At the dawn of automobile history, there were the internal combustion engine, battery-propelled electric motors, and steam engines. The first two are still prominent today. In some instances, they combined the two.
I know that you cringe over hybrid gas-electric driven automobiles. It is easy to blame Toyota and the popular acceptance of the Prius during its second generation. That particular vehicle was the darling of Hollywood at the time. How many of your favorite celebrities owned a second-generation Prius?
Yet, hybrids remain a part of the work I do across all four publications. Not only do they include the parallel hybrid vehicles, but plug-in models, as well. Which probably begs the question of whether PHEVs are EVs or just hybrids…let's put them on this list, shall we?
So…here are my favorite hybrid gas-electric automobiles I have driven since they first arrived in our showrooms.
2017-Current TOYOTA CAMRY HYBRID/TOYOTA AVALON HYBRID/LEXUS ES 300h/TOYOTA RAV4 HYBRID/LEXUS NX300h: What do these five vehicles have in common? They have what I consider the best non-plug-in hybrid driveline on sale today. It starts with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and is bolted to a parallel electric motor. Combined, this driveline has averaged over 40 MPG in all of the sedans listed here. The same driveline serves as a performance boost for the SUVs among these five vehicles. If I had to rank each one based on experience and ultimate satisfaction, the Lexus ES 300h comes up on top, followed by the Camry and Avalon. You cannot go wrong with this driveline in any of the applications here.
2017-Current CHRYSLER PACIFICA HYBRID: If there is one reason why this minivan is still relevant is because of its plug-in hybrid driveline. While it returns better fuel consumption compared to the standard V6 model, the Pacifica Hybrid drives exceptionally well, providing space for a large family or your friends. One drawback would be the absence of the second row Stow N' Go seats. The battery pack lives where those seats would tuck into the floor. If you overlook that one aspect of the Pacifica Hybrid, this vehicle could make you believe in minivans again.
2018-Current MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER PHEV: When it arrived for 2018, it did more than just add a new propulsion option for their mid-sized SUV. They actually helped the Outlander's cause. If you have been in a regular Outlander and a PHEV back-to-back, then you will notice the latter's elevated interior. In the GT PHEV, the leather, the steering wheel, and other interior details are posh and lavish. One would love to see this in their top non-PHEV Outlander. Plus, it sells at a price lower than any other plug-in hybrid SUV of its size. Besides, why would Nissan pass up this technology when they started purchasing shares in Mitsubishi?
2019-Current HONDA INSIGHT: Getting back to non-plug-in hybrids, this third-generation model shows how grown up this nameplate has become in its current iteration. The basics are practically the same – a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine attached to an electric motor and a CVT. What is different is its mission – and the platform it is built upon. While it is built on the Civic platform, Honda designed its newest Insight with both the Civic and Accord in mind, style-wise. It actually works, but some people questioned why it came only in a sedan and not a hatchback. Maybe the next entry on this list will explain the reasoning why…
2020-Current TOYOTA COROLLA HYBRID: Not a Prius fan, but want the economy of one? For this newest generation of Corolla, North American consumers can have a Prius with a trunk that does not drive like a Prius. It actually drives better and delivers better fuel economy than one! The Corolla Hybrid is lighter, more drivable, offers improved features and ergonomics over the Prius. While there are some who would argue that the Corolla is not as practical as the Prius, there is a consumer base that would prefer a Corolla over one. For that consumer base, they will not be disappointed by their choice.
2016-Current VOLVO T8: This one I have yet to drive, but the feedback I have read points to its excellence as a driveline. It starts with Volvo's T6 engine – a 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder engine. An electric motor was added to the rear axle Along with the plug-in architecture, it is one powerful combination that should return better fuel economy and lesser emissions. The good news is that you can get the T8 in most current Volvo models. But, which one would you get the T8 in? The XC60 and XC90 are likely candidates. It also comes in the S60, V60, and S90, as well. Choices…