Electrification is at the forefront of the automotive industry today, as car manufacturers face ever-mounting pressure to make cleaner cars. However, full electric cars are not for everyone. The high-performing ones can be expensive and as you are relying only on electric power, you will need to charge the car quite frequently.
So, for those who aren’t yet ready to make the switch to full-electric cars, hybrid vehicles can also be a great option. Hybrid electric vehicles have been in the market for decades now. They became popular after the introduction of car models like the Toyota Prius in the late 90s.
What are Hybrid Electric Vehicles?
Commonly known as Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs), hybrid vehicles combine the technology of both electric vehicles and normal gasoline powered cars. They can function on both gasoline and electric power. These vehicles have both an internal combustion engine (ICE) like a regular car and an electric motor like full electric cars. They also have battery packs like full-electrics to give current to operate the electric motor. Because they rely on two fuel sources, the battery packs don’t have to be as big as the ones on full-electrics.
Like full electric cars, they also employ regenerative braking. Regenerative braking systems attempt to recover the kinetic energy that would otherwise be wasted as heat when a car is braking. Here, the electric motor will turn in the reverse direction which will cause it to act like a generator and convert the kinetic energy into electrical energy. This can be stored in the batteries for future use.
Plug-In Hybrids vs Conventional Hybrids
Plug-in hybrids are a variation of conventional hybrids, where the batteries can be recharged using an external power source. In conventional hybrids, the batteries can’t be recharged. The only way they can be charged is through regenerative braking.
These hybrid vehicles make the best of both worlds. At low speeds, internal combustion engines produce low torque while induction motors are more efficient at these speeds. At high speeds, internal combustion engines are more effective. Hence, they can alternate between the two to get the full benefit of both technologies.
With plug-in hybrids, you can charge them either at home using a standard electrical outlet or at EV service stations using an EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment). Charging at home will take ages, though, and EVSEs are quicker than that. They are available to purchase for car owners for home use as well. Even with an EVSE though, the charging times are really long. On average, you get around 10-25 miles of range per hour of charging.
Unlike conventional hybrids, plug-in hybrids can rely more on electric power since the batteries can be charged externally. This means that they produce lower emissions and have better fuel economy than conventional hybrids.
Comparing Hybrid Vehicles
Before we get into the top 10 list of hybrids for this year, it is useful to know important factors that are used to compare electric vehicles.
For a hybrid vehicle, this is simply the maximum distance that the car can travel on a full tank, in a single journey. For a plug-in hybrid, this is the maximum distance that can be travelled on a single full charge.
Of course, this is one of the most important factors when choosing between any two cars. In the case of hybrid vehicles, you will need to take into account the cost of fuel and electricity (for plug-in hybrids). A hybrid that is more reliant on electricity may have a higher upfront cost, but in the long run it could produce fuel savings because electricity is usually cheaper than gasoline.
For a plug-in hybrid, this a very important factor to consider. Charging times can determine how far you can travel before needing to be recharged. Since charging an electric car is time consuming and not convenient, it’s important to factor in charging times before buying. See how much range an hour of charging adds using an EVSE. Typically, it is the range of 10-25 miles per hour of charge.
These are all general factors. Ultimately, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what the best cars are because that would depend on the individual needs of the driver. But, the factors above are a good place to start.
Fuel economy is simply how effective the car is at using fuel without waste and is measured by the maximum distance it can cover in miles per gallon of fuel. It is measured in miles per gallon in regular cars. Since electricity isn’t measured in gallons, hybrid fuel economy is denoted in miles per gallon equivalent. This is the electrical equivalent of one gallon of fuel.
Fuel economy is important for two reasons. Firstly, a high fuel economy means you save on fuel costs. Secondly, if a car has a low fuel economy, it could be wasting fuel which means there will be more CO2 emissions.
Top 10 Hybrid Vehicles of 2019
1. Hyundai Ioniq
Hyundai’s Ioniq series have long been heralded as one of the best performing hybrid vehicles since it first came out in 2016.
When it came out, it beat out its predecessor in the hybrid market, Toyota’s Prius in fuel economy. To reach such a high fuel economy, the car makes use of optimal aerodynamic design that minimizes drag. It also uses materials with high strength-to-weight ratio to reduce weight. The car has a regular gas fuel economy of 52 mpg and a total one of 119 mpg (includes both the gas and electric). It has an estimated range of 25 miles on electric power alone.
Priced at a little under $25,000 in 2018, the Ioniq Hybrid also delivers the best value for money, considering that its similarly-priced rivals have poorer fuel economies.
It also has extra smart features such as pedestrian detection, blind spot detection and automatic emergency braking.
2. 2019 Toyota Prius
The Toyota Prius was the pioneer of hybrid vehicles ever since it first came out in 1997. It created the market for hybrid cars in the US. It reigned as the hybrid with the best performance and mileage until Hyundai’s Ioniq Hybrid took away that crown.
This four doored, five seater hatchback has a regular gas mpg rating of 52. Also, unlike the other members of its family, the 2019 Toyota Prius uses Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries. And tweaks have been made to its 1.8l engine to improve its efficiency and performance.
