Hybrids and electric cars are no longer fringe players in the automotive world. Rather, gasoline-electric and battery-electric powertrains are trending toward the norm, with many automakers offering multiple hybrid and battery-electric vehicle options in their model lines.
When it comes to today's hybrids, some are traditional setups that rely solely on a vehicle's internal combustion engine to charge the battery pack, which then subsequently powers one or more electric drive motors. Others include external charge ports and relatively large-capacity battery packs to offer some degree of electric-only driving. These vehicles, known as plug-in hybrids or PHEVs, are also capable of performing like run-of-the-mill hybrid vehicles. While many hybrids favor fuel efficiency over outright performance, not all do. For example, the plug-in McLaren Arturo is a bonafide sports car that features an electric motor and battery pack that can either motor the mid-engine Mecca about for short distances or assist the internal combustion engine during dynamic driving.
Likewise, many strictly battery-powered vehicles, such as the Lucid Air and Tesla Model S, manage to combine neck-snapping performance with ICE-like driving ranges.
With so many hybrid and electric vehicles available, it's difficult to distinguish the merely good from the utterly great. That's why we put practically every hybrid and electric vehicle through our comprehensive testing regimen. The hybrids and EVs on our 2023 Editors' Choice list are the creams of the crop. These vehicles don't just understand the assignment, they also just about ace it.
Few cars are capable of serving the gods of both comfort and sportiness as well as the 2023 BMW 3-series sedan. This perennial favorite can be outfitted as a corner-carving sports sedan or a well-appointed entry-luxury car—or a combination of both. Its three available turbocharged powertrains deftly walk the line between power and polish but the plug-in hybrid 330e offers impressive performance and above-average fuel economy. The 330e doesn't have the style of the Alfa Romeo Giulia or the value-packed features list of the Genesis G70, but it's so well-rounded, athletic, and engaging to drive that it stands at the very top of our segment rankings.
The all-electric BMW i4 sedan is an important piece of BMW's expanding EV portfolio. It offers the style of the 4-series Grand Coupe with a battery powertrain and highly refined road manners, which combine for a 10Best award-winning combination. There are three distinct i4 flavors: The first two are single-motor rear-drive, with the eDrive35 offering 281 horsepower and 260 miles of EPA range, while the eDrive40 produces 335 horsepower with an estimated 300 miles of driving range. That figure drops to 245 miles in the spicy, all-wheel-drive 536-hp i4 M50. The latter drives like a better-riding M3, which is a mega compliment. The M50 reaches 60 mph in just 3.3 seconds, 0.2 seconds quicker than an M3 Competition, and it can jump from 50 to 70 mph in just 2.0 seconds—0.7 seconds quicker than the Bimmer. When not performing ab-exercising acceleration runs, the i4 is an admirable daily driver. Although it lacks the steering feedback we prefer in other M cars, it's an exciting and refined sedan with a supple ride and deeply satisfying sports-sedan handling.
BMW's electrified future is previewed by the 2023 iX SUV, which offers similar space and practicality as the brand's popular X5, but with cutting-edge flair. Two electric motors provide all-wheel drive and more than ample power—516 hp in the xDrive50 and a whopping 610 hp in the M60—while a large battery pack delivers enough juice for an estimated driving range of over 300 miles per charge. The iX's spacious interior is lined with fine materials and features a fancy, futuristic design; a large digital dashboard displays the future of BMW's iDrive infotainment system and is controlled by a cool see-through rotary knob on the center console. The iX has what it takes to compete with established all-electric rivals such as the Audi e-tron and the Tesla Model X, and should stack up well against newcomers such as the Fisker Ocean and the Rivian R1S.
BMW X5 xDrive45e
The mid-size luxury SUV class is rich with choices, most of them good ones, but the 2023 BMW X5 xDrive45 stands out for a blend of performance and refinement that's missing from many crossovers. Its eco-friendly plug-in hybrid setup offers up to 30 miles of driving on electric power. Rivals such as the Genesis GV80 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE-class might have the X5 beat for poshness but the BMW's handsome, well-tailored cabin still sends strong premium vibes. Plus, the X5's handling is more charming than those alternatives, although it's not quite as sporting as BMWs of the recent past that we're nostalgic for. Driving enthusiasts may want to pursue a true performance player such as the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid, but the quick, well-rounded X5 xDrive45e ranks near the top of the class thanks to its overall goodness.
