Expert Insights

The Best Used Plug-In Hybrids

Dave Nichols
Mar 2024
If you're looking for a plug-in hybrid on a budget, we have good news for you. There are some great choices from both mainstream and luxury brands that fit all budgets and family needs. Read on for our recommendations.
 ‍Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid front view

More PHEV Choices Than Ever

There’s never been a better selection of plug-in hybrids. They continue to be popular because they offer the best of both worlds: the zero-emissions capability of an electric car with the long range and convenient refueling of a gas vehicle. If you’re set up to charge at home or at work, you can do most of your daily commuting in a plug-in hybrid without using the gasoline engine, but don’t need to worry about planning charging stops if you’re taking a long road trip.

Still, plug-in hybrids often come with a substantial price premium over the gasoline or conventional hybrid versions of the vehicles they’re based on. But never fear: as the technology has become more commonplace over the years, a lot of plug-in hybrids are now available on the used car market at more affordable prices than when they were new.

You’ll still get the reliability, safety, and efficiency you want in a new PHEV – but at a substantial savings. Our favorite plug-in hybrids are focused on family-friendly options: midsize crossovers and SUVs with the latest safety features, roomy interiors, and high marks for performance, braking, handling, driver assist features, and crash safety.

The following list of the best used plug-in hybrids will help take you and your loved ones wherever you want to go in comfort – all while saving you money at the pump.

Audi plug-in hybrid SUV driving on road

2020-2023 Audi Q5 TFSIe

The popular Audi Q5 SUV is versatile, luxurious, and efficient even in gasoline form. The plug-in hybrid version is even better, with an EPA-estimated 61 MPGe. The Q5 plug-in hybrid will take you 23 miles on electric power alone, and the gas tank can take you 390 miles. Even better, when you step on the accelerator, the combined power output is equal to the sporty, but much less efficient, SQ5 model.

BMW X5 Plug-in Hybrid driving in the mountains

2019-2023 BMW X5 xDrive45e and xDrive50e

One of the most popular plug-in hybrid models in the U.S., the plug-in hybrid X5 combines a powerful turbocharged inline-six gasoline engine with an electric motor. On the 45e model, together they produce 389 hp – 54 more than the six-cylinder gasoline X5 (the facelift xDrive50e produces even more, at 483 hp). All-electric range is 25 miles for the xDrive45e, 40 miles for the xDrive50e, enough to do most of your commuting emissions- and gasoline-free, and the EPA rates the X5 xDrive45e at 46 MPGe and the xDrive50e at 58MPGe. The X5’s interior is gorgeous as well as spacious, and even older models have a full suite of excellent driver assistance features.

Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid parked in driveway

2017-2023 Chrysler Pacifica PHEV

Minivans are much less common these days on American roads than they used to be, but we’re not sure why. There’s simply nothing better for family transportation: minivans offer maximum space on a reasonable footprint, and have way better fuel economy than SUVs. While Toyota offers a hybrid Sienna, only Chrysler offers a plug-in hybrid minivan. The Pacifica PHEV combines a 3.6-liter gasoline V6 with a 16-kWh battery, and has an impressive all-electric range of 32 miles. This in addition to its spacious, well-appointed interior, impressive cargo space, excellent in-car entertainment, and up to 81 different seating configurations! It's a unique, and very appealing, option for families that want to plug in.

Ford Escape Plug-in hybrid in garage

2020-2022 Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid

Ford introduced a major refresh of the Escape in 2023, which should make 2020-2022 models more affordable. While they don’t have the redesigned grille and updated interior of the latest Escape, you still get a great plug-in hybrid powertrain that offers up to 37 miles of range on electric power alone. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and electric motor produce 221 hp, and offer a combined range of 530 miles. Many used Escape Plug-In Hybrids will be SEL models, which have heated front seats as well as a suite of driver assistance features including adaptive cruise control.

Hyundai Santa Fe Plug-In Hybrid

2020-2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Plug-In Hybrid

The Hyundai Santa Fe combines sporty looks with a spacious, three-row interior that accommodates your family and all of its stuff. An economical 1.6-liter gasoline engine combined with a powerful electric motor delivers 260 hp, while a large battery gives you 30 miles of all-electric range for emissions-free commuting. Other great features include Hyundai’s excellent Smart Sense suite of safety and driver assistance features, and an easy-to-use infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen and powerful audio.

Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid charging

2017-2021 ‍Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid

One of the earliest mainstream plug-in hybrid models on the market, the Kia Niro is a cross between a hatchback and a crossover, with a long wheelbase, tall seating position and spacious interior – but none of the off-road pretensions and ride height of an SUV. We love its roomy cabin and its economy – an impressive 105 MPGe according to the EPA. It also comes with driver assistance features including adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, blind sport monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. When new, the Niro PHEV was one of the most affordable plug-in hybrids on the market, which should make it an excellent used car buy.

Subaru Crosstrek Plug-In Hybrid off-roading

2019-2022 Subaru Crosstrek Plug-In Hybrid

A perennial top pick thanks to its practical package, standard all-wheel drive, and stellar reliability, the Crosstrek gained a plug-in hybrid option for the 2019 model year, which disappeared in 2023. As a used car, it’s an excellent buy for first-time owners or families on a budget. The Crosstrek’s safety credentials are stellar, with standard blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert, plus a five out of five stars safety rating from NHTSA. Thanks to its plug-in hybrid drivetrain, the Crosstrek is also very economical to run, rated at 90 MPGe by the EPA.

Toyota RAV4 Prime driving on highway

2020-2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime

Is the Toyota RAV4 Prime the perfect family plug-in hybrid? This spacious SUV’s compact package hides a spacious, well-equipped, and well-built interior, with comfortable seating for five and a generous cargo area. The RAV4 Prime is easy to drive, with excellent ride comfort, fine handling, and impressive performance. Its 2.5-liter gasoline engine and electric motors combine to produce 302 hp, and also offer 42 miles of all-electric cruising. Total range is over 600 miles, even with standard all-wheel drive. Toyota’s Safety Sense system also includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, lane keep assist, and more.

All mileage is EPA-estimated.