Electric vehicles are becoming the way of the world, but they’re not the best choice for every car buyer. Charging availability and speeds remain an issue, and there are very few public chargers in some parts of the country. People who live in apartments or places where installing a charger is impossible may have a hard time owning an EV, especially if they drive more than a few miles each day.
Plug-in hybrids offer the best of both worlds, as they have an electric range and a gas engine to back everything up when the battery runs dry. They’re not as well-known as EVs or gas vehicles, though, so let’s get a feel for some of the best 2023 PHEVs around.
10 2023 PHEVs you should know about
2023 Ford Escape
37 miles electric range
The Ford Escape Hybrid took a while to hit the market, as the automaker experienced delays with battery technology and other components. It’s here, though, and it sports an impressive 105 MPGe, along with an all-electric driving range of 37 miles. Ford paired a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with a 14.4-kWh battery and an electric motor to produce those specs, and the PHEV feels lively off the line, thanks to its healthy electric torque.
The five-seat Escape Hybrid is spacious and nicer than expected inside, though the back seat could use more hip room for adults. Ford equips a standard 8-inch touchscreen, but higher trims add a larger 13.2-inch display and other available tech includes wireless charging, a Bang & Olufsen stereo, and voice recognition. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, and Ford’s Sync infotainment software is one of the easiest-to-use systems on the market today.
2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime
42 miles electric range
The Toyota RAV4 Prime blends fantastic fuel economy with surprising power in a familiar compact SUV package. Until the GR Corolla’s release, it was Toyota’s second-quickest vehicle, behind only the GR Supra in acceleration. At the same time, it offers 42 miles of electric driving range and up to 94 MPGe from its plug-in hybrid powertrain. Acceleration off the line is strong, and Toyota’s continuously variable transmission is one of the smoother units around.
Inside, the RAV4 Prime offers comfortable, spacious seating for five people, though four will be more comfortable. The front bucket seats are wide and supportive and are nicely adjustable. Toyota equips an 8-inch touchscreen as standard, but higher trims get a 10.5-inch screen and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. Though it was behind most of the industry on infotainment tech for years, Toyota is finally playing catch up with its latest interface. It’s more fluid and responsive than before, and navigating menus is far easier.
2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid
17 miles electric range
Though it’s easily one of the most off-road-ready PHEVs on this list, the Crosstrek Hybrid’s range falls short of the others. Even so, it makes the most of its 148 horsepower, and the electric motor helps make it feel more lively off the line than it would with gas alone. Subaru’s continuously variable transmission isn’t as responsive as a traditional torque converter automatic, but it’s better than many others in the industry and does not let the engine wail and whine as much as some. The Crosstrek also gets standard all-wheel drive, making it an excellent choice for poor-weather regions and people wanting to get out on the trails.
While it’s a little boring inside, the Crosstrek Hybrid’s cabin feels and looks high-quality, and there’s decent seating space for adults. An 8-inch touchscreen comes standard, bringing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with HD radio, SiriusXM radio, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and more. Subaru also equips a generous list of standard safety equipment, including automatic emergency braking and lane keep assist.
2023 Toyota Prius Prime
44 miles electric range
Toyota redesigned the Prius for 2023, giving it striking styling and significantly improved performance over previous models. It comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a couple of electric motors that produce a combined 220 horsepower and 139 pounds of torque. Front-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission also come standard, and the system works together to produce surprising acceleration and good torque off the line. While it’s not a sports car, the Prius Prime feels lively and eager in most situations and doesn’t feel underpowered on the highway, where many PHEVs fizzle.
The five-seat Prius offers nice cloth upholstery and spacious front seats. The rear seats may feel slightly cramped for adults as the car’s roof slopes downward in the back. Otherwise, the cabin looks and feels nicer than in previous model years, and there’s good outward visibility for the front passengers. Toyota equips an 8-inch touchscreen with wireless smartphone mirroring, and higher trim levels step up to a 12.3-inch unit and a JBL stereo.
2023 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
32 miles electric range
Chrysler created a winner with the Pacifica Hybrid, which brings all the family-hauling niceties of its gas-only counterpart with 32 miles of electric range and good acceleration. Its 260 horsepower is plenty, giving the minivan an eager feel with good power at low speeds. Accelerating to highway speeds is also no problem, and passing once there is a breeze.
The Pacifica Hybrid seats seven on standard leather upholstery. It also gets standard heated front seats, and top trim levels feel downright luxurious with quilted Nappa leather and ventilated front seats. A 10.1-inch touchscreen comes standard, bringing wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Uconnect infotainment system is one of the best around, offering responsive menu navigation and smooth transitions.
