2018 Hybrid Cars and EVs

The automotive world is getting greener and hybrids, EVs and plug-in hybrids are no longer boring cars for fringe buyers. Hybrids and green cars are now so mainstream that nearly every automaker now has a few on the market. Hybrids save drivers’ money at the pumps by combining an internal combustion engine with a large battery and electric motor. Plug-in hybrids have even more range thanks to bigger and more powerful batter packs. Full EVs are also becoming more common and do away with internal combustion for good. Here’s what’s happening in the hybrid and green car world.

Pros and Cons of Hybrids and EVs

Pros: Tax incentives make EVs much more affordable and there are other perks like preferential parking and use of HOV lanes. Besides doing your part to help curb the environmental damage caused by internal combustion engines, green cars are often quiet, have all the safety features and tech you want and even look great these days. Green cars no longer look like wacky cars and can blend in much better than they used to. Charging technology is getting faster and faster and more infrastructure is being built. Most hybrids and EVs also coach you on driving more efficiently and can tell you where the closest charging stations are.

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Cons: Tax incentives will soon run out for many automakers and their EVs, which makes them harder to afford. This isn’t a great situation because prices of many green cars are still higher than their gas-powered siblings, but this should get better as economies of scale improve. In some places, charging infrastructure hasn’t been built up yet, so many people will require a charger at home, an additional cost that isn’t cheap. Range anxiety is also still very real, though most EVs have more than enough range for most people. Hybrids and plug-in hybrids help alleviate this range anxiety because if the battery runs out, it just operates on its gas engine.

ALSO SEE: Pros and Cons of Electric Cars

What’s New for Hybrid Cars and EVs for 2019?

It will be an exciting year for the green car landscape.

The popular and pioneering Toyota Prius got an important refresh for the 2019 model year that toned down some of the controversial styling to make it more palatable and mainstream. The bigger news, however, is that the Prius is now available with all-wheel drive. A great feature for hybrid drivers who have snowy winters to deal with, the system is unique in that it only drives the rear axle (which is powered by an electric motor) at launch from 0-6 mph and only when needed at speeds of up to 43 mph. Of course, the plug-in Prius Prime is still available, and the Mirai, a hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle, is available to drivers in certain states. The Camry Hybrid and RAV4 Hybrid are also still on offer, but for the first time, a Corolla Hybrid has joined the lineup. Lexus also has a new UX250h hybrid, a subcompact crossover, but pretty much all of its CUV and sedan models are available as hybrids.

The Honda Insight is all-new for 2019 as a Civic-sized hybrid with Accord-like pricing and Prius-like fuel economy. This revived Insight is nothing like the one that came before it: It looks conventionally handsome and is bound to see well. Honda’s other green offerings include the Accord Hybrid and the Honda Clarity, a plug-in hybrid that is so good that you’d be forgiven if you thought you were driving an Accord. 

ALSO SEE: 2019 Honda Insight: Sedan is So Much More Than Just a Civic Hybrid

The Hyundai Kona EV takes an excellent subcompact crossover and gives it a very capable electric powertrain, making it a rarity as an affordable electric crossover. This funky EV has 258 miles of range and is quick with a 7.6-second sprint to 60 mph. The funky-looking Kia Soul EV is also new for 2019 and is built on the same platform as the Kona EV. Other than that, Kia offers the Optima Hybrid and the Niro hybrid and a full EV.

The Hyundai Nexo is a fuel cell-powered electric vehicle. Its availability is limited because there aren’t too many places that offer hydrogen refueling stations, but it’s remarkable because it otherwise looks and drives like a regular car. Hyundai also still has the Sonata Hybrid and its Ioniq lineup, which includes a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and a full EV.

Beating many of its competitors to market, the Jaguar I-Pace debuted for 2019 to rave reviews and much fanfare. The I-Pace is the automaker’s first full EV and it gets a maximum of 290 miles of range. With the style, luxury, and sporty driving dynamics Jaguar is famous for, the I-Pace crossover is the Tesla Model X’s first true competitor.

