Do you want to go green, but feel wary of making the switch to an all-electric vehicle? If so, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are the way to go.
There are advantages and disadvantages to hybrid and electric cars,, and PHEVs are the best of both. PHEVs made for drivers who want to drive primarily on battery power, yet have the option of a gasoline engine from time to time. Hybrid electric vehicles have large enough battery packs to drive at highway speeds on battery power, and gasoline engines that take over when the batteries are drained.
PHEV drivers enjoy many of the same benefits as EV drivers, with an electric motor that develops maximum power (torque) at a much lower RPM than similar cars with gas engines. Many PHEVs also qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500. And even when it switches to gas, the electric motor has enough juice to act as a turbocharger. It can reach top speeds faster and make your fuel efficiency much higher.
To make the most of your PHEV, you’ll want regular access to an electric vehicle charging station at home and maybe at work, too. And if you have a PHEV like the 2021 Honda Clarity, which can drive 47 miles at highway speeds on batteries alone, an entry-level charger is going to get frustrating. These Level 1 chargers, which use a standard 120V household outlet, add only four to five miles of range per hour. If your commute fully drained your batteries, it would take 10 to 12 hours to recharge.
As the world transitions more towards electric cars, it’s clear that PHEVs will be a mainstay of electric vehicle offerings for years to come. Major automakers are creating new PHEV models every year that range from affordable sedans to powerful SUVs to luxury speedsters. Specifically, what cars are plug-in hybrid electric vehicles? From Tesla to Toyota to Ferrari, how do you choose the right car for you? It doesn’t help that there are many lists with different information, rankings, and criteria for all the PHEVs!
We’re here to help. We’ve compiled a list of PHEVs from four major car-ranking websites. Below are the vehicles that made it on at least three of these four lists. Read on for the top PHEVs on the market, sorted by list price.
Overview: The Hyundai Ioniq is one of the least expensive new PHEVs you can buy today, a great plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that can satisfy everyone. It has a comfortable interior and impressive fuel economy even after the battery drains.
List Price: $26,700, with a federal tax credit of $4,500
Electric-Only Range: 29 miles
Gas-mode MPG: 52 MPG
Maintenance: We couldn’t to find information on maintenance costs, but you can expect to pay less on upkeep than you would with a gas-powered car, especially if you drive on electric-only mode.
Experience: The backseats are tight and the ride can be jarring at top speeds but it will do the job, and it’s made with environmentally friendly materials. And it comes with a sunroof and safety features like blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alerts.
Overview: Toyota has added a plug-in option to their iconic Prius, making it the best-selling PHEV since 2018. It’s the Toyota Prius Prime drivers have come to know and love, with more flexibility than ever. The Prius Prime’s shell has been specifically designed to reduce drag at every corner, helping improve overall range and giving it a much sleeker look than previous models.
List Price: $28,220, and it qualifies for the full $7,500 tax credit
Electric-Only Range: 25 miles
Gas-mode MPG: 54 MPG
Maintenance: Like any PHEV, the Prius Prime costs less to maintain than a traditional gas vehicle. Edmunds estimates its five-year maintenance and repair costs to be a bit on the high side for hybrids.
Experience: The Prius Prime gets routine blowback for how unconventional it looks and how conventionally it drives. This vehicle is not your car if you're looking for quick acceleration or luxury interiors. But that always seems a bit unfair. Toyota made the Prius revolutionize fuel efficiency and run for hundreds of thousands of miles. And over the past two decades they’ve refined those elements masterfully. If you’re looking to save money, drive in comfort, and rarely pay for gas, the Prius Prime delivers.
Overview: This is a great first PHEV, with a low price point, excellent fuel efficiency, and roomy seats for a subcompact SUV.
List Price: $29,590, and it qualifies for the full $7,500 tax credit
Electric-Only Range: 26 miles
Gas-mode MPG: 46 MPG
Maintenance: We couldn’t find information on maintenance costs, but you can expect to pay less on upkeep than you would with a gas-powered car, especially if you drive on electric-only mode.
Experience: This car is comfortable and capable, though not as quick as many rivals and with poor acceleration. Your ride will be smooth and safe, with great features like driver-assistance programs, cyclist detection and smart cruise control.
Overview: The 2021 Honda Clarity PHEV brings the style, reliability and comfort of Honda’s best-selling sedans while delivering an industry-leading all-electric range. The Honda Clarity offers enough battery power to get the average commuter to and from work without ever using gas.
List Price: $33,400, and it qualifies for the full $7,500 tax credit
Electric-Only Range: 47 miles
Gas-mode MPG: 42 MPG
Maintenance: CarEdge calculates the Honda Clarity’s five-year expected maintenance to be about 23% higher than Prius Prime’s, which is already a bit high for the industry average. Still, expect to run into less maintenance than with a gas-powered car, especially brake maintenance.
Experience: The Clarity boasts a well-equipped cabin and offers an incredibly smooth ride, as long as there’s juice in the batteries. When it’s running on gas alone, the Clarity is notoriously noisy.
Overview: When unveiled at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, the Mitsubishi Outlander was one of the only PHEVs available. This plug-in hybrid electric vehicle has held its own as so many more PHEVs came onto the market, and is still ahead of the pack in its niche. Now it’s one of the few family-sized plug-in hybrid SUV models, with three entire rows of seating.
