plug-in hybrid vehicle

What Are the Top 10 Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles?

August 19, 2021 - Emily Newton

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The electric vehicle market is growing at record rates. Major automakers have doubled down on EV investments, creating electric models of flagship vehicles, like the Ford F-150. Brands like Tesla became household names almost overnight. Many consumers won’t transition from gas-powered cars to EVs just yet, however. Range anxiety, the sticker price of a new EV, and the sometimes higher cost of EV maintenance make some people hesitant. Plug-in hybrids — or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) — are the middle-ground between pure hybrids and electric vehicles. The growing PHEV market lets people take small steps into the world of electric vehicles without fully committing to EVs.

What Are Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs)?

PHEVs contain both an electric engine and an internal combustion engine (ICE). They run on electricity by default but can switch to a gas-powered engine as needed.

When the electric battery runs out, the car automatically uses the internal combustion engine. Some users can manually choose which engine the car uses. In some (but not all) PHEVs, the ICE and electric engine work together siimultaneously to power the car.

As a result, you can drive without producing emissions so long as you have a charge. There’s also no risk stranded when your battery runs out.

1. BMW i3 (2013–Present)

The BMW i3 is unusual for a plug-in hybrid vehicle. Its electric range is significantly higher than the car’s gas range.

The car can drive for 126 to 153 miles on its battery alone. That’s a range comparable to some dedicated electric vehicles. Moreover, it provides an additional 50 miles with the optional gas engine.

When consumers want a higher-end plug-in hybrid, the i3 is an excellent option. But those wanting a luxury car may find the car’s default features lacking.

2. Honda Clarity PHEV (2017–Present)

In the U.S., Honda has offered a plug-in hybrid version of the Clarity since the 2017 model year. The 2021 version of this mid-size car offers a battery-only range of up to 48 miles and a combined range of 340 miles. 

The car offers excellent fuel economy, a smooth ride, and the cabin features you would expect from a modern mid-size sedan.

3. Toyota Prius Prime (2016–Present)

The Prius Prime is the plug-in version of Toyota’s well-known line of hybrids. Like many Toyota cars, the Prius Prime is known for being an affordable and reliable workhorse. It’s not the fanciest hybrid available, but it’s certainly one of the most accessible and dependable.

The car’s overall range is impressive, able to drive up to 620 miles on a full charge and a single tank of gas. The electric-only range, however, is limited compared to higher-end PHEVs. You’ll only get a range of around 25 miles with just the battery.

For environmentally conscious consumers who want an upgrade to the familiar and reliable Toyota Prius, the Prius Prime is an excellent option.

4. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2001–Present)

One of the oldest lines of plug-in hybrids available, the Outlander PHEV SUV from Mitsubishi has proven itself to be reliable enough to sustain more than two decades of production.

This SUV is a good fit for a driver who wants a reliable vehicle with a lot of storage space. The 2022 model, for example, seats five, has a towing capacity of 1,500 pounds, and almost 80 square feet of cargo space with the second and third rows of seats folded.

What the Outlander PHEV lacks compared to the competition, however, is range. Even the 2022 Outlander has an electric range of just 23 miles, not enough to cover the average American’s commute of around 32 miles.

The small battery size does mean that, in areas with Level 3 EV charging stations, you could be able to fully charge your car within just a half-hour. Over the next few years, as EV charging infrastructure improves, this may make the Outlander an even better option than it is right now.

A growing market of aftermarket parts also means the Outlander’s interior mats and similar components may be easy to replace or upgrade if desired — potentially making the car a better long-term investment.

5. Chevrolet Volt (2010–2019)

While the Volt was discontinued in 2019 in favor of the all-electric and perhaps too similarly named Chevrolet Bolt, the car retains a cult following among owners. It’s known for its reliability, minimal battery degradation, and sophisticated engineering — including a liquid-cooling system that keeps the battery in optimal operating condition.

Early-model Volts had a range of around 40 miles, while later models could drive as far as 53 miles on a single charge. Combined with the gas engine, Volts have a range of anywhere between 380 to 420 miles, assuming both a full tank of gas and a fully charged battery.

