The best plug in hybrid vehicles of 2018

 

Nowadays more and more people are opting for alternatives when it comes to the vehicle they drive. For many of us, we spend a fair amount of time in our car – driving to and from work, sitting in traffic (awful, I know) and taking the occasional road trip.

One option that is not only becoming more and more prevalent but also increasingly affordable and attractive is the plug in hybrid electric vehicle (aka the PHEV). But before we dive in to the ones that made our top list for 2018, you should probably ask yourself a few questions first:

  • Am I a plug in hybrid kind of person? PHEVs are starting to look and drive more and more like their less eco-friendly cousins (gasoline/diesel vehicles). So much so that many manufacturers have bridged the gap between the two so closely that you can barely tell the difference between the PHEV option and the regular option they offer. Furthermore, are you aiming for a certain appeal or image in the eyes of your friends, family and peers? Are you looking to reduce your impact on the environment? Perhaps you’re just sick and tired of paying for gas on a weekly basis. A PHEV can certainly achieve these outcomes, and many more.
  • Do you have the means to charge your PHEV easily and affordably? Yes, a PHEV will give a significant boost in MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) or even possibly a tax credit from your state. But to really enjoy the benefits of a PHEV you’ll need an easy, affordable and reliable means of charging it so it’s not running on gas rather than the battery. For most that’s charging overnight at home while you’re sleeping. Some have the option of charging at work as well. Bottom-line, make sure you have a solid plan that fits your schedule and lifestyle so you’re not constantly scrambling to pull over and charge up.
  • What type of PHEV best suits your needs? Before buying, make sure you understand what’s important to you. Perhaps that’s a longer range, or maybe a range of 25 miles or less is fine for your needs. Other considerations come down to whether you want luxury, performance, an economical choice, or perhaps a 7-seater SUV that’s big enough for the whole family.

The best plug in hybrids you can buy right now

If you’ve made it this far you’re now much more prepared to embark on this journey of finding the right PHEV for you and your lifestyle.

Without further ado, our Best Plug in Hybrid Vehicles for 2018:

The best overall: Toyota Prius Prime Plug-in

  • Starting price: $27,300
  • Battery only range: 25 miles
  • Total range: 640 miles
  • MPGe: 133
  • Combined MPG: 54

The best value: Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in

  • Starting price: $24,950
  • Battery only range: 29 miles
  • Total range: 630 miles
  • MPGe: 119
  • Combined MPG: 52

The best luxury: Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-in

  • Starting price: $64,950
  • Battery only range: 19 miles
  • Total range: 370 miles*
  • MPGe: 62
  • Combined MPG: 27

The best crossover: Kia Niro Plug-in

  • Starting price: $27,900
  • Battery only range: 26 miles
  • Total range: 560 miles
  • MPGe: 105
  • Combined MPG: 46

The best for families: Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in

  • Starting price: $39,995
  • Battery only range: 33 miles
  • Total range: 566 miles*
  • MPGe: 84
  • Combined MPG: 32

*these values are estimates

Further reading:

  • Electric car buyer’s guide
  • Hydrogen Fuel Cell car buyer’s guide

Now that you have a good overview of what’s out there, let’s dive deeper into the best plug in hybrid vehicles to buy in 2018.

Toyota Prius Prime Plug in Hybrid

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Toyota’s 2018 Prius Prime is a refresher on the successful 2017 version. With the 2018 version having just enough enhancements over the 2017 to put it atop our list as the best overall plug in hybrid.

Built on the back of the hugely successful Prius lineup from Toyota, the Prius Prime is a conscious effort to roll the best of their technology and all they’ve learned over the last 18 years into one supremely excellent plug in hybrid. That’s right, the original Prius was introduced to the world way back in 2000.

With a pure EV mode range of 25 miles, the Prime is going to get (most) of us from point A to point B on battery only. A full charge for the 8.8kWh battery will run you 4-5 hours on a standard 120V outlet. Of course, this is greatly reduced when using a fast charge port running 240V, but it’s not really necessary with the Prime. Unlike pure battery EVs that can take more than 10 hours to charge on a 120V socket.

Visits to the ole’ gasoline station will be few and far between with the Prime, especially if you drive in ECO mode and drive it relatively conservatively. A coworker of mine has the Prime and has a round trip work commute of 56 miles. He’s able to charge at work for free, thus doing his commute in almost 100% EV mode in both directions. Occasionally, the gas engine kicks in for support, but on average he fills up the paltry 11.3 gal gas tank every 2-3 months. This is about as long as you’d want a single tank of gas to last any way, before it starts to get stale.

