2015 Toyota Prius V ・ Photo by Toyota
There was a time, in the not so distant past, when hybrids were a specialty item. Further, an article about full size hybrid cars would have been a very short one — there weren’t any. Those were such simple times in the automotive world; if you wanted a hybrid your choices were Toyota Prius or Honda Insight, and that was about it. Skeptics viewed both models as overly expensive science experiments doomed to failure and snidely dismissed their powertrains. Today, many of those same critics are lauding hybrids as the best thing to happen to the automotive marketplace since the electric starter. Further, there are hybrid powertrains offered in every category. You’ll find hybrid SUVs, sports cars, luxury cars, family cars, and full size hybrid cars as well. Science experiments no more, hybrids are now science fact.
Given BMWs penchant for performance, it perhaps comes as no surprise the maker is supplementing its gasoline engines with electric motors to improve their performance – without incurring the fuel economy deficits typically coupled with higher performance. In the case of the ActiveHybrid 7, you’ll get a full-sized state of the art flagship high performance sedan capable of accelerating from zero to 60 in 5.6 seconds – which also just happens to return 25 miles per gallon overall. The turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine is paired with an electric motor to produce a total system output of 350 horsepower and 370 ft-lbs of torque. Unassisted, the engine typically makes 300 horsepower and 300 ft-lbs of torque. An eight-speed transmission routes power to the BMW’s rear wheels. Pricing starts at $84,300.
While you won’t often see it specifically delineated as such, the base model Buick LaCrosse is in fact what’s known in the industry as a mild hybrid. This is also the standard powertrain offering for Buick’s flagship sedan, one of the best full-size hybrifd cars. A 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine is paired with an 11 kW electric motor to produce a total of 182 horsepower and 172 ft-lbs of torque. This is fed to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain returns some 29 miles per gallon overall. In typical Buick fashion, luxury features abound. You’ll find dual-zone automatic climate control, WiFi, Bluetooth, heated mirrors, an eight-inch touchscreen interface for secondary functions, a rearview camera, and smartphone app integration. Key options include leather upholstery, keyless entry and ignition, heated front seats, a rear parking sensor array, and auto-dimming mirrors. Pricing starts at $31,065.
Infiniti’s Q70 Hybrid is another example of hybrid technology being employed to improve performance, while minimizing the fuel economy hit fast cars usually take. Here, a 3.5-liter V6 is paired with a 50-kW electric motor to make 360 horsepower, achieve 31 miles per gallon overall, and deliver a zero to 60 of 5.5 seconds. The standard 3.7-liter V6 Q70 only makes 330 horsepower, returns 21 mpg overall and accelerates to 60 in 6.1 seconds. The hybrid is more powerful, faster, and returns better fuel economy. Granted it also costs some $6,000 more, but you also get the satisfaction of knowing you’re doing your part to conserve natural resources. Wonderfully luxurious, the Infiniti Q70 Hybrid is based upon Infiniti’s best-equipped model and its absolutely gorgeous interior treatment. Pricing starts at $55,900.
With but one exception, every model in the Lexus lineup is offered with a hybrid powertrain. In the case of the marque’s flagship, the hybrid offering is actually the top of the top of the line. Opulent barely begins to describe the outfitting of the interior of the full-size hybrid LS 600h L. So well equipped is this Lexus model, only one trim level is offered. Every luxury feature imaginable is standard equipment. This includes four-zone automatic climate control, power reclining rear seats with massage function and lumbar support, a rear seat refrigerator, genuine wood trim, power rear sunshades, and on and on and on. Power comes from a 5.0-liter V8 with two electric motors for a total system output of 438 horsepower – routed to all four wheels through a continuously variable transmission. Pricing starts at $120,440.
