America’s 5 Best-Selling Hybrids

With all the talk of plug-in electrified cars these days, hybrids have assumed a quieter background role, but their value remains nonetheless.

In part because they’ve been on the market longer, and tend to cost less than comparable plug-in electrified vehicles, they actually sell in higher volumes while still doing their share in saving fuel and reducing emissions.

The cleanest hybrids actually vie closely in some dirtier grid regions in total upstream and downstream emissions with plug-in hybrids, and they are simpler to contemplate requiring no new learned behaviors.

While plugging in is not a hardship for PEV drivers and offers the advantage of letting one skip the gas station and recharge at home, consumers with a different perspective, or other vehicle requirements can be well served by hybrids.

There are close to four dozen hybrid models for sale in the U.S., but the lion’s share of sales are made by the upper quarter. To highlight which models are doing the absolute best, we’ll overview the top five from our sales Dashboard which shows how all green vehicles are doing in sales from January through May.

No. 5 – Honda Accord Hybrid – 9,184 Sales

A technologically advanced car that actually does away with a transmission, the 48 mpg Accord Hybrid scores up to 19 mpg over comparable non-hybrid Accord siblings, and beats the 26 mpg national average by 22 mpg.

Its 9,184 sales through May are just three units behind the top-selling plug-in hybrid, the Chevy Volt (9,187), and the largish midsized Accord is much roomier, and luxurious to the point of being almost Acura level.

2017 Honda Accord Hybrid Review – Video

Among the midsized hybrid sedan category – the most competitive hybrid segment – the Accord arguably is a notch above in a few respects. Its mpg is the highest, and it also has the most gas-plus-electric “system” power of 212 horsepower and 232 pounds-feet of torque.

As for its virtual transmission, the powertrain uses its two motors along with a clutch and a single fixed gear ratio to serve the function of a conventional multi-speed or Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

Honda calls it “Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive” (I-MMD) and it can propel the Accord on battery power alone at modest acceleration from a standstill or at other times under low torque demand such a when cruising. Upon deceleration, as per usual for all hybrids, the system regenerates electricity to the battery.

The vehicle was only launched in 2015, then discontinued in 2016, and returned with tweaks for 2017. It’s a very effective solution.

No. 4 – Kia Niro Hybrid – 10,488 Sales

All new for 2017, we knew it would be a hit based on its low-20s starting price, and three trims that go up to a Prius-like 50 mpg, and the fact that it’s a compact crossover.

And sure enough, it’s already at fourth place.

The fuel-thrifty car’s hybrid system mates a 1.6-liter gasoline direct-injection four-cylinder engine that makes 103 horsepower with electric motor providing another 43 horsepower, for a combined 146 system horsepower and 195 pounds-feet of total torque.

Unlike so many hybrids which use continuously variable transmissions, Kia – as does Hyundai – has opted for a six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.

SEE ALSO: Kia confirms a three phase Strategy for Niro

Other fuel-economy-enhancing tech includes the Smart Air Intake to manage air brought in for the air-conditioning system to reduce drag, and an automatic defroster system.

The utilitarian oriented car also makes available comfort and convenience features including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Pandora, wi-fi, and Kia’s UVO3 infotainment system.

A plug-in hybrid version is also expected at a later undisclosed date.

No. 3 – Toyota RAV4 Hybrid – 17,061 Sales

The hybrid version of the RAV4 was introduced for 2016, and immediately jumped up the sales rankings.

Its surpassing even long-time favorites like the Toyota Prius c subcompact hatch, and Prius v wagon show just how much consumers want an AWD crossover-style vehicle in hybrid or electric form.

Not hurting things either is Toyota initially priced them just $700 over comparably priced non-hybrids. The trade-off is a lower improvement of fuel economy compared to the non-hybrid is realized by the hybrid RAV.

SEE ALSO: 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Review – Video

Power comes via a 2.5-liter four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine paired with electric motor and 1.6-kWh (6.5 Ah) NiMh battery safely sealed and stowed under the rear seat. The vehicle is relatively loaded with amenities, connectivity, and advanced safety features.

Consumers still looking for maximum fuel savings may note the 40 mpg Camry Hybrid is rated up to 13 mpg over the non-hybrid, while the 32 mpg RAV4 is rated up to 8 mpg over the non-hybrid.

To be sure, the savings help, but it’s less fuel savings. For now, that’s the trade-off one has to pay for Toyota’s AWD crossover compared to FWD sedan. On the positive side, it’s a nice jump up over the non-hybrid, and a price gap up to around $2,000 now is not a huge premium to pay.

No. 2 – Ford Fusion Hybrid – 25,840 Sales

Ford’s restyled 42-mpg Fusion Hybrid follows the theme of the aforementioned Camry Hybrid in that it gets much more mpg than its non-hybrid stablemates.

In this case, it’s 15-19 mpg better than other four-cylinder Camrys while otherwise styled and driving like an ordinary Fusion.

SEE ALSO: 2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid Review

The Fusion has been such a solid all-round proposition that it leads its segment in sales, and has beaten the number-one Prius Liftback in monthly sales this year – the first time ever.

Power comes from a 2.0-liter hybrid powertrain with 188 total system horsepower routed through an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (eCVT).

Inside, the vehicle is comfortable, roomy for five, and an enjoyable place to spend time – cross town or cross country. Available advanced safety and connectivity features round out the amenities for this handsomely styled car.

No. 1 –Toyota Prius Liftback – 27,635 Sales

The Prius Liftback was redesigned into its fourth generation for 2016, and is the longest-selling hybrid on this list, dating back to 2000 when it was launched soon after the 2000 Honda Insight to inaugurate America’s entry into the modern hybrid era.

Its claim to fame – fuel efficiency – was tweaked to 52 mpg in five trims and 56 mpg in the Two Eco trim which is nearly as good as one can get though the 55-58 mpg Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid now edges out its claim to being the highest.

SEE ALSO: 2016 Toyota Prius Review – Video

The Prius is about more than just fuel economy, and represents an overall well-engineered and sorted out vehicle that just works. It has created quite a following, and Toyota’s known quality and the car’s resale value and other measures add to the appeal.

Power is by a 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle engine and continuously variable transmission. To address complaints that it was not sporty in corners, Toyota gave it an independent rear suspension and stiffer chassis for much better handling. It’s still only so-so from 0-60 – around 10 seconds – but never feels unsafe.

Included also is an inviting interior layout, connectivity, advanced safety, and it continues to lead as a highly effective a and clean-running means of transportation.

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