10 Most Efficient Plug-In Hybrids

APR 6 2018 BY JIM GORZELANY 37

 

They bridge the gap between conventional hybrids and full electric vehicles.

Essentially the automotive equivalent of the combination VHS/DVD players that helped ease the transition from analog to digital home video, plug-in hybrid cars bridge the gap between purely petrol-powered and full-electric vehicles.

Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) come with a larger battery than conventional gas/electric-powered models that allow them to run for an extended number of miles purely on battery power to bolster their fuel economy and reduce tailpipe emissions. While their all-electric range on a charge is shorter than full EVs, PHEVs effectively eliminate so-called “range anxiety.” Once the battery becomes depleted to a certain level, a PHEV operates like a conventional hybrid, with a subsequent operating range that’s limited only by the amount of gas in the tank.

A PHEV’s full-electric range can be little more than a short sprint on some high-powered luxury plug-ins – it’s just 14 miles in the Porsche Cayenne S e-hybrid – but can run as high as 53 miles with the Chevrolet Volt and 97 miles with the BMW i3 REX; the latter use small gasoline engines as “range extenders” to generate electricity that powers their electric motors once the batteries become drained.

Related – Top 6 Plug-In Hybrids Ranked By Electric Range

As one might expect, plug-in hybrids cost more than their non-corded counterparts. The Toyota Prius Prime, for example, caries a sticker price that’s around $3,600 higher than a base non-plug-in Prius; in the case of the aforementioned BMW i3, the plug-in hybrid is priced $3,850 higher than the full electric version. Unlike standard hybrids, however, plug-ins are eligible for a one-time federal income tax credits of up to $7,500, based on the capacity of the battery used to power the vehicle. If your main concern is the financial bottom line rather than of the environmental variety, you’ll have to run the numbers to determine if a PHEV will be cost-effective based on current gas prices.

We’re featuring the top 10 most fuel-efficient plug-in hybrids in the accompanying images, with both combined city/highway gas and electric equivalent (mpg-e) ratings coming from the EPA’s fueleconomy.gov website; we’ve ranked them according to fuel economy and EV range. All prices cited are for base models and include the automaker’s destination charge, but not options, taxes, or license fees; cash rebates or other sales incentives may be in effect for some models.

10. Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

EV Range: 16 miles; MPG-e: 83; MPG-gas: 36. Base Price: $40,475. The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron is the plug-in hybrid hatchback version of the automaker’s entertaining subcompact sedan. With a paltry EV-only range that saves an owner just $250 a year in fuel costs, and a sticker price that’s $7,550 higher than a gas-only A3, breaking even is a long-distance run here, even with a one-time $4,502 federal tax credit.

 

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

9. Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

EV Range: 33 miles; MPG-e: 84; MPG-gas: 32. Base Price: $43,090. The PHEV version of the Chrysler Pacifica minivan is priced around six grand higher than an equivalent gas-only model, but the EPA says it will save an owner $850 a year at the pump and is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

 

8. Ford Fusion Energi

EV Range: 21 miles; MPG-e: 97; MPG-gas: 42. Base Price: $32,180. The plug-in Ford Fusion Energi is over $5,000 costlier than an equivalent Hybrid version of Ford’s capable and stylish midsize sedan, but buyers can make up that price boost with a $4,007 federal tax credit and lower fuel costs.

 

7. Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

EV Range: 29; MPG-e: 103; MPG-gas: 40; Base Price: $36,105. The fuel economy leader in the line, the Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid performs admirably, and while it’s over $4,200 costlier than the standard Optima Hybrid, unlike that model it’s eligible for a $4,919 federal tax credit. We don’t have EPA ratings as of this writing for the redesigned 2018 version of this model’s equivalent, the Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid, but we expect it to deliver similar numbers to the Optima given here.

 

Kia Niro PHEV

6. Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid

EV Range: 26 miles; MPG-e: 105; MPG-gas: 46; Base Price: $32,440. The new-for-2018 plug-in addition to the Kia Niro family of small crossover SUVs gets good gas mileage and should be eligible for a federal tax credit, though no official numbers were posted at this writing. Hopefully it will be substantial enough to absorb the $5,350 price premium the plug-in version carries over the conventional hybrid Niro.

 

2018 Hyundai Ioniq

5. Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid

EV Range: 29 miles; MPG-e 110; MPG-gas: 52; Base Price: $25,835. The plug-in hybrid version of the Hyundai Ioniq is new for 2018, and it’s the cheapest plug-in car among the top 10 fuel-sippers. What’s more, it’s priced only $2,300 higher than the base Ioniq Hybrid, though the EPA says it will save an owner just $50 a year at the pump; on the plus side of the ledger, it’s eligible for a one-time $4,543 federal tax credit.