2019 jaguar i-pace laguna seca

The Audi E-Tron is the automaker’s first EV crossover. With 250 miles of range and 475 lb-ft of torque on tap, it’s sure to be a strong offering when it goes on sale.

Mercedes-Benz EQC is a direct competitor to the Audi E-Tron and is the first in the German company’s new sub-brand of EQ electric vehicles. Although it has a bit more predicted range at 279 miles, the two stack up quite well.

The Tesla Model 3 has finally landed after many production delays, but the final product is really impressive, just as the Model S and Model X crossover were before it. Offering drivers a futuristic option for electric motoring, Teslas have desirability that many other EVs can’t match.

Startup American electric carmaker Rivian is hoping to shake things up and it surprised everyone by debuting a fully electric three-row SUV and a pickup truck that both look ready for production. The specs for the boxy and retro-looking yet high-tech EVs are also impressive and the company says not only will the vehicles be really quick (zero to 60 in about 3 seconds), but they should be able to tow and go off-road as well. With range of up to 400 miles, this is really promising. Rivian plans to sell its EVs in 2021.

The Chevrolet Bolt EV continues on, but the Volt will be discontinued early in 2019, even though it was just updated. The Nissan Leaf recently got an overhaul, but its range is still just 150 miles, which is usually enough for most people, even though it doesn’t look that competitive on spec sheets. There is a long-range Leaf coming in 2019 with a bigger battery pack called the E-Plus that will get a power boost and more range, likely 200+ miles.

MINI has entered the fray with a new plug-in hybrid version of its Cooper Countryman crossover. Land Rover gets into the game with its Range Rover P400e Plug-In Hybrid as well. The BMW i3S is a sportier version of this electric car that’s new for 2018 and is the most powerful i3 ever. Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid has finally arrived as well. The Subaru Crosstrek also returns with a plug-in hybrid offering and the Porsche Panamera has the S E-Hybrid system. The Mercedes GLE also got a new plug-in hybrid model.

Of course, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid and Acura MDX Sport Hybrid are also still available. The whole Smart lineup is only available as electric cars in North America.

What’s Coming to Hybrid and EVs?

Expect charging infrastructure to grow dramatically and for charging technology to get faster and faster. Wireless charging for cars will soon become commonplace. The price of hybrids and EVs is also expected to go down with each passing year. We can also expect the number of green car offerings to increase, as every single automaker is working on electrifying its lineup.

Some automakers are even considering going full EV in the future. Jaguar, for example, has hinted that it might become a fully electric brand in the near future.

Audi will soon reveal its production electric car said to compete with the Tesla Model S. The E-Tron GT will be powerful, aggressive and fast. The Porsche Taycan, previously called the Mission E, is also coming soon as the German sports car maker’s first electric offering. BMW will also come out with its first EV this year based on the iNext concept. Volvo's Polestar spinoff is also working on some interesting EV performance offerings like the Polestar 1 and the 2 EV, which will have 400 hp and 300 miles of range. The Poelstar 2 is set to compete with the Tesla Model 3.

Tesla is working on a new Roadster model that is said to be the quickest car in the world, with blazingly fast acceleration and a high price tag to match. The company is also working on an electric pickup truck and a semi truck.

Lucid Air and Faraday Future are two EV brands struggling to debut their first offerings, but they have big plans.

The Jeep Wrangler will be hybridized in 2020 and it’s only a matter of time until sports cars like the Porsche 911 will get a hybrid system. Ferrari and Lamborghini are also working on hybrid systems. Ford is working on a hybrid Mustang, a hybrid F-150 pickup truck, and even an electric crossover inspired by the Mustang. A Honda CR-V Hybrid is probably also on the way and a plug-in Jeep Renegade has also been confirmed. BMW is also working on a new hybrid supercar that is based on the i8 and will continue to add models to its electric i lineup — an i3, i5, i7 and i9 are likely being planned along with crossover models. Mazda has confirmed that the rotary engine will return as a range extender in a future hybrid.

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