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  • Do you want an electrified alternative to gasoline-powered transportation with

  • no risk you'll run out of juice? Well then, let's talk plug-in hybrid

  • electric vehicles or PHEVs. And so we're all on the same page, plug-in hybrids are

  • just hybrid cars with extra batteries that can be charged with a normal

  • household outlet or a 240 volt charger to allow some degree of pure electric

  • travel. With a growing roster of moderately priced plug-in hybrids to

  • choose from, we decided a comparison test was an order. So, let's get ready to use

  • less gasoline. The least expensive entry in our test is the Hyundai Ioniq. Its

  • value-rich position is reinforced by a $4,500 federal tax credit and Hyundai's

  • 10 year 100,000 mile powertrain warranty. With a fully charged battery, the EPA

  • predicts 29 miles of electric only driving, but during a plodding LA commute,

  • we knocked out 38.4 miles before the ionics 1.6-liter engine had to intervene.

  • With the engine involved, the Ioniq Plug-In is rated at 52 combined mpg.

  • Consider us dazzled. The power train's 139 horsepower total output proved ample for

  • normal commuting, though overtaking on the freeway took some patience. That

  • extra time let us appreciate the Ioniq's well calibrated six-speed automatic

  • transmission, a pleasing contrast to the continuously variable transmissions

  • found in most hybrids.

  • Over a route that spanned much of California, we wished for a quieter cabin

  • and extra support from the driver's seat, otherwise we like the Ioniq's agreeable

  • demeanor and standard niceties like heated seats, dual zone automatic climate

  • control, and a seven-inch touchscreen with modern Smartphone integration. In fact,

  • after this test, one of our editors added the Hyundai Ioniq plugin to his shopping

  • list. For a car reviewer that is strong praise. Compared to the Ioniq, the 2018

  • Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid seems pricey, but that price premium comes with

  • notable advantages. Foremost are a 42 mpg combined rating and an EPA-estimated

  • electric range of 47 miles that we handily eclipsed. And in congested traffic

  • with occasional sprint's to 65 mph we achieved 56.2-electric miles.

  • A higher speed test still yielded 46 miles before enlisting the 1.5-litre engine's

  • help. Note, a normal 120-volt outlet will charge the Clarity in 12 hours, but

  • use a 240-volt charger and that time drops to a mere 2.5 hours. Delivering 212

  • total system hp, the Clarity is the most powerful car in our test. It's

  • also the heaviest, so acceleration lands in the adequate range. For tinkerers,

  • there are multiple drive modes that favour gasoline or electric propulsion

  • along with driver selectable regenerative braking intensities.

  • Speaking of, the regenerative brakes and hybrid cars often feel unnatural, not so

  • in the Clarity whose mostly normal brake feel was the best of the bunch. That

  • sense of normalcy permeates all aspects of the Clarity, from its refined driving

  • manners, to its comfortable nicely outfitted 5-passenger cabin. While

  • the priciest entry in our test, the 2018 Clarity's premium is somewhat offset by

  • a $7,500 federal tax credit. It's also a Honda, which bodes well for reliability

  • and resale values over the long haul. In our estimation, the Clarity isn't just

  • superbly efficient, it's the closest thing in this group to a normal sedan,

  • and we mean that as a big-time compliment.

  • Driving at freeway speeds, we covered 26.2 electric miles in this Toyota Prius

  • Prime. Add maddeningly slow traffic to the mix, and matching or exceeding the

  • 29-mile EPA estimate should be no problem. Perhaps more interesting is the Prime's

  • comparison-topping 54 mpg combined fuel economy ratings. We achieved 54.3 mpg

  • in real world conditions so that EPA rating is no joke. During our

  • test ride quality and handling proved more than acceptable, but if you plan to

  • Prime there are some downsides. No fifth seat is one, tepid acceleration is

  • another, the absence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is a third. We'll add that

  • the optional 11.6-inch touchscreen looks neat, but it reflects light to the

  • driver's eyes at certain sun angles. Some folks on our team also preferred

  • the more conventional dash layouts found in the Honda and Hyundai. That said, with

  • a supple ride a comparatively low starting price, a $4,500 federal tax

  • credit, Toyota's epic resale values and styling that you will love unless you

  • hate it the Prius Prime is an easily defendable

  • plug-in purchase, especially if you favor hybrid efficiency over electric range.

  • Let's close things out with the plug-in hybrid that started at all, the Chevrolet

  • Volt, whose EPA certified 53-mile electric range tops our comparison.

  • Through a soul-sucking stop and go commute,

  • we managed 53.3 miles before the Volt flipped on its gasoline engine. With that kind

  • of range gas free commuting is an achievable reality. Out strip the

  • batteries range, and you'll still enjoy an EPA-estimated 42 combined mpg.

  • Volt has range and efficiency on its side, but it's also a nice car. Our elite

  • test squad praised its handsome interior, smartly arranged controls and standard

  • Apple CarPlay, though one of our editors experienced multiple infotainment

  • crashes. Tisk, tisk. Also, sitting in the middle seat is a bad idea for most

  • humans, and the Volt skews towards the expensive side of the spectrum with a

  • base MSRP near the Clarity's. But like the Clarity the Volt is eligible for a

  • sweet $7,500 federal crédit. Just keep in mind that Chevy is

  • creeping towards their 200,000 vehicle limit for that federal electric vehicle

  • incentive, so if you crave ultimate electric range with a gasoline safety

  • net, and you love Chevy, get your bolt while the getting's good. And that is a light

  • spritz of electrified automotive knowledge. If you're ready to take the

  • plug-in hybrid plunge our full comparison is yours to enjoy when you do.

  • Remember, it's hard to buy a bad car these days, but it is easy to buy the

  • wrong car. Whether you're shopping plug-in hybrids or almost anything on

  • wheels, Kelley Blue Book is here to help.

Do you want an electrified alternative to gasoline-powered transportation with

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B2 H-INT US clarity electric volt plug epa hybrid

2018 PHEV Comparison - Kelley Blue Book

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