Electrifying choices: rolling out for family travel

Published in the spring 2019 issue of the PRG

By Keith Turner
The Car Guy

There’s something very electrifying about family vehicle choices these days. While fuel-saving, gas-electric hybrids have been riding the roadways for more than a decade now, we’re starting to see plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles become more mainstream. They are viable for parents looking to save fuel and emissions without sacrificing the fun and functionality necessary for family travel.

Here’s a look at the top electrified – plug-in hybrid and electric-only – vehicles for families to consider.

PLUG-IN HYBRIDS

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid – When it comes to family-friendly features combined with fantastic fuel efficiency, this minivan takes the top prize. It’s the first electrified vehicle in the minivan segment and gets more than 80 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) and 30+ miles on electric-only power (E-range). It’s also packed with technology and features that will make everyone happy, including individual second-row screens for movie watching and game playing, and “Stow-n-Go” third-row seats to easily create space for kid-friendly cargo. There’s also a $7,500 federal tax credit available in the first year of ownership.

Base price: $39.995 / E-range: 33 mi /MPGe: 84

Honda Clarity PHEV – This five-passenger sedan is actually available in three electrified versions: plug-in hybrid, fuel cell, and electric-only vehicle. Able to drive 47 miles on a full charge, the Clarity plug-in hybrid (PHEV) also gets 110 MPGe. For longer trips, the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid can utilize its hyper-efficient 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder engine to generate electricity and, under certain conditions, to act as a direct power source, resulting in an overall EPA driving range rating of 340 miles.

MSRP: $33,400 /
E-range: 47 / MPGe: 110

Toyota Prius Prime – The Prius, which has been a hybrid trailblazer for years, now is taking a back seat to the Prius Prime, which is a plug-in hybrid with the ability to drive up to 25 miles on an electric-only charge and sports an edgier appearance than the Prius. Because of the larger battery, the Prime only seats four, compared to five fittings in the standard Prius.

MSRP: $27,350 /
E-range: 25 / MPGe: 133

Mini Cooper SE Countryman All4 – This is Mini’s first-ever plug-in hybrid and combines a three-cylinder gas engine with an electric motor to deliver an all-wheel-drive experience with a choice of three modes: electric, hybrid, and battery saver. The subcompact crossover carries five passengers with seats that fold nearly flat for cargo carrying.

MSRP: $36,900 /
E-range: 12 / MPGe: 65

Ford Fusion Energi – Sedans may be fading from the sales lots, but the Fusion Energi is a plug-in hybrid that not only delivers great mileage – up to 25 miles on electric power – but also features lots of extras like pre-collision assist with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, and hands-free self-parking.

MSRP $36,595 /
E-range: 25 miles / MPGe: 42

FULL ELECTRIC

Fiat 500e – The European design of the all-electric Fiat 500e is deceptive because the interior feels quite roomy. Heated seats, an available sunroof, and a small, 5-inch touchscreen provide an upscale feel to this tidy electric package.

MSRP: $32,995 /
E-range: 84 miles

Chevrolet Bolt EV – Available in two trims levels, LT and Premier, the Bolt is an all-electric cousin to the Volt that offers the ability to say goodbye to pumping gas forever. The unique “One Pedal Driving” system lets you speed up and slow down using only the accelerator pedal, although the brake pedal is in place for quick stops.

MSRP: $37,495 /
E-range: 238 miles

Nissan Leaf Plus – Building upon the success of the all-electric Leaf, the Leaf Plus offers much better electric-only range (226 miles) on a full charge. It also features Nissan’s near self-driving “ProPilot Assist” that helps steer the vehicle in the center of the lane while keeping a safe distance between you and the car ahead.

MSRP: $37,445 /
E-range: 226 miles

Kia Soul EV – Up until this year, the Kia Soul EV delivered a paltry 82 miles of electric-only range. That will change with this year’s rollout of the new Soul EV, which will go up to 243 miles on a full charge. The Soul EV is closely related to the Hyundai Kona Electric and built on a version of the same global small-car platform, but it shares its battery pack with the Kia Niro EV.

Price: TBA (est. $35,000) E-range: 243 miles

Hyundai Kona EV – With three trim levels available, the Kona EV offers up to 258 miles of all-electric driving. The lower level SEL features a 7-inch touchscreen display while the top of the lien Ultimate model has an 8-inch screen, heads-up display, and smart cruise control.

MSRP: $36,450 /
E-range: 258 miles.

Tesla Model X – This high-end, fully electric SUV has seating for seven adults and special “Falcon Wing” doors for easy access to the third row. It even claims towing capability of up to 5,000 pounds. With a range of 295 miles, the Model X has the longest range of any electric SUV on the market.

MSRP: $82,000 /
Range: 295 miles

Keith Turner is a freelance writer and professional auto reviewer. Contact him at Carguy@Hotmail.com.

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