Cadillac's first entrant into the luxury electric vehicle market is the Lyriq SUV, which offers sharp styling and a modern cabin. Both single-motor rear-wheel drive and dual-motor all-wheel drive models will be offered, the former offering up to 312 miles of range per charge. The Lyriq has been designed from the ground up to ride on General Motors' new scalable battery architecture which allows for DC fast charging as well as standard in-home connections for refilling the battery. Instead of going for outright performance, the Lyriq's road manners are more focused on comfort, quietness, and luxury. The cabin is tastefully designed and spacious for passengers, but the Lyriq's cargo space isn't as generous as rival SUVs.
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
The Chrysler Pacifica, as well as its minivan brothers from other mothers, may never get the credit it deserves for being the preeminent family-friendly utility vehicle in the age of the SUV. Chrysler even goes so far as to claim its minivan can hold up to 60 gallons of milk, redefining what it means to go from zero to 60. The Pacifica is a function of convenience, and it's the only van clever enough to tuck its second-row seats into its floor to create more space for carrying cargo. The Pacifica is the only minivan in the segment to offer a plug-in-hybrid powertrain and is capable of up to 33 miles of electric-only driving. It pairs a 3.6-liter V-6 with two electric motors for a system total of 260 horsepower. This combination makes the Pacifica PHEV reasonably efficient, even if it doesn't push Chrysler's people mover about with the urgency of rivals such as the Kia Carnival or Honda Odyssey.
Ford F-150 Lightning
Turn the volume up on the 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning's audio system and you might well miss that this pickup truck is powered by electricity. With the tunes pounding you wouldn't notice the absence of the gasoline engine's sound. But floor the accelerator and you'll know that the Lightning is not your standard gasoline-powered F-150; the electric motors' instant, massive torque slams you into the seat as if you got run into from behind by a Peterbilt. Otherwise, the Lightning delivers just about everything the regular F-150 does in a package that is close to a mirror image. Inside and out, the Lightning looks like other F-150s—though it's totally different underneath, of course. All models come with two electric motors juiced by either of two battery packs. With the larger Extended-Range battery, the powertrain makes a whopping 580 horsepower, and with it, the Lightning blasted to 60 mph in just 4.0 seconds at our test track. The EPA-estimated driving range varies between 230 miles with the base battery to 320 miles with the larger one, but towing a trailer quickly depletes the battery and requires frequent stops to charge. That drawback is common among EV pickup trucks, and rivals such as the GMC Hummer EV SUT and the Rivian R1T don't fare any better. But if you're a truck owner who tows infrequently or only for short distances, the F-150 Lightning will serve your needs well. It is an EV workhorse that can be equipped in a variety of ways, all of which require few compromises compared to the standard gas-powered F-150.
Ford F-150 Powerboost Hybrid
When you think “pickup truck” the one that probably comes to mind is the Ford F-150. The perennial best-seller has evolved in the modern era with an aluminum body, turbocharged powertrains, a hybrid option, an all-electric spinoff—reviewed separately—and all of Ford's best tech. If you want a work truck, the entry-level XL has everything you need and nothing you don't but move up the trim ladder and you'll find a lengthening list of desirable features—and price tags to match, of course. For those who want to venture into the wilderness, there's the spunky Tremor model while the upscale Platinum and Limited trims pamper occupants with Lincoln-level luxury. The F-150 does not ride as well as the Ram 1500 or handle as crisply as the Chevy Silverado, but it's highly capable, multi-configurable, and thoroughly competitive. In other words, it's accomplished enough to engender the kind of loyalty that has kept it atop the sales charts year after year.
Ford Maverick Hybrid
Although it might not look it, the 2023 Ford Maverick is a workhorse pickup that earns its place next to the Ranger and the F-150 with a novel design and surprising usefulness. The standard powertrain is a fuel-efficient hybrid system with front-wheel drive; a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and all-wheel drive are available. Payload capacity is more than enough for a weekend's worth of home improvement supplies, and the Maverick hybrid can be equipped to tow up to 2000 pounds. It shares its platform with the Bronco Sport SUV and has four doors and a fairly spacious interior with several clever storage solutions. However, unlike the diet Bronco, the Maverick pickup earned a spot on our list of 10Best Trucks and SUVs for 2023. The Maverick's only competition in the recently revived compact pickup truck class is the Hyundai Santa Cruz, and although that truck can tow more and offers more luxury features, it also costs more, has a smaller bed, and offers no hybrid powertrain options.
