The Most Fuel Efficient Used Japanese Hybrid Cars Ever Made

The Japanese were long ahead of the competition in the field of building hybrid cars. Here are the 10 the most fuel efficient used japanese hybrid cars. Reliability comes with the price!

Fuel Efficient Used Japanese Hybrid Cars

In the era of constant striving to minimize carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, drivers are looking more favorably at cars with alternative drive sources. Of course, electric cars remain the most environmentally friendly, but due to the still insufficient level of infrastructure enabling their charging and the short ranges, users still approach them with a distance from a combustion car.

The purchase of a hybrid car seems to be the right alternative. It is true that the technology of combining a traditional engine with an electric one has been known for a long time, but now it is gaining real interest among users. This paid off for Toyota, which has been continuously developing its hybrid systems for over 20 years and has almost perfected it in this respect. In addition to the fixed point of the range, the Prius, hybrid drives have also found their way under the hoods of models such as the Yaris, Auris and RAV4.

Fuel Efficient Used Japanese Hybrid Cars

  • Honda Civic Hybrid
  • Honda CR-Z Hybrid
  • Honda Insight Hybrid
  • Lexus RX 400h Hybrid
  • Lexus CT 200h Hybrid
  • Lexus GS 450h Hybrid
  • Toyota Auris Hybrid
  • Toyota Prius II Hybrid
  • Toyota Yaris Hybrid
  • Toyota Prius III Hybrid

Honda Civic

Encouraged by Toyota’s success, Honda tried its hand at hybrid versions of the Civic. The IMA version has already debuted in its seventh incarnation, but the eighth generation from photos is more often (although still rare). The so-called a soft hybrid, i.e. a 1.3 engine powered by a small electric unit with a small battery, found its way only under the bonnet of a sedan, stylistically completely different from the hatchback colloquially called “UFO”.

Unfortunately, the batteries placed behind the couch limit the capacity of the trunk (350 l), and the characteristics of the drive do not give noticeable advantages in fuel consumption(it is not possible to drive only on electricity). A used hybrid Honda is also difficult to buy – there are only a few copies in the advertisements.

It is similar with the successor, the second generation Honda Insight, which we will describe later. The lack of noticeable advantages (compared to other hybrids) pushes the Civic IMA to the last place in our ranking.

  • Years of production: 2006-2010
  • Prices: From $4,700 to $7,000
  • Pros: Simple design, spacious interior, high reliability
  • Cons: Meager supply, no fuel economy benefits, small luggage compartment

Honda CR-Z

The driving characteristics of a hybrid car are controversial in terms of a sports car. Honda decided to take the risk by releasing the model with a name referring to the iconic CRX. The similarity can be seen above all in the style and they end there. CR-Z does not reflect the vicious nature of the original at all. The hybrid system with only 124 hp (137 after the 2013 facelift) accelerates the car to 100 km / h in almost 10 seconds.

The fuel consumption promised by the manufacturer is far from realistic. As a consolation, it is worth adding that the CR-Z is the only hybrid with a manual transmission (with 6 gears) described here. We recommend it to individualists who transport at most one person: the rear “bench” will fit at most jackets or shopping nets.

We can be confident about the mechanical parts, because they match with other Honda. Worse with sheet metal elements. For many, CR-Z has no logical rationale, but there will certainly be people willing to do so.

  • Years of production: 2010-2016
  • Prices: From $6,500 to $10,300
  • Pros: Interesting design, negligible failure rate, great driving characteristics
  • Cons: Basically a two-seater car, poor performance, small supply

Honda Insight

Honda did not hesitate to respond to the first generation Toyota Prius, which debuted in 1997, and after just two years presented the hybrid, unusually styled Insight. We describe the second generation of this model, also sold in Europe. Although the Insight II has a lot in common with the Jazz III, it is much larger (439 cm long) and has a large luggage compartment with a capacity of 373 liters. From a distance you can see a close resemblance to the Prius, with all its consequences, including reduced visibility to the rear.

The Insight drive (1.4-liter internal combustion engine + small electric) is only enough for the city. The continuously variable transmission is irritating with its work characteristics, but the transmission has a manual gear change mode. Young age and considerable spaciousness put the Insight in a better light than the previously described hybrid Honda. Unfortunately, it is only slightly more popular than them.

