Carmakers in the U.S. now have more than 60 hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles on offer and more are coming.
As gas prices have dropped and Americans have shown their preference for larger conventionally powered SUVs, crossovers, and trucks, anything from the alternative segments that scratches that itch is welcome.
Out of a slew of new alternative vehicles due this year, we’ve picked five newcomers that stand to do this in some ways, or otherwise broaden horizons.
Nissan Rogue Hybrid
Revealed alongside a refreshed conventional and very popular Rogue sibling, the hybrid version of Nissan’s crossover could prove welcome in its own right.
Priced a bit less than the only other direct competitor, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, the Rogue is due in first dealers in April according to analyst Alan Baum, and promises more choices for buyers in what has proven a desirable type of vehicle.
The RAV 4 in its first year has vaulted to near the top of the hybrid sales charts, often being in second or third place and nudging other perennial favorite hatchbacks and sedans out of the way in the process.
Nissan’s Rogue Hybrid with 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, electric motor, and lithium-ion battery promises 176 total horsepower.
Helping it along, as is the case for the 32 mpg combined RAV4 is all wheel drive availability.
Rogue Hybrid front drive models are estimated 33 mpg city, 35 mpg highway and 34 mpg combined. AWD models are estimated at 31 city, 34 highway, and 33 combined.
Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid
Also taking on a Toyota product, the Ioniq plug-in hybrid tackles Toyota’s all-new Prius Prime, and hits it on all points – range, mpg, price, and arguably styling.
Hyundai’s car is actually one of three Ioniq variants. The battery electric and hybrid version are launching now, and the yet-to-be priced PHEV is based on the hybrid’s 1.6-liter, electric motor and li-ion powertrain.
MPG in hybrid mode is expected in the middle 50s, and electric range from the 8.9-liter battery is expected to be 27 miles.
Performance may be about the same as the Toyota – adequate in a 0-60 mph dash perhaps around 10 seconds, but not amazing – but this vehicle promises to save fuel and cut emissions very effectively.
Many owners will have enough electric range to keep the gas engine off entirely in daily driving. The gas engine will make a long-haul trip also near the top of the charts in energy efficiency among petrol burners.
As for styling, the Ioniqs look more conventional while otherwise parroting the design of Toyota’s Prius upon which they were benchmarked.
A unique dual clutch auto instead of a CVT transmissions may also gather fans who prefer that type better.
Also unique also is a 12-volt starter battery packaged with the li-ion unit, under lifetime warranty, and capable of being “jump started” by the bigger battery if needed.
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
Shoosh! Don’t tell anyone. The Pacifica Hybrid due in dealers as soon as this month is really a plug-in hybrid.
In its efforts not to stress its usual minivan constituency overly much, Chrysler is calling alternative version of its already released Pacific simply the Pacifica Hybrid, but it does plug in.
Alternative energy enthusiasts may otherwise shout to the hills that this is the most efficient such seven-passenger gas-electric vehicle in existence, and by a large margin.
The Pacifica’s 32 mpg rating in hybrid mode and 33 miles gas-free electric range puts it ahead of even small-engined, midsized sedans.
Powering it is a V6 Pentastar engine and electric motor plus 16-kWh battery with 248 horsepower for enough get up and go.
Assuming this vehicle takes off in the marketplace, it also stands to goad others to follow and that will be great for those wanting to see more large vehicles saving fuel like this one will.
Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid
Based on the Niro Hybrid which comes in three trims ranging from 43 mpg to 50 mpg, the plug-in version due as soon as October raises the bar one step further.
Based on a 103-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine plus 43 horse electric motor, the PHEV Niro adds an 8.9 kWh battery for as much as 27 miles potential range.
Exciting also is the Niro may be priced relatively low as PHEVs go, while coming in a popular compact crossover package.
As a division of Hyundai, Kia is part of the twin companies’ attempt to rise in the alternative energy space, so this one is being made by someone who knows they have something to prove.
Hopefully it will meet the bill as it otherwise broadens choices in a contemporary styled design.
Tesla Model 3
Saving the best for last, the all-electric Model 3 has been the talk of the town since last year and it’s believed well more than half a million people have reservations on it.
This unprecedented interest is spurred by a car that promises maybe three-quarters or more of what a Tesla Model S offers at maybe half the price.
At least that’s the ostensible proposition for the EV to be priced from $35,000 plus destination and with at least 215 miles on tap.
In reality, the first models that may be delivered by October, according to analyst Alan Baum, are expected to be top-drawer Founders’ editions given first to employees, friends and family. Expect other higher level trims to also be delivers ahead of any base models, assuming those come along eventually.
Tesla’s Model 3 otherwise stands to overshadow the 238-mile range Chevy Bolt in that it is highly configurable.
Expected are all wheel drive and larger battery versions with performance to fit in a company that says it does not know how to make slow cars.
What the top end of the pricing will be has been speculated, but more is to be revealed in a second unveiling closer to launch.
Baum projects 5,000 units may be delivered by year’s end. If however an aggressive ramp up outlined by CEO Elon Musk on a conference call comes to pass, even more than this could arrive for Tesla’s first high-volume car.