From hyper efficiency to major boosts in speed, plug-in hybrids are the goldilocks zone of electrification. Here are ten of the best on sale today.
A major reason car buyers say they’re hesitant about jumping into an electric vehicle is range anxiety, the worry that they’ll run out of charge on longer drives. This worry isn’t just anti-EV propaganda either. Range anxiety is well founded given the sparce charging infrastructure, especially in rural areas, and how HVAC use can severely drain your batteries in cold or hot weather.
Though charging infrastructure and battery tech continue to see major advances, in the meantime, plug-in hybrids offer a perfect bridge technology that combines the range and reliability of internal combustion with limited electric-only ranges that cover most of one’s daily driving. Below we cover the best in an unsung but growing automotive segment that deserves your attention.
The Hyundai Ioniq PHEV might appear unassuming, but it’s one of the best plug-in hybrids on the market. The Ioniq’s 1.6L four-cylinder combines with an electric motor for a serviceable 139 horsepower. But what’s impressive is this system’s efficiency with 52 combined mpg, 119 MPGe (miles per gallon electric equivalent), and up to 29 miles of electric-only range. Of course, you also get the Ioniq’s comfortable ride, well-designed interior featuring recycled materials, and a starting price of just $27,895.
The Kia Niro shared the same powertrain as the Ioniq but given its dissimilar crossover dimensions the numbers come out a little different. The Niro PHEV offers up to 26 miles of electric-only driving, 50 combined mpg, and 105 MPGe. Standard tech includes a 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Because the Niro was designed as an EV/hybrid, it doesn’t sacrifice cargo space the way other converted hybrids to. With the rear seats up, the Niro has 19.4 cu ft of cargo space and 54.5 cu ft with the rear seats folded down. Hyundai/Kia make great crossovers and the Niro is made even better thanks to its plug-in hybrid powertrain.
Speaking of making the good great, the Chrysler Pacifica, that paragon of practicality gets even more so as a PHEV. The Pacifica’s 3.6L V6 is aided by two electric motors for 260 horsepower, 30 mpg combined, 84 MPGe, and an electric-only range of 32 miles. The Pacifica offers a smooth ride and comfortable seating all around (no Stow-and-Go here, but the replacement seats are more supportive than the regular ones). Its 140.5 cu ft of cargo space makes it the most capacious vehicle on this list. Loads of standard safety features round out an impressive package.
The Lexus NX450+ is the most powerful and most efficient version of the NX. This moderately sized crossover slots between the smaller Lexus UX and the venerable Lexus RX and shares the same plug-in hybrid powertrain as the Toyota RAV4 Prime. This means it boasts 302 horsepower, a zero to sixty sprint of 5.5 seconds, and standard all-wheel drive. Efficiency numbers come in at 35 mpg combined, 84 MPGe, and 37 miles of electric only range. A subtle yet luxurious interior is roomy for its class and centers on a massive 14-inch infotainment touchscreen.
Of course, the Toyota RAV4 Prime make this list as well. The crossover of crossovers makes even better use of its plug-in hybrid powertrain with 42 miles of electric only range (!), 38 mpg combined, and 94 MPGe. Like the regular RAV4 the Prime version has a comfortable and compliant ride, high reliability,, impeccable safety scores, and driver assist tech galore. The only downside to the RAV4 Prime? It’s in such high demand you may have trouble finding one to buy.
The plug-in hybrid version of Toyota’s OG hybrid, the Prius Prime, retains all that makes the Prius a Prius, for good and ill. The quirky, aerodynamic body style, the off-set gauge cluster, and weird Prius shifter are all here. But then so is the unmatched efficiency. The Prius Prime boast 25 miles of electric only range, 54 mpg combined, and 133 MPGe. The hatchback body style provides plentiful cargo room, and the spacious interior is as comfortable as it is unique.
Recently, the brand most dedicated to outdoor fun, Jeep, has finally made its pivot into electrification. First in this effort was the plug-in hybrid version of their best-selling Wrangler. The Wrangler 4xe (that’s four by E) offers a stout 375 horsepower, 470 lb ft of torque, and a zero to sixty run comparable to that of the RAV4 Prime at 5.5 seconds. But making the already squishy Jeep more sluggish with the added weight of hybrid batteries doesn’t help its on-road manners. Thankfully, off-road, the 4xe does just what a Jeep should, thanks to items like an automatically disconnecting front sway bar, 10.8-inches of ground clearance, and the ability to ford up to 30 inches of water. The 21 electric range, 20 combined mpg, and 49 MPGe aren’t the most impressive on this list, but the Wrangler 4xe is easily the most rugged option out there for PHEVs.
Not all plug-in hybrids are purely utilitarian. Hybrid powertrains can actually enliven response, as we find in a host of BMWs best represented in their X5 xDrive45e. Clunky name aside, the PHEV version of BMW’s popular X5 SUV makes the most of its electrification. The X5’s 3.0L inline-six is paired with an electric motor for 389 horsepower and 443 lb ft of torque. This gives the X5 plenty of scoot, with a 4.8 second run to sixty mph. This being a BMW, all the luxury accoutrements of the regular X5 are here including a refined interior, modern tech, and a comfortable, compliant ride. The X5 xDrive45e’s sportiness cuts into fuel economy with 26 combined mpg, 46 MPGe, and a redemptive 30 miles of electric driving.
BWM isn’t the only German company making effective use of plug-in hybrids, either. Porsche offers two different iterations of their best-selling Cayenne as PHEVs. The Cayenne E-Hybrid runs a 3.0L V6 assisted by an electric motor for 455 horsepower. The Cayenne E-Hybrid Turbo S ups the ante with a twin-turbo 4.0L V8 and electric motor making 670 horsepower. Of course, all that power comes at an expense to efficiency, the E-Hybrid gets 21 mpg combined and 16 miles of electric-only range while the E-Hybrid Turbo S comes in at 18 mpg combined and 14 miles of electric-only range. Even so, the E-Hybrid versions of the Cayenne showcase some of the best handling you’ll find in any SUV, regardless of powertrain.
By far the speed champion on this list (of not-so-fast cars) is the Ferrari SF90 Stradale. The SF90 is a plug-in hybrid supercar that demonstrates what’s possible when you fuse internal combustion and electrification. In the SF90 a twin-turbo 4.0L V8 combines with three electric motors for a net 986 horsepower. All that power allows the SF90 to keep pace with the fastest pure EVs with a zero to sixty time of around 2 seconds. And just in case you thought the SF90 can’t be practical, the Ferrari does provide 15.5 miles of electric-only range, a combined 18 mpg, and 51 MPGe. The Ferrari SF90 Stradale is a wild car. The $500,000 dollar price tag may seem steep, but given it keeps up with Bugattis and Koenigseggs worth four to six times as much, it’s really a heck of a deal.