  • Years of production: 2009-2014
  • Prices: From $5,700 to $9,600
  • Pros: Solid structure, spacious interior, spacious boot
  • Cons: Poor performance, annoying work of the box, poor visibility to the rear

Lexus RX 400h

It’s been 16 years since its debut, and the Lexus RX 400h hybrid system continues to impress with its degree of technical sophistication. It uses three engines: gasoline (3.3 V6), electric (167 HP) and the other electric with a power of 68 HP. to catch up with the rear axle if necessary, making the RX a 4 × 4 car. This solution has dubious usefulness in the field: it is activated when the gas pedal is pressed more strongly, but also disconnects after driving in difficult conditions for several seconds.

In terms of performance or fuel consumption, the RX is hard to fault: it shows durability that is adequate for the brand. This model will be liked by people who value a “relaxing” position behind the wheel and almost complete isolation from sounds coming from outside. Even though the car hits the budget of an ever-growing audience, it is better not to force the “bargain” and choose a more expensive Lexus with a proven service history.

  • Years of production: 2004-2009
  • Prices: From $7,800 to $11,600
  • Pros: Spacious interior, good overall durability, high driving comfort
  • Cons: Workmanship worthy of cheaper cars, high maintenance costs, inefficient 4 × 4 drive

Lexus CT 200h

The refined power unit from Toyota Prius III went under the hood of the smallest Lexus – the compact CT, which, interestingly, was only available in combination with a hybrid drive from the beginning. 136 KM is enough to move around the city. When buying a Lexus CT, take into account its large dimensions (436 cm in length, which is 9 cm more than the Toyota Auris II ). The trunk can hold up to 375 liters, but the couch is cramped and a bit claustrophobic (small glass area).

Lexus is ahead of Toyota in terms of soundproofing and more comfortable seats. The price includes also useful options in the equipment. Perhaps that is why this model is so expensive – we have to spend about $12,900 to $15,500 on the purchase. And for this (or less!) You can buy a nice RX 400h or even a hybrid GS (see below).

  • In production: from 2011
  • Prices: From $10,300 to $33,700
  • Pros: Reliable drive, nicely finished interior, low fuel consumption
  • Cons: Limited visibility, cramped interior, exorbitant purchase prices

Lexus GS 450h

The third generation of GS is also the first to be offered with a hybrid drive. Based on a 3.5 V6 petrol engine, the power unit develops 345 hp and in just 5.9 seconds accelerates the 4.8-meter sedan to 100 km / h. At the same time, about 9-10 l / 100 km are satisfied, which cannot be offered by any competitor. Those, especially the German ones, have more spacious cabins and luggage racks – in the GS 450h it can hold only 280 l (the space is taken by traction batteries).

Owners value their Lexus cars for exceptional driving comfort, which consists of comfortable seats, refined soundproofing and a smooth, almost noiseless power unit. Many cars came to us from the USA – they will almost certainly require investment. A lot of Polish ones still go to the ASO for reviews. Apart from authorized workshops, few people can cope with repairs: it remains to look for outlets that specialize in Lexus cars.

  • Years of production: 2006-2011
  • Prices: From $9,00 to $16,800
  • Pros: Electrifying performance, high driving comfort, great interior finish
  • Cons: Small trunk, still high prices, the need to invest in the cheapest cars

Toyota Auris

Toyota Auris was the first compact to be offered with three types of power supply. After combustion engines (gasoline and diesel), in 2010 the range was completed by a hybrid variant based on the 1.8 unit, with a total power of 136 HP. It was produced for only two years: until the debut of the Auris II, which, moreover, took over the hybrid drive from its predecessor. It comes from the Prius III and was also placed under the hood of the Lexus CT described earlier.

The Auris Hybrid was and is very expensive : it is the price of almost complete reliability and limited popularity. It is worth considering if you are not looking for extravagance in design and need an uncomplicated, compact car. Note: batteries reduce the luggage compartment from 355 to 310 liters. The hybrid system did not find its way to the simultaneously produced sedan – Corolla.

  • Years of production: 2010-2012
  • Prices: From $6,800 to $10,400
  • Pros: Everyday convenience, reliable drive, low loss of value
  • Cons: Short production period, small number of cars on display, average workmanship

Toyota Prius II

The second generation of Prius was also available on our continent. Compared to the experimental predecessor (photo below), the Prius II has grown by 14 cm and received a 5-door body with an aerodynamic shape. The functionality suffers a bit, but only tall passengers in the rear will complain about the amount of space inside. The dashboard, devoid of analog indicators, is made of solid materials.