 

4. Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid

EV Range: 48 miles; MPG-e 110; MPG-gas: 42; Base Price: $34,290. The plug-in version of the Honda Clarity is also available in both full electric and fuel-cell-powered versions for a full alt-fuel lineup. There’s no standard hybrid equivalent in Honda’s 2018 lineup, except for the Accord Hybrid, which is resigned for 2018 but has not yet been priced as of this writing (the 2-17 model started at around $30,500. The Clarity PHEV is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit

Chevrolet Volt

3. Chevrolet Volt

EV Range: 53 miles; MPG-e: 106; MPG-gas: 42; Base Price: $34,095. The compact Chevrolet Volt four-door hatchback is considered an “extended-range” EV by virtue of a small gasoline engine that runs to power the car’s electric motor once the batteries have been depleted, with the car’s range from there limited only to the amount of gas in the tank. The Volt is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit; there’s no conventional-hybrid equivalent, but the full-electric Chevrolet Bolt EV with a range of 238 miles on a charge, costs $3,400 more (and gets the same tax credit).

2018 BMW i3 Sport

2. BMW i3 REX

EV Range: 97 miles; MPG-e: 109; MPG-gas: 35; Base Price $49,295. This is for the eccentric-looking BMW i3 with the range extender gasoline engine that brings the vehicle’s effective range to 180 miles on a charge/tank. It costs $3,850 more than the full EV version (with a range of 114 miles on a charge), and is likewise eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

 

1. Toyota Prius Prime

EV Range: 25 miles; MPG-e: 133; MPG-gas: 54. Base Price: $27,995. The EPA says the Toyota Prius Prime will cost an owner $600 annually to run for 15,000 miles on both gas and electricity this amounts to a savings of $4,500 in fuel costs over five years compared to the average car. It costs around $3,600 more than a base Prius.

Closing

Check out our Compare EVs page for more info on each and every plug-in electric car sold in the U.S.

Categories: Audi, BMW, Buying Advice, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Lists, Toyota

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37 Comments on "10 Most Efficient Plug-In Hybrids"

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Davek

Ah, so this is the carrot to the stick of that previous article 🙂 Interesting to see the A3 appearing on both lists!

I’d be interested to see how this list would change if the testing cycle included any kind of cabin heating. I assume that the Hyundais and Kias would drop a bit in the ratings, since they can’t heat the cabin in pure EV mode. Kudos to Toyota for being maybe the only manufacturer to put a heat pump in a PHEV!

All in all a good article, but it would have been nice to also see consumption numbers in kWh/km and/or kWh/mile. But of course the MPGe vs kWh/km debate is already an IEVs classic 😉

Benz

Which PHEV model will be most successful (in terms of highest sales numbers) in the US in 2018?

Chevrolet Volt?
Toyota Prius Prime?
Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid?
Ford Fusion Energi?
BMW i3 REX?
Hyundai Ionic Plug-In Hybrid?
Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid?
Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid?

Will

Clarity and Ioniq.
My car would be a mix of voltec electric motor and ioniq hybrid system. Volt exteior, ioniq interior plus power seats and sunroof except the electronics and infotainment which GM have the best not name tesla ( not model 3)

Kdawg

The Toyota PP. You have all the Prius lemmings and the fact Toyota gives it away at loss even w/the tax credit.

Dan

Plus it’s a well worked out total package (if ugly) and includes lots of active safety and convenience features standard in the base model.

It also can be expected to have excellent reliability, durability, and resale value. In CA (where a large percentage of these are sold) you get about $6k off in credits/rebates and Toyota has a long way to go in using up its credits under the existing rules.

If only it didn’t look sooooo odd.

will

Hmm i got to test drive. Its so outputting with its design

Kdawg

“It also can be expected to have excellent reliability, durability, and resale value.”
———-

Hmmm maybe not so much if it’s anything like the regular Prius’ electronics

http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-fi-toyota-prius-defect-20180218-story.html

Scramjett

Toyota has started including the full range of safety tech in their more middle of the road models where only the base models are left out. Given that a PP’s “base” model is akin to most cars’ mid-level model, it’s not too surprising.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

MPGe is a stooooopid metric.

AER and sloppy gas swallowing MPG are the metrics that matter.

Eric Cote

The utility of the metric depends on the goal you’re trying to attain.

Want the most efficiency? MPGe is for you.

Want to reduce gas usage over all else? MPG and AER are your best friends.

Will

Up the aer to 40-45 miles and i will consider it. So volt and clarity are now my choice, waiting for CPO 2017 94ah i3 rex

Jacked Beanstalk

Agreed. MPGe promotes the image of hypermilers dawdling at 55 mph on 70 mph expressways. Not cool.

A focus on AER promotes the development of EVs that the average car driver can use.

For mass adoption we need two figures: AER and 0-60. A greater AER naturally leads to a quicker 0-60 time and forces envy upon gasser gearheads.

Benz

1 Gallon is 36.6 kWh

The Toyota Prius Prime would go 133 miles if it would consume 36.6 kWh.

