50 miles before they revert to regular hybrid operation, but they will still operate even if they are never plugged in.

Do hybrid cars give problems? ›

One of the typical hybrid car issues is problems with the evaporative emissions system. Usually, problems occur in the form of system failure or leaks. If valves or lines fail, you have to replace the system, but scheduling regular hybrid car maintenance can prevent this issue.

What are 3 advantages of a hybrid car? ›

Right here is a list of the best benefits of a hybrid-electric car. Superior combined mpg than gas automobiles. No harmful gas release and environment-friendly. Selection of power settings, varying from eco to power for maximum performance.

How far can a hybrid go on a full charge? ›

Hybrids can typically run for about 50-60 miles purely in electric mode (single charge), after which they can cover an average of 250-300 miles. However, other factors like your vehicle mileage and weather conditions can affect how far your electric car can go in one charge.

How long can a hybrid car sit without charging? ›

The consensus is that leaving a hybrid with nickel-metal-hydride batteries such as yours stored for three months should be okay, but four-five months might be pressing it a bit. With the car shut off, there is no parasitic drain on the main battery so it will retain a charge for a long time.

Do you have to charge a hybrid every day? ›

They are known as 'Hybrid-electric' vehicles because they incorporate two energy sources: a petrol engine and electric motor. This means that unlike pure electric vehicles you don't have to plug them in to recharge their batteries.

Which hybrid is better Toyota or Honda? ›

Toyota is clearly the winner when it comes to variety, and its hybrid models are generally more affordable. However, even the most powerful Toyota hybrids have subpar handling compared to similar Honda cars. Every Honda hybrid is a little less efficient than its Toyota counterpart.

How often do you change a hybrid battery? ›

Hybrid car battery replacement should be performed every 150,000 miles or 15 years (whichever comes first). Bear in mind that this is not a guarantee, but an average figure for how often hybrid battery replacement should be performed.

How long do Toyota hybrids last? ›

Hybrid batteries are designed to last the life of the vehicle. Backed by an 8 year, 100,000 mile warranty, hybrid taxi's have gone well over 250,000 miles on the original battery. The fact of the matter is 99% of the hybrid vehicles we have sold since 2001 have never had their original battery replaced.

What does 2 mode hybrid mean? ›

A two-mode is a hybrid vehicle that can operate in two distinct ways (modes). The first mode works much like a regular full hybrid. It is the second mode that makes the difference—where the hybrid system can adjust varying amounts of engine and motor function to meet very specific vehicle/task/traffic requirements.

What is strong hybrid car? ›

Full hybrid, sometimes also called a strong hybrid, is a vehicle that can run only on a combustion engine, only on an electric motor, or a combination of both.

What is a 2 mode hybrid? ›

The Dual-Mode or Two-Mode hybrid system is an infinitely variable speed hybrid transmission that works with the engine and battery system and automatically chooses to operate in a parallel or series hybrid path to maximize efficiency and minimize emissions, fuel consumption and noise.

What happens if a hybrid runs out of gas? ›

Here's What Happens When a Hybrid Vehicle Runs Out of Gas

You can forget about the possibility of simply driving very slowly in an attempt to reach a gas station; the engine will completely shut off. These models are built this way because without gas, the large propulsion battery could sustain damage.

How far can a hybrid go without gas? ›

The majority will run on electricity for 50 or so miles before the car switches to gasoline. Hybrids can run for a good 300 or so miles on gasoline alone, which is music to the ears of long-distance drivers.

Can you drive a hybrid without charging? ›

You can definitely drive your plug-in hybrid without a charged battery. Although it is designed as a combustion-assisted electric vehicle, the battery always has some energy stored away thanks to its self-charging technology.

How does a full hybrid car work? ›

Hybrid electric vehicles are powered by an internal combustion engine and one or more electric motors, which uses energy stored in batteries. A hybrid electric vehicle cannot be plugged in to charge the battery. Instead, the battery is charged through regenerative braking and by the internal combustion engine.