However, as Volts age, they will need repairs like any other car. Most Volts outside California came with a standard 8-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Right now, in July 2021, many used Volts are starting to age out of these warranties or be driven beyond the 100,000-mile limit.

You’ll also likely have to invest in a Level 2 charger, though these are cheaper than ever, and the consumer market for home charging stations is growing all the time.

While there could be some drawbacks to adopting a used Volt, the car’s history and reported reliability may make the investment worth considering — especially for enthusiasts of electric cars wanting to own one of Chevrolet’s most interesting experiments from the past few decades.

6. Jeep Wrangler 4Xe (2021–Present)

The 4Xe is a PHEV Jeep. The car offers 21 miles of electric range before the gas motor begins to kick in. Like most Jeeps, this is a large vehicle fit for both urban and adventurous, off-the-road driving. The interior is spacious, there’s a serious amount of cargo space, and the electric engine helps bolster the effective mileage of the vehicle.

For drivers wanting a four-wheel-drive SUV suitable for off-road use, but not willing to commit to a fully electric vehicle, the 4Xe is a great option.

7. Hyundai Ioniq PHEV (2017–Present)

For car buyers looking for a highly efficient and practical vehicle, the Ioniq is a great choice. It provides some electric range — up to 30 miles — without requiring a driver to commit to a fully electric vehicle.

The car has a lot in common with the rest of Hyundai’s lineup, including a sleek and comfortable interior. While some cargo space is taken up by the car’s electric battery, it still offers a decent amount of storage for long-distance trips.

8. Karma GS-6 and Revero GT (2021–Present)

The Karma line has three names for three variations on one model of car. The GS-6 and Revero GT are the plug-in hybrid versions of a new luxury model from Karma — the GS-6e is the all-electric version, set to launch after the PHEV models have already hit the market.

Like other luxury PHEVs, the GS-6 features a good all-electric range of around 60 miles. With the gas engine, it has a combined range of around 328 miles.

The car, which starts at $81,700 but can cost as much as $146,600 for the Revero GT Luxury, may not be an option for the average consumer. But car enthusiasts with some money to spend should consider this luxury PHEV.

9. MINI Cooper SE Countryman ALL4 PHEV (2021–Present)

For those looking for the distinctive style of the MINI Cooper with the sustainability of a PHEV, there is the SE Countryman ALL4 PHEV. It has an all-electric range of 17 miles and a combined range of 300 miles.

The car features a great deal of storage space, quick handling, touchless entry. and a comfortable interior.

This MINI Cooper, however, isn’t quite so mini — it’s the heaviest vehicle to date in the MINI Cooper lineup and dwarfs most other Coopers.

10. Kia Niro PHEV (2017–Present)

The Niro is Kia’s main PHEV offering. The 2022 model has an electric-only range of 26 miles and a combined range of up to 520 miles. It’s fuel-efficient, affordable, and a highly practical option for drivers interested in reducing their reliance on gasoline.

Buyers may also want to consider Kia’s handful of other PHEV offerings, like the Kia Optima PHEV and the Optima Sportswagon PHEV.

The Growing Plug-in Hybrid Market

Right now, these are some of the best plug-in hybrids available. For consumers who want to reduce gas consumption but are worried about range issues or other EV challenges, these cars can provide a great third option. As EV infrastructure throughout the U.S. improves and more charging stations come online cars like these are likely to become an even better investment.

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Author

Emily Newton

Emily Newton is a technology and industrial journalist and the Editor in Chief of Revolutionized. She enjoys reading and writing about how technology is changing the world around us.

1 Comment

  1. Jerwin Tabot on September 1, 2021 at 2:58 pm

    God choices… However… I do not understand why the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime which is a plug-in hybrid is not mentioned. Driving one myself for over 3 months now, it is just one incredible and super efficient plug-in hybrid. Even though the brochure says 42 EV miles per charge, I have been averaging about 50 EV miles per charge, and that is with the air conditioning running all the time. Handles well, right is very smooth, very fuel efficient, and looks totally RAD. Not much else to say, as I’ve seen several articles that list the RAV4 Prime at the very top of hybrid plugins. Have a nice day!!!

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