In the late 1990s, Honda and Toyota each introduced some small, compact little cars that — for the first time on a mass production level — incorporated an electric powertrain into the traditional gasoline format. They went by the names of the Insight and Prius, respectively, and their impact on the world of cars is reverberating from entry-level compacts to high-end supercars.
Hybrids have matured to a level that back then likely seemed unimaginable. Brands like Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Porsche, BMW, Audi, and even Bentley have embraced the technology, and while it’s primarily used as a means to save on fuel, companies are finding that hybrid systems can provide a valuable asset to power production, as well.
Hybrids for the masses have come down in price — you can get a Prius c for less than $20,000 these days — and their adoption by luxury car brands and companies has seen capabilities and prices soar to new highs. Here are the 12 most expensive hybrids currently on the market. One-offs, concepts, and race cars were excluded; only production models available to the public were considered.
12. Mercedes-Benz E-Class Hybrid – $56,700
Priced at a “reasonable” $56,700 to start — it’ll likely be much higher after some pricey Mercedes options are added — is the E-Class Hybrid sedan, which pairs a 3.5-liter V6 with an electric motor that produces total system horsepower of about 329. It returns 24 miles per gallon around town and 30 on the highway compared to the $51,000 base model that offers 302 horsepower and 20 and 30 miles per gallon respectively. It’s a lot of extra dough for not a whole lot of gain. Our advice? Buy the E250 BlueTec, which gets over 30 combined for real fuel savings.
11. Lexus GS 450h – $60,430
From a price-performance-fuel consumption balance, the Lexus GS 450h might be among the best bets. It boasts a total system horsepower of 348, returns 34 miles per gallon on the highway and 29 in the city for a 31 mile per gallon combined rating, and, like the Benz, uses a 3.5-liter V6 coupled to an electric motor that sends power to the rear wheels. On top of it all, it’s among the best-looking cars in Lexus’s stable.
10. Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid – $64,700
The Touareg Hybrid might be the most expensive vehicle in the Volkswagen portfolio, at least in North America. It starts — at a minimum — at $64,700 before delivery, options, and taxes ($20,000 more than the base Touareg), but needless to say, you get your money’s worth. Output peaks at 380 horsepower, and it manages 20 miles per gallon around town, 24 on the open road. Those aren’t spectacular figures — the TDI model can get nearly 30 on the highway — but the hybrid system here is more for the boost in power than meaningful fuel savings.
9. Cadillac ELR – $75,000
The Cadillac ELR has gotten a lot of attention, but not necessarily for the right reasons. Most agree that it’s a great-looking car, but beneath the shiny new sheet metal, observers have some concerns. Based on the same powertrain that propels the $30,000 or so Chevy Volt, the Cadillac ELR sees a slight power hike, with a 157 horsepower primary electric motor tied to an 83-horsepower 1.4-liter inline four. The biggest plus of the ELR is the all-electric range of about 40 miles before gas is used at all, but it may not be worth such a lofty sum.
8. Porsche Cayenne S-E Hybrid – $76,400
To put intp perspective how expensive the Cadillac is, the Porsche Cayenne S-E Hybrid comes in at less than $1,600 more, and Porsche is known for commanding some of the highest premiums in the business. Despite its large stature, the hybrid Cayenne can sprint to 60 in 5.1 seconds thanks to its total system output of 416 horsepower. Pull your foot off a little, though, and the Cayenne will reward you with 20 miles per gallon city and 24 on the highway — comfortably above the teens that its gasoline-only siblings see.
7. BMW 7 Series Active Hybrid – $84,300
The BMW 7 Series is among the finest luxury barges you can buy south of $100,000, and the ActiveHybrid model, which retails for $84,300, is perhaps the smoothest-driving of them all. It starts at about $10,000 more than a base 7 Series and offers 350 silky smooth horsepower from BMW’s ubiquitous 3.0-liter inline six mated to an electric motor. It returns 30 miles per gallon on the highway and 22 in the city, and has a zero to 60 sprint of 5.6 seconds.
6. Porsche Panamera S-E Hybrid – $96,100
If you like the idea of the Cayenne but don’t need something so high-riding or large, then the Panamera might be the car for you — provided money isn’t really a factor. Porsche’s Panamera Hybrid weighs in at $96,100, and like the Cayenne, offers a cumulative output of 416 horsepower. However, the more aerodynamic nature of the Panamera allows it to achieve an estimated combined rating of 50 miles per gallon equivalent (this is a plug-in, and therefore offers an electric-only range before the gasoline engine kicks in).
5. Lexus LS 600h – $120,060
If the GS 450h has the right idea but just not enough of everything, Lexus can help you out with the $120,000 LS 600h, a hybridized version of the brand’s flagship sedan. It’s considerably more expensive than the BMW but has considerably more power output (at 438) and offers a very un-hybrid-like 19 combined miles per gallon. But in this application, the electric motor is more there to augment performance and torque fill, rather than meaningful fuel economy gains.
4. BMW i8 – $135,700
The BMW i8, simply put, is a modern design and technology tour de force. It uses a plug-in hybrid powertrain to develop 357 horsepower, which although sounds light for a $135,000 car, only needs to propel about 3,200 pounds — which is light for hybrid standards. This results in a 4.4-second zero to 62 time and a driving experience like no other. Perhaps better than any other automaker to date, BMW has perfected the harmonious dance between electricity and gasoline to deliver a smooth and uninterrupted power delivery.
3. Porsche 918 – $845,000
There is a significant void in price between the $135,000 BMW and the next contender, the $845,000 Porsche 918. In a leap to practically race car territory, the Porsche 918 develops a total system output of a monstrous 887 horsepower that allows the supercar to sprint to 60 in just 2.5 seconds, and on to a top speed of 214 miles per hour. In a sentence, this isn’t your grandmother’s Prius. And while you could buy a nice mansion with the cost of one of these, it only rounds out the top three.
2. McLaren P1 – $1.15 million
Carrying the price over the seven-figure barrier is the McLaren P1, the spiritual successor to the renowned F1 that — over a decade later — is still among the world’s fastest cars. The P1 ousts the Porsche in power as well as price, with 903 horsepower served up from both the V8 and electric motor. It’s said to have one of the fastest Nurburgring times ever recorded for a street-legal car, and with performance stats like these, we wouldn’t doubt it.
1. Ferrari LaFerrari – $1.4 milion
Finally, the most expensive hybrid on the market today is the Ferrari LaFerrari. The most surprising aspect of this car isn’t the price, but rather the fact that Ferrari actually made a hybrid. But have no fear, it’s a Ferrari through and through. It has 950 horsepower living beneath the hood and can dash to about 120 in under 7 seconds. Not satisfied with McLaren or Porsche’s paltry V8s, Ferrari opted to mate its electric motors to a V12, and the $1.4 million Ferrari LaFerrari was born, destined for just 499 garages around the country.
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