With the electric range of most pure EVs limited below 100 miles, plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs) are the best choice for consumers who what to go green but need to drive long distances on occasion. With the average car trip covering such short distances, plug-ins travel most of the mileage without gasoline, anyway.
In other words, there is little difference between battery electric cars and plug-ins with gas engines when studying the overall environmental impact. That will change once the new wave of EVs comes to market, beginning with cars like the Chevrolet Bolt EV, expected to cover 200 miles at an affordable sticker price.
Before the Bolt makes its appearance, plug-in models from Volkswagen (Golf GTE), Mercedes-Benz (GLE, C-Class, and S-Class plug-ins), and Audi (A3, R8 e-trons) are going to arrive in the U.S. In case you aren’t holding your breath for the release of these models, there are 10 PHEV models available in 2015.
Here are the 10 plug-ins ranked by pure electric range. (Note: Because the BMW i3 REX has a limited total range, we excluded it from this list.) All vehicles on this list qualify for EV incentives at the state and federal level.
10. Toyota Prius
In case, you haven’t noticed, Toyota is uninterested in joining the battery electric vehicle game and is putting its stock in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. That would explain why the hybrid pioneer only has one Prius plug-in ($29,990) to its name, and this model covers just 6 miles on electric power. Nonetheless, this hybrid gets remarkable efficiency, averaging 95 miles per gallon combined in gas-electric mode and 50 miles per gallon when running on gas alone. Drivers can travel a total of 540 miles using the hybrid system.
9. Porsche 918 Spyder
It will be hard to find a pricier plug-in than the Porsche 918 Spyder ($845,000), which can cover 12 miles on pure electric power and get 67 miles per gallon equivalent in gas-electric mode. That is quite a feat for a car featuring 887 horsepower, but for now this technology is reserved for the most elite vehicles on the road. The 918 Spyder can sprint to 60 miles per hour in 2.5 seconds.
8. Honda Accord Plug-in
A Honda Accord plug-in (like every other car bearing this nameplate) would be a very popular model among U.S. consumers were it not for the car’s sky-high price tag ($39,780) and premium over standard models (over $17,000 hugher). Though 13 miles of electric range and 115 combined miles per gallon are attractive figures for drivers, no one is willing to pay for this PHEV. In April 2015, just 5 Accord plug-ins sold to U.S. consumers. Range is capped at 570 miles.
7. Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid
Americans are feasting on SUVs and crossovers in 2015, but the only available plug-in model comes from Porsche in the Cayenne S E-Hybrid ($77,200). Able to cover 14 miles on electric power and 480 miles total, That allows for 47 miles per gallon equivalent. Drivers also have 416 horsepower to work with, allowing you to hit 60 miles per hour from a standstill in 5.4 seconds.
6. BMW i8
The BMW i8 has made a huge impression on the industry, winning the World Green Car Award in 2015 and selling more copies than the automaker can produce. At a price tag of $137,500, that’s quite an achievement for the hybrid supercar. As far as the green specs are concerned, the i8 can run 14 miles on electric power with economy of 76 miles per gallon equivalent. Total range is 330 miles, with the gas engine able to achieve a remarkable 28 miles per gallon combined.
5. Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid
While it shares a powertrain with the Cayenne plug-in, the Panamera S E-Hybrid covers more ground on electricity with up to 15 miles of range at the equivalent of 50 miles per gallon combined. With the gas engine providing its share of the power, drivers can run a total of 540 miles and achieve 25 miles per gallon on the combustion engine. Of course, such performance and quality come at Porsche prices ($96,100).
4. Ford C-Max Energi
The Ford C-Max is the automaker’s only dedicated hybrid and is available in standard and Energi plug-in trims. The Energi model ($31,770) delivers up to 19 miles of pure electric range at economy of 88 miles per gallon equivalent. When the gas engine kicks in, the C-Max Energi can achieve up to 38 miles per gallon combined. Total range is 550 miles.
3. Ford Fusion Energi
Though it shares the same powertrain as the C-Max Energi, the Fusion PHEV ($34,800) model delivers enough of a different look to warrant its own slot on this list. Green specs are identical to the C-Max’s at 19 miles of electric range and 88 miles per gallon equivalent, as is the total range (550 miles) and gasoline economy (38 combined miles per gallon).
2. Cadillac ELR
Though it shares the same powertrain as GM’s Chevy Volt, the Cadillac ELR offers huge style, comfort, and tech upgrades over its corporate cousin. A coming price drop will bring the MSRP below $70,000 for the first time in this plug-in’s history, but it is unlikely Cadillac will be selling many ELR models in the future. Nevertheless, it pulls in at second place in electric range for plug-ins at 37 miles and can achieve the equivalent of 82 miles per gallon. Gas economy is 33 miles per gallon while total range is 340 miles.
1. Chevrolet Volt
Despite its drivetrain limitations, there is no plug-in hybrid with a longer range than the Chevrolet Volt’s 38 miles on electric power. The current-generation models can achieve 98 miles per gallon equivalent, 37 miles per gallon on gasoline, and cover a total range of 380 miles. While these green specs are solid, Chevy is doing itself one better with the 2016 Volt, expected to hit 50 miles of range and 102 miles per gallon with over 400 miles of total range. For now, the 2015 model rules the roost among plug-ins in America.
Data on range and economy sourced at Fueleconomy.gov