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Best Plug-In Hybrids for 2022

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If you’re looking for a way to save money and do a little bit less damage to the environment while commuting, plug-in electric hybrids offer the best of both worlds. These vehicles blend gasoline powertrains with electric motors to help get you a balance of all-electric and gasoline driving and offer stellar fuel efficiency.

Plug-in electric hybrids or PHEVs are the most fuel-efficient type of hybrid that’s currently on the market thanks to a high-capacity battery that can be recharged using an electrical outlet or charging station. Because they are electric, at least in some capacity, these vehicles tend to be more expensive than their gasoline-only counterparts, yet they blend a standard gas engine with a limited battery-only range or electric assist to boost overall fuel economy.

8 Best PHEVs
Model Score MSRP Best for
2022 Toyota Prius Prime 4.8 $28,220 All-round driving
2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Plug-In Hybrid 4.75 $39,350 Room for hauling
2021 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid 4.45 $33,400 All-electric commutes
2021 BMW 530e 4.41 $55,550 Eco-friendly performance
2022 Audi Q5 TFSI e 4.32 $54,600 No compromise SUV
2022 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid 4.29 $29,590 Affordable sustainability
2021 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid 4.26 $83,300 Peak performance
2021 Subaru Crosstrek PHEV 4.15 $35,645 Off-road capabilities

Plug-in Hybrid Basics

There are two types of PHEVs, and there are examples of both in our list. Make sure you understand how your PHEV works.

  1. Series plug-in hybrids, also known as Extended Range Electric Vehicles (EREVs) are driven only by the battery power for short distances, according to the U.S. EPA site FuelEconomy.gov. When the battery is empty, the gasoline engine kicks in to recharge the battery. Although the gasoline engine only generates electricity, you can operate the vehicle like a normal gasoline-powered car if you can’t recharge it. If you can recharge the battery before it exceeds the all-electric range, you could run this kind of vehicle without using any gas at all.
  2. In a Parallel or Blended Plug-in Hybrid, both the gas engine and electric motor are connected to the wheels and drive the vehicle most of the time. The electric motor takes over only at low speeds. This type of plug-in hybrid usually has a smaller capacity battery compared to the serial type.

How we chose the best PHEV

From a pool of the best PHEVs on the market today, we researched the models’ expert and consumer reviews from KBB and Edmunds. We came up with an average score for each model, out of five, and ranked them. There’s a mix of 2021 and 2022 models, depending on the manufacturers’ release schedule and the number of reviews available.

The best PHEVs

2022 Toyota Prius Prime


133 MPGe / 54 MPG combined

4.8 out of 5

$28,220 starting MSRP

With its high score and impressive range of 640 miles from the combination of electric motor and gas engine, the Prius Prime is one of the best PHEV cars out there. If you need to go farther, it runs like a regular hybrid. The front seats are comfortable enough to make a full-range trip bearable. It goes 25 miles on battery power alone, so if you have a short commute you could skip the gas pump and plug in every night. It also captures power during braking, like other hybrids. It’s not the peppiest of rides, and it’s front-wheel-drive-only, unlike the Prius hybrid that offers an all-wheel-drive option. Inside, there’s room for four adults. It gets a larger battery compared to the hybrid Prius and, the sloping rear roofline that aids aerodynamics cuts into headroom and cargo room. Standard safety features include forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian/cyclist detection, lane-departure warning with steering assistance, radar-based adaptive cruise control with stop/go, and automatic high beams. KBB recommends opting for the mid-level XLE trim that adds useful options for a reasonable price jump (MSRP $30,000).

2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Plug-In Hybrid


76 MPGe / 33 MPG combined

4.75 out of 5

$39,350 starting MSRP

The five-seat Santa Fe is a bit larger than the typical compact crossover, so it’s an option if you need to haul people and stuff on a regular basis. With the electric-only range of about 30 miles, daily errands could be managed without using fossil fuels. If you need to go farther, the gas engine will take over. The PHEV is covered by Hyundai’s 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty for peace of mind. The base SEL trim includes keyless entry and push button start, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and an 8-inch infotainment touch screen. Wireless integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Stepping up to the Limited trim level adds a sunroof, leather seating surfaces and a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel. It also comes with a remote parking assist to maneuver in and out of tight parking spots.

In either trim level, driver assistance features include forward-collision avoidance with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian/cyclist detection, blind-spot avoidance with rear cross-traffic alert and reverse emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with stop/go, Safe Exit Assist, and rear occupant alert.

2021 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid

110 MPGe / 42 MPG combined

4.45 out of 5

$33,400 starting MSRP

The Clarity promises an electric range of 47 miles, one of the highest in its class. It’s quiet when in electric mode, but drives similar to the popular Accord sedan. When the battery runs low, the 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine kicks on to power the electric motors. Inside, there’s room for five with a modern, upscale interior design. There’s no shift lever; instead, you press a button to engage a gear. Cargo room is spacious with a 15.5-cubic foot trunk and 60/40 folding rear seats. The exterior design reflects the emphasis on aerodynamics with sharp creases, rounded edges and integrated rear wheel skirts. Honda’s standard driver-assist features include adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, automatic emergency braking and road departure mitigation. The Touring trim level upscales the interior with leather seating and power front seats, a navigation system and control of the climate controls with a smartphone app.

