Skip to main content

Why you should consider a plug-in hybrid in 2023

EVs are all the rage — and it makes sense. Electric vehicles allow you to avoid high gas prices and feel good about not impacting the environment as much, plus they’re usually sleek, stylish, and fast.

But in 2023, owning an EV isn’t for everyone. After all, charging stations, while improving, still aren’t as common as they should be — and depending on your car, they sometimes aren’t all that fast. If you’re worried about those issues, there’s an alternative — a plug-in hybrid (also known as a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, or PHEV). These are cars that essentially offer the best of both worlds: A battery and electric motor for quick, clean trips around town, and a gas engine for longer road trips.

What makes a PHEV so great?

Kia Niro EV Charging Port
Christian de Looper / Digital Trends

With both an electric motor and a combustion engine, you can use the car in electric-only mode for short trips, and switch to the gas-powered engine when you need more range.

Theoretically, you could avoid having to use the gas engine almost ever. For example, you could use the car as an EV to get to and from work, around town, and to grab groceries. Then, you could switch to using the gas engine when you drive out of town, or go on longer trips — avoiding having to charge and instead spending the five minutes it takes to fill up a gas tank.

You don’t even have to think about it if you don’t want to. You can set the car to choose what to use and when. This will allow you to get a little more oomph out of your car, and save on gas in day-to-day life. Like any other hybrid car, your car will charge the battery as you drive, and will seriously cut down on gas usage.

What about the downsides?

Front three quarter view of the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.
Stephen Edelstein/Digital Trends

Of course, there are a few considerations to make before you buy a PHEV. For starters, they really only make sense for owners who can charge at home or at work. That’s because the batteries in PHEVs are much smaller than full electric cars. At most, you usually only get 40 or 50 miles of range. For most drivers, that’s enough for one day of around-town driving, but you’re not going to want to stop at a charging station every day.

Compared to fully electric cars, PHEVs usually aren’t as fun to drive either. With smaller electric motors designed for efficiency, you won’t necessarily get the same zip that you’ll get from a car like the Kia EV6 GT. But the right model can be a blast off-road.

If you’re someone that can charge at home, and who needs a practical experience more than fast acceleration, a PHEV might have exactly what you need.

Of course, if you can charge at home, it might be worth taking another look at a full EV. These will offer up to around 300 miles of range on a charge, and will likely get you around town without issue if you charge at home. The only downside is you’ll have to plan a little more if you drive longer distances regularly, or plan on going on road trips.

Some great PHEVs to consider

Interested in a plug-in hybrid for yourself? There are plenty of great models out there. Here are some of our favorites.

BMW 330e

BMW 330e near bay
Roberto Baldwin/Digital Trends

The BMW 3-Series has a long history of high quality, and there’s a plug-in hybrid variant that’s worth considering. The BMW 330e offers everything you know and love about the 3-Series, with an electric motor that can get you around town for a little over 20 miles. That’s not huge, but it can be used in a hybrid mode that seriously improves the overall gas mileage.

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you’re a minivan driver who wants a plug-in hybrid, you’re kind of limited to the Pacifica Hybrid, which is the only plug-in minivan available right now. That’s not to say it’s a bad option though — it’ll get you more than 30 miles of all-electric range, and offers all the comforts and features that you would expect from a Pacifica.

Kia Niro PHEV

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Kia has been firing on all cylinders recently, and the Niro PHEV is a solid example of that. The car leverages Kia’s experience in electrified vehicles to offer a little over 30 miles in all-electric range, which should be enough for most people to complete basic daily tasks.

Editors' Recommendations

Christian de Looper
Christian’s interest in technology began as a child in Australia, when he stumbled upon a computer at a garage sale that he…
What I’ve learned after a year of driving the best-selling plug-in hybrid in the U.S.
Jeep Wrangler 4xe charging at a NYC curbside charger.

A year ago, I bought a new Jeep Wrangler. A plug-in hybrid model! And I wasn't shy about my reasoning for buying the PHEV version of the Wrangler: I chose this powertrain over the gas-only versions purely because it qualified for the federal government's $7,500 EV tax credit.

Turns out, that was a pretty big motivator for a lot of Americans. The Jeep Wrangler 4xe was the best-selling plug-in hybrid (PHEV) in the U.S. in 2022, beating out a wide range of more affordable and practical cars. The 4xe accounted for nearly a quarter of Wrangler sales last year, which is just astonishing. But it passes the eye test -- I see 4xes everywhere.

Read more
CES 2023: BMW is going all-in on Android Auto Open Source – here’s why
A concept car at the BMW CES 2023 Keynote.

At CES 2023, BMW announced that its OS 9 platform, slated for release in 2023, will be the company’s first with an infotainment system entirely on the Android Auto Open Source (AAOS) platform. With the update, BMW will adopt a more map-centric approach and weave more third-party apps into its operating system.

BMW has been using Linux for the underpinnings of its iDrive interface, which gave the company complete control of its entire software stack. However, the move to AAOS represents a technological shift and an interface update for BMW. Like Android proper, AAOS encourages developers to create “skinned” versions of Android Auto for their vehicles.

Read more
Kia EV6 vs. Niro EV: Why you’re better off paying more
A front three-quarter view of a white Kia Niro EV.

For the past year, the Kia EV6 has been making headline after headline, thanks to its stylish design, competitive price, spacious cabin, and superfast charging. That's been the case to the point that Kia's other EV efforts have been perhaps a little ... buried. But the company is far from stepping back from its EV efforts. It's developing new products to build out the EV line like the upcoming EV9. And it's transitioning its current lineup to at least offer an EV option -- which is exactly where the 2023 Kia Niro EV comes in.

The Niro EV is in a bit of a weird spot, thanks in large part to the EV6 itself. They're both crossover EVs that occupy a similar spot in terms of pricing, and much of the same technology in terms of infotainment and driver-assist. And because of the fact that they're both Kia EV crossovers, you might assume that it's worth saving a few grand on the Niro EV over the EV6.

Read more