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20 Best Hybrid, Electric, and Plug-In Cars Under $40,000

Published on April 18, 2017 by   ·   No Comments Pin It

With Earth Day 2017 around the corner there has been a vast amount of research into university EV usage, the expert editors at Kelley Blue Book name their top picks of eco-friendly new cars available under $40,000.  The variety of hybrid, electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles recommended by editors all offer stellar fuel economy at affordable prices for the environmentally conscious new-car shopper. Kelley Blue Book is the vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the automotive industry, and we really trust their recommendations!

10 Best Hybrid Cars Under $40,000

Today’s hybrid vehicles aren’t just more efficient than ever, they’re also better equipped and more enjoyable to drive. This year’s list of standout hybrids presents a wide range of options including several midsize sedans, a pair of SUVs and three entries rated to return 50 mpg or better. And while our cutoff is $40,000, all but two of them actually start under $30,000.


2017 Toyota Prius

The competition has never been stiffer, but the proven Prius remains king of the hybrids. If city/highway combined fuel economy of 52 mpg isn’t quite enough for you, the latest Prius is available in an Eco version that delivers 56 mpg combined. And while the refined, reliable and recently restyled Prius is also more agile than ever, as we explain in our expert review it’s also quite composed: “On the highway, the 2017 Prius hybrid delivers a smooth ride and a quiet cabin with very little wind or road noise evident.”

Starting price: $25,570

Fuel economy: 52 mpg combined (54 city/50 highway)

Total system power: 121 horsepower


2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

Hyundai Ionic

Hyundai’s first foray into the dedicated hybrid market, the Ioniq debuts as nothing less than the most fuel-efficient hybrid on the market. It even offers more passenger and cargo volume than the Prius. Other bonuses are the Ioniq’s commendable handling and braking. From our first review: “Lightweight, independent rear suspension and a low center of gravity provided handling that was better than expected. One of the most pleasant surprises with the Ioniq was the linear braking feel. The brakes weren’t grabby or jerky. Despite the ability to regenerate energy, they simply felt like regular brakes, a detail that made it easy to forget we were driving a hybrid.”

Starting price: $23,035

Fuel economy: 58 mpg combined (57 city/59 highway)

Total system power: 139 horsepower


2017 Honda Accord Hybrid

The Honda Accord is our Midsize Sedan Best Buy of 2017, and the Accord Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient midsize sedan you can buy. That’s a pretty compelling combination. In addition to its highly efficient, well-integrated hybrid powertrain, the Accord Hybrid delivers all the comfort, convenience and excellent resale value of its more established sibling. Honda offer no deposit finance on certain cars so if you’re interested in that, check them out!

Starting price: $30,480

Fuel economy: 48 mpg combined (49 city/47 highway)

Total system power: 212 horsepower


2017 Kia Niro

2017 Niro

The new-from-the-ground-up Kia Niro is a dedicated hybrid vehicle for efficiency-minded drivers who’d rather drive something that looks more like a regular car. It even drives like a regular car, thanks to well-sorted interplay among the gas, electric and braking systems, as well as a sophisticated 6-speed automatic transmission that feels more familiar than the continuously variable transmissions more common in today’s hybrids.

Starting price: $23,785

Fuel economy: 50 mpg combined (52 city/49 highway)

Total system power: 139 horsepower


2017 Kia Optima Hybrid

2017 Optima Hybrid

Like its Hyundai Sonata corporate cousin, the edgier Kia Optima midsize sedan is also available as an efficient, smooth-driving hybrid. Available infotainment and driver-assist features include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, smart cruise control and autonomous emergency braking.

Starting price: $26,890

Fuel economy: 42 mpg combined (39 city/46 highway)

Total system power: 192 horsepower


2017 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

MY16 Sonata Hybrid

The third of five midsize sedans on this list, the Sonata Hybrid is appealing for all the same reasons the traditional, gas-only Sonata has become a staple on our annual list of 10 Best Sedans Under $25,000. It’s roomy, comfortable and has one of the segment’s best designed and most practical interiors.

