2014 Plug-in Hybrids List
When Honda introduced the modern hybrid automobile back in 19, it was little more than a novelty. The two-seat Honda Insight was, for all practical purposes more proof of concept than it was a practical automobile. Fine for commuting, but with limited passenger space and limited cargo space, the car was a gas mileage champion, but little else.
The following Year, Toyota unleashed the juggernaut that eventually came to be associated with hybrid cars the way Kleenex is associated with facial tissue and the way the iPhone is associated with smartphones. You say hybrid, and for a very long time everybody only thought Prius. This is still true to an extent, but the market has broadened considerably. These days, nearly every major manufacturer offers at least one hybrid model.
The next frontier in that regard is the plug-in hybrid. All the benefits of the gasoline/electric powertrain with even more electric range. This is made possible by fitting a larger battery pack to the cars, which is capable of being recharged from an electrical outlet. Before the advent of the plug-in hybrid the only way the battery packs in hybrid models could be recharged is by either coasting or braking, as the internal combustion engine generated the majority of the electricity for the battery, while a nominal amount of voltage was captured from the friction generated during the braking process.
Plug-in hybrids capture the versatile recharging capabilities of pure electric vehicles, while adding the security of internal combustion engines to ensure range of travel. In other words, you get most of what’s best about electric cars, along with the extended range of a gasoline-fired powerplant. In many ways, plug-in hybrids are the best of both worlds—with one exception. Because they have to carry an internal combustion engine too, they are typically heavier than pure electric models; consequently their electric-only range typically is significantly less than the best pure electric models.
Still, they return superior fuel economy—often besting their hybrid siblings. And, again, for many people, there is currently no underestimating the value of the value of the range-extending internal combustion engine.
2014 Plug-in Hybrids List: BMW i3
Marketed both as a pure electric and as a range extended electric model with a very small gasoline engine, the BMW i3 could technically be considered a plug-in hybrid, although BMW markets the model as a range-extended electric. The 2014 BMW i3 is the company’s first from scratch series production electric model. It also heralds the arrival of a new family of cars from the venerable Bavarian automaker.
Produced specifically with sustainability in mind, the BMW i3 features a passenger cell manufactured from carbon fiber-reinforced plastic with an aluminum chassis for mounting the engine, high-voltage battery and crash structures. Most of the lightweight alloy components of the BMW i3 are made from what’s known as secondary aluminum. Rather than being obtained from aluminum ore, it is derived from melted production scrap aluminum, which can be produced using up to 95 percent less energy than aluminum from ore.
The electric BMW’s interior features leather tanned with olive-leaf extract, environmentally refined wood from certified sustainable orchards in Europe, and an extensive use of natural fibers in the instrument panel and the door panels.
The 2700-pound BMW is powered by a 125 kW electric motor, which produces the equivalent of 170 horsepower and 184 ft-lbs of torque. The i3’s energy supply is stored in a liquid-cooled 22kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which can be recharged from near depletion in three hours using a 220-volt charger. An available fast charger will get the battery pack to 80 percent of full charge in 20 minutes and will fully recharge it in 30 minutes.
According to BMW, the rear-drive i3 is good for a seven-second zero to 60; top speed is limited to 93 miles per hour, and range is estimated to be approximately 90 miles.
A 650cc gasoline-fired engine is offered as an option for range extension purposes. The engine generates electricity only; it does not supply power directly to the BMW’s rear wheels. Supplied by a 2.4-gallon gas tank, it adds another 90 miles to the BMW’s range.
2014 Plug-in Hybrids List: BMW i8
BMW’s first plug-in hybrid sports car is slated to beat everyone to market in this space. The futuristic styling of the model incorporates traditional BMW cues, while propelling the company’s design language into previously uncharted territory.
Power comes from a three-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine displacing 1.5 liters and producing 231 horsepower, along with 236 ft-lbs of torque. This power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic gearbox. The electric motor is capable of generating 96 kW (131 horsepower), and 184 ft-lbs of torque. This is sent to the front wheels through a two-stage automatic transmission.
