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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Research and development

Ford names site for battery development facility

Ford's new facility will house battery research and development.

Ford

Ford is in the news again for its electrification efforts, this time with the confirmation of a Michigan location for a new battery research and development facility in Romulus, Michigan. The facility may eventually help Ford in-source much of its EV supply chain, a shift that could prevent or mitigate the challenges presented by parts and technology shortages.

As part of its electrification initiative, the automaker plans to build a new research and development facility, called Ford Ion Park. The facility will house new tech research, pilot programs for new manufacturing techniques, and will help give Ford more control over its supply chain.


Ford Ion Park Once complete, the facility will initially house 200 engineers.Ford


The price tag for the new facility and related efforts lands at $185 million, which sounds like chump change for a global automaker until we consider that Ford has committed $30 billion to electrification by 2025. The automaker says that its new facility renews its dedication to Michigan as its home base for EV development, a promise it originally made back in 2010. The company's new electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck will be built in Dearborn, which will add 500 jobs. An additional 225 jobs will be retained at Ford's Dyke Electric Powertrain Center.

As part of Phase One of the project, Ford plans to hire 200 engineers within 18 months of the 270,000-square-foot facility's opening. Ironically, the site was previously owned by A123 Systems, a battery manufacturer that closed the facility in 2017 due to low demand for batteries.


Ford Ion Park Ford has committed $185 million to the new facility and related efforts.Ford

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New compact pickup truck

Hyundai announces pricing for Santa Cruz pickup

It's small, but the Santa Cruz can do plenty of truck stuff like the big guys.

Hyundai

Looking at American trucks over the years, it's hard to ignore their growing size and price, but 2021 might just be the year that bucks that trend. Earlier in the year, Ford announced the compact Maverick pickup truck, and after months of rumors, Hyundai did the same. The Santa Cruz will be a small unibody pickup designed in California and built in Alabama. Today, the automaker announced pricing for the upcoming vehicle.

Pricing for the Santa Cruz starts at $23,990, which after the $1,185 destination charge comes to $25,175. That reasonable sum buys the base SE trim, which comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. Hyundai estimates that the base engine produces 190 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque, while the available turbocharged 2.5-liter engine makes 275 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque.

Other standard features include:


2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz The Santa Cruz rides on a unibody frame, which gives it a better ride than most trucks.Hyundai


  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • LED taillights
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Rear occupant alerts
  • Driver attention warnings
  • Lane keeping assist
  • Speed limit warnings
  • Leading vehicle departure alerts

Despite its size and unibody construction, the Santa Cruz does offer traditional truck capabilities. With the base engine on board, the vehicle is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds, and with the turbocharged engine that number increases to 5,000 pounds. The unibody setup also gives the Santa Cruz a more car-like ride and handling, which improves comfort. It's a configuration that is also used by the Honda Ridgeline and the upcoming Ford Maverick pickups.


2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz The Santa Cruz has a useful bed that can be configured a few ways.Hyundai


Hyundai started building the Santa Cruz at its Montgomery, Alabama factory in June. The automaker says that its production will eventually add 1,200 jobs to the facility, and notes that the vehicle will go on sale sometime later this summer. We're heading out to drive the new Santa Cruz in early August, so stay tuned for a first-drive review in a few weeks.

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