The EV range of the Toyota Prius Prime is 25 miles.

Therefore you get:
(25/133) x 36.6 = 6.88 kWh for an a EV range of 25 miles

That is (25/6.88=) 3.6337 miles per kWh.

That is 5.814 km per kWh.

Can anyone confirm that this is correct please?

mx

The problem with the Prius Prime, is in winter you’ll be lucky to get 15 miles of EV range, in cold temperatures with the heat on.

No one seems to be documenting that either.
You really need Volt or better range for winter.

mx

Also, with the Prime you have to not-accelerate accelerate to get that efficiency.

And your BMW numbers are wrong:
The 2017 BMW i3 REX get: 111 mpgE combined.

john1701a

>> The problem with the Prius Prime, is in winter you’ll be lucky to get 15 miles of EV range, in cold temperatures with the heat on.

No. That’s just plain wrong.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmK9Z9yq0uU

23 miles on that video.

PHEVfan

Where did 36.6 come from?

Isn’t the conversion 33.4kWh per gallon?

Benz

From a converter website.

But now I have found another converter website saying that it’s 33.41 kWh.

Probably you are right.

Eric Cote

Interesting, I thought it was 33.7. Turns out the answer apparently varies.

Benz

1 gallon = 3,78541178 liter

1 liter = 8.9 kWh

1 gallon = 33.69 kWh

ModernMarvelFan

Official EPA conversion is 33.7kWh

Benz

OK

1 Gallon is 33.7 kWh

The Toyota Prius Prime would go 133 miles if it would consume 33.7 kWh.

The EV range of the Toyota Prius Prime is 25 miles.

Therefore you get:
(25/133) x 33.7 = 6.3346 kWh for an EV range of 25 miles

That is (25/6.88=) 3.9466 miles per kWh.

That is 6.31454 km per kWh.

That is 15.8365 kWh per 100 km

Can anyone confirm that this is correct please?

Bill Howland

‘33.7’

They are using the crap ethanol-laden gasoline we’re forced to buy in the states as the ‘standard’ for comparison so the heat content per 128 oz (US) gallon is only 115,000 British Thermal Units.

L T

A pretty good list, but what is with the Price on the Kia Kirk PHEV? It actually starts at $28,840 after destination.

L T

Ugh, I meant “Niro” not “Kirk”. Auto-correct strikes again.

Kdawg

comment image

Tom

What difference does it make? The list is a half hearted attempt to give the flip side to that stupid article a couple days ago about the 14 models to avoid. It seems to have no discernable way it is ranked. Not in pure ev miles, not in MPGe, not by price, nothing. It flips back and forth throughout the list with no discernable criteria. So why should the price be right?

Spider-Dan

It’s ranked by goodness, and the cars with the most goodness are ranked the highest.

See how easy that was?

Will

Ioniq needs a larger battery or pack more density in the packs. 18-20kw will do for me

james

Don’t get the Ford, nice car but it’s BMS isn’t as good as the Focus. I had one for 4.5 years and it lost almost 40% of it’s range with a big “Meh” from Ford when I repeatedly asked about it’s warranty.

Mark

I bet you had the Fusion energi. Mine lost at least 30% in 50k miles. So far my cmax energi doesn’t seem to be loosing much. I think its because in the fusion that trunk is soo cramped the battery heats real bad. It would often reduce battery power due to temps.

Benz

The base price of the Toyota Prius Prime in The Netherlands is €38,000. We don’t get any incentives.

People in the US can buy it for $28,000.
And you also have the Federal and State incentives.

It’s a bargain for you guys.

Tezla Inc.

Benz,

You got incentive by paying less in fuel taxes that are quite higher than in the US.

toto

Exact Davek +1 +1+1

LOL https://insideevs.com/dont-buy-14-plug-in-hybrids/

So,

1. Toyota Prius Prime
Only 4 seats

2. BMW i3 REX
Perfect car but Base Price $49,295

3. Chevrolet Volt
Not available in Europe

4. Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid
Not available in Europe

5. Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid
Perfect PHEV, but as noted by Davek : “For instance the Ioniq Plug-In (always an IEVs favourite) has more electric range on paper, but can’t heat electrically. As soon as you want any warm air it turns into a normal hybrid and lights up the ICE to provide heat.”

6. Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid
Interesting

7. Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid
Interesting

8. Ford Fusion Energi
Not available in Europe

9. Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
Not available in Europe

10. Audi A3 e-tron
Interesting

So, in Europe : Kia/Hynday PHEV and Audi A3 e-tron are the best PHEV solution but A3 is listed here (4 seats are not a good solution IMHO) :
https://insideevs.com/dont-buy-14-plug-in-hybrids/

Eric Cote

Impressive that the Pacifica is on this list given how it so a large full-size minivan.

Scramjett

OT: I find it interesting that the article is dated April 8, but everyone’s comments (except mine) are dated February 20.

Scramjett

Correction, April 6.