Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) split the difference between pure battery-powered vehicles and those that run solely on conventional gasoline-powered engines. PHEVs are typically a special version of an existing model featuring a downsized gas motor, as well as a significant battery pack that can be plugged and recharged.
Thusly, they offer the ability to drive anywhere from a dozen to several dozen miles on battery power alone, without any tailpipe emissions. But they can also run entirely on gas, so there is no risk of being stranded if the battery pack is depleted. (In addition, they can combine gas and electric power for greater efficiency.)
PHEVs can thus be a good option for people who want to reduce their tailpipe emissions, and who have relatively close commutes or mainly drive short distances every day, but want the option to take long drives without the need for lengthy recharging. They’re also great for gaining access to some carpool lanes or special parking spaces reserved for electric vehicles, and many are eligible for a $7,500 electric car federal tax credit, as well as other state and local tax credits.
Here is a breakdown of some of the latest entries into the PHEV category, from mainstream, moderate, and luxury automakers.
Toyota Prius Prime: The Prius revolutionized the hybrid car category, normalizing it and bringing it to the masses. This latest-generation plug-in version continues that tradition but with futuristic outré styling.
Electric Range: 25 Miles
Base price: $27,600
Honda Clarity: Featuring a straightforward cockpit, the latest in driver assistance tech, and legendary Honda reliability, the Clarity already makes a great choice. With a stellar EV range, and an affordable price, it is almost unbeatable in the category.
Electric Range: 47 Miles
Base Price: $34,000
Subaru Crosstrek Plug-In Hybrid: Subaru’s first-ever hybrid maintains the brand’s rugged all-wheel-drive, go-anywhere spirit but adds a small battery pack that not only allows minor EV range but also improves acceleration over the gas-powered version.
Electric Range: 17 Miles
Base Price: $34,495
Ford Fusion: The Fusion is a bit long in the tooth, and will be killed off by Ford after this model year—to allow the company to focus more on thirsty pickups and SUVs—so this may be your last chance to purchase the hybrid version of this handsome sedan.
Electric Range: 26 Miles
Base Price: $35,000
Mitsubishi Outlander Hybrid: Mitsubishi has been selling cars in the U.S. since the early ’80s, and is currently the fastest-growing Asian brand in our market. This SUV helps explain why, with a slick shape, usable tech, and hybrid power.
Electric Range: 22 Miles
Base Price: $35,795
Mini Cooper SE Countryman: The styling of Mini vehicles may hearken back to the late 1950s, but this new, fun-loving, four-door, all-wheel-drive version boasts significant tech, including improvements in its EV system, resulting in a 30% boost in range.
Electric Range: 35 Miles
Base Price: $36,900
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid: Minivans sometimes get knocked as bland, but if you have to carry kids, pets, and/or gear, they are about the most efficient and comfortable vehicles out there, and are loaded with thoughtful convenience and packaging features.
Electric Range: 32 Miles
Base Price: $39,995
Volvo V60 T8: We think the V60 wagon may be Volvo’s best-looking current vehicle, and that’s saying something, given the brand’s lovely lineup. It’s also a power play, the range-topping iteration of its long-roof model, with stellar acceleration and handling.
Electric Range: 22 Miles (estimate)
Base Price: $67,300
Audi A8 e-tron: Audi is on a plug-in hybrid electric offensive in the U.S., with plans to bring a trio of PHEVs stateside. The first will arrive later this year, a version of its ultra-luxury four-door, the A8. A midsize Q5 SUV and A7 fastback will be hybridized in 2020.
Electric Range: 24 Miles
Base Price: $91,000 (estimate)
Range Rover PHEV: Range Rovers coddle their passengers in a high-riding, high-luxe, high-capability environment. This mildly electric powered version of that prototypically classic SUV makes no sacrifices to those capabilities, while adding silent EV power.
Electric Range: 31 Miles
Base Price: $95,550
BMW 745e: The 7-Series has a marvelous interior, with gorgeous trim details, and more LCD screens than you can imagine (there’s even one on the key). And the exterior and ride are stellar as well. Its minimal EV range may not impress as much, but it will delight.
Electric Range: 16 Miles
Base Price: $95,550
Mercedes-Benz S560e: The S-Class has been the industry standard for ultra-luxury sedans for…well, pretty much since the brand helped invent the automobile in the 19th century. This subtly electric-powered edition adds a smooth, silent jewel to that crown.
Electric Range: 31 Miles
Base Price: $109,750
Bentley Bentayga Hybrid: Bentley's first plug-in hybrid is also its current entry-level vehicle, a fact that is reflected in its meager range and its somewhat unrefined V-6 motor but not in its extremely elegant wood-, leather-, wool-, and metal-trimmed cabin.
Electric Range: 16 miles
Base Price: $156,900
Porsche Cayenne Turbo SE-Hybrid: As with many things Porsche does, it has applied plug-in hybrid technology in the service of speed. This is the German brand’s fastest-ever SUV, capable of speeding from zero to 60 m.p.h. in 3.6 seconds at a top speed of 183 m.p.h.
Electric Range: 20 miles
Base Price: $163,250
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest