A Toyota RAV4 Prime electric car is charged at a charging station at City Hall in Charlotte, Vermont on October 3, 2022.
Robert Nickelsberg | Getty Images
After years of being touted as a smarter option for car buyers seeking better fuel efficiency and lower costs, hybrids and electric vehicles are getting big endorsements from Consumer Reports.
The 2023 Consumer Reports 10 Top Picks for Cars, Trucks and SUVs includes seven models that are either hybrid or all-electric.
“It really just shows how the market is changing,” said Jake Fisher, senior director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports. “Electrification, not just battery electric vehicles, just electrification, is changing the market and has a lot of really great opportunities.”
Consumer Reports selects top models at a variety of price points based on new vehicle testing, with an emphasis on affordability and safety. For 2023, hybrid and electric vehicle choices highlight two advantages that these types of vehicles often have over internal combustion engine models: fuel efficiency and reliability.
“With hybrids, you really save on the engine and the brakes because you’re actually using the generator and the battery to soften everything,” Fisher told CNBC. “There are fewer brake problems, less transmission problems, everything is kind of muted. Also, if you look at the hybrids and who makes those hybrids, they’re generally from very reliable automakers that have been using this technology for a long time.”
Consumer Reports’ top car picks for 2023
Toyota Corolla Hybrid
Toyota Corolla Cross
Toyota Camry hybrid
Ford Maverick Hybrid
Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid
Tesla model 3
Source: Consumer Reports
That explains why Toyota builds four of the ten models selected for the 2023 Top Picks, including the Toyota Corolla Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid and Lexus NX 350h.
These models are part of a wave of hybrids that helped establish Toyota as a leader in this category. Last year, one in four vehicles sold by Toyota in the US was a hybrid vehicle. In the U.S., hybrids and electric vehicles accounted for just over 10% of all vehicles sold last year, according to auto research firm Edmunds.
The styling and performance of hybrid and electric vehicles make them more attractive today than they were a few years ago.
“Today you really can have everything. You can have something spacious, something comfortable, something fuel efficient,” Fisher said. He pointed to the Ford Maverick Hybrid, which achieves 37 miles per gallon, as an example of a perception-changing hybrid. “You don’t have to make as many compromises as you used to.”
Tesla, which sells two out of every three electric vehicles in the US, is back on the top picks list after being dropped from it last year. Consumer Reports chose the Tesla Model 3 and Lexus NX 350h as the top choices for vehicles priced between $45,000 and $55,000.
Meanwhile, Consumer Reports ranks BMW as the #1 auto brand, followed by Subaru and Mini.
“BMW builds many high-performance, full-featured and reliable models, so it’s not surprising to see it at the top of our brand rankings,” Fisher said in a press release outlining Consumer Reports’ selection.