The Prime comes in three trim levels: Plus, Premium and Advanced. Toyota’s Safety Sense comes standard on all three versions. The Premium and Advanced trims get a few extra bells and whistles, namely the upgraded 11.6” high res touch screen for both the Premium and Advanced and the premium JBL audio system on the Advanced only. For a full list of features and differences visit Toyota’s website.

Driving the Prime, while smooth and comfortable, is not going to turn any heads for looks, speed or performance. Toyota improved the suspension system to drive more like a “normal” car, but activities like highway passing and on-ramp accelerating will take some extra effort. Lastly, most will agree that it looks a little more exciting than a standard Prius with its double-bubbled rear glass and all LED lighting. If you’re looking to seat 5, however, then you may need to look elsewhere as the Prime only has seating that accommodates four.

key specs

  • Range: 640 miles (1030km)
  • EV only range: 25 miles (42km)
  • Fuel tank size: 11.3 gal (42.8lt)
  • Battery: 8.8kWh
  • Top speed: 102mph (164km/h)
  • Torque: 105lb-ft
  • Power: 121hp (90kW)
  • Weight: 3,375lb (1,531kg)

Toyota Prius Prime starting price

  • $27,300

Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in

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With an entry level price a few thousand dollars lower than the Prime, the Hyundai Ioniq plug-in is the best value option on our list by far.

The Ioniq comes in two trim levels, Standard and Limited. While we feel the standard features offered are more than enough for the average consumer (heated front seats, 7” touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) for about $4,000 more you can spring for the Limited. This will add features like 6-way power adjusted passenger seat, leather seats and an optional sunroof.

2018 is the first year for the Ioniq plug-in, which is built off the 2017 Ioniq hybrid platform. Admittedly, Hyundai has outdone themselves with their newest offering. Getting a best in class 29 miles in EV only mode, your visits to the gas station will be infrequent. Taking upwards of 9 hours to fully charge the 8.9 kWh battery on a 120V socket, this is best done while at work or overnight. However, bumping up to the 240V socket will get this done in under 2.5 hours.

Driving the Ioniq plug in hybrid is an enjoyable experience. Paired with a 6-speed transmission, rather than the usual CVT used in plug-ins, the Ioniq feels more like a real car and yields better acceleration. The interior is well laid out with the infotainment system and graphic display telling you all you need to know while on the road. From data on the energy flow from the electric motor and engine to the battery to your EV and gasoline range and corresponding charge times.

If you’re looking for excellent fuel economy with the ability to do most of your driving in EV mode and great standard features, all at a reasonable price, then take a close look at the Hyundai Ioniq plug-in. For more information on price and features visit Hyundai’s website.

key specs

  • Range: 630 miles (1014km)
  • EV only range: 29 miles (47km)
  • Fuel tank size: 11.4 gal (43lt)
  • Battery: 8.9kWh
  • Top speed: 116mph (187km/h)
  • Torque: 109lb-ft
  • Power: 104hp (78kW)Weight: 3,422lb (1,552kg)

Hyundai Ioniq starting price

  • $24,950

Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-in

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When it comes to luxury plug in hybrids the market is quite bifurcated. There just aren’t that many out yet, so your options are somewhat limited. Narrow that down to SUV-luxury plug in hybrids and it gets even slimmer. That being said, the Volvo XC90 T8 plug-in tops our list for luxury plug in hybrids across all classes for many reasons.

The XC90 T8 comes in four different trims, all which span the gamut of features, luxury and performance. The base Momentum trim starts at $64,950 and goes all the way up to $105,000 for the Excellence trim. At that price you’re getting into Tesla Model X territory… but this is a plug in hybrid, not a BEV. For this list we’re going to stick with the base model. For more information on the Volvo XC90 T8 plug-in pricing and features visit Volvo’s website.

The XC90 T8 plug-in debuted in 2016. Back then the range and price just weren’t enticing enough to gain any major market share over the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV or the BMW X5 PHEV. In 2018 that is no longer the case. With a larger battery and more efficient design than its predecessor the all new XC90 T8 is a force to be reckoned with.

What sets the XC90 apart from many other vehicles in this class is it’s truly a harmonious blend of efficiency and performance. Obtaining upwards of 19 miles in EV only mode and achieving an MPGe of 62 while outputting 400hp is quite impressive! Utilizing the “twin-engine” design, Volvo paired their fuel-efficient 2.0L turbocharged and supercharged gas engine with a 60 kW electric motor. Through an 8-speed automatic transmission and AWD it drives more like a sports car than a SUV. Add in seating for 7 and the luxury and comfort that is Volvo and there really is nothing like it in this price range.