Photo by Lexus
Sleekly styled, with lovely interior accommodations, the Lincoln MKZ is a remarkably desirable car about which most consumers know very little. One of the unsung heroes of the hybrid marketplace, Lincoln’s MKZ is quiet, comfortable and smooth. In other words, everything you expect a luxury car to be. Further, Lincoln can easily claim the nicest interior treatments of all domestic manufacturers. With the MKZ it’s loaded with cutting edge tech as well. While the MKZ Hybrid is more typically numbered among mid-sized luxury sedans, the spacious interior of the Lincoln makes it a plausible consideration among the best full-size hybrids as well. Power comes from a 2.0-liter inline four and an electric motor for a total system output of 188 horsepower. Fuel economy is rated at 28 miles per gallon combined. Pricing starts at $35,190.
Photo by Lincoln
One of the first two companies to offer hybrid powertrains, Honda was actually the first manufacturer to bring the technology to North America. With this knowledge in hand, it makes perfect sense the hybrid version of the Honda brand’s flagship would boast the best overall fuel economy in its class. The EPA estimates you can expect some 47 miles per gallon in all around driving from the hybrid version of the Accord. This, plus a high quality interior treatment, intuitive ergonomics, a quiet and smooth ride, and capable handling makes the Accord Hybrid one of the top picks in the segment. Technically considered a mid-size, the Accord too offers enough spaciousness to be considered with the full-size category. Power comes from a 2.0-liter inline four combined with an electric motor to produce 196 horses. Pricing starts at $29,305.
When a marque like Mercedes-Benz offers a hybrid version of its most prestigious model, you know hybrid powertrains are indeed a “thing”. Roundly considered the most elite, refined, technologically advanced, and luxurious car lines offered anywhere, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the ne plus ultra of the best full-size hybrid cars. The engineering team specified plug-in technology, which means the S550 Hybrid is fully capable of running solely on electric power for approximately 20 miles at moderate speeds. Recharging from near depletion takes just under three hours. The powertrain is comprised of a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 and an electric motor contained within the seven-speed automatic transmission. Power output is rated at 329 horsepower for the V6 and 114 horsepower for the electric motor. It’s reasonable to expect system output in the neighborhood of +/- 415 horsepower. Fuel economy has yet to be announced. Pricing starts at $94,900.
Porsche’s first four-door sedan offering was fortunate in that the brand’s Cayenne SUV had already proven Porsche’s DNA could translate to something other than a two-seat sports car. With Panamera, the venerable manufacturer has one of the most polarizing looking sedans on the road, which also happens to be one of the best performing full size hybrid cars on the road. Shared with the Cayenne S E-Hybrid, the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid’s powertrain is capable of speeds of up to 83 miles per hour in electric-only mode. The powertrain is comprised of a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 and an electric motor boasting a total system output of 416 horsepower and 435 ft-lbs of torque. Porsche’s eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission routes the power output into the rear wheel drive system. Fuel economy has yet to be quoted. Standard features include automatic wipers, a heated steering wheel, and a cooled glovebox. Pricing starts at $96,100.
The formerly frumpy Toyota Avalon was recently restyled with a nice new suit of attractive clothes. Proclaimed by many to be Toyota’s “Buick”, the Avalon's quiet and relaxed composure earn it a place on this list of the 10 best full-size hybrids. Power comes from a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine combined with an electric motor to generate some 200 horsepower. Fuel economy is an estimated 40 miles per gallon overall. Available features include keyless entry and start, Toyota’s Entune smartphone application integration, rain sensing windshield wipers, a tri-zone automatic climate control system, and heated and ventilated seats. Pricing starts at $36,470.
The “big” Prius, the Prius v is the closest thing to a station wagon among the best full size hybrid cars. For the 2015 model year, the Prius v was treated to a mild styling update to its front and rear fascias. It also got new upholstery fabric and a new full-color multi-information display. Offering more space for passengers and cargo than the standard Prius model, the Prius v boasts a combined fuel economy rating of 42 miles per gallon. Power comes from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors for a total system output of 134 horsepower. This is fed to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission. Pricing starts at $26,675.
Photo by Toyota