There are plenty of buyers out there who want their next car to be fully electric, and right now, those folks have more options than ever before. From commuter cars like the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Bolt, to luxury offerings like the Jaguar I-Pace, electric cars are making great strides in both ability and availability.
But for those looking to get some of the benefits of an electric vehicle, without the fear of being stranded somewhere without a charger, the plug-in hybrid is a great option.
In 2018, our writers drove a bunch of plug-in hybrids, and overall, everyone came away impressed. It’s an exciting time in the automotive industry, and these vehicles are a bridge between the convention combustion engines which dominated the last century, to the silent, emission-free vehicles which will dominate the next.
Read the reviews of some of the best examples we experienced this year, and if you like what you see, head to your local AutoNation dealer to experience these innovative machines for yourself!
“So let’s get right down to what makes the 2018 Volvo XC60 T8 eAWD Plug-in Hybrid Inscription so exciting. Power for this high-performance crossovers comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder engine that is coupled with an 87 horsepower electric motor. Working together, the powertrain produces an outstanding 400 horsepower with a maximum torque of 472 lb-ft. Mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the 2018 Volvo XC60 T8 eAWD Plug-in Hybrid Inscription goes from zero to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds with a top speed of 131 mph.
Overall, the drive is very impressive. It’s remarkably comfortable when you’re going on a long cruise and very agile if you need to switch in and out of lanes.” — Omar Rana
“As one of the few all-wheel drive plug-in hybrids on the market, the Crosstrek comes to us with 17-miles of plug-in range combined with a 13.2-gallon fuel tank to deliver up to 480 miles of total range. It also has an EPA fuel economy rating of 35-mpg and 90-MPGe overall*. Under the hood is Subaru’s trusty 2.0-liter Boxer four-cylinder with direct-injection. On its own it produces 137 horsepower and 134 lb-ft of torque, however when combined with the 8kWh Lithium-ion battery hybrid drive system, those numbers get bumped to 148 horsepower and 149 lb-ft of torque.
Once on the road the Crosstrek can travel at speeds of up to 65-mph on electric power alone. However there is a power save mode if drivers prefer to store their electric range for around-town usage. Charge time to 100% on a 240v fast charger takes around two hours, where a standard 120v climbs to five. A bonus feature is as a plug-in hybrid; the Crosstrek also qualifies for an HOV permit (High Occupancy Vehicle) in many states.” — Mike Musto
“On both short city routes and long highway drives, the Outlander PHEV delivered a smooth ride, along with the instant torque we’ve come to love from electric vehicles, and has an all-electric driving range of 22 miles. For now, the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a truly in a class by itself with the nearest competitors (by price and efficiency) probably coming from smaller vehicles like the Toyota Prius Prime, Chevrolet Volt and Kia Niro PHEV.
If Mitsubishi’s budding lineup of crossovers is any direction of the brand’s future, then things are definitely looking bright.” — Jeffrey N. Ross
“There are very few cars out there that evoke a reaction like that of the 2018 BMW i3s. People stared and admired the saloon-style doors, and innovative shape, and asked plenty of questions about the carbon fiber tub. The i3s sits on a 101.2-inch wheelbase and rolls on staggered 20-inch BMW i-light alloy wheels. The low rolling resistance tires are true pizza cutters, with a 175/55-series up front and 195/50-series in the rear. At first glance they look like wagon wheels, yet on the i3s their appearance is perfectly at home, as they were designed to maximize overall efficiency.
Our 2018 tester came finished in Melbourne Red Metallic paint covering the main body panels, and gloss black gracing the hood, roof, lower body cladding, and rear hatch. Some people viewed the i3s with intrigue, while others dismissed it as an eco-friendly toy. And while it is boxy, that squared-off shape makes for some amazing outward visibility, liberal amounts of storage, and an interior that’s nothing short of outstanding.” —Mike Musto
“If you’ve ever been behind the wheel of a hybrid or electric vehicle, then you know the application of torque when you put your foot down is instantaneous. There’s no lag in initial power as with a combustion engine, and instead a simple WHOOSH of power that sends you forward is present.
It’s not too often that a car surprises me, yet there I was rolling down the Pacific Coast Highway at dusk, getting amazing fuel economy and cruising in almost complete silence. The 2018 Cadillac CT6 Plug-In is an anomaly in the fact that it actually offers fantastic performance that’s actually kept under wraps by the civility of the driving experience. If you want power and handling, it’s all there, but most of the time, I was content to simply cruise in silence. This was a good one folks — I must say that I enjoyed my time with it immensely.” — Mike Musto