3 Plug-In Hybrids That Actually Make Financial Sense

Ford Fusion Energi
The first great plug-in hybrid deals finally hit the U.S. market | Ford

Electric vehicles are expensive to develop, test, and bring to market. Hence their slow roll-out in the U.S. and mostly high price tags whenever they made it. If you paid attention to pricing of models announced in 2016, you probably noticed more reasonable figures: Tesla said Model 3 would cost just $35,000 before incentives; GM said Chevy Bolt EV would start at $37,495. In states with incentives on top of the federal credit ($7,500), consumers will get affordable options in 2017.

Plug-in hybrids are following the same trend. Gone are the days when Honda released its plug-in Accord over $15,000 higher than the standard model. When Audi launched the A3 e-tron in 2015, the premium was only a few thousand dollars above the base A3 after incentives. That made about $500 in annual gas savings hold up for Audi shoppers who wanted to turn greener.

As 2017 models start appearing in dealerships, plug-in consumers have their first bona fide deals on cars in three distinct segments: compact, midsize sedan, and minivan. Here are three plug-in hybrids that make great financial sense compared to gasoline-only alternatives.

1. Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
Pacifica Hybrid’s battery makes the $7,500 federal tax credit an option for consumers | Chrysler

Folks wondering about the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid price got good news in November when FCA announced the plug-in model would start at $41,995. That price sounds high at first, but this model’s battery qualifies it for the full tax credit. Subtracting $7,500, buyers are looking at a starting price of $34,495.  The deal looks even better as you calculate fuel savings. Pacifica Hybrid covers about 30 miles on a full charge and gets 80 MPGe, which should save drivers over $1,500 per year compared to a standard Pacifica (28 MPG combined). State incentives will make it even more appealing.

2. Toyota Prius Prime

2017 Toyota Prius Prime
Prius Prime hits the right price point for consumers | Toyota

When Toyota Prius Prime’s fuel economy and range specs came out, many were impressed at its 25-mile range and 133 MPGe. Then the pricing caught everyone’s attention. Since plug-in hybrids like Prime qualify for a federal tax credit of $4,500, the starting price of $27,100 falls below the standard hybrid’s base price of $24,685. With regular charging on any outlet, the plug-in Prius would save drivers thousands in gas costs in the course of a few years. KBB.com considered that enough to name Prime its “Best Buy” in the hybrid/EV category for 2017.

3. Ford Fusion Energi

Fusion Energi
The best value for Fusion Energi is the 2016 Titanium model | Eric Schaal/Autos Cheat Sheet

Ford dropped the base price of its plug-in Fusion Energi in the 2017 refresh, but 2016 models represent the best value play here. On three-year lease deals, Ford offers the ’16 Fusion Energi Titanium at a net price of $25,348, or $296 a month with $941 down. Great purchase deals are possible with the outgoing model, but the top-level trim at such a low monthly payment puts a $36,000 car at nearly the same price as a standard Fusion SE. More savings come with regular charging of a car that gets 19 electric miles and over 80 MPGe.

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