The lithium-ion high-voltage battery is cooled with refrigerant boasts 5 kWh of capacity. Total system output is 362 horsepower and 420 ft-lbs of torque for the all-wheel drive coupe. The i8 is said to be capable of traveling 22 miles—or at speeds of up to 75 miles per hour on electric power.
With a curb weight of 3,285 pounds, the BMW i8 is designed to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. This light weight comes courtesy of a carbon fiber reinforced body with an aluminum powertrain containment module. Sports car like handling is assured by a double-wishbone front axle and a five-link rear axle. Electric power steering and BMW’s Dynamic Damper Control (smart shocks) come as standard; along with a set of 20-inch light-alloy wheels.
Standard equipment also includes navigation with a proactive drive system for all-electric driving, a fully-digital instrument display, BMW iDrive with a freestanding control display, and leather sports seats. Park Distance Control, cruise control with an automatic braking function, a rear view camera, and collision warning with pedestrian recognition and a self braking function are standard fare as well.
2014 Plug-in Hybrids List: Cadillac ELR
The first series-produced plug-in hybrid luxury car from a mainstream manufacturer, the 2014 Cadillac ELR shares a lot of commonality with its corporate cousin, the Chevrolet Volt. However, you’d never know it to look at the two cars side-by-side. Uniquely styled, yet instantly identifiable as a Cadillac model, the ELR is one handsomely sculpted automobile. The Cadillac’s aggressive “chin in the wind” look is the most dynamic expression of Cadillac’s angular Art & Science design language ever.
Power comes from a 1.4-liter gasoline engine capable of generating 162-kW of electricity. It feeds a 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which stores electricity to supply the Cadillac’s 117kW electric motor. Total system output is 217 horsepower and 295 ft-lbs of torque. Acceleration from zero to 60 is quoted at 7.8 seconds, while Cadillac says the ELR’s electric-only range is 37 miles. Combined gas/electric range is said to be 300 miles. Recharge time for the battery pack is stated at five hours with a 240V charging station.
As is common practice, the battery can also be recharged by way of regenerative braking. However, the driver can use steering wheel mounted paddles to determine how much regenerative braking is applied. This feature can be used to simulate engine braking, and once mastered, can actually be applied to facilitate sporty driving. Another distinctive feature, the Cadillac's grille features shutters to improve aerodynamic efficiency.
The ELR is a Cadillac, so you know luxury features abound. It all starts with a palatial interior treatment featuring gathered leather, and plush alcantara, along with genuine wood and chrome. A full slate of cutting edge tech is also offered for comfort, convenience, entertainment, and information functions. Cadillac’s CUE system is adapted for ELR to show energy usage and charging information, while still delivering entertainment and information data from up to 10 Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices—along with USBs, SD cards and MP3 players. The CUE’s proximity-sensing panel reveals its controls when the user’s hand approaches. CUE also responds to speech in addition to touch.
2014 Plug-in Hybrids List: Chevrolet Volt
Without question, the most remarkable thing about driving the Chevrolet Volt is how unremarkable the driving experience is. Sure, a dramatic fanfare emits from the Chevrolet’s audio system every time you press the blue power button, and yes the instrument panel looks like a cross between a video game and somebody’s idea of a futuristic concept car’s readouts. But rolling down the street, it feels like you’re just driving a car.
Basically, the Volt is an electric car, which uses a 1.4-liter gasoline engine as a generator to provide electricity once the battery pack is depleted. It makes this list of plug-in hybrids because the battery pack can be recharged from a wall outlet when depleted. However, the Volt also recharges its battery when the car is coasting, or by a regenerative function when the brakes are applied. Further, the internal combustion engine is capable of propelling the vehicle when required—to boost the car’s performance.
GM claims a range of 38 miles for the battery pack alone, and an overall range of 350 miles using both the engine and the battery pack. The Volt’s 111 kW electric motor produces the equivalent of 149 horsepower and 273 ft-lbs of torque. Zero to 60 is quoted at around nine seconds. Electricity is stored in a 16.5kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack. Using a 240V charging station, the battery pack can be completely recharged from depletion in about four hours.