What is the difference between a self charging hybrid and a hybrid car? ›

A Full Hybrid (FHEV) or Self Charging Hybrid can run on just the combustion engine, just the electric motor (i.e. power from batteries), or a combination of the two.. A Self Charging Hybrid is not plugged in to recharge; the battery is recharged by running the combustion engine and by regenerative braking.

Are all hybrid cars the same? ›

While hybrid cars are all made on the same concept of combining gas and electricity, they can differ in how they work. There are full, mild, and plug-in hybrids: Full hybrids can run on one or both of their motors (gas and electric) simultaneously, with the electric motor or battery recharging via the gas engine.

What is the difference between full hybrid and mild hybrid? ›

Like full hybrids, mild hybrids use an electric motor alongside a combustion engine. But unlike full hybrids, they can't run on electric power alone. Instead, their small electric motor is attached directly to an engine or transmission, which gives the car a boost when accelerating.

Why Toyota hybrids are better? ›

Toyota hybrids don't use conventional starter motors. Instead, the engine is started by Toyota's motor-generator. This item has proven extremely reliable in use over many years of service.

What is the number one selling hybrid? ›

The Toyota Prius is the top selling hybrid car in the U.S., with more than 1.6 million units sold since 2000 thru April 2016.

What is a full hybrid? ›

What is a full hybrid car? Also known as a parallel hybrid, full hybrids use both a combustion engine and an electric motor to drive, either at the same time or independently. Although they're the most common type of hybrid vehicle, their battery size means they only hold small amounts of electric charge.

Do you plug-in a full hybrid car? ›

Full hybrid cars are capable of travelling (really) short distances on electric power only. Again, you simply fuel and go like any other regular vehicle, with the hybrid system cutting the engine in and out automatically as required, reducing fuel consumption where possible and providing more power when required.

What is full hybrid and plug-in hybrid? ›

A plug-in hybrid operates much in the same way as a full hybrid, but the main difference is that they have much larger battery packs and more powerful electric motors that make them more efficient. The only difference is that you'll need to plug them in to get the best electric range out of them.

How does a full hybrid work? ›

Hybrid electric vehicles are powered by an internal combustion engine and one or more electric motors, which uses energy stored in batteries. A hybrid electric vehicle cannot be plugged in to charge the battery. Instead, the battery is charged through regenerative braking and by the internal combustion engine.

What are the disadvantages of a hybrid? ›

Disadvantages of hybrid cars
  • Less power: Hybrids combine both an electric motor and a gasoline engine, with their gasoline engine primarily operated as the power source. ...
  • Pricey to buy: The initial cost of hybrids is more expensive than conventional vehicles' in most cases.

What is Toyota full hybrid? ›

In a full or self-charging Toyota Hybrid, you can enjoy pure electric power for up to 50% of your city journeys and when cruising at speeds up to 50 km/h. At higher speeds or when overtaking on the highway, the petrol engine and electric motors work together to give you a strong boost of power.

Can hybrids run on only electricity? ›

Plug-in hybrid electric cars offer both gas-only and electric-only driving—even at relatively high speeds. With smaller batteries than battery-electrics, plug-in hybrids achieve an electric-only range of 20‒55 miles, during which they produce no tailpipe emissions.

How long do hybrid batteries last? ›

Most hybrid vehicle manufacturers say that, on average, a hybrid battery pack will last from 80,000 to 100,000 miles.

Which is better PHEV or MHEV? ›

What's the difference between PHEV and MHEV? A plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) has a smaller fuel engine and can be powered exclusively by a large battery pack. A mild hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV) blends a traditional fuel engine and electric power.

Do you have to plug-in a hybrid every night? ›

The short answer to the question is no. In general, you should not charge your electric car every night. It isn't necessary in most cases. The practice of charging an electric vehicle every night can shorten the lifespan of the car's battery pack.


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