The 5 Most Important Hybrid Car Debuts

can be reached at nkurczewski@yahoo.com
can be reached at nkurczewski@yahoo.com
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At the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show, electric cars made splashy debuts and headline-grabbing news. But hybrids and plug-in hybrids weren’t about to let their electric-only counterparts have all the fun in L.A. Toyota went frugal and fast with its RAV4 sport-utility, Honda kept things subtle and sensible with the CR-V, while Hyundai offered a sneak peek at its future hybrid SUV lineup.

  • Electric cars and hybrids made up the lion’s share of news-worthy debuts at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show.
  • The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid has 302 horsepower and can drive 39 miles on battery power.
  • At Honda, the 2020 CR-V Hybrid shares its frugal powertrain with the Accord Hybrid sedan.
  • The Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring has a total of 266 hp and offers 25 miles of electric range.

The L.A. Auto Show proves electrified vehicles are here to stay, and future models will cover all types of driving needs and car shopping budgets. Change won’t happen overnight, however, the traditional gas-fed engine isn’t on the cusp of going the way of the dinosaurs just yet. With this in mind, we’re taking a look at hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles that will have a huge impact right now, as they move the car world further in the direction of zero emission driving.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime arrives mid-2020 and will be the quickest accelerating and most fuel efficient RAV4 ever. (Photo: Nick Kurczewski)

When it arrives in mid-2020, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime will have the second-fastest zero to 60 mph time in the Toyota lineup. Thanks to its 302-hp gas-electric hybrid powertrain, the RAV4 Prime is estimated to need only 5.8 seconds for this sprint. In case you’re wondering, the Supra sports car will be the only Toyota vehicle that outperforms the RAV4 Prime (though sticklers might point out the V-6-equipped Camry is roughly tied with the upcoming fuel-sipping SUV). When fully charged, the RAV4 Prime’s battery pack provides 39 miles of electric-only driving range. With the gas-fed engine sharing the workload, the RAV4 Prime is expected to return a 90-mpg-equivalent. In normal usage, this should translate to a city and highway economy average of about 40 mpg, or about what you get in the current RAV4 Hybrid. Pricing hasn’t been announced, though with the RAV4 Hybrid’s starting price sitting around $28,000, the plug-in Prime is likely to fall somewhere around $32,000-$35,000.

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid

The 2020 Honda CR-V is mildly redesigned and a hybrid model has been added to the range. (Photo: Honda)

Honda’s popular CR-V sport-utility gets a very mild update for the 2020 model year, along with the addition of a hybrid model. The CR-V Hybrid will have the same gas-electric powertrain used in the current Accord Hybrid. In the midsize sedan, there is a total of 212 hp provided by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine coupled with two electric motors. In the Accord, the EPA-estimated fuel economy averages  out to 48 mpg in both city and highway driving. Expect slightly lower figures in the larger, heavier CR-V. Honda has not released fuel economy figures or a price point, though we expect the CR-V Hybrid to start around $28,000. Like its close rival, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, look for the CR-V to come standard with a long list of active safety features, including automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and much more.

Hyundai Vision T Concept

The Hyundai Vision T is a glimpse at what the future Tucson sport-utility will look like when it’s updated. (Photo: Nick Kurczewski)

The Hyundai Vision T is a glimpse at the upcoming Tucson, which is due an update to stay competitive in the compact SUV market. While the most noticeable aspect of this concept is the bold exterior design, which includes an aggressive front end and wildly exaggerated fenders, it’s worth noting Hyundai mentioned the Vision T happens to be plug-in hybrid. Right now, the current Tucson family tree doesn’t include any form of electrification. That looks set to change during the SUV’s next update, which is likely to happen within 1-2 years. No other tech specs were provided at the L.A. Auto Show, though the next Tucson could arrive by mid to late-2020. A plug-in variant would probably be added sometime later, in early to mid-2021.

2020 Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring

With the Corsair Grand Touring, Lincoln wants to prove that choosing a hybrid powertrain is about much more than MPGs. (Photo: Lincoln)

Hybrids are great when it comes to sipping gas, but they can suffer something of an image problem. Power and luxury often make for splashier marketing messages and more attention-grabbing headlines. That’s especially true when you’re in the market for a luxury-laden SUV, where talk of MPGs often gets side-stepped and forgotten. That’s not the case with the 2020 Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring, a plug-in hybrid SUV that offers an electric driving range of 25 miles per charge. With a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine as its base, the hybrid drivetrain delivers a total of 266 hp. That’s impressive and, like the Toyota RAV4 Prime, it shows hybrids aren’t bashful about having solid power outputs to match their fuel-sipping manners. Look for the 2020 Corsair Grand Touring to arrive next summer. Full EPA-estimated fuel figures and pricing will be announced closer to the official on-sale date.

2020 BMW 3 Series 330e xDrive PHEV

BMW had plenty of performance machines on its stand in Los Angeles – like the wild M2 CS – but electrified models, such as the 330e xDrive (pictured) represent the future for the Ultimate Driving Machine. (Photo: Nick Kurczewski)

BMW fans, don’t freak out. The 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show featured the tire-smoking M2 CS sports car and the mighty M8 luxury coupe. The latter of the two has more than 600 hp and a top speed of 200 mph.  But look a little closer at the German automaker’s stand in L.A. and you’ll spot electrified models that balance high performance and excellent economy. One of these vehicles is the 3 Series 330e xDrive PHEV sedan. With a total output of 252 hp and an electric-only driving range of approximately 30 miles, the 330e PHEV will share its drivetrain with a plug-in variant of the X3 sport-utility. And for those moments when could care less about fuel mileage, the 330e PHEV has an available drive mode called XtraBoost. This unleashes a ‘hidden’ 41 hp for a maximum of 10 seconds. Consider it the ultimate performance Easter egg for BMW fans who crave speed to go along with their hybrid.

WHY THIS MATTERS

The evolution and electrification of the car world isn’t going to happen overnight, no matter how impressive any electric car or truck might be. Hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles represent steady forward progress towards the ultimate goal of zero emission driving.


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can be reached at nkurczewski@yahoo.com
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