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10 Great Hybrids and EVs for 2018

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author photo by Joe Tralongo September 2018

You don't have to drive a gutless economy car to get great fuel economy. Hybrids can deliver stellar EPA numbers while still offering plenty of power and comfort. Worried about not being green enough? Try out one of the many pure electric vehicles. Most have enough range to cover the average daily commute, while not costing much more than the average family sedan.

Now is the perfect time to look into these alternative modes of transportation. As Plug In America executive director Joel Levin points out, "National Drive Electric Week is a great opportunity for people to come together with their neighbors to celebrate and learn about electric vehicles." Of course, no car is completely green. Autotrader's Executive Editor Brian Moody points out that "there's still some debate about whether or not EVs are good for the planet when taking into account the manufacturing process and battery disposal. However, there's no denying electric cars pollute far less from the vehicle than gasoline powered cars. EVs are also more rewarding to drive because the electric motors can deliver quicker acceleration when compared to a gasoline only vehicle."

Not sure where to start? We know it's a lot to take in, so we've done the legwork for you. Here's a list of 10 great hybrids and electric vehicles, both new and used.

New or Used Toyota Prius Prime

The Prius Prime dates back to 2013, although the version we see today first arrived as a 2017 model. In the Prime, you'll find what is arguably one of the best-known, best-designed plug-in hybrids, offering exceptional quality, reliability and resale numbers. The Prime isn't exactly sporty, though both its interior and exterior are appropriately futuristic in design. Due to its smaller size, the Prime can only seat four people, and its cargo space is tighter than in the standard Prius. The optional 11.6-inch infotainment screen is way cool, but sadly can't accommodate Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Using its plug-in hybrid system, the Prime can run solely on electric power for up to 25 miles at a top speed just shy of 85 miles per hour. With its combined electric motor and gas engine, the Prime can travel over 600 miles on a single tank of gas, with an EPA-estimated 54 miles per gallon in combined driving and 133 miles per gallon equivalent. When the day is done, plugging the Prime into a standard 220-volt outlet will recharge the battery pack in a mere two hours. Buy a new Prime and you'll qualify for a $4,500 federal tax credit. Buy a used model, and you can probably save thousands right up front.

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New or Used Ford Fusion Energi

Endowed with all the good looks, athletic abilities and luxurious features of the Ford Fusion, but without the trunk space, the Fusion Energi ups the ante with a sophisticated plug-in hybrid system that allows the car to travel up to 20 miles purely on electric power at speeds up to 85 mph. With an estimated 42 mpg combined and 96 mpge, the Fusion Energi isn't as efficient as the Prius Prime, but it offers more room, more features and a superior driving experience. When in electric mode, the Energi is as silent as a mime in a soundproof booth, but once the gasoline engine kicks in, there's noticeable noise from under the hood, especially with the accelerator pedal pushed to the floor. Although first released in 2013, opting for a 2017-or-newer model gets you the much-improved Sync 3 infotainment system, a rotary gear selector and an ultra-plush Platinum trim option.

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2018 Chevrolet Bolt

Until recently, people thought the only way to get 200-plus miles of driving range from an electric car was to spend $70,000 on a Tesla Model S. But then came the Chevy Bolt, a compact crossover EV with a 238-mile range, a two-hour charge time when using a DC Fast Charging station and, after applying the $7,500 federal tax credit, a $30,000 price tag. Sounds pretty good, yes? Add a sporty driving demeanor and a spacious and ultra-modern interior complete with a 10.2-in color infotainment screen, and the Bolt starts to make a lot of sense. At this price, however, Chevrolet's little electric is missing features found on most hybrids, such as automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, and the Bolt's front seats can feel a bit narrow and confining. On the plus side, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are along for the ride, as is an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty on the battery, thermal-management system, charging system and electric drive components.

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2018 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

In the 2018 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid, you'll find beauty, brawn and brains all wrapped up in a family-friendly luxury SUV that is also a delight to drive. Sharing much of its design and interior bits with the regular MDX, the Sport Hybrid adds a little more zip to the formula with a three-electric-motor setup similar to the system found in the Acura NSX sports car. The result is a 7-passenger SUV putting out 321 horsepower (that's 31 more ponies than the gasoline-only MDX) and an impressive 26 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Standard Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive helps the MDX Sport Hybrid corner like a champ; it also makes it a formidable ally in the war against winter driving conditions. Acura provides plenty of innovative features, including a split-screen infotainment setup featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, collision-mitigation braking, adaptive cruise control, heated and ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel.

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2018 Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf was the first affordable electric car to make its way to mass production. Since its introduction, many challengers have cropped up, forcing Nissan to bring it's A-game. In the 2018 Leaf, you'll find a radical-looking EV that strikes a nice balance between range and price. The Leaf's upscale interior is nicer than what you'll find in a Chevy Bolt or BMW i3, yet its entry price remains just a hair over $30,000. The Leaf can now travel up to 150 miles before needing to recharge, which takes about 8 hours with a 220-volt Level 2 charger, but only about 2 hours with DC Fast Charger. On the road, the Leaf displays an impressively smooth ride, quiet cabin and strong, linear acceleration. Nissan's e-Pedal feature allows the driver to start, accelerate, slow and even come to a complete stop simply by using the accelerator pedal, while the optional Pro-Pilot Assist can help keep the Leaf in its lane with little to no input from the driver. Other options worth noting include a full range of driver assists such as adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and blind spot monitoring, as well as Bose audio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, plus a heated steering wheel, heated seats and a 360-degree Around View monitor.