Ford Mustang Mach-E
With its various configurations and range of equipment packages, the 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E has plenty to offer for those who want a crossover but are eager to get behind the wheel of an EV. Those customers will also be able to decide between the content-rich Premium model or the elevated performance of the GT. Sure, despite the name it's no Mustang, but the Mach-E can still be described as agile and quick. Plus, it has fetching looks, a well-appointed interior with all the latest gizmos and gadgets, and sufficient range and capability. On that subject, Ford says the Mustang Mach-E can travel more than 300 miles before needing a charge, and the GT Performance model leaped to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds at our test track. It performed well enough to win our inaugural EV of the Year award in 2021 but has since lost its crown to the cheaper and similarly impressive Hyundai Ioniq 5.
The ambitious Genesis luxury brand is tackling the luxury EV segment with its satisfying and whimsical 2023 GV60 crossover. The GV60 incorporates styling elements found in other Genesis models, but it lacks the brand's large trapezoidal grille that stretches between the dual-element headlamps, substituting a slimmer lower grille across the front bumper. Inside, the GV60's cabin looks decidedly premium, with a large monolithic display screen serving as both the gauge cluster and infotainment system and a novel crystal sphere shifter that rotates to reveal itself when the SUV is powered up. At launch, buyers can choose from the 314-hp Advanced or 429-hp Performance trims; the estimated driving range varies from 235 to 248 miles per charge. Rival luxury SUVs such as the Audi Q4 e-tron, the Volvo XC40 Recharge, and the coupe-like C40 Recharge offer similar prestige and driving range, but the GV60's detail-oriented design and amusing flourishes make it an attractive and off-beat alternative.
Honda Accord Hybrid
The Honda Accord hybrid is a Car and Driver favorite, winning our 10Best award year after year with its spacious interior, driver-friendly road manners, and impeccable build quality. For 2023, it wins a 10Best award yet again for its stunning overall competence. The Accord is all-new for the 2023 model year, and it wears an elegant design that's arguably the prettiest ever applied to Honda's venerable family sedan. The hybrid powertrain has become a more significant part of the Accord lineup for this new generation as it's standard on all but the two least-expensive trims. The hybrid models are all powered by a new 204-hp four-cylinder hybrid system borrowed essentially intact from the CR-V. The Accord's designers have complimented the handsome exterior styling by sprucing up the cabin with design elements borrowed from the recently redesigned Civic, CR-V, and HR-V, including honeycomb-pattern dash trim that hides the air vents and a freestanding rectangular infotainment display sprouting from the top of the instrument panel. Speaking of infotainment, the 2023 Accord features a host of updated tech, including a new standard digital gauge display and an available 12.3-inch infotainment screen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Honda CR-V Hybrid
The 2023 Honda CR-V arrives with a whole new look inside and out, the better to do battle in the brutally competitive compact-SUV segment. With grander proportions and more passenger space, the newly designed CR-V has already impressed us, earning another 10Best Trucks and SUVs award for 2023. Its interior has an attractive design inspired by the Civic compact car and is complemented by modern tech, including an infotainment system with an available 9.0-inch touchscreen that has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Of course, every CR-V also has a host of standard driver assists that include adaptive cruise, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keeping assist. A 190-hp turbo four is the standard engine; a 204-hp hybrid powertrain is optional. Both can be paired with front- or all-wheel drive, and no matter which engine you choose, the CR-V delivers a comfortable ride and confident—if not exactly exciting—road manners.
Hyundai Ioniq 5
Thanks to a little bit of 1980s eight-bit styling mixed with some seriously impressive new-era electrification, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 dazzles as a fast-charging SUV with a notable driving range. The Ioniq 5 is among the first EVs to earn a place on our 10Best Trucks and SUVs list. The lineup spans a 168-hp, single-motor, rear-drive Ioniq 5 with an EPA-estimated 220 miles of range up to a 320-hp, all-wheel-drive, dual-motor unit with an estimated 266 miles of range. The big-range, single-motor, rear-drive model with 303 miles of range is among the farthest-driving EVs sold today for under $60,000. Its 350-kW DC fast-charging capacity is the real hero, though, enabling charging speeds as quick as those offered by far more expensive and luxurious EVs, such as the Porsche Taycan and Lucid Air. Inside the Ioniq 5, there's plenty of room, with more rear-passenger space than both the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Volkswagen ID.4. With a wide spread of pricing and range availability, the Ioniq 5 makes a compelling choice for anyone taking the first swing at EV ownership.
