Picture Rodney Dangerfield in a plug-in hybrid (had the comic lived long enough to buy one), because they both get no respect. PHEVs have been criticized because they’re a complicated half-stop between hybrids and EVs. We’ve criticized some of them for being heavy, quirky in operation, and delivering unremarkable efficiency for their higher prices.
But the new reality is that PHEVs are exactly the half-stop many car shoppers would prefer over going full EV—the flexibility of an around-town EV and a high-mileage highway cruiser that refuels in minutes.
The Inflation Reduction Act has given all battery-powered cars a boost, even if that boost amounts to PHEVs that are still built and sold in very small numbers. Even better, thanks to a loophole in the new law, PHEVs qualify for fat tax credits when they’re leased, which makes many of them cheaper than their gas-only siblings. Most (but not all) manufacturers include $7500 credits in the lease (and Stellantis has some PHEV incentives that top 13 grand). Most PHEVs pack extra power and can finally drive more than 20 miles on a charge.
Still on the fence? Several of the leases this month offer two-year terms, so if the PHEV lifestyle disappoints, you’re not stuck with it.
Check Our Leasing Guide
Make sure you first read our leasing guide. We’ve covered everything that may get glossed over in the showroom: advertising fees, money factors, residuals, legal implications, and all the other fine print that could cost you thousands more than you’d expect. When comparing similar cars, be aware that a lower monthly price often demands more money up front. As with any national lease special, enter your ZIP code on an automaker’s website to check if these deals apply to your area. Prices do not include taxes or fees and may be higher or lower depending on your location. Research is always your friend.
$696 per month/$4749 at signing
39 months/32,500 miles
As the only plug-in minivan on sale, the Pacifica is the perfect suburban shuttle with 32 miles of EPA-estimated range. It’s among the priciest minivans—and forgoes Stow ‘n Go for extra-padded second-row seats—but incentives in CARB states amount to $13,500 off a lease on any of the three trims. That means the actual monthly price, if you register the van in a CARB state, is closer to $520 per month for the Touring L, which is roughly equal to the lease special on a non-hybrid Touring L.
$620 per month/$4764 at signing
48 months/42,000 miles
Ford’s only PHEV is priced to lose, and despite a refresh, the Escape PHEV is more expensive than most rivals, has a middling interior, and comes only in front-wheel drive. Ford doesn’t seem too eager to move this model, especially with a four-year lease costing more than its well-optioned Lincoln equivalent, the (gas-only) Corsair Reserve. An EPA-estimated 37-mile range is a consolation prize, but other brands make better PHEVs in the compact class. Call us crazy, but we miss the C-Max Energi.
$409 per month/$4275 at signing
36 months/30,000 miles
There are some teething issues in the Tonale’s first model year, mainly with its suspension dampening, but the Tonale is a hot little number just like any Alfa Romeo. It stands out, especially with its metal column-mounted shift paddles and emerald green paint, so long as you’re not parked next to a Dodge Hornet. This lease is for the midrange Ti trim.
$339 per month/$4249 at signing
36 months/22,500 miles
The Hornet is an Italian-made Dodge that in R/T trim shares everything with the Tonale except the Alfa’s flashy face and steering-wheel-mounted start button. It’s cheaper than the Tonale in this particular trim, but the mileage is down to only 7500 a year and you’ll need to own or lease a car from what Dodge considers a competitive brand. The price escalates to $430 per month at 12,000 miles a year.
$579 per month/$4929 at signing
36 months/30,000 miles
BMW doesn’t appear to pass any tax savings on to lessees on their three plug-in models. Witness how the 330e costs $10 more per month than a gas-only 330i or the all-electric i4 eDrive35 (which does have a $7500 credit applied). On price alone, the 330e is just as rare on dealer lots as it was in the previous generation (and, four years after we sampled it on a first drive, the 330e is still not rated by the EPA). Still, there’s a boost function that delivers 40 extra horses even with the battery depleted ,and the hybrid system can adapt its mix of electric and gas propulsion to hills, traffic, and cities when a navigation route is active.
$369 per month/$3449 at signing
24 months/20,000 miles
There’s a reason you see blue tow hooks on more and more Jeep Wranglers. They belong to the 4xe, which Jeep is pushing hard with super-low leases that ordinarily would never be offered on $60,000 Wranglers. Jeep’s hardcore, part-time four-wheel-drive system works surprisingly smooth with electric motors and a large battery under the rear seats. This lease is for the Willys, which does include power windows, and will let you have two summers of open-top fun without committing to the usual three years.
$399 per month/$4729 at signing
27 months/16,875 miles
By far the best deal here is the Grand Cherokee 4xe, which borrows the powertrain from the Wrangler 4xe and installs it into a modern vehicle with a real roof and doors. Jeep has lease deals on seven 4xe trims (the best of which includes $13,500 of incentives on the Overland) but 400 bucks a month in a base Grand Cherokee is a solid deal. This is an odd-month duration (27 months?) but like the Wrangler 4xe, consider this lease a no-strings test of its plug-in capability and the most value-packed way to get into any Grand Cherokee.
$359 per month/$3009 at signing
36 months/36,000 miles
Toyota is offering $4500 incentives on the Prius Prime, which returns up to 44 miles of EV range and hits 50 mpg in the city. For pure efficiency, the Prius Prime is the top plug-in—and for MPGe, which is not yet rated, it outperforms many EVs. There’s also real speed and sexy style. This lease is for the base SE and includes a generous 12,000 miles per year.
$549 per month/$3849 at signing
36 months/30,000 miles
Here’s where Volvo nails its compact plug-in sedan where BMW nods off: 455 hp and 4.1 seconds to 60 mph, for less money down and less per month. The S60 is handsome and elegant like all Volvo models, and absolutely no one will suspect that while you’re cruising silently (up to 41 miles) that a Volvo could rocket off the line like a manual Porsche GT4. This lease is for the Core, which includes a panoramic moonroof and four years of remote app and LTE connectivity.
$369 per month/$4368 at signing
24 months/20,000 miles
Mitsubishi doesn’t get much love for the Outlander, even though the latest one has more seats than the Nissan Rogue that underpins its chassis (and a spiffier interior). The PHEV version claims 38 miles on the EPA test cycle. Consider that leasing a RAV4 Prime costs well over $500 (plus that Escape PHEV at more than $600!) and the Outlander seems like a very good deal. A short two-year term is another bonus.
Clifford Atiyeh is a reporter and photographer for Car and Driver, specializing in business, government, and litigation news. He is president of the New England Motor Press Association and committed to saving both manuals and old Volvos.