Used hybrids have been getting a lot more attention recently. The bestselling used import in 2021 was a hybrid - the humble Toyota Aqua. Recently we have been hearing from Members who considering buying a used hybrid due to either their concerns about the increase in fuel costs and or wanting to do their bit to reduce their carbon footprint but are on the fence about the switch to a pure battery electric vehicle (BEV). Some Members have expressed that they feel more confident with a shuffle toward electrification by starting with a used hybrid model but want our advice on what options are available under $20k.

Used hybrids are plentiful in New Zealand, with many ex-fleet models recently becoming available and expected to pop up in used car dealerships in the coming years. Hybrids are also becoming ever more enticing for buyers as we see fuel prices soar to three dollars a litre. Another sweetener is the Clean Car programme rebates that will be coming into force for low emission vehicles first registered from 1 April 2022, making hybrid models a more economical choice.

Currently, hybrids are not eligible, but they will be introduced as part of the scheme from 1 April 2022. From which time the Clean Car programme will expand to offer a range of rebates for imported new and used low CO2 emission vehicles. High CO2 emission vehicles will be charged a fee. The programme is expected to prevent up to 9.2 million tonnes of CO2 emissions and will help customers with the upfront cost of switching to low emission vehicles such as hybrids.

Toyota Aqua/Prius C

hybrids u20k aqua

A great compact choice for city slickers, this Japanese domestic-spec vehicle is highly regarded as an economical petrol hybrid option.

Toyota launched an all-new Aqua model in Japan in July 2021, and at the time the manufacturer shared the model’s outstanding sales success – with more than 1.87 million Aqua units sold worldwide, accounting for reductions in CO2 emissions of approximately 12.4 million tons.

The Aqua is powered by a 1.5-litre engine, which is mated to a CVT gearbox. It utilises Toyota’s rock solid third-generation hybrid synergy drive system, which uses a small 0.9-kWh nickel-metal hydride technology battery. This frugal model sips only 3.9L/100Km and has a CO2 output of 90g/km (3P-WLTP).

Lexus CT200h

hybrids u20k lexus

The name CT200h, which stands for (Creative Touring) is a stylish coupe-like hatchback with an aggressive wide stance, sweeping lines and sporty appearance. Lexus boasts that the performance is more aligned to a 2.0-litre car despite its 1.8-litre capacity.

The CT200h is powered by a 1.8-litre Atkinson-cycle petrol engine that delivers 73kW the electric motor also produces an additional 27kW, which depending on load and conditions, can operate individually or in parallel to produce a total of 100kW with a fuel consumption figure of only 4.1L/100km and a CO2 output of 105 gr/km (3P-WLTP). If a flair of luxury is important, then the CT200h is a stylish yet practical hatchback that escapes traditional techy hybrid looks.

Prius Alpha/V

hybrids u20 prius alpa

If the classic Prius is just a bit too small for your liking, fear not, the Prius Alpha is a great solution if you need occasional room for seven. While the engine isn’t the most exciting with 73kW and 142Nm of torque, the hybrid’s combined power is decent at 100kW - so it’s still just fine if you are wanting to travel in comfort with added room. According to JDM specifications, the 2014 G spec is rated at just over 3.8L/100km and a CO2 output of 111 g/km (3P-WLTP).

The Prius Alpha uses the same 1.8-litre Atkinson-cycle petrol engine used in the conventional Prius. With a 60kW traction motor, it also shares the tried and tested Hybrid Synergy Drive system however Prius Alpha 7 seater variant uses a compact Lithium-ion battery pack, unlike the standard five-seat Prius which use Nickel-Metal Hybride (Ni-MH) batteries.

Mazda Axela Hybrid

hybrids u20k mazdared

The Mazda Axela Hybrid is gaining more popularity, although not the most popular of the hybrids. It is favoured for its slicker less eco-friendly styling. The typical third generation Mazda Axela Hybrid features Mazda’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder SKYACTIV petrol engine matched to an electric motor. Power is delivered through a continuously variable automatic transmission and features a power control system sourced from Toyota.

The electric part of this vehicle has been taken directly from the Toyota Prius range; the Mazda Axela Hybrid returns fuel consumption of 30.8km/L, which equates to 3.2L/100km on the Japanese cycle, Right Car rates the CO2 output at 105g/km (3P-WLTP).

In terms of power, the output combined ends up at 100kW - although some say the Axela Hybrid feels more powerful than its Prius rival.

We also found several variants that had received cosmetic enhancements to give the appearance of a sportier car. Because its appearance is similar to the regular ICE variants, it’s hard to tell them apart. So, if it’s understated elegance that you are looking for then the Axela Hybrid is the car for you.


We envision more manufactures offering hybrid and mild-hybrid variants as we look to the future and more manufactures look to reduce their carbon footprint.

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