2023 Kia Niro
33 miles electric range
The Niro has a few powertrain options, including an EV, but the plug-in hybrid is the sweet spot. It gets 180 horsepower and a reasonable 33 miles of electric range. While it’s not thrilling, the Niro’s powertrain delivers good acceleration in most situations. Its ride quality remains comfortable on most road surfaces, and handling is agreeable.
Five passengers can ride in relative comfort, and the back seat offers spacious accommodations, even for adults. An 8-inch touchscreen comes standard, bringing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s also got three USB ports and six speakers. Higher trims get a 10.25-inch touchscreen and a Harman Kardon stereo. Kia’s infotainment system isn’t as flashy as other brands’ interfaces, but it’s easy to use and not distracting while driving.
2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe
25 miles electric range
Jeep introduced the Grand Cherokee 4xe following the Wrangler 4xe, and both have become popular plug-in hybrid models for the iconic American brand. The Grand Cherokee 4xe delivers good acceleration and strong fuel economy while retaining the Jeep off-road capability buyers expect. Its 25 miles of electric range is short of many on this list, but the SUV’s interior space and nice accommodations make it worth a look.
Jeep gives the Grand Cherokee a nicer-than-expected cabin with spacious seating for five people. The cloth upholstery feels premium and remains comfortable on long trips. An 8.4-inch touchscreen comes standard running Uconnect software. The interface is easy to use and responsive, making interacting with the SUV a pleasure.
2023 Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge
35 miles electric range
Volvo packed massive horsepower and a solid all-electric range in the XC60 plug-in hybrid, and with 455 horsepower on tap, it’s far rowdier than many likely expect. On top of that, the 523 pound-feet of torque makes it feel more than lively and eager at low speeds. Though it’s ready for speed, Volvo tuned the XC60 more for comfort than handling, and its buttery ride quality reflects that focus.
The XC60’s interior is packed with high-end materials and clean Swedish styling. Volvo offers a range of upholstery options, including leather and a super-cool wool textile that gives the cabin an inviting, unique feel. The 9-inch touchscreen runs Google Android software underneath, giving it additional connected features and responsive operation.
2023 Jeep Wrangler 4xe
21 miles electric range
The Wrangler 4xe has become one of the best-selling PHEVs in America, offering a unique blend of off-road capability and fuel-efficient operation. With 375 horsepower and 470 pounds of torque on tap, there’s always good acceleration and an eager feel. That torque also helps the 4xe claw out of challenging off-road obstacles, and it’s ready to go with even the slightest tap of the throttle.
Wranglers are mostly comfortable inside, but their interiors are designed for life on the trail and are not as plush as more substantial SUVs. A 7-inch touchscreen comes standard, bringing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, eight speakers, and Bluetooth. Higher trims step up to a larger 8.4-inch unit, but all get Uconnect software.
2023 Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV
31 miles electric range
The recently updated Hyundai Santa Fe brings an upscale cabin and a surprisingly strong plug-in powertrain that delivers a healthy 261 horsepower and 31 miles of electric range. Acceleration is strong, and Hyundai used a traditional torque converter automatic transmission, making the Santa Fe feel more responsive and engaging than it would with a CVT. The ride quality is good, and the handling is confidence inspiring, though the Santa Fe shouldn’t be expected to do dual duty as a sports car.
The Santa Fe offers five seats and a standard power-adjustable driver’s seat. Heating is also standard for the front buckets, which are spacious and well-padded. The second-row seats are also roomy, and the bench offers better support and padding than most. A sizeable 10.25-inch touchscreen comes standard, bringing smartphone mirroring and other great features, including SiriusXM radio and navigation.
Frequently asked questions about 2023 PHEVs
What’s the difference between a PHEV and a hybrid?
Plug-in hybrids offer an all-electric range and have larger batteries than their hybrid counterparts. Hybrids do not need to be charged, where PHEVs do, though plug-in models work as a normal hybrid once their electric range is exhausted.
Are PHEVs more expensive than hybrids?
In most cases, yes. Their plug-in components and larger batteries tend to drive higher purchase prices.
Should I buy an EV or PHEV?
If you have ready access to a charger and can manage the extra purchase price, EVs are great. On the other hand, PHEVs give you the security of a gas engine when the range runs low and can be an excellent alternative for people with less regular access to a charger.
Can I take my PHEV on a road trip?
Sure! Once your electric range is exhausted, your vehicle will work normally as a hybrid with the gas engine. That said, hybrids don’t deliver their best fuel economy benefits on the highway, so it’s good to remember that you’ll still be stopping for fuel.