If you’re shopping for a fuel-efficient new vehicle, the current new car market offers plenty of options. From miserly small gas engines to pure electric cars that sip no gas at all, Canadians have plenty of choices to avoid the gas station as long as possible.
However, depending on your driving needs, the best option may be a Plug-in Electric Hybrid Vehicle (PHEV). PHEVs are gas-electric hybrids with high-capacity batteries that can recharge by plugging them into a socket. They offer a reasonable amount of pure electric driving range, plus the added range of a gas engine when the batteries run out.
Based on starting Manufacturers' Suggested Retail Prices* in Canadian dollars, and not including any federal or provincial purchase incentives, here are the 10 most affordable PHEVs you can buy new in Canada for 2021.
9th place: 2021 Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring - $58,500 CAD
The 2021 Lincoln Corsair enters its sophomore year relatively unchanged, with one big exception: the new Corsair Grand Touring—the topline all-wheel-drive (AWD) PHEV trim of Lincoln’s 5-passenger compact SUV. Its hybrid powertrain features a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder gas engine, 14-kW lithium-ion battery and an electric motor for a total system output of 266 horsepower. The result is an all-electric range of 45 kilometres and a combined city and highway 7.1 litres per 100 kilometres (L/100 km ) fuel economy estimate based on Natural Resources Canada testing.
8th place: 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Touring L Plus Hybrid - $55,571CAD
The only PHEV in its segment, the up-to-8-passenger Pacifica Hybrid minivan can travel up to 51 kilometres on battery power alone. Its 3.6-litre 6-cylinder gas engine gets extra muscle from two electric motors powered by a 16 kWh lithium-ion battery. Total system horsepower is rated at 260, and the power goes to the front wheels only via a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Overall, the Pacifica PHEV is estimated to score an 8.0 L/100 km combined fuel economy estimate.
7th place tie: 2022 Mini Cooper SE Countryman ALL4 - $44,990 CAD
The Mini Cooper Countryman ALL4 is the biggest model from the British brand known for its small and lively vehicles. The 5-passenger compact hatchback in SE PHEV trim pairs a turbocharged 1.5-litre 3-cylinder gas engine with a rear-mounted electric motor to combine for 221 horsepower. The combination creates an electronic version of AWD using an 8-speed automatic transmission with a battery-only driving range of up to 27 kilometres and a combined 8.0 L/100 km fuel economy estimate.
7th place tie: 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime - $44,990 CAD
Joining the popular compact SUV’s lineup for 2021, the 5-passenger RAV4 Prime PHEV’s powertrain combines a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder gas engine to a CVT, 18.1 kWh lithium-ion battery and three motors (two on the front axle and one in the rear) that makes AWD standard. The total system output is 302 horsepower, making the Prime the most powerful and quickest of all the RAV4 trims. It also boasts 68 kilometres of pure electric range and a combined 6.0 L/100 km fuel economy estimate.
6th place: 2021 BMW 330e Sedan - $44,950 CAD
This 7th-generation 3 Series was revamped just last year. New for 2021 are two PHEV trims: the rear-wheel-drive (RWD) BMW 330e and the AWD $54,000 330e xDrive. Both use a turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder gas engine teamed with a horsepower electric motor for a combined output of 288 horsepower. The 330e can travel up to 37 kilometres on electricity alone (cut that to 32-km for the xDrive version). The combined fuel economy is 8.4 L/100 km for the RWD 330e and 9.4 in AWD trim.
5th place: 2021 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid - $44,505
With an estimated 77 kilometres available, the 5-passenger Clarity PHEV sedan offers the longest electric driving range of the vehicles listed here. It also scores an impressive 5.5 L/100 km combined fuel economy estimate. The FWD Honda uses a 1.5-litre 4-cylinder gas engine, CVT, and an electric motor for a total output of 212 horsepower to achieve these numbers. However, despite its impressive efficiency, the Clarity drives very much like driving Honda’s other mid-size sedan, the Accord.
4th place: 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV AWD - $44,198 CAD
Although an all-new Outlander is arriving for the 2022 model year, the PHEV version continues on the outgoing platform. Using a 2.4-litre 4-cylinder gas engine and two electric motors, the 5-passenger PHEV (non-hybrid versions get three rows of seats) delivers 221 total horsepower via a CVT to all four wheels. The total electric driving range is estimated to 39 kilometres, and the compact Mitsubishi PHEV SUV scores a 9.1 L/100 km combined fuel economy estimate.
3rd place: 2021 Kia Niro PHEV - $35,995 CAD
This PHEV trim is part of a trio of Niro models, each with its take on low emissions and economical transportation. A 1.6-litre 4-cylinder gas engine is complemented by an electric motor and a 6-speed dual-clutch automated transmission. These two sources integrate to make 139 total horsepower. That’s the same output as the non-plug-in Niro Hybrid. The difference is that the Niro PHEV can be driven up to 42 kilometres on battery power alone and boasts a 5.1 L/100 km combined fuel economy estimate.
2nd place: 2021 Toyota Prius Prime - $33,550 CAD
If overall fuel efficiency is at the top of your new PHEV wish list, consider the Toyota Prius Prime. The Prime is the plug-in version of Toyota’s popular Prius gas-electric hybrid. With its larger battery capacity, the Prime can travel up to 40 kilometres on electricity alone. More impressive, its combined fuel economy estimate is the most efficient on this list—4.3L/100 km. The 5-passenger Prime hatchback’s CVT gets its power from a 1.8-litre 4-cylinder gas engine and two electric motors. The total horsepower output is 121, delivered to the front wheels only.
1st place: 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid - $32,649 CAD
Like the Kia Niro it shares a platform with, the Hyundai Ioniq compact hatchback’s lineup consists of three eco-friendly variants, each with unique drivetrains. As the least expensive new PHEV in Canada, the 5-passenger Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid uses a 1.6-litre 4-cylinder gas engine and electric motor combination for a total output of 156 horsepower. The Hyundai PHEV can travel an estimated 47 kilometres on battery power alone and is rated at 4.5 L/100 km in combined city and highway driving.
*MSRPs as of July 1, 2021.