Plug-in hybrids were once the stuff of futuristic concept cars, but no more - there are now a startling number of hybrid electric vehicles that you can take home from the dealership and plug into a wall socket to charge up the battery before heading out the next morning. In celebration of the march of progress, we've put together a list of plug-in hybrids that are available for 2014, surveying entries that range from sporty to practical. The one thing that each of these vehicles have in common? Exceptional efficiency, thanks to their dual-mode drivetrains and the ability to tap into the power grid when parked.
Let's take a quick look at 8 vehicles on our list plug-in hybrids for 2014 and see what they have to offer the eco-minded driver.
The 2015 BMW i8 is a unique member of the BMW lineup, the brand's first plug-in hybrid sports car, and one that taps into an exotic vein when it comes to both styling and performance. A three-cylinder, 1.5-liter engine makes use of a supercharger to produce 228 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, attached to the rear wheels, while a front-mounted electric motor sends 129 horses and 184 lb-ft of twist to the forward axle. A third, smaller electric motor is also on-hand to function primarily as a generator, but also occasionally contributes to rear-wheel propulsion. All told, BMW is claiming 357 horsepower, 420 lb-ft of torque, and a 0-60-mph time of under 4.5 seconds for the BMW i8 (which can charge its batteries in less than two hours).
The 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-in is the latest evolution of America's favorite hybrid hatchback. The Toyota Prius Plug-In maintains the same platform used by the standard Prius, but it substitutes a larger, lithium-ion battery pack that can be recharged via a 240-volt outlet in just 1.5 hours. The battery pack offers 11 miles of electric-only operation, after which the vehicle's 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine kicks in to assist the pair of battery-driven motors that come with the car. Total system output for the Toyota Prius Plug-In is listed at 134 horsepower, and fuel mileage shows as 51-mpg in city driving and 49-mpg on the highway.
The 2014 Ford C-Max Energi provides additional interior room for hybrid fans seeking a practical compact hatchback, but who need a more versatile solution than what the Prius has to offer. The Ford C-Max Energi also offers a lithium-ion battery pack, putting it at an advantage when compared to the standard C-Max hybrid, and it offers 21 miles of all-electric driving before it needs to be recharged (a process that takes less than three hours at 240-volts). The C-Max Energi's drivetrain consists of a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder gas engine that works together with a single electric motor to produce 188 horsepower. Fuel mileage for the plug-in hybrid checks in at 44-mpg in stop and go driving and 41-mpg on the highway.
The 2014 Chevrolet Volt is a venerable member of the plug-in hybrid club, a vehicle that provides compact hatchback comfort while also delivering electric-only operation at a reasonable price. The Chevrolet Volt's hybrid setup consists of a battery-powered electric motor that offers up to 35 miles of range (and 149 horsepower and 268 lb-ft of torque) before the car's 1.4-liter four-cylinder gas engine kicks in to act as a generator. In certain driving situations, the gas engine can also provide propulsion to the vehicle's front wheels as an assist to the electric motor. When operating as a hybrid, rather than an electric vehicle, the Volt offers fuel mileage of 35-mpg city and 40-mpg highway.
The 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid debuts the brand's new hybrid system, with a twist: a battery that can be charged by way of an electric outlet in under 60 minutes (at 240 volts). The Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid is capable of cruising for up to 15 miles on battery power alone, and when the car's electric motor is working together with its 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine the mid-size sedan offers 47-mpg around town and 46-mpg on the highway. The Accord Plug-In Hybrid features 196 horsepower, and it can sprint to 60-mph in just 7.5 seconds.
The 2014 Ford Fusion Energi was the first plug-in hybrid mid-size sedan on the market, and it remains a compelling option. The Ford Fusion Energi lifts its drivetrain from the C-Max Energi but with a bit of a boost in the output department, which means 195 horsepower from the combination of a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder gas engine and a single electric motor. 21 miles of all-electric operation are on tap from the Fusion Energi's design, and it also provides fuel mileage of 44-mpg around town and 41-mpg on the highway with the gas engine running. Charging the sedan's battery takes about two and a half hours with access to a 240-volt source.
The 2014 Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid hasn't yet hit dealerships in North America, but Volvo has scheduled the mid-size wagon's debut for later this year. In Europe, the Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid makes use of a 2.4-liter, five-cylinder turbodiesel engine and a single electric motor, with the diesel unit providing the front wheels with 215 horsepower and the battery-powered mill dumping 70 horses to the rear. When the car makes it to the U.S., it will swap in a gas power plant (for emissions reasons), but it will maintain its all-wheel drive setup.
The 2015 Cadillac ELR is another late-2014 plug-in hybrid, this time focused on the luxury segment. The 2015 Cadillac ELR coupe sits on the same chassis as the Chevrolet Volt, but it has been given unique styling, as well as a revamped interior, in order to separate it from its much more affordable sibling. The Cadillac ELR's electric motor can be supplemented by its 1.4-liter, four-cylinder engine, which functions primarily as a generator. Output for the ELR shows as 157 ponies and 295 lb-ft of twist - another advantage over the Volt.