Starting price: $26,835

Fuel economy: 42 mpg combined (39 city/45 highway)

Total system power: 193 horsepower


2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Equipped with the same proven Hybrid Synergy Drive system that powers the Camry Hybrid, the all-wheel-drive RAV4 Hybrid combines excellent fuel economy with the ride height, cargo flexibility and go-anywhere attitude that are driving compact SUVs to the top of the sales charts.

Starting price: $29,990

Fuel economy: 32 mpg combined (34 city/30 highway)

Total system power: 194 horsepower


2017 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid

The Malibu Hybrid is among the most fuel-efficient midsize sedans on the market, leveraging a version of the same gas-electric hybrid architecture that drives the newest Chevrolet Volt. It’s also stylish, a pleasure to drive and offers a long list of tech highlights including built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.

Starting price: $28,750

Fuel economy: 46 mpg combined (49 city/43 highway)

Total system power: 182 horsepower


2017 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Start with the best-selling car in the country, add 40-mpg fuel economy, and you’ve got something special. The Camry Hybrid is available in several flavors, including an LE model that marries combined fuel economy of 40 mpg with a starting price under $28,000. Stepping up to the sport-tuned SE or top-of-the-line XLE will cost you money and a bit of fuel economy, but it’s good to have options.

Starting price: $27,675

Fuel economy: 40 mpg combined (42 city/38 highway)

Total system power: 200 horsepower


2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Three rows of seating, 30 mpg in the city and Toyota reliability make the Highlander Hybrid a tempting SUV. There’s even a cherry on top, as highlighted in our expert review: “The Highlander Hybrid also benefits from the new V6, and with a combined total of 306 horsepower, it’s actually the hot-rod of the Highlander family.”

Starting price: $37,230

Fuel economy: 29 mpg combined (30 city/28 highway)

Total system power: 306 horsepower

5 Best Electric Cars Under $40,000

The 2017 model year brought with it two new all-electric vehicles with starting sticker prices under $40,000, and they proceeded to finish first and second on this list. Keep in mind all of these vehicles are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit — in addition to potential state and local incentives — bringing the net price for each of them to below $30,000.


2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

The first all-electric car to combine a sub-$40,000 starting price with driving range of more than 200 miles, the new-for-2017 Bolt is also a pleasure to drive and versatile, too. Read more

Starting price: $37,495

Range per full charge: 238 miles

Charge time at 240V: 9.3 hours

Power: 200 horsepower, 266 lb-ft of torque

0-60 miles per hour: About 6.5 seconds

Battery: 60-kWh lithium-ion

EPA fuel economy equivalent: 119 MPGe (city/highway combined)


2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric

Hyundai Ionic

The most energy-efficient entry on this list is also the most affordable. In addition to an all-electric model, the new Hyundai Ioniq lineup also includes hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions. Read more

Starting price: $30,335

Range per full charge: 124 miles

Charge time at 240V: 4.4 hours

Power: 118 horsepower, 215 lb-ft of torque

0-60 miles per hour: About 10 seconds

Battery: 28-kWh lithium-ion polymer

EPA fuel economy equivalent: 136 MPGe (city/highway combined)


2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

Arguably the most fun-to-drive car on this list, the e-Golf combines European driving manners, class-above interior quality and more range for 2017. Read more

Starting price: TBA

Range per full charge: 125 miles

Charge time at 240V: 5.3 hours

Power: 134 horsepower, 214 lb-ft of torque

0-60 miles per hour: About 9.6 seconds

Battery: 35.8-kWh lithium-ion

EPA fuel economy equivalent: 119 MPGe (city/highway combined)


2017 Kia Soul EV

Kia Sol

Kia Sol

The Kia Soul is one of our favorite small cars and a staple on our annual list of the Coolest Cars Under $18,000. For buyers who can swing it, the gas-free Soul EV is the coolest Soul of them all. Read more

Starting Price: $33,145
Range per full charge: 93 miles
Charging time at 240V: 4.8 hours
Power: 109 horsepower, 210 lb-ft of torque
0-60 miles per hour: About 11.2 seconds
Battery: 27-kWh lithium-ion polymer
EPA fuel economy equivalent: 105 MPGe (city/highway combined)