The Prius II hybrid powertrain in the city feels like a fish in the water, but a shortage of power after it is on the roadand a noticeable increase in fuel consumption. In terms of durability, it is a real leader, which is confirmed by the considerable popularity of this model among taxi drivers. If we manage to get a copy with a documented service history, you should not be afraid of high mileage (which will be rather inevitable).

  • Years of production: 2003-2009
  • Prices: From $4,200 to $7,300
  • Pros: Modern design, low (for a hybrid) servicing costs, spacious interior
  • Cons: Limited visibility, a large share of worn-out cars, the engine cannot cope with the road

Toyota Yaris

Theoretically, the Yaris hybrid seems to meet all the requirements for city cars: it is easy to maneuver in parking lots, and at the same time you can comfortably and efficiently move between intersections. In addition, it actually burns little – maybe not as much as the inscription on the top photo says, but reaching 4-5 liters in urban rush hours is not that difficult. The drive system of the Yaris hybrid is related to the power unit of the Prius III. 100 hp gives similar performance to the 1.33 gasoline unit.

Importantly, the use of batteries did not limit the spaciousness in such a small car – they were placed under the sofa. Mechanically, Yaris rarely require intervention, but in hybrid versions, we should pay attention to the brakes: although the pads wear slower, the less frequent operation of the system does not help the condition of the brake calipers.

  • In production: 2012-2020
  • Prices: From $7,800 to $19,400
  • Pros: Convenience in the city, low consumption in traffic jams, rich equipment
  • Cons: Poor soundproofing, low quality of finishing materials, less popularity compared to other hybrid Toyota cars

Toyota Prius III

Here is our leader: modern, economical, reflecting Toyota’s experience in building Prius III hybrid cars. From the outside, the car looks more like an extensive facelift of the previous generation than the new model. Bigger changes happened under the hood. The combustion part of the drive was taken over by the 1.8 engine, and the total drive power increased to 136 hp (it was also used in the Auris I Hybrid and Lexus CT 200h).

It may not have introduced an extraordinary revolution in performance, but the system accelerates the Prius faster and burns even less. You don’t want to break either: many Priuses travel hundreds of thousands or even half a million kilometers without major failures. Of course, you have to bear in mind that the batteries supplying the electric unit will “die” sooner than the engine (especially when the car has been standing more than driving).

Used batteries can be purchased for $500 – $750 or for a similar amount to regenerate the old ones. Toyota in this generation of Prius also proposed a Plug-In Hybrid variant with a battery charged from the socket (it will travel up to 25 km only “on electricity”) and a family, 7-person Prius +.

  • Years of production: 2009-2016
  • Prices: From $7,500 to $15,500
  • Pros: More efficient drive unit, minimal failure rate, easy resale
  • Cons: High prices of used cars, still limited functionality, average interior finish

Why is it worth getting interested in a used hybrid car?

It’s simple: “hybrids” are indeed economical, and this minimal fuel consumption does not come with a meager performance. Obviously, fuel consumption reduced to a minimum will be achieved with the appropriate “treatment” of the hybrid car.

That is, using the power of the electric motor to the maximum: we should therefore limit the number of sudden presses of the gas pedal and brake as often as possible with the “engine”. We should remember, however, that hybrid cars are not particularly suited to a long break in operation – a discharged traction battery loses its properties faster.

What is the problem with hybrid cars?

Fuel-fired engines in “hybrids” usually have a large capacity and low power, and the low effort of the structure has a positive effect on its durability. Electric units are also considered to be durable.

As a rule, they stop working when the traction batteries are completely discharged. In properly operated hybrid cars, the factory set is sufficient for 300,000-400,000 km, later it may require replacement of some or all of the cells ( so-called regeneration or replacement of the battery ).

Unfortunately, it costs of thousands USD. In addition, the inverter may need to be replacedwhich is the voltage regulating part of the traction battery. Fortunately, the infinitely variable gearboxes, often found in “hybrids”, in addition to their unpleasant sound, occasionally cause any problems for drivers.


Thats are 10 certain hybrid cars that you might want to consider. All of them are of Japanese origin and when you hit a well-kept specimen, you can count on the actual failure rate.

Leave a Comment