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2018 Honda Accord Hybrid

Of all the hybrid cars on the road, this one may be the biggest no-brainer ever. The 2018 Honda Accord Hybrid carries itself well, with a stylish exterior, massive interior and a level of creature comforts and luxury trimmings nearing Acura standards. With a starting price around $25,000, the Accord Hybrid easily fits within the budgets of most families, and even when loaded up with options, it barely touches the $35,000 mark. With its battery pack located under the rear seat, the hybrid Accord offers the same spacious trunk space as the non-hybrid Accord, yet it's capable of returning a 47 mpg city/hwy/combined rating. Besides a full suit of standard driver assists, the Accord Hybrid comes with Honda's legendary reputation for safety, reliability and strong resale. If that's not enough, you can order an Accord Hybrid with heated and ventilated leather seats, a heated rear seat, Qi wireless charging and an upgraded 10-speaker sound system that is both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible (you won't find that on the Toyota Camry Hybrid).

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2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

The 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is unique in a number of ways. As the only plug-in hybrid minivan, it offers a level of sophistication and frugality unavailable in other family hauling machines. And, unlike the Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna, the Pacifica exudes a very cool, almost enviable look, with an equally stunning interior worthy of a premium luxury brand. Although it looks and behaves very much like the standard Pacifica upon which it is based, there are some notable differences. In order to make room for the battery pack, the hybrid version loses the cool in-floor storage space and Stow N' Go second-row Captain's Chair seating. That's a small price to pay for a vehicle that can travel up to 33 miles solely on electric power, and when using the gasoline engine, earns an EPA combined estimate of 32 mpg. Toss in the Pacifica Hybrid's impressive ride and handling, and you've got a pretty compelling argument for not going with a midsize hybrid SUV like the Toyota Highlander. On the downside, at around $41,000, the Pacifica is a bit more expensive than the competition, and unlike the Highlander Hybrid, Chrysler only offers advanced driver assists on the most expensive Limited trim.

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2018 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

Toyota's largest and most luxurious sedan comes in hybrid form, making it one of the few fullsize hybrids with a starting price well under $40,000. Place the Avalon Hybrid against the Buick LaCrosse, Kia Cadenza or Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and it stacks up pretty well. The Avalon Hybrid offers a spacious interior, a roomy trunk, loads of luxury and driver safety features and a sleek exterior, all in a vehicle that can achieve 40 mpg in city driving and 39 mpg on the highway. Granted, the hybrid model has 86 less horses under the hood than the standard Avalon, and with the added weight of the hybrid system, slightly slower acceleration. But who hot-rods a fullsize car? The Avalon Hybrid is more than adequate when it comes to passing and merging, delivers a velvety smooth ride and has a hushed interior. Like its gasoline-only counterpart, the Avalon Hybrid possesses excellent marks in the areas of reliability, resale and crash testing. It also comes standard with advanced driver assists like automatic emergency braking, high-beam assist and adaptive cruise control. However, the Avalon's rather simple interior doesn't match its flashy exterior, and although Apple CarPlay is here for the party, apparently Android Auto didn't get an invite.

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2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

While it may not be as popular as the Honda CR-V or Jeep Cherokee, the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander SUV is actually a pretty robust offering. Toss in a plug-in hybrid powertrain, and the Outlander really begins to shine. Because the battery and hybrid hardware occupy the space normally reserved for the third-row seat, the Outlander PHEV can only seat five passengers. The hybrid option is only available on the most high-end trims, but with pricing starting just over $35,000, the Outlander PHEV is still easily attainable. A 2.0-liter engine and electric motor combine to produce 197 hp, which is routed to all four wheels. Running on pure electric power, the Outlander PHEV can go for about 22 miles, after which the hybrid power system takes over to achieve a combined EPA city/hwy rating of 25 mpg/74 mpge. The Outlander PHEV may feel a bit dated and its interior a little drab, but it can tow up to 1,500 pounds and comes standard with a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. It's also the only plug-in hybrid compact crossover on the market.

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2018 Lexus RX 450h

Looking for a luxury hybrid SUV but don't need the massive body or seven-passenger seating of the Acura MDX Sport Hybrid? Consider the five-passenger Lexus RX 450h hybrid. Still need three rows but are looking for a more dynamic alternative to the Acura? Try the six-passenger RX 450hL. Regardless of which model you choose, you'll be getting a luxury crossover with a proven hybrid system and a brand renowned for its attention to detail, safety and overall excellence. Just about every luxury feature found on the RX 350 is offered on the hybrid, so there is really no sacrifice required. The RX 450h is more powerful than the RX 350 and it comes standard with all-wheel drive. Combined fuel economy for the hybrid is a healthy 30 mpg, significantly better than the gasoline version's 22 mpg combined figure. Pricing for the RX 450h starts just under $47,000, the RX 450hL at $51,630 and the RX 450h F Sport at $53,630.

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10 Great Hybrids and EVs for 2018 - Autotrader