At these prices you’d expect to be rewarded with some exceptional features, to which Volvo delivers. Standard options include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 9” touchscreen infotainment system and a luxurious interior comprised of leather and other high end materials.

key specs

  • Range: 370 miles (595km)
  • EV only range: 19 miles (31km)
  • Fuel tank size: 13.2 gal (50lt)
  • Battery: 10.4kWh
  • Top speed: 150mph (241km/h)
  • Torque: 472lb-ft
  • Power: 400hp (298kW)
  • Weight: 6,635lb (3,010kg)

Volvo XC90 T8 starting price

  • $64,950

Kia Niro Plug-in

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When it comes to the opposite side of the spectrum of luxury-SUV plug in hybrids here you will find the Kia Niro plug-in firmly planted. While there aren’t too many crossovers in the plug-in space the Kia Niro sets the bar for 2018.

Kia is offering the Niro in three trim levels, the LX, EX and EX Premium, with the LX coming in at $27,900. The feature offerings are more traditionally staggered in a low, medium, high kind of arrangement when it comes to the Niro. Springing for the EX Premium will set you back $34,500 and come with an 8” touchscreen (rather than the standard 7”), a Harman/Kardon premium 8-speaker sound system, heated and cooled leather seats with power adjustment, a wireless phone charger and a 110V power inverter (which can be quite handy).

Since the Niro is technically a crossover which offers much more cargo space, ground clearance and a wider base this all comes at the expense of fuel efficiency. That being said, the Niro still performs quite well in this department getting an estimated range of 560 miles on one tank. Of course, this has everything to do with how you drive it and how often you’re able to charge up. With an EV only range of 26 miles you’ll be able to stay off the gas engine quite a bit. This changes significantly, however, as soon as the slightest demand for power arises. Additionally, due to its design you will need the gas engine to power certain aspects of the vehicle, like the heater to keep you warm if you live in a cold weather environment.

Charging the 8.9 kWh battery is comparable to other PHEVs in general, running you about 2.5 hours on a Level 2 (240V) socket and closer to 9 hours on a Level 1 (120V) socket.

Driving the Kia Niro is not that exciting nor is it a total drag. It falls right in the middle, around just right. The 1.6L Atkinson cycle engine paired with a 6-speed dual clutch automatic transmission gets the job done. Furthermore, while it may look like it can handle dirt roads and rough terrain it is still a FWD PHEV, so be wary if you intend to use it this way.

To learn more about the Kia Niro plug-in visit Kia’s website.

key specs

  • Range: 560 miles (837km)
  • EV only range: 26 miles (42km)
  • Fuel tank size: 11.3 gal (43lt)
  • Battery: 8.9kWh
  • Top speed: 107mph (172km/h)
  • Torque: 195lb-ft
  • Power: 139hp (104kW)
  • Weight: 4,409lb (2,000kg)

Kia Niro starting price

  • $27,900

Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in

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“Hey man, check out that awesome plug-in hybrid minivan!” said no-one, ever. Nonetheless, Chrysler has gone where no auto manufacturer dare go, and done an impressive job I must say.

Believe it or not, the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica plug-in is the 2nd generation offering from Chrysler. Improvements over the 2017 edition are minimal other than adding support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as a larger 7” touchscreen.

When it comes to minivans and reviews, it’s really hard to get excited about them. However, the Pacifica plug-in is a vehicle I would actually consider if I had a family and was ready to tote kids from soccer practice to Chuck E. Cheese’s.

Under the hood you’ll find the widely used 3.6L V6 engine across the Pacifica line-up. When paired up with the 16kWh Li-ion battery, electric motor and CVT you get a class leading range of 560+ miles. The battery alone will get around 33 EV only miles, which is also class leading.

While the Pacifica plug in hybrid version is heavier and less powerful than the standard Pacifica it still drives surprisingly well. Acceleration is solid due to the electric motor but overall performance is a bit bland.

If you’re looking at the Pacifica plug-in for spaciousness, convenience and less stops at the gas station then you’ve come to the right place. However, some of these features come with sacrifices, such as losing the infamous Stow N’ Go seating found on standard Pacificas.

The Pacifica plug-in comes in three trim levels, with the base trim being the Hybrid Touring Plus and costing $39,995. Springing for the Hybrid Limited Edition will run you $44,995 but gain you features like Nappa Leather seats, power 8-way passenger seats, heated front seats and a Harmon/Kardon 20-speaker sound system. For more information on the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid visit Chrysler’s website.

key specs

  • Range: 566 miles (911km)
  • EV only range: 33 miles (53km)
  • Fuel tank size: 16.5 gal (62lt)
  • Battery: 16kWh
  • Top speed: 110mph (177km/h)
  • Torque: ?lb-ft
  • Power: 260hp (194kW)
  • Weight: 6,300lb (2,858kg)

Chrysler Pacifica starting price

  • $39,995

Other options for joining the EV revolution

Not sure if a plug in hybrid is right for you? You certainly have other options. Here’s just a few:

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