Overall, the Volt’s interior ambiance is quite pleasant. Chevrolet’s interior designers have come up with some attractive two-tone schemes to keep the car interesting. The back seats fold to increase cargo capacity, while the Volt’s hatchback makes carrying larger items easy to accomplish. A detachable privacy screen conceals items when the seats are in the upright position. For the 2014 model year, Chevrolet has lowered the price of the Volt by $5000. Sticker price is now $34,995.
2014 Plug-in Hybrids List: Ford C-Max Energi
Introduced in 2013, the Ford C-Max Energi is a five-passenger hatchback with a tall roofline like a sport utility vehicle. In addition to remarkable fuel economy, the Ford brings a great deal of utility to the plug-in hybrid marketplace. The C-Max Energi boasts some 43 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seat folded.
Primary propulsion, unlike the Volt and the ELR, comes from a gasoline-fired internal combustion engine producing 141 horsepower and 129 ft-lbs of torque. The Ford’s electric motor is good for 68kW and is fed by a 7.5kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Combined system output is 188 horsepower, routed through a continuously variable transmission to the front wheels.
The advantage of the C-Max Energi’s small battery pack is its capability of being recharged from a 120v standard electrical outlet in just under seven hours, while a 240V charging station will do it in 2.5 hours. Remarkably though, the Ford C-Max Energi is also capable of traveling on the highway at speeds of up to 85 miles per hour on electric power alone. Acceleration from zero to 60 is quoted at just under eight seconds. Overall fuel economy is estimated at 44 miles per gallon in the city, 41 on the highway, and 43 combined. Its combined MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent on gasoline and electricity) is 115.
Standard equipment includes a set of seventeen-inch alloy wheels, a pair of heated exterior rearview mirrors with integrated blind-spot monitoring indicators, foglights, automatic windshield wipers, a rear parking sensor array, keyless entry and start, and a full complement of power accessories. Also included in the base price are a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, leather upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a pair of heated front seats with a power adjustable one for the driver.
Rounding out the standard equipment package are a voice-activated electronics interface, Bluetooth, an eight-inch touchscreen, and a six-speaker audio system supporting a CD player, an auxiliary audio input port, satellite radio, and an iPod/USB audio jack.
2014 Plug-in Hybrids List: Ford Fusion Energi
One of Ford’s most popular cars, the Fusion was redesigned for the 2013 model year and boasts a handsome new look. Perfectly conventional in appearance, for all intents and purposes, the Fusion Energi looks pretty much exactly like its standard gasoline-powered sibling.
However, the plug-in hybrid Ford Fusion Energi’s internal combustion engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline-fired powerplant capable of generating 141 horsepower and 129 ft-lbs of torque. It is supplemented by an 88-kW electric motor fed by a 7.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The Ford has an electric-only range of 21 miles and the battery pack can be recharged in about 2.5 hours using a 240-volt charger.
Standard equipment for the 2014 Ford Fusion Energi includes a pair of heated exterior mirrors, a set of foglights, automatic windshield wipers, a set of rear parking sensors, and a full complement of power accessories. A dual-zone automatic climate control system, leather upholstery, and a pair of heated front seats are also included. Ford’s “Sync” voice-activation system, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming connectivity, and an eight-inch touchscreen video display interface are also featured.
The Ford’s six-speaker audio system supports a CD player, an auxiliary audio input port, satellite radio, and an iPod/USB connectivity interface. Cargo capacity is just over eight cubic feet. Safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, a pair of front side airbags, a pair of full-length side curtain airbags, and a knee airbag for the driver.
2014 Plug-in Hybrids List: Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid
One of the perennially best-selling cars on the market, the Honda Accord is about as mainstream as you can get. When Honda made the decision to offer the Accord in California and New York as a plug-in hybrid for the 2014 model year, it made the technology a realistic consideration for a broad swath of the automotive marketplace.
Honda powers the front-drive Accord Plug-in with a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder internal combustion engine and a 124 kW electric motor fed by a 6.7kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Total system output is rated at 196 horsepower. The Accord Plug-in is good for an average of 13 miles of range running on electricity alone.