Another feature the 2019 Toyota Prius is lauded for, is its spacious design. It has 27 cubic-feet of trunk space. Much like its competitor, Hyundai’s Ioniq, it has a sleek streamlined designed to minimize drag and improve fuel economy.
At a starting price of just over $23,000, the car is quite value for money and narrowly beats out the Ioniq in the cost department.
3. 2019 Mercedes Benz – C350 e Plug-In Hybrid Sedan
So, this is not the car for anyone looking to buy a plug-in hybrid on a budget. It is considered to be a luxury car with excellent performance. The car started out with a price of $47,900 in 2018, so it’s much more expensive than the Toyota Prius or Hyundai’s Ioniq.
It has an estimated fuel economy of 51MPGe which is only slightly lower than the Prius and Ioniq. Its sleek, optimum aerodynamic design means that it achieves a drag coefficient of only 0.28. Its high -performance engine and 60kWh electric motor can deliver a power of around 275 combined hp. It could also go from 0-60 in 5.8 seconds.
4. 2019 Honda Clarity
Honda has been a pioneer along with Toyota in the alternative-fuel automotive world. It is a four-seater Sedan plug-in hybrid that has an impressive electric-only range of 47 miles. As it’s a plug-in hybrid, it can rely more on electricity to drive the vehicle. The Honda Clarity uses the electric motor to drive the vehicle and the combustion engine to charge its lithium-ion battery pack.
With its impressive electric-only range, it is good for those who are eco-conscious but still want an affordable option.
It has a combined electric and gas fuel economy of 110 MPGe and a regular gas rating of 42 MPG, which is quite impressive and close to the Ioniq range.
It is quite pricey, however, compared to the Ioniq and Prius, as it started out with a price of $33,400 in 2018. But for a car of its credentials, this price is not unreasonable.
5. 2019 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid
Though not as cheap as the Prius or the Ioniq, Kia’s 2019 Optima still has some good credentials to boast about. It has a fuel economy of 103 MPGe (combined gas and electric) and a regular gas rating of 40 MPG.
The car has been praised for its spacious and ergonomic seats and a great infotainment system. KIA’s Sedans are known for their airy, spacious designs and the 2019 Optima does not disappoint. Hence, it is a perfect plug-in hybrid for families.
The 2019 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid is evidence that Kia is able to produce a good, robust plug-in hybrid that could compete with the likes of the Prius in terms of fuel economy.
However, the vehicle started out with a price of around $35,000 which is more expensive than the Ioniq or Prius. But, it is still an affordable vehicle, especially for a family.
6. 2019 Ford Fusion Energi
The 2019 Ford Fusion Energi SE is a testament to Ford’s commitment to improving plug-in hybrids. The car has an impressive combined gas and electric fuel economy of 103 MPGe and regular gas rating of 42 MPG.
It has an all-electric range of up to 25 miles, which isn’t bad. And uses a 7.6kWh lithium-ion battery along with a powerful electric motor. It also has a 4 cylinder, 2.0L gasoline engine. The battery can be charged overnight with the provided 120-V cable.
In 2018, the Ford Fusion Energi SE started off with a price of $31,400 which is a reasonable price.
7. 2019 Chevrolet Volt
The Chevy Volt is one of the most famous plug-in hybrid models that have been in the market for some time and continues to boast some great performance credentials. The new 2019 version has an impressive range of 53 miles on electric power alone. It has a maximum range of 420 miles on a single, full charge and a full gas tank.
It also has a combined electric and gas fuel economy of 103 MPGe and a regular gas rating of 42 MPG. The battery of this Chevy Volt can be charged in 4.5 hours using a 240V EVSE or 13 hours using a standard 120V outlet.
It has a moderate price of just over $34,000 (2018 prices), but is still reasonable considering its plug-in credentials.
8. BMW 330 e iPerformance Sedan 2019
This plug-in hybrid sedan is another high-end, high-performing luxury. Again, at a 2018 price tag of around $45,000, it is not for those looking a hybrid on a budget. It is for those looking for excellent performance credentials.
It offers an ultra-smooth ride and is highly fuel efficient, at a fuel economy rating of an impressive 71MPGe. Its 7.6kWh lithium-ion battery can be charged super quick, in just over 2 hours.
9. Audi A3 Sportback e-tron 2019
This plug-in hybrid Sportback not only offers great fuel efficiency and low emissions, but also a sleek spacious design.
It has a powerful 8.8kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a fuel economy rating from the EPA of 83 MPGe.
The starting price was $39,500 in 2018, so it is moderately priced but not as frugal as the Prius or Ioniq.
10. Toyota Prius V AWD
This is the hybrid all-wheel-drive version of the Prius family. It comes with a powerful 1.8L, 4-cylinder engine and a Nickel-Metal Hydride battery pack that has been especially designed for cold weather. Unlike its other Prius counterparts that mainly use lithium-ion batteries.
It offers a combined MPG of 50 and a starting price of just under $30,000. So, it is not exactly the most economical but great for colder weather conditions.Images are for referential purposes only and are subject to availability and licensing restrictions. They may not correspond to the exact make and model of the car or the year of manufacturer. Please perform your own research before proceeding to purchase.