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Many folks are worried about climate change, and one of the best ways that car shoppers can clean up their emissions without spending too much money is with a PHEV. They’re hybrids that can briefly travel on battery power only and are much cheaper than a true EV. Here’s a look at the two PHEVs with a price tag of under $30,000.

Why PHEVs can be a good transition point between gas cars and EVs

A blue Hyundai Ioniq plug-in hybrid (PHEV) parked indoors.
Hyundai Ioniq | Getty Images

EVs right now have a lot of pros but also some cons. The two big things that stop people from making the switch are the cost of an EV and range anxiety. Compared to a gas-powered car, EVs tend to have a much shorter range, and EVs with long-range tend to be very expensive. This is where PHEVs come in. 

Unlike a traditional hybrid, a PHEV has a sizeable battery that can send power to an electric motor that can be used to move the car. A PHEV’s battery and electric motor tend to be smaller and weaker than a true EV’s, but that gives a PHEV some advantages. The most obvious benefit is cost, as the smaller battery and electric motor make PHEVs cheaper than EVs. 

But just like an EV, owners can plug in their PHEV and recharge the battery. And when a PHEV is in battery-only mode, it is an EV for a short time. On top of that, PHEVs come with a gas-powered engine, giving PHEVs a much longer range overall than the average EV. 

1. The Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid is cheap, but there’s a caveat

According to Edmunds, a Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid starts at a price tag of about $27,000, and it has many great specs. Its PHEV powertrain features a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor for about 139 hp combined. Hyundai gave the Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid an 8.9-kWh battery, allowing folks to drive 29 miles in battery-only mode.

When it’s in hybrid mode, it’s still very efficient, as it gets about 119 MPGe combined. And even in its regular driving mode, it brings about 52 mpg combined. Thanks to its 11.4-gallon gas tank, the Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid ranges about 585 miles. That said, Hyundai discontinued the Ioniq’s PHEV option for the 2023 model year, so the 2022 model year will be its last.

2. The Toyota Prius Prime is technically the only PHEV car that’s under $30,000

The Prius is the most well-known hybrid car in the U.S., and the Prius Prime is the PHEV version of the Prius. It starts at a price tag of about $29,000, and it has some distinct advantages over the Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid. The most obvious advantage is that Toyota is still producing and updating the car, so after the 2023 model year, the Prius Prime will be the only PHEV car under $30,000.

The Prius Prime is an excellent PHEV option in terms of its specs. Its PHEV powertrain has a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that works with an electric motor to get 121 hp. Toyota gave the Prius Prime an 8.8-kWh battery, and this allows the Prius Prime to go 25 miles in battery-only mode. It’s also very fuel efficient, as it gets 133 MPGe combined in hybrid mode and 54 mpg combined in regular mode. This gives the Prius Prime a range of about 610 miles.