Its combined MPGe is 114, while its gas only fuel economy is rated at 47 miles per gallon in the city, 46 on the highway, and 46 combined. A three-hour charge at 120 volts should be sufficient to replenish a fully depleted Accord Plug-in battery pack. Charging it from a 240v system will do the job in less than an hour.
The Accord Plug-in’s standard feature set includes a set of seventeen-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, foglights, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, a full complement of power accessories, a rearview camera, smart cruise control, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering column.
Among other highlights, the base price also nets an auto-dimming interior rearview mirror, heated front and rear seats, an electrically adjustable driver’s seat with memory settings, and a leather steering wheel.
On the tech side of the equation, you’ll find Bluetooth connectivity, an eight-inch touchscreen, voice recognition, navigation, and a six-speaker audio system supporting satellite radio, an iPod/USB input port, and smartphone app integration. Safety features include lane-departure warning and blind spot monitoring.
2014 Plug-in Hybrids List: Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid
Proving high performance and environmentally responsible motoring can be had in the same package, the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid is the venerable German car manufacturer’s first plug-in hybrid model. However, the company has announced every one of its major product lines will eventually offer plug-in hybrid versions—including the brand’s halo car, the Porsche 911.
For the Panamera application, the company’s engineers have paired a 333-horsepower supercharged 3.0-liter V6 internal combustion engine capable of 325 ft-lbs of torque, with a 70 kW electric motor fed by a 9.4 kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack. The electric motor produces the equivalent of 95 horsepower and 229 ft-lbs of torque. Recharging from depletion is quoted at 2.5-hours with a 240V electrical supply.
Total system output is quoted at 416 horsepower and 384 ft-lbs of torque. This gives the plug-in hybrid Panamera a zero to 60 of 5.3 seconds and a top speed of 168 miles per hour. Further, the Porsche is capable of traveling some 22 miles on electric power alone—or at speeds of up to 84 miles per hour. The powertrain uses an eight-speed automatic transmission to route power to the Porsche’s rear wheels. While the EPA has yet to quote the Porsche’s fuel economy ratings, preliminary testing suggests it will come in somewhere around 40 miles per gallon combined.
Standard features include a set of eighteen-inch wheels, auto-leveling bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, front and rear parking sensor arrays, a sunroof, a power cargo hatch, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, and a pair of eight-way electrically adjustable power front seats. The Porsche plug-in hybrid sedan also features a chilled glovebox and a 60/40-split rear seatback. Naturally, navigation and Bluetooth are included, along with an 11-speaker audio system.
2014 Plug-in Hybrids List: Toyota Prius Plug-in
The Plug-in Prius, unless you look very closely, is pretty difficult to distinguish from the rest of the Prius family. Specific differences between the Prius Plug-in and the rest of the Prius models include the wheels, the charging port on the right rear fender, and a chrome trim strip with Plug-in badging along the lower edge of the car.
The powertrain features a 134-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, combined with a pair of electric motor-generators. Propulsion is routed to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission. Electric power is stored in a 4.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which includes a charger with an internal cooling fan located underneath the battery array.
Connecting the Toyota Plug-in to a standard 120V household outlet will recharge the fully depleted battery pack in about three hours. A 240V outlet will completely recharge the battery pack in about an hour and a half.
According to the EPA, the Prius Plug-in's gas engine returns some 51-mpg in the city and 49 mpg on the highway. It is estimated the car will deliver 50 mpg in combined operation. When the electric motor-generators are factored into the equation, the EPA estimates the Prius Plug-in will cover the equivalent of 95 miles per gallon in combined city and highway operation. What’s more, the Prius Plug-in will travel approximately 15 miles on electricity alone,
On the equipment side of the Prius Plug-in features equation, highlights include automatic headlights, LED taillights, full power accessories, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering column. A height-adjustable driver’s seat, automatic climate control, heated front seats, and a 60/40 folding rear seat are also bundled in.
It’s an upmarket Toyota, so state of the art electronic features such as Bluetooth telephony and audio streaming, a back-up video camera, navigation, and voice recognition are also included. The base model also offers a six-speaker sound system with a touchscreen display supporting a CD player, an auxiliary audio input jack, an iPod/USB audio interface, and both satellite and high definition radio.