2021 BMW 530e


64 MPGe / 26 MPG combined

4.41 out of 5

$55,550 starting MSRP

The BMW 530e offers fuel economy in a luxury performance package. Upscale amenities include standard 16-way power-adjustable front seats and simulated leather upholstery. The turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, paired with an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery, outputs a total of 288 horsepower. Electric-only range is 21 miles, and it returns 26 mpg as a regular hybrid.

Driver-assist features include forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, front/rear parking sensors, lane-departure warning and Active Blind Spot Detection. Also, there are full adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams and rain-sensing wipers. Because the PHEV operates quietly in electric mode, it has an audible warning for pedestrians.

There’s seating for five, but the plug-in hybrid’s batteries reduce trunk space to 10 cubic feet, down from 14 cubic feet from the standard version. For all-wheel drive, upgrade to the 530e xDrive (MSRP $57,850). If more performance is your goal, add the $2,000 M Sport package to the PHEV for variable-ratio sport steering, M Sport suspension and aerodynamic aids.

2022 Audi Q5 TFSI e


61 MPGe / 26 MPG combined

4.32 out of 5

$54,600 starting MSRP

The Audi Q5 premium compact crossover has proven popular among the competitors from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus, in its class. It’s a roomy five-seater that’s fun to drive and all-wheel drive, or Quattro in Audi speak, is standard. The Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels offer an optional adaptive air suspension to fine tune between comfort and control. The turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder is paired with an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery with 17.9 kWh capacity. The  combined power plant puts out 362 horsepower and has an electric-only range of 23 miles. It’s also rated to tow up to 4,400 pounds, so it might be the best PHEV SUV for towing. The entry-level Premium trim features leather upholstery and wood trim. The PHEV gets sport front seats and a  pre-entry cabin climate function so the cabin is at your preferred temperature when you get in. Available high-tech features include parking assist, adaptive cruise control and a top-view camera system.

2022 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid


105 MPGe / 46 MPG combined

4.29 out of 5

$29,590 starting MSRP

With an all-electric range of 26 miles, the Niro PHEV could handle short commutes and errands without using gas. It comes with Kia’s 10 year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty for peace of mind. For the most part, the Niro drives like any other small car, but the electric drive helps give the car a peppy takeoff from a stop. The driver’s position is a bit elevated so it’s easy to see all around. There’s room in the back for two grown adults and usable cargo space. The 8-inch touch screen integrates with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Standard driver-assist features include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, rear seat alert and auto high beams. Step up to the EX trim for fog lights, heated front seats and side mirrors, paddle shifters and adaptive cruise control. The EX Premium level adds a sunroof, a larger touch screen, and driver’s side memory settings for the seat and mirrors among other things.

2021 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid


46 MPGe / 21 MPG combined

4.26 out of 5

$83,300 starting MSRP

Even with an all-electric range of 17 miles, the midsize luxury SUV Cayenne E-Hybrid honors the Porsche performance heritage. Together, the turbocharged 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine and electric motor produce 455 horsepower. The adaptive suspension dampers deliver a sporty ride, and the standard Sport Chrono package adds Sport Plus drive mode and more performance options. Tech features include Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, a 12.4-inch touch screen, ambient lighting, a power liftgate and a 10-speaker sound system. Drive assist features include forward collision mitigation and parking sensors. Upgrades like rear steering, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist are available in option packages or higher trim levels. Some of these options are standard at lower trim levels on other cars. If you’d like to go faster, the Turbo S E-Hybrid (MSRP $165,300) puts out 670 horsepower with a turbo V-8 and electric motor, and 15 miles of electric range. If you’re looking for three rows of seats or a spacious cargo room, the Cayenne might not be the best PHEV SUV option.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek PHEV


90 MPGe / 35 MPG combined

4.15 out of 5

$36,645 starting MSRP

The Crosstrek PHEV is basically the same as the Limited model, and like all Subarus, all-wheel drive is standard. Also, Active Torque Vectoring is also standard, which adjusts power to the wheels to track through corners for a stable driving experience. Together, the four-cylinder gas engine and two electric motors deliver a combined 148 horsepower, but the electric drive helps the Subaru get off to a quick start. It has a 17-mile all-electric range. The hybrid version gives up some interior cargo space compared to the standard version, due to the size of the battery pack. Along with the Limited trim level, the PHEV gets full LED headlights with auto high beams, LED fog lights, blind-spot detection, reverse automatic braking, six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, leather seating surfaces and an upgraded infotainment system. The PHEV also features a pedestrian alert system, remote climate control, and a battery charging timer so you can schedule charges during cheaper off-peak hours. You’ll also get some comfort features like a moonroof, heated steering wheel and upgraded audio system.

Ways to finance the best PHEV

Plug-in hybrids tend to be the most expensive option among traditional hybrids and gas-powered cars, though they do generally cost less than all-electric vehicles. Many of them are eligible for federal and local tax incentives which helps bring the cost down. See what tax incentives are available for the PHEV you’re interested in here.

Before you buy, shop around for an auto loan the way you would for a vehicle. It’s possible to fill out a single form at LendingTree and receive up to five auto loan offers from lenders, depending on your creditworthiness. Compare those offers and take a preapproved auto loan with you to the dealership. If the dealer can beat it, you’ll know you’re getting your best deal possible.

 

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