(Pocket-lint) - For many people, hybrids offer the balance between electric cars and internal combustion cars, giving you range when you need it, but with the benefit of lowered emissions and running costs.

While many are racing to get electric cars on the road, there's a wide selection of hybrids to choose from, both plug-in and "self-charging".

Here are the top models to consider.

Best SUV hybrids

There's no doubting that SUVs hold the most appeal at the moment, offering convenience, great road presence and comfort. Opting for a hybrid SUV also cuts also offsets some of those higher running costs. We're listing plug-in and regular hybrids here.

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Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

  • 13.8kWh battery, 30 mile electric range
  • 2.4-litre petrol, CVT
  • All-wheel drive
  • Prices from £35,815

The Outlander has dominated this segment for a number of years, enjoying a run with relatively little competition and doing a lot to boost Mitsubishi's appeal in the UK. The Outlander isn't quite as refined as some premium SUVs, but on the road it's sedate and comfortable, even if the interior isn't as cutting edge as you'll get elsewhere. 

Being a plug-in means you can sensibly use that 30 mile range from the battery on the regular basis, really bringing down the cost of running this car.

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Audi Q5 PHEV

  • 14.1kWh battery, 26 mile electric range
  • 2-litre petrol, 8-speed auto
  • All-wheel drive
  • Prices from £49,020

The Audi Q5 gets the advantage of a plug-in option, giving you around 26 miles of usable electric range of the small battery. That's paired with a 2-litre petrol engine in two models, 50e and 55e, the latter having slightly increased performance, but much the same overall electric range. 

With the Audi Q5 you get a lot of refinement and a it's a lovely car to drive, with a quality interior, although it now feels a generation behind some of the latest Audi models. Still, when it comes to plug-in SUVs, the Q5 is likely to top a lot of lists.

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Volvo XC90 hybrid

  • 10.4kWh, 20 mile electric range
  • 2.0-litre petrol, 8-speed auto
  • All-wheel drive
  • Price from £67,495

The Volvo XC90 is pretty much in a class of its own, offering hybrid technology and seven seats. It is a plug-in hybrid, but it's also the most powerful of the models that Volvo offers, so you're not compromising - but you do pay for the luxury.

What you get in return is a lot of space in the huge XC90 and while you'll be king of the road, you might struggle to fit in smaller UK parking spaces. Great safety credentials, plush interior and good connectivity await you inside the XC90.

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Range Rover Sport P400e 

  • 12.4kWh battery, 31 mile electric range
  • 2.0-litre petrol, 8-speed auto
  • All-wheel drive
  • Prices from £72,870

The Range Rover Sport P400e followed the non-Sport Rangey and in many ways makes a lot more sense, being a little more compact and a little more affordable, so much more likely to attract fat wallets than the larger sibling. It's very much the same arrangement, however, with an electric motor inserted into the drivetrain so there's no loss of offroad skill or onroad power - in fact it's one of the most powerful Range Rover Sport options.

The battery lives in the floor of the boot, so there's no decrease in cabin space, the only compromise being a slightly raised boot floor, no 7-seat option and no spare wheel space. Otherwise, this is very much the Range Rover Sport experience, but with the option to slip into electric and cruise silently up to the shops. It's a plug-in hybrid.

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Lexus RX 450h

  • 3.5-litre petrol, CVT
  • All-wheel drive
  • Prices from £51,565

Lexus - and Toyota - have a wide range of hybrids, applying the "self-charging" tech across models in the range. The RX is a luxury SUV, offering all-wheel drive, comfort and a good standard of fit and finish as you'd expect from Lexus. It isn't a plug-in version, however, so while it offers increased efficiency, it lacks the emission-free motoring range that others offer.

The hybrid setup is more about increasing efficiency and reducing emissions from a hefty SUV and while it will give you pure electric driving with a poke of the EV button, you'll always have to drive to recharge that battery. There's now also the RX L version with seven seats to challenge the dominance of the Volvo XC90.

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Toyota RAV4 

  • 2.5-litre petrol, CVT
  • Front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive
  • Prices from £30,970

The Toyota RAV4 has been reinvented as Toyota's mid-sized SUV, which means it's aimed straight at families. Throw in a self-charging hybrid arrangement and you have the convenience of an efficient and spacious car for carting everything around. 

It's not as appealing as a plug-in hybrid to many, the advantages only really felt in stop-start driving, with slightly limited electric-only driving dependent on having used that regeneration to charge the internal battery. The interior tech is also slightly behind the curve.

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Honda CR-V hybrid

  • 2.0-litre, CVT
  • Front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive
  • Prices from £30,500

Honda's hybrid builds on the solid platform that is the CR-V offering practicality and comfort, with better economies thanks to the hybrid arrangement. It's not a plug-in version, so you don't get the benefit of useful battery-only range, but it's quiet and refined as it blends the two. 

It makes for a great family car and there's a pretty good level of spec for the interior too, without a soaring price.

Best hybrid saloons and estates

If high-rolling SUVs aren't really your style, or you want something that's going to cut a lower profile, then you have a number of options. Thanks to hybridisation of a number of conventional models, there's a lot of choices if you're not looking for an SUV.

