In late 2010, the Chevrolet Volt became the first production plug-in hybrid sold in the United States. GM's marketing team, who massively understated its significance, arguably could have hindered the Volt from reaching its maximum potential. Unlike a traditional hybrid, you could go 35 miles on electric power, and unlike an early EV, you'd be able to travel on a long highway trip without having to pay Tesla money.
Ever since the Volt, there have been many PHEVs to follow. Whether it's something as pedestrian as the Hyundai Ioniq or as eccentric as the BMW i3, there’s plenty of used plug-in hybrids suitable for a variety of domains.
In this list, unincluded are vehicles older than 4 years or with more than 50,000 miles. This is to give peace of mind to prospective buyers because these vehicles should have around 4 years remaining on their battery warranties. Nevertheless, meet the longest range used PHEVs currently available.
The 2017 Sonata PHEV is a good option if you’re in the market for a used Sonata or Sonata Hybrid. Other than that, there’s nothing too special. Its interior seems a little outdated and it offers 27 miles of range, which is fine, but not noteworthy. The Sonata PHEV is a direct competitor to the Fusion Energi, and its dimensions are very similar. It can go 5 more miles on a charge, but since it’s relatively hard to find and costs more, the Hyundai Sonata PHEV takes last place on this list.
EV Range: 27 miles
Battery size: 9.8kWh
Total range: 590 miles
Horsepower: 202 horsepower
If there was an award for the most okay plug-in hybrid, the Ford Fusion Energi would take that slot. It’s mediocre; but if you’re in the market for a Fusion or a Fusion Hybrid, then it would make sense. Like the regular Fusion, it offers a comfortable interior and decently attractive exterior styling. With its measly 7.6kWh battery, the Fusion Energi can only go 22 miles on a single charge, which is still practical, but the similarly priced Volt can go over twice as far on a single charge.
EV Range: 22 miles
Battery size: 7.6kWh
Total range: 610 miles
Horsepower: 188 horsepower
The Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid is part of the Ioniq three-vehicle lineup. Hyundai offers an EV version, a traditional hybrid, and a plug-in hybrid. The Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid is the perfect middle ground between both models. It offers an okayish 29 miles of electric-only driving, but it can go 630 miles on a full charge and tank. It’s a good option, but the Ioniq PHEV will presumably leave you wanting just a bit more for the price.
EV Range: 29 miles
Battery size: 8.9kWh
Total range: 630 miles
Horsepower: 139 horsepower
Honda produced three vehicles in the Clarity lineup: a fuel cell, fully-electric, and plug-in hybrid variant. While the electric-only variant had an ungenerous range of just 87 miles, the PHEV actually held up decently well with its competition. Its range is a more than ample 47 miles and it produces 212 peak horsepower, but since it weighs over 4,000 pounds, it’s not that quick. Overall, the Clarity is a decent option, but you're probably better off looking at a Volt and saving the extra cash.
EV Range: 47 miles
Battery size: liquid-cooled 17.0kWh
Total range: 340 miles
Horsepower: 212 horsepower
Cheeky and posh are two words that rarely collide, yet the i3 is here to blend the two in an outlandish fashion. Unlike every other option on this list, the i3 is the only one that offers a RWD setup and embodies a carbon-fiber monocoque. Regardless of one's opinion on the looks, the i3 is undoubtedly the most fashionable of the bunch with coach doors, futuristic lines, and an interior and exterior that still hold up incredibly well eight years after its inception in the U.S. market.
Another perk of the 2017 (and 2018) i3 is its liquid-cooled battery pack. The 33kWh pack allows for just shy of 100 miles on a single charge, making it the longest EV range car on this list. Paired to the battery is the i3’s 170hp rear-mounted motor, making it the most fun to drive car on this list.
For the i3’s gas engine, it uses a .65L 2-cylinder motorcycle engine. Unlike the Volt and Clarity, it is a true series hybrid, using the engine to supply energy to the battery when it reaches a low percentage. It’s pretty quiet and the transition is seamless, but there are two drawbacks. The gasoline tank only holds 2.5 gallons (electronically limited to 1.7), and most i3s that have service issues are the ones equipped with the range extender.
EV Range: 97 miles
Battery size: liquid-cooled 33.0kWh
Total range: 180 miles
Horsepower: 170 horsepower
For the 2016 model year, Chevrolet launched the all-new Volt. Unlike the previous version, the new Volt had massive improvements across the board. Whether it was the new Volt’s 53-mile EV range or its much more attractive styling, the Volt 2.0 was (and still is) a winner. While it’s a blend of a parallel and series hybrid, it operates off of the electric motors all the time. This means that even in “gas” mode, you’d get the smooth and quick electric acceleration.
The Volt is also the most proven option in the reliability department. The Volt offers the largest charge buffer on this list, and the pack is liquid-cooled. Factoring in the Volt’s battery aptness, replacements and battery issues are very rare. Overall, if you’re looking for a reliable, high-quality PHEV, the Volt is easily the ‘premier’ option.
Editor’s note: I drive a six-year-old Volt (2016 Volt built in fall 2015), and in summer weather with the A/C on, I can still get around 60 miles.
EV Range: 53 miles
Battery size: liquid-cooled 18.4kWh
Total range: 420 miles
Horsepower: 149 horsepower