2017 Nissan Leaf

2016 Nissan LEAF

Dating all the way back to the dawn of this decade, the groundbreaking and ever-evolving Leaf has received several upgrades and enhancements over the years. Read more

Starting Price: $31,545

Range per full charge: 107 miles

Charging time at 240V: About 6 hours

Power: 107 horsepower, 187 lb-ft of torque

0-60 miles per hour: About 10 seconds

Battery: 30-kWh lithium-ion

EPA fuel economy equivalent: 112 MPGe (city/highway combined)

5 Best Plug-in Hybrid Cars Under $40,000

With a plug-in hybrid you can drive 20 miles every day and never have to fill up with gas. But unlike an all-electric car, a plug-in hybrid can also hop from gas station to gas station on a cross-country road trip if the need arises. The following five standouts run the gamut from reliable, affordable Best Buy Award winner to Euro-performance wagon, and all of them are available for less than $40,000 even before factoring applicable tax credits.


2017 Toyota Prius Prime

KBB’s Electric/Hybrid Car Best Buy for 2017, the Toyota Prius Prime brings together the time-tested reliability of Toyota technology, a pleasantly rewarding drive, and easy-to-use efficiency. As we explained in our most recent Best Buy Awards, “Simply plug in the supplied charge cable to a traditional 3-prong outlet and voilà! 5.5 hours later you’ve got a fully charged battery. No longer will you need to purchase an expensive 240V system for your home or waste time driving around your office in search of a dedicated EV charging station.”

Starting price: $27,985

Electric range: 25 miles (640 miles total)

Hybrid mode fuel economy: 54 mpg city/highway combined

Approximate charge time: 2.2 hours (240V), 5.5 hours (120V)


2017 Chevrolet Volt

KBB’s expert review of the Chevrolet Volt nicely sums up this past Kelley Blue Book Best Buy winner: “…beyond efficiency, it’s just a better car, period. It’s fun to drive, with a nicely sorted suspension, good steering and decent power from its unique drivetrain. The interior is both more conventional and more high-tech than before, thanks to the use of real buttons combined with features like Apple CarPlay. It can even seat five people, at least for short drives, and it looks great. The price is also spot-on with the Toyota Prius, after you deduct for federal and state EV credits.”

Starting price: $34,095

Electric range: 53 miles (420 miles total)

Hybrid mode fuel economy: 42 mpg city/highway combined

Approximate charge time: 4.5 hours (240V), 13 hours (120V)


2017 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid

This Optima plug-in shares its gas-powered sibling’s good looks and elegant interior, but adds 29 miles of all-electric range followed by 40-mpg fuel economy. It also offers a long list of advanced driver-assist technologies and an infotainment package that includes an app from which you can check charge level, set charge times and even unlock your doors.

Starting price: $36,105

Electric range: 29 miles (610 miles total)

Hybrid mode fuel economy: 40 mpg city/highway combined

Approximate charge time: 3 hours (240V), 9 hours (120V)


2017 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid

MY16 Sonata Hybrid

Baked into the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid is the same value proposition you’d expect with any Sonata: standard features include a hands-free smart trunk, 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, seven airbags, heated seats and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto capability. Not only is the car protected under Hyundai’s class-leading 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, but the battery system is covered by a lifetime warranty.

Starting price: $35,435

Electric range: 27 miles (590 miles total)

Hybrid mode fuel economy: 39 mpg city/highway combined

Approximate charge time: 3 hours (240V), 9 hours (120V)


2017 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Take the sportiness, handling and high-tech cabin of the Audi A3, add an efficient 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine plus an electric motor for 204 combined horsepower, and you have the most fun-to-drive entry on this list.

Starting price: $39,850

Electric range: 16 miles (380 miles total)

Hybrid mode fuel economy: 34 mpg city/highway combined

Approximate charge time: 2.3 hours (240V), 8 hours (120V)

You can find all of these cars at a reputable car dealership, so do your research and find the perfect car for you!

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