10 Up-and-Coming Hybrids for 2018

Automakers will feature new plug-ins, full hybrids, mild hybrids and a growing array of start-stop micro-hybrids.
  • These days, the auto industry wants consumers to think of electrification as just another powertrain option. There’s the V-8, V-6, inline-four, and the hybrid. The idea is to gently acclimate the consumer to the changes that are destined to occur over the next decade.

    When we drill down, however, we find that hybridization is more than a Prius-style parallel powertrain. Today, there are micro-hybrids, mild hybrids, full hybrids (like the Prius), and plug-in hybrids (like the Chevy Volt). Most automakers are working on all four of those categories.

    Here, we offer a peek at some of the more notable hybrids. A few will be new for the coming year; a few others will continue to build on existing momentum. From micro- and mild hybrids to full hybrids and plug-ins, check out these 10 autos and see what to look for in 2018.

     

  • Expectations are high for the 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid. Built atop the Camry’s reputation as one of the world’s most reliable cars, the hybrid version also offers 51 mpg in the city and 53 mpg on the highway.

    It features a 4.0-Ah lithium-ion battery or a 6.5-Ah nickel-metal hydride battery. Propulsion is provided by a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder aluminum block engine and a 118-HP permanent magnet motor.

    In an early review, US News & World Report rated the 2018 Camry Hybrid the second best of the 19 top midsize cars. The only car to beat it: the conventionally-powered 2018 Camry. (Image source: Toyota)

  • Introduced at the New York Auto Show in April, the Honda Clarity plug-in hybrid is expected to feature an all-electric driving range of 42 miles, reportedly the longest of any vehicle of its type.

    It combines a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a 181-HP electric motor to produce an overall driving range of 330 miles. A 17-kWh lithium-ion battery offers a 2.5-hour recharge time at 240 volts.

    Total overall fuel economy is 105 MPGe. (Image source: Honda Motor Co.)

  • The industry’s first plug-in hybrid minivan, the Chrysler Pacifica features an 84 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) efficiency rating.

    Using its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery, it has an estimated all-electric range of 30 miles, to go with its 530-mile gas-plus-electric range. Features include LED headlights, a continuously variable transmission and seating for five.

    Early reviews have been solid – the LA Times called it “a very appealing people mover.” (Image source: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles)

  • Chevy’s Malibu Hybrid combines a 1.8-liter, inline four-cylinder engine with a 1.4-kWh lithium-ion battery to earn fuel economy ratings of 49-mpg city and 43-mpg highway.

    It also uses the Chevy Volt’s blended regenerative braking system to store kinetic energy in the battery.

    The 2017 version started at a base price of $28,750. (Image source: Chevrolet)

  • For 2018, the Kia Niro combines a 1.6-liter, 104-HP four-cylinder engine and a 43-HP tractive motor to produce a fuel efficiency of 50 MPG. Electric energy for the vehicle comes from a 1.56-kWh lithium-polymer battery under the rear seat, and a regenerative braking system.

    Kia says that the battery is smaller and lighter than other hybrid batteries, enabling “engineers to downsize the gasoline engine to further maximize fuel economy and reduce emissions.” (Image source: Kia Motors)

  • The new Audi A8 will feature a twist on conventional hybridization. Using a 48V electrical architecture, the A8 achieves so-called “mild hybrid status.”

    In addition to conventional start-stop capabilities, it employs a small lithium-ion battery in the luggage compartment to serve as a “energy accumulator,” enabling the vehicle to turn off its engine as it coasts to a stop.

    “If the traffic signal turns green during braking while the vehicle is coasting to a stop, or if a gap appears for the driver to weave into, the driver releases the brake and the combustion engine is started immediately,” Audi wrote in a press release.

    The automaker says that the vehicle can coast for up to 40 seconds with the engine turned off. By doing so, fuel consumption is reduced by up 0.2 gallons (0.7 liters) per 62 miles (100 km). (Image source: Audi)

  • Ford’s Fusion Hybrid uses a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle I-4 engine and an electric motor to produce 188 HP and 129- lb-ft of torque. Regenerative braking allows the Fusion Hybrid to recapture up to 94% of its energy, Ford says.

    Features include tire pressure monitoring and a continuously variable transmission, for a starting price of $25,185. US News & World Report still considers the well-known Fusion Hybrid one of industry’s better offerings, ranking it eighth on its list “Best Hybrid and Electric Cars.” (Image source: Ford Motor Co.)

  • Ford’s plug-in hybrid mid-size sedan, the Fusion Energi, features an estimated EPA rating of 104 MPGe city and 91 MPGe highway.

    Like the conventional Fusion hybrid, Energi employs a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle I-4 engine and an electric motor to produce. The essential difference between the two lies in its inclusion of a 7.6-kWh battery, which enables it to achieve an all-electric range of 21 miles.

    Total range is 610 miles. At, $33,120, the starting price for the Energi is about $8,000 higher than that of the Fusion Hybrid. (Image source: Ford Motor Co.)

  • Using General Motors’ e-Assist, the 2018 Buick LaCrosse is another vehicle offering so-called “mild hybrid” technology. By combining a V-6 engine with a 0.45-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a motor-generator unit, the LaCrosse provides start-stop performance, regenerative braking, torque-assisted launch, and a 19% increase in city fuel economy.

    General Motors was an early proponent of the mild hybrid, having introduced it at the LA Auto Show in 2010. The rest of the industry is now catching up. Volvo, PSA Group and Mercedes-Benz are all working on the technology, and more introductions are imminent. (Image source: Buick)

  • Although it doesn’t receive the headlines reserved for plug-in hybrids and electric cars, the “micro-hybrid” continues to make the biggest impact in the hybrid category of vehicles.

    It may not offer regenerative braking or plug-in capabilities, but it nevertheless can boost fuel efficiency by about 4-5%, simply by turning off the engine at traffic signals and stop signs. The key is a beefed up starter motor (shown), capable of performing about ten times as many lifetime starts as a conventional starter.

    Expectations for start-stop are high. Today, virtually every automaker offers a start-stop micro-hybrid. The Detroit News reported last year that start-stop was included in about 15% of American vehicles sold last year, up from 5.7% in 2013. Moreover, the take rate is expected to jump to 65% in the next five years. (Image source: Denso)

 

 Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 33 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and auto.

 


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