2021 Hybrid Cars

The automotive world is getting greener and hybrids, EVs and plug-in hybrids are no longer boring cars for fringe buyers. Hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and even full EVs are now so mainstream that nearly every automaker has a few on the market. Hybrids save drivers’ money at the pumps by combining an internal combustion engine with a battery and electric motor. Plug-in hybrids have even more range thanks to bigger and more powerful battery 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.

SEE ALSO: Hyundai Tucson Hybrid vs Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Comparison: Fuel-Sipping Family Haulers


Pros and Cons of Hybrids

Pros

  • Better fuel economy
  • Similar drive to regular ICE
  • Bursts of zero-emission near-silence
  • Available in all shapes and sizes

Cons

  • Come with higher up-front costs
  • Can be jerky in the hand-off from ICE to electric motor
  • Heavy batteries affect handling
  • PHEVs need to be plugged in regularly for real benefits

Plug-In Hybrids

 

Not ready to move up to fully electric quite yet? No worries: plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) are a great stepping stone. These models typically use a larger battery and more powerful electric motor than their regular hybrid siblings. This enables them to run on solely electric power for longer, usually enough range to handle day-to-day errand running. If you're able to charge at home, you could conceivably go weeks without visiting a gas station.

Manufacturers have begun producing PHEVs in all shapes and sizes. The unofficial poster child for hybrids, the Toyota Prius, features a plug-in version, dubbed Prime. The RAV4 Prime applies the same principles to Toyota's best-seller—and turns it into the second-quickest vehicle in the brand's lineup. Hyundai and Kia have added PHEV versions of the Tucson, Santa Fe, Sportage, and Sorento to their lineups as well, all sharing the same well-liked drivetrain. You can even get a plug-in minivan in the shape of the luxurious Chrysler Pacifica. Luxury automakers have embraced the power of plugging in, too. All of the big German brands offer PHEV alternatives throughout their lineup, with BMW leading the charge (sorry not sorry). Lexus finally got on board for 2022 with the NX 450h+. The second-generation crossover shares its drivetrain with the RAV4 Prime.

What’s New in Hybrids for 2022?

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid and PHEV

SEE ALSO: Hyundai Tucson Hybrid vs Ford Escape PHEV Comparison

Our reigning Utility Vehicle of the Year comes in a variety of flavors to satisfy modern families. In addition to the regular gas variant, Hyundai offers the Tucson in both regular hybrid and PHEV forms. The latter boasts an EV mode range of 32 miles (52 km). What we like so much about these hybrids in particular is that they use a regular automatic transmission—in this case, a six-speed—instead of a continuously variable transmission. This helps the electrified Tucsons feel more natural to drive. That said, they can't quite match the fuel economy figures of their more frugal competitors.
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Kia Sorento PHEV

 

SEE ALSO: 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV Review: Plugging the Gap

We're big fans of Kia's not-quite-big Sorento. The Korean brand's in-betweener slots underneath the Telluride, but still offers three rows of seating. It carries a look all its own as well, including a more off-road-oriented X-Line. More than that, however, the Sorento offers buyers a brace of engine options. The 2.5-liter turbo motor is a powerful choice, but those looking to save at the pumps should look at the plug-in hybrid model. Like the Tucson, it runs a 1.6-liter turbo-four hooked up to an electric motor. With 261 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, it's barely slower than the turbo model, but averages 34 mpg (6.9 L/100 km).
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Other Highlights from the World of Hybrids?

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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