List Price: $37,490 with a federal $6,587 tax credit
Electric-Only Range: 24 miles
Gas-mode MPG: 26 MPG
Maintenance: According to CarEdge, maintenance for the Outlander is less expensive than for other SUVs. With the plug-in hybrid version, when you drive with electricity, putting less stress on the internal combustion engine, expect these costs to be even less.
Experience: This spacious car charges with both a plug-in charger and regenerative braking. It’s not the fastest car, but you can drive anywhere you like with five driving modes — Eco, Gravel, Snow, Sport, and Normal.
Overview: The Rav4 is a popular sporty SUV you’ve probably seen frequently on highways — and it’s a PHEV with one of the longest battery ranges. The 42 miles of electric driving is very impressive and will get you most places you need to be. It’s an exceptional vehicle that will get you a big electric battery for your buck.
List Price: $38,100
Electric-Only Range: 42 miles, and the 2021 and 2022 models qualify for the full $7,500 tax credit
Gas-mode MPG: 38 MPG
Maintenance: CarEdge estimates that maintenance for the RAV4 Prime will about a third less expensive than other SUVs on the market.
Experience: This is the fastest four-door Toyota — only the two-seater sports car Supra has faster acceleration. It has a quiet, high-quality cabin, spacious, comfortable seats, and lots of great standard features, like heated seats. It's not known to have the most comfortable seats but has roomy large doors for getting in and out, excellent outward visibility, and great crash-test ratings.
Overview: The most popular hybrid minivan, the Chrysler Pacifica takes a classic Chrysler family car and makes it even more economical. What was previously a trade-off of comfort for fuel economy gets erased by the Chrysler Pacifica’s impressive all-electric range.
List Price: $39,995, and it qualifies for the full $7,500 tax credit
Electric-Only Range: 32 miles
Gas mode MPG: 30 MPG
Maintenance: Edmunds estimates the five-year maintenance and repair bill for the Pacifica to be 16% lower than that of the Prius Prime, outstanding for a car of its size.
Experience: The cabin is surprisingly beautiful, with 10-inch display monitors in the front and behind both driver and passenger seats, heated leather seats and a panoramic sunroof. It has a 20-speaker Harmon/Kardon sound system and a “fam cam” feature that allows the driver to see what’s happening in the second and third rows of the van. All told, the Pacifica is an incredibly spacious and comfortable way to move the family around town.
Overview: This family-oriented station wagon with great passenger and cargo space and a speedy acceleration. The Volvo V60 doesn’t have the best electric range, but it will get you to work and through your daily business if you charge frequently.
List Price: $42,045, and it qualifies for a tax credit of $5,002 for the 2019 model and $5,419 for newer models
Electric-Only Range: 22 miles
Gas-mode MPG: 30 MPG
Maintenance: The Volvo V60 will cost you about twenty percent less on maintenance fees, according to CarEdge.
Experience: In this car, you can drive 0 to 60 in 4.3 seconds, while reveling in luxurious Nappa leather seats and gold-colored safety belts. Roomy yet sleeker than most family-sized vehicles, with a beautiful Scandinavian interior, this car is equipped with numerous safety features and a liftgate to make storage easy.
Overview: If you’re looking for a luxury sports car in your plug-in electric vehicle, this is it. The Audi A7 TFSI e Quattro is a part-sedan part-hatchback that combines speed with beauty, sportiness with practicality.
List Price: $74,900, and it qualifies for the full $7,500 tax credit
Electric-Only Range: 24
Premium gas mode MPG: 27 MPG. Note that this car requires premium, high-octane gasoline. You’ll want to make sure your car is charged so you don’t need to fill up on this expensive gas.
Maintenance: According to CarEdge, maintenance costs will be lower than the industry average by almost 20%, and it has a better chance than average of avoiding a major repair in its first ten years of service. If you primarily use the electric motor, expect your maintenance costs to be even lower.
Experience: This car is fast. And it will bring you up to speed smoothly. It’s powered tandem turbocharged four-cylinder engine and electric motor combine for a robust 362 horsepower. And it has a “quattro” all-wheel drive system that will get you through rugged terrain and rain.
Having the right EV charging station is critical to getting the most out of a PHEV. If you don’t have consistent access to a workplace or public charger, most electric vehicle charging will happen at home overnight. And if you have a PHEV like the 2021 Honda Clarity, which can drive 47 miles at highway speeds on batteries alone, an entry-level charger is going to get frustrating.
These Level 1 chargers, which use a standard 120V household outlet, add only four to five miles of driving range per hour. If your commute fully drained your batteries, it would take 10 to 12 hours to recharge. It may be fine if you’re home from work by 5:30pm every day, and out the door at 8:30 the following day. But if you ever need the car in the evening, or get stuck late at work, charging becomes a headache. Level 2 chargers like the JuiceBox 40 eliminate the need to plan your life around charging your car: they charge up to nine times faster than Level 1 chargers. Using 240V outlets pushes more power into your car’s batteries faster.
The JuiceBox EV charger uses smart charging technology to identify the cheapest energy cost within your charging window. It will draw the most power then, helping you pay less on energy costs. And a mobile app keeps you in control of how much charge to give your car, and when.