More people are accepting the use of a battery pack and an electric motor to work in tandem with a petrol or a diesel engine to reduce fuel consumption.
Toyota and Lexus have sold more than 200,000 such hybrids in the UK over the last 15 years and with 95% of them still running reliability is proven.
The best seller is the petrol electric Auris Hybrid and if you can afford to buy one, running costs are low.
Hybrid prices start at £20,045 and the test car was £23,890; but you can get an Auris for £15,645.
The latest styling is sleek and sharper than before with blue tinges on badges, lights, carpets etc to tell folk you are driving a hybrid.
There is a normal speedometer, but instead of a rev counter there£€™s a £€˜power meter£€™ which shows whether the engine and other systems are charging the battery pack; whether you are driving economically or using power to accelerate.
In the bottom of the dial is a READY sign. If this is lit it means the car will move though the petrol engine might not be running. It tends to move off in electric vehicle (EV) mode before quickly switching to petrol and electric dual mode.
The normal gear lever is replaced by a selector with a choice of R (reverse), N (neutral) and D (drive). There is also B for stronger, more energy regenerating braking.
An information screen can show distance and fuel consumption for individual journeys, trip mileage, energy monitor, a digital speedometer, average fuel consumption (50.7mpg) and instantaneous consumption.
You can also call up average speed, miles to empty, direction of travel, audio settings and any messages. The colour satellite navigation screen is a good size and clear. The system has warning beeps for fixed speed cameras. The needle on the power meter turns orange when it goes into the power section of the dial warning you are using more fuel.
It£€™s not a quick car and because of the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) hard acceleration creates a droning noise as the petrol engine stays at constant revs and the gearbox changes instead.
The electrically assisted power steering is vague and you can feel the heavy weight of the batteries when cornering. The car is happiest in urban driving. Around town the ride is lumpy but it becomes more supple at higher speeds. There is some din from the tyres over harsh surfaces. The three spoke steering wheel has a nice feel to it and has buttons for easy operation of the radio and sound system.
Toyota has smartened up the Auris Hybrid£€™s interior with piano black style trim on the door handles and dashboard. There is also stitched leather trim on the lower dashboard areas and centre console.
Practicality is good with large front door pockets large enough for big water bottles. The braking response is wooden from speed and you can feel the slight grinding you get with regenerative brakes which pump charge into the car£€™s batteries. A trip round the Cotswolds saw an average fuel consumption of 52.3mpg. Good for a1.8 litre petrol engine hauling the extra weight of a battery pack and electric motor. Toyota£€™s own press picture shows 41.9mpg.
Driving comfort over long distance was marred for me by there being too much under the knee support. The seat backrest adjustment is coarse with a notched lever rather than a more finely variable rotary wheel. The backrest can be set upright for more boot space or reclined. The back seats split 60:40. Boot space varies from 435 litres to 1,200 litres.
Verdict Good but doesn£€™t move the hybrid game on