With more than three-dozen hybrid cars on offer in the U.S. today and at least a dozen under the national average new car price of $33,560, consumers have plenty of choices.

If price is your priority we’ll give you the shortlist , but bear in mind total ownership and operational costs are part of a sound decision.

News these days is gas is cheap so hybrid sales are down. On the flip side, motivated dealerships may be willing to move on price for that reason, and if a particular model is aging in its product life cycle.

Such may be the case with today’s snapshot, and don’t forget if – or when – gas prices go back up, a thrifty running car is a hedge against increases. The higher gas prices go, the faster a low-consumption car stands to pay back.

Top 5 Cheapest Hybrid Cars

Following are brief descriptions along with links for further reading.

5. Toyota Prius Liftback

$25,025 51 mpg city, 48 mpg hwy


The name Prius is to the term “hybrid” as Kleenex is to “tissue paper” and the third-generation “Liftback” has been a proven performer since its 2010 U.S. launch.

It’s due for revision next year, but stands already as the top mpg hybrid in the midsized segment and the top seller overall by a three-to-one margin against the next-best selling hybrid – another Toyota.

Power for this full hybrid come via a 1.8-liter Atkinson Cycle engine and electric motor drive pairing called “Hybrid Synergy Drive.” Total output is 134 horsepower.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Toyota Prius Liftback Overview
Short-duration EV driving at low speeds is possible, but more often the computer regulates gas, electric, or gas plus electric propulsion seamlessly as appropriate to maximize fuel economy.

This system’s design architecture is the basis for all other Toyota and Lexus hybrid variants and Toyota is the hybrid specialist selling 69 percent of all hybrids in the U.S. each month.

Inside, the Prius is roomy front and back, decently appointed at base number “Two” level and goes up to Three, Four and Five level trims.

This is an extremely effective hybrid and very easy to live with day in and day out.

4. Honda Civic Hybrid $25,555

44 mpg city, 47 mph hwy


The long-standing hybrid version of Honda’s well-regarded sedan employs an Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system sandwiching a motor between the 1.5-liter 16-valve SOHC i-VTECe engine and CVT transaxle.

Honda uses a lithium-ion battery to allay woes reported with its former nickel-metal-hydride pack a few years ago, and the Hybrid comes well equipped.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Honda Civic Hybrid Review
The Civic Hybrid is not a “full” hybrid” capable of solely running on electric power alone for any duration and the gas engine is always engaged, but it is relatively efficient and reliable. Honda has developed this system since it began the hybrid market in the U.S. in 1999 with its Insight.

The Civic Hybrid is nicely appointed as a premium product within the Civic line and presents an overall nice package.

3. Ford C-Max

$24,995 42 mpg city, 37 mpg hwy


On the market since 2012, the C-Max was brought over as a hybrid only from Europe where it is offered in a variety of conventional powertrains. It is Ford’s entry against Toyota’s dominance, has been gaining fans, and shares many hybrid system architecture patents – but not actual parts – with Toyota.

The midsized hatch is a bit bigger, a fair bit quicker than a Prius with its 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle and electric motor 188-horsepower full hybrid system.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Ford C-Max Hybrid Overview
Its mpg is lower so it’s a tradeoff while still high in the mpg spectrum as cars go.

Inside the vehicle’s capacious interior makes it quite practical and room for people front and back is respectable also. The C-Max splits the size difference roughly between the Prius Liftback and Toyota’s larger Prius v wagon.

A C-Max SEL trim level above the base SE is $3,000 more, and of course options can send the price up, as can discounts send the price back down, as the case may be.

2. Honda CR-Z $20,965

36 mpg city, 39 mpg hwy


Not to be confused for the once-upon-a-time relatively hot CR-X from the 80s and 90s, the two-seat CR-Z nonetheless offers sportiness, decent economy and low price in a Honda-quality product.

SEE ALSO: Honda CR-Z Overview
Motive force comes via Honda’s IMA system with a 1.5-liter 16-valve SOHC i-VTEC paired with electric motor – and one rare transmission choice in addition to a CVT.

The CR-Z is the only hybrid that offers a manual stick shift transmission and for that reason alone we like it, but of course it doesn’t hurt that this is a capable performer.

Inside the sporty interior is comfortable enough, and the hatch lets you stow stuff blending in a utility factor as well.

1. Toyota Prius c $19,905

53 mpg city, 46 mpg hwy


America’s cheapest hybrid is also its most fuel efficient by a nose – compared to its larger Prius Liftback progenitor.

The 99-horsepower HSD full hybrid pairs motor with 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle engine and CVT transmission for unbeatable efficiency – if not blistering acceleration.

2014 Toyota Prius Liftback Overview
The “c” has been panned for interior quality but we think it’s satisfactory and in exchange the hybrid looks less stand-outish, combines utility of a hatch, and gets the job done.

Four trim levels from One to Four can push the price into the low 24s, but nicely equipped examples are offered between the two extremes and reliability and effectiveness make this is one of the top selling hybrids.

For a complete view of every alternative energy car sold in the U.S., please also see our sales Dashboard which is updated every month.