Buying Advice

AutomotiveMap Picks: Best Plug-In Electric Vehicles

Hyundai, Kia, Tesla, and Honda make the list for the best plug-in electric vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The future is now. Hybrid, plug-in, and all-electric vehicles are becoming more prevalent on dealership lots. However, there are big differences between them. While some are adequate people movers or comfortable commuters, others are built for speed and sublime serenity.

The models on this list run the gamut from the aforementioned speedsters to full-on family haulers. And, not all of them are Teslas.

Here are the plug-in vehicles AutomotiveMap's team prefers.

​2020 Honda Clarity

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Jesus Garcia: The 2020 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybird delivers a ride that feels like cloud in a Gulfstream. With surprisingly responsive handling and performance the Clarity is one of the most entertaining PHEVs to drive for under 40k.

​​2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Sue Mead: There is so much to like with the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E beyond fuel economy and torque. It has stunning tailoring outside and within the "fully vegan", tech-laden cabin are a massive touch screen; a clever, drainable stowage under-hood compartment to supplement rear cargo-carrying for road trips and tailgating; and seating for five.

​2019 Kia Niro EV

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Harvey Briggs: I spent a week with the 2019 Niro EV this summer and was able to get more than 300 miles of range from a full charge. Everything about it feels like a normal economy car, except it's quiet and has great acceleration.

2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Perry Stern, AutoNXT: With excellent use of space as well as innovative entertainment options, the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid may be the most useful plug-in on the market.

​2020 Hyundai Ioniq

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Nicole Wakelin: With the 2020 Hyundai Ioniq's latest round of updates, the model is more stylish than ever. it remains affordable and has a good list of standard safety features.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Eileen Falkenberg-Hull: I hear you, I hear you. Yes, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime isn't on sale yet, but it's a model that's already worth taking notice of. This isn't your grandma's hybrid. Toyota says that they're upping the power on the RAV in this new variant making it the closest thing to a RAV4 performance model that we're likely to see outside of SEMA.

2020 Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

Photo courtesy of Tesla

Chad Kircher: The Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus is the one you want. Skip the all-wheel drive and the $7,000 full self-driving option that doesn't exist IRL and you'll have an EV with as much range as most of the competition, standard safety features, and luxury features not offered for $40,000 or less.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Hyundai has completely refreshed the Santa Fe for 2021.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Hyundai Santa Fe is getting more than just a traditional mid-cycle update for the 2021 model year. It's closer to a generational shift with new powertrains, a new platform, and more premium features.

If you're saying to yourself, "Didn't they just change it?" to yourself right now, you're not wrong. The current Santa Fe shifted generations just about two years ago as the company prepared to introduce the three-row Palisade. When the Palisade arrived, the Santa Fe was relegated to the new two-row Santa Fe and a holdover three-row Santa Fe for a year before going to just a two-row model for 2020.

The SUV has a fresh grille and headlamp design as well as new front and rear fascia.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe has a face that looks like a blend of the Palisade and the Vision T concept car, which was first shown at last year's LA Auto Show. Its headlights carry over the Spartan helmet-like design that first appeared on the Kona. T-shaped LED daytime running lights flow from the headlights to the sides of the grill. The lower grille eschews the crucible-shape that is on the Palisade and offers a new, sophisticated look.

Hyundai has made the car beefier looking but also gentler with posterior that's sophisticated with arrow-like taillights that are connected through the center of the tailgate by a light bar.

Twenty-inch wheels are available as part of a Luxury Package that includes front and back lower bumpers and side cladding that match the body paint color, rather than the traditional matte black.

Hyundai has already revealed that the 2021 Santa Fe will come with hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants in Europe. They have not confirmed which, if either of those powertrains is coming to the U.S. More information is expected to be revealed soon.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai aimed for a premium SUV with the Palisade, to thunderous applause from industry experts and buyers, and it looks like that design mantra is holding true in the New Santa Fe. The company promotes the model as having more "space, comfort, and convenience" than the outgoing model. That's thanks in large part to the new platform the SUV is riding on.

The new third-gen Hyundai platform allows for improvements inn performance, handling, fuel efficiency, and safety. Additionally, it features more crash resistance. With the SUV market growing increasingly competitive, it's understandable that Hyundai would want to shift the model to the new underpinnings ASAP.

The lower half of the dashboard has been redesigned for 2021 and the cabin has been outfitted with soft-touch materials. The center console has also been redesigned and now floats and features similar instrumentation to the Hyundai Nexo and Palisade. This leaves a good amount of space between driver and front passenger for storage.

A new 10.25-inch infotainment screen floats on the dashboard.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The new 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen appears to float above the dashboard. A new 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster sits in front of the driver.

The new Santa Fe will be available in Europe starting September 2020. There is not yet confirmation as to when it comes to the U.S. or what it will cost.

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Maserati is promising an electrified future for its brand.

Photo courtesy of Maserati

In his prom "Divine Comedy," Italian author Dante Alighieri wrote, "From a little spark may burst a flame." It is fitting that Italian automaker Maserati is using a spark to tease its future.

That future includes a completely redesigned Maserati Ghibli Hybrid. Maserati has also been showing a pre-production version of the car under wraps on a tour though Italy calling it the MC20. It was designed and engineered at the Maserati Innovation Lab in Modena, Italy.

Maserati electrification 2020 As part of its announcement, Maserati shared images of its headquarters being hit by simulated lightning.Photo courtesy of Maserati

That bit about being straight from Italy is important to the brand. Despite being owned by a company headquartered in the Netherlands (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) that is about to merge with a company headquartered in France (PSA Group), the Maserati team has been given the freedom to design using Italian sports car DNA.

That Italian sports car DNA will be merging with a hybrid powertrain in a move all about sparking Maserati sales. For its part, the company is calling it, "the first in a line of new vehicles at the vanguard of a new era for Maserati." The's a next chapter, if you will.

Throughout 2020, Maserati is expected to strengthen its position in the luxury electric vehicles market as it works to allocate more of its production space to electrified cars.

The Ghibli Hybrid goes first, later this year. The Maserati GranTurismo and GranCabriolet will begin production in 2021 as the automaker's first all-electric cars. The next-gen GranTurismo and GranCabrio will be built at the Mirafiori production hub.

Maserati's Modena facility is in the process of a remodel, which will allow it to be modified enough to begin producing what the company is calling a "super sports car" in 2020.The Ghibli Hybrid will have the first hybrid engine in the history of the marque.

A forthcoming Maserati utility vehicle is set to be built at Cassino in 2021. The automaker is already teasing the model saying that it is, "intended to play a leading role for the brand, thanks to its innovative technologies." Technological innovation is not something Maserati has been known for lately so this could be a welcome change.

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