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Toyota Prius

  • 1.8-litre, CVT
  • Front-wheel drive
  • Prices from £24,355

The Toyota Prius is basically the founding father of hybrid cars. Original and best? Well, Toyota has evolved the Prius to include the Prius+ for those who want more space, as well as offering self-charing and plug-in versions. The self-charging is the cheapest, but the plug-in version gives you 39 miles of EV motoring.

The design might also divide: the Prius was a statement when it first launched and still remains distinct, even if the car is now less unique than it once was. But, you get a lot for your money, it's economical to run, spacious and practical - and a hit with Uber drivers.

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Hyundai Ioniq PHEV

  • 8.9kWh battery, 39 miles electric range
  • 1.6-litre petrol, 6-speed auto
  • Front wheel drive
  • Prices from £30,250

Decisions decisions. The Ioniq comes in electric, hybrid and plug-in variants, making it a rare beast - and it was refreshed in 2019 with a second-gen model. The plug-in version sits in the middle, but arguably has the greatest advantage in flexibility when it comes to motoring with that electric range covering many short journeys without the engine having to spring to life.

Hyundai doesn't overwhelm you with options so you get a lot for your money and that's evident by the growing number of Ioniq's on the road. It's good value for money and while it might not be the most exciting drive, there's space, comfort and technology on offer.

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BMW 530e

  • 9.2kWh, 29 miles electric range
  • 2.0-litre petrol
  • Rear-wheel drive
  • Prices from £50,120

BMW was quick to offer a range of i Performance hybrid models, snapping up many looking for a company car that would reduce the tax burden thanks to its hybrid setup. The BMW 530e smacks straight into the middle of that pack, a plug-in hybrid that gives you electric range and all the goodness of a 5 Series BMW - space, comfort, quality, performance.

In many ways it's a winning formula, if it's an exec saloon that you're looking for.

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VW Passat GTE

  • 9.9kWh battery, 31 mile electric range
  • 1.4-litre petrol, 6-speed automatic
  • Front-wheel drive
  • Price from £36,940

The VW Passat is one of the largest estates in its class. Often overlooked as a little boring compared to BMW, or expensive compared to Skoda, it wins where it matters in giving you boot space and comfort when you're in the driving seat for many hours.

Pared with electric range that will cover most commutes, there's spades of practicality that comes with the Passat GTE.

Best small hybrids

There are fewer small hybrids around. While you'd have a choice of compact electric cars, it isn't a segment of the market that's had huge attention from hybrid tech.

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Hyundai Kona Hybrid

  • 1.6-litre, 6-speed automatic
  • Front-wheel drive
  • Prices from £23,160

The Hyundai Kona is an affordable crossover - also coming in an all-electric version that's highly recommended - here offering a self-charging hybrid version, charging the battery on braking. The battery here is only 1.56kWh, designed to boost the efficiency, so don't expect much range with the electric off. 

What you do get though, is great value for money, a great crossover and plenty of tech. 

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Toyota C-HR 

  • 1.8-litre petrol, CVT or manual
  • Front-wheel drive
  • Prices from £28,625

The Toyota C-HR crosses over categories, with the boot space of a hatchback but the ride height of an SUV. There's no option to plug this hybrid in, instead the hybrid benefits are delivered through increased efficiencies. With a fairly small engine in a smaller car, economics are on the side of the C-HR, as is the approachable price.

But in the SUV stakes there are some omissions. It's very much an on-the-road model and it's hardly a family car, unless people are prepared to be very cosy. It does, however, have pretty cutting design, so it's rather unique.

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Mini Countryman Cooper S E

  • 7.6kWh battery, 12 mile electric range
  • 1.5-litre petrol, 6-speed auto
  • All-wheel drive
  • Prices from £31,895

Mini's first real venture into hybrids is the Countryman Cooper S E. It's a plug-in model, providing that direct advantage of being able to charge it at home, but the 12 mile range on pure electric is probably only good for a run to the supermarket and back. 

It sits in the crossover category in terms of looks, not as big as an SUV, but not quite compact either; but with a 1.5-litre petrol engine and 6-speed auto box, it still looks and drives like a Mini, with that peppy gokart feel. It is affordable for a hybrid, but arguably, the exciting parts of it lean more towards its regular engine and less its hybrid status.

Toyota

Toyota Yaris Hybrid

  • 1.5-litre petrol, CVT
  • Front-wheel drive
  • Prices from £19,770

The plucky little Yaris has been a favourite since its original inception in 1999; 20 years on and the hybrid version of this car sticks to what the Yaris has always been good at: low running costs. It's a great, compact, city car, easy to park with great visibility and plenty of character.

It's not hugely exciting to drive compared to something like the Mini and passenger space takes a priority over boot space, but the important thing is that opting for a hybrid isn't hugely expensive.

And finally ... best hybrid for thrills

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BMW i8

  • 11.6kWh battery, 34 miles
  • 1.5-litre petrol, 6-speed automatic
  • Front and rear wheel drive
  • Prices from £114,985

Drama in both design and the drive, the BMW i8 - although pretty old - still looks and drives like a cutting-edge piece of hybrid technology. It pairs plug-in charging with a motor on the front wheels and a petrol engine to drive the rear. It perhaps should be a candidate for pure electric motoring, but regardless, the BMW i8 still delivers thrills. 

It's not the most economical in reality as you're trading efficiency for performance. There's no denying that the BMW i8 is a head turner.

Writing by Chris Hall.