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The world is starting to transition from gas-powered cars to cleaner options, such as PHEVs and EVs, and this has been true for luxury cars too. While luxury automakers have been investing heavily in EVs and PHEVs, they aren’t giving traditional hybrids much attention. In fact, only one sedan is available for under $50,000. Here’s a look at the only luxury hybrid car cheaper than $50,000.

What’s the difference between a PHEV and a traditional hybrid?

The headlight of a silver Lexus ES luxury hybrid
Lexus ES Hybrid | Toyota Motor Sales

A traditional hybrid, often called a hybrid, is fairly simple compared to a PHEV or a true EV. A traditional hybrid usually has a gas or diesel engine that works with some electric motors to move the car around. Traditional hybrids also tend to have a small battery compared to PHEVs and EVs.

A PHEV still has a gas or diesel engine in its powertrain. Unlike a traditional hybrid, the electric motors and the battery pack are usually much larger than a traditional hybrid. On top of that, as the name implies, owners can plug their PHEV into a charging station and recharge their car’s battery just like an EV owner would. This is not possible on a traditional hybrid. 

The larger batteries on a PHEV also allow it to go on battery-only mode. When a PHEV does that, it runs on electric power only, and traditional hybrids don’t have this feature. A PHEV’s extra complexities also mean they tend to be much more expensive than traditional hybrids. However, PHEVs do qualify for certain tax credits, so that can bring their costs down.

An overview of the 2022 Lexus ES Hybrid

According to Kelley Blue Book, luxury automakers still have traditional hybrid options, and the Lexus ES Hybrid is the only hybrid luxury sedan available for under $50,000. The ES Hybrid starts at a price tag of about $43,000 MSRP. That’s only about $1,000 more expensive than the standard ES. In fact, car shoppers can upgrade to the F Sport or the Luxury trim and still spend under $50,000.

No matter which trim shoppers choose, the ES Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that works with electric motors to get 215 hp. It’s paired with a CVT, and front-wheel drive is the only option available. This setup allows the ES Hybrid to get about 44 mpg combined, which isn’t great for a hybrid but is suitable for a luxury sedan.

The features that the ES Hybrid comes with will vary depending on the trim level. But since it’s a Lexus, it’ll be a luxurious experience overall. Synthetic leather upholstery is standard on this Lexus sedan, and an 8-inch touch screen is also standard. Optional trims will get heated front seats and a 12.3-inch touchscreen display.

The Volvo S60 Recharge is also reasonably affordable for the segment

Another relatively affordable hybrid is the Volvo S60 Recharge, as the 2022 version starts at about $48,000. That being said, the S60 Recharge isn’t a traditional hybrid, but rather it’s a PHEV. On top of that, Volvo is raising its price significantly for the 2023 model year, which will cost about $51,000.

In any case, this Volvo sedan is fairly fuel efficient and capable. Its PHEV powertrain gets over 400 hp combined, and it also gets about 74 MPGe. On top of that, Volvo recently increased the S60 Recharge’s battery size. It can now travel about 40 miles on battery power alone. 


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