Hyundai Ioniq 6
Hyundai is aiming to compete with the Tesla Model 3 with its latest EV model, a sedan called the Ioniq 6. This four-door fits into the company’s Ioniq subbrand made up of electric vehicles and shares components with the taller and boxier Ioniq 5. This means single- and dual-motor configurations will be offered, with two battery-pack options. In combination with the aerodynamic shape, the 77.4-kWh battery pack (only the base model has the smaller 53.0-kWh pack) means the 6 will provide an estimated 361 miles of max driving range in its longest-range SE Long Range configuration. Its styling is inspired by Hyundai’s dramatic Prophecy concept, and the Ioniq 6 is as quick as it is futuristic and stylish. It also offers a more luxurious interior than the Model 3 and features more onboard technology when compared with Hyundai’s gas-powered Sonata and Elantra sedans.
Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid / Plug-in Hybrid
The 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe doesn't get as much acclaim as the Korean brand's broader SUV family, but it remains a distinctive member with desirable features. Situated between the compact Tucson and the three-row Palisade, the mid-size Santa Fe has two-row seating and multiple powertrain options, including a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid. The former comes with a 226-hp hybrid setup and an EPA-rated 36 mpg in the city. The plug-in-hybrid model offers 260 horsepower, a combined 76 MPGe rating, and the ability to travel an estimated 31 miles on electricity alone. The spacious 2023 Santa Fe finds itself ranked mid-pack in the world of mid-size SUVs, which is primarily due to its especially snoozy road manners.
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Hyundai gives an otherwise ho-hum segment—mid-size family sedans—some desperately needed flavor with the eye-catching Sonata hybrid. The Sonata Hybrid uses a gasoline engine with help from an electric motor to power the front wheels for a combined 192 horsepower with an EPA-estimated 51 mpg on the highway. However, even though the Sonata is an impressive bargain when viewed at the intersection of price and equipment, its handling leaves it still a few blocks over from the sharp and exciting Honda Accord hybrid.
Hyundai Tucson Hybrid / Plug-in Hybrid
The 2023 Hyundai Tucson struts a cutting-edge style that stands out among its more sober-looking compact SUV competitors. That doesn't mean that the Tucson sacrifices practicality or affordability. It boasts both. Hyundai has taken the blanket approach with the Tucson, offering a wide variety of trims and powertrains—including a hybrid and plug-in hybrid—giving it broad appeal. The hybrid and plug-in hybrid models use a turbocharged 1.6-liter four that's buttressed by an electric motor—a combination that provides more pep. Entry-level models of the Tucson are nicely equipped while higher-end trims cross the line from mainstream to premium, giving it an edge over rivals such as the Honda CR-V, the Toyota RAV4, and the Volkswagen Tiguan.
Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe
The 2023 Grand Cherokee is a multifaceted SUV situated at the intersection of machismo and elegance. While the base model Grand continues to offer a package that's altogether mainstream—meaning, not very fancy—the midrange and high-end trims are packed with luxury features and upscale materials that make it a clear upmarket player. Despite this upward mobility, the Grand Cherokee retains its trail-busting off-road capability—it is a Jeep, after all. Two powertrains are offered: a V-6 and a plug-in-hybrid system called 4xe. The Grand Cherokee is a two-row SUV. It's as happy with suburban family life as it is trudging through the woods, and it offers plenty of space for passengers and cargo inside its roomy cabin. But if your family includes more than a couple of kids, you may find the three-row Grand Cherokee L (reviewed separately) more accommodating, but the plug-in hybrid 4xe system is exclusive to the two-row GC.
A fraternal twin to the Hyundai Ioniq 5—and a winner of our 10Best Trucks and SUVs award—the 2023 Kia EV6 charts its path through the EV market with athletic road manners and a bold look all its own. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive models are punchier and can be had with a larger battery pack with a maximum of 310 miles of driving range. Handling is eager, especially for an SUV, which makes it fun on back roads. For hot-shoe drivers, this year's new GT model is the one to get as its 576 horsepower is enough to make Stinger owners envious as it blows by them. All the while the EV6's cabin remains quiet and is spacious enough to justify its place among SUV rivals such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E, the Ioniq 5, and the Volkswagen ID.4. It's one of our favorite SUVs because its traits add up to a well-rounded electric vehicle that's easy to live with, fun-to-drive, and a good value.
Frankie Cruz is a hands-on car guy with a wealth of experience modifying, repairing, buying, selling, and—most important—driving cars. He got his start as an automotive journalist in 2014 as an undergrad at Penn State, and he has owned a plethora of vehicles including a Saab 9-3 Turbo X, a Subaru STI S209, and a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. His current daily driver is a Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing.
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