While much of the attention on green vehicles has been focused on electric vehicles, hybrid cars, which have been around a lot longer, continue to increase their share of the American car market. In fact, sales of hybrids reached record levels in 2021, proving that huge numbers of Americans want to do their part to reduce their carbon footprint and save on expensive fuel. Hybrid sales in the U.S. were up by 76 percent compared to 2020 and totaled over 800,000 units.
Four of the five best-selling hybrid car models in the U.S. in 2021 were made and sold by Toyota, the leader in hybrid vehicles with 13 models currently available nationwide. What may come as a surprise is that the well-known Prius, one of the original hybrids, was not the top seller. In fact, like the rest of the car market, SUVs dominate the list.
Looking past the top five, Honda and Ford are the other dominant players in the hybrid market. Ford’s Escape Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid occupy the #6 and #7 spots, respectively; the Honda Accord and Insight Hybrids are #8 and #10; Toyota also occupies the #9 spot with the Corolla Hybrid.
Here are the top-selling hybrid vehicles in the U.S.
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
With light trucks accounting for over 70 percent of the new-car market in North America, it should come as no surprise that the best-selling hybrid vehicle in the U.S. is an SUV. Given Toyota’s leadership in hybrids, the RAV4 Hybrid expectedly tops the sales charts. The latest-generation RAV4 boasts an appealing, outdoorsy exterior styling and a spacious, practical interior perfect for growing families. It is well-priced, with a starting MSRP of under $30,000, and the EPA estimates over 40 mpg in the city. The 2.5-liter engine and electric motor produce a combined 219 horsepower, with standard on-demand all-wheel drive. You can even choose a RAV4 Prime version with plug-in capability.
Toyota Highlander Hybrid
The RAV4 Hybrid’s bigger brother, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, is a full-size, three-row SUV. It has a spacious, luxurious interior, and there’s plenty of cargo space even behind the third row of seats. Power comes from a 2.5-liter engine supplemented by electric motors, with a total system output of 243 hp and standard all-wheel drive; the EPA rates it at 36 mpg in the city. We really like the Highlander Hybrid’s suite of safety features, which includes blind spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alert, active cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and more. Infotainment is up-to-date as well, with a big touch screen and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. There are also five USB ports so all the kids’ devices can stay charged.
No surprise that the Prius remains on this list – outside of the tiny two-seat Honda Insight, it was the original hybrid -- and is still one of the best. The compact five-seater hatchback body is shaped like a teardrop, delivering exceptional aerodynamic efficiency – and 58 mpg in the city according to the EPA. Despite the compact size, the interior is remarkably spacious and comfortable, and the tech is up to date as well, with standard Toyota Safety Sense active safety features, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and full LED lighting. While the 121-hp power rating for the electrically-assisted 1.8-liter four-cylinder may not sound like a lot, the Prius is light and agile, and feels more than fast enough when driving. Pricing starts at just over $25,000.
Toyota Camry Hybrid
Toyota’s large hybrid sedan is a favorite with families, company car fleet managers, and taxicab drivers for its combination of a huge interior and trunk with supremely economical running costs. We also like its smooth styling, exceptional build quality, bulletproof reliability, and its luxurious interior, which has fantastic seats and all of the features you could want. Standard equipment includes Toyota’s full suite of Safety Sense features including active cruise control, blind spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic emergency braking; a large 7-inch touchscreen with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa capability; and dual-zone climate control. A switch lets you toggle between four drive modes for the 208-hp front-wheel drive hybrid system, including eco, normal, sport, and even full-electric running for short distances. With a starting price of under $30,000, the Camry Hybrid is one of the most economical large sedans to buy as well as run, with a 51-mpg rating from the EPA in city driving.
Honda CR-V Hybrid
A perennial direct competitor to the best-selling RAV4 Hybrid, Honda’s CR-V hybrid follows a similar formula: spacious, practical SUV body paired with an economical hybrid drivetrain for low running costs and excellent fuel economy. The latest CR-V Hybrid, just introduced for the 2023 model year, should build on its predecessor’s considerable success. It has more sophisticated styling inside and out, with a particularly well-executed interior and even more passenger and cargo space than before. The dashboard now boasts a digital instrument cluster as well as a 7-inch infotainment display with a touch screen but also physical knobs for ease of use. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard on higher trim levels, along with wireless smartphone charging. And safety features include a new 90-degree wide-angle camera, traffic jam assist, traffic sign recognition, low-speed braking control, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, and blind spot monitoring. Power comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder and two electric motors; with standard all-wheel drive, they produce 204 total horsepower.