If you look at fuel economy ratings for hybrids and electric vehicles, the numbers jump off the screen. Toyota Prius Prime, the plug-in version of the classic hybrid, averages 133 mpg equivalent when driving in electric mode. Even the powerhouse Tesla Model S, a car featuring over 400 horsepower, is capable of 104 mpg equivalent. These vehicles will make any car look like a gas guzzler.
However, you pay a premium for this exceptional performance and economy. Tesla’s stylish sedans start around $70,000. And even though it’s hard to find a better car for the money, you can only drive 250 miles in the base model before you need a charge.
So there are compromises. When the hybrid or electric vehicle you want doesn’t offer the efficiency of Prius Prime or overall package of Model S, you might think you aren’t getting enough for the money you spent. This feeling will only get stronger as more electrified models appear in dealerships. Here are the eight most overpriced EV and hybrid models on the market.
1. Lexus GS 450h
If you’re looking for decent fuel economy in a luxury sedan, Lexus GS 450h is one option. Performance specs are impressive with 336 horsepower and a zero-to-60 time of 5.6 seconds. However, when you see the sticker price of $63,635, you might do a double take. A 350 F Sport model offers 311 horsepower and nearly the same acceleration at about $10,000 less ($53,980). It will take you a long time to make up the difference in fuel savings with the hybrid’s 10 mpg advantage.
2. Mercedes-Benz B250e
Talk about an electric car stuck in time. When the Mercedes B-Class Electric (now B250e) first appeared in 2014, it sounded pricey ($42,375) for a vehicle that didn’t look particularly like a Benz. Worst of all, you found yourself charging this car every 85 miles. Three-plus years later, the price only dropped by a few grand (to $39,900) for a vehicle that never got upgraded. In 2017, the B250e comes off as underpowered (177 horsepower) and sluggish while costing more than the Chevrolet Bolt EV. It’s an overpriced fossil.
3. Kia Soul Electric
In 2015, Kia Soul Electric’s 93 miles of all-electric range made it second only to Tesla in the U.S. market. Its starting price at the time was also competitive, as battery prices remained high. Fast-forward to the present, and Soul EV’s range and price ($33,950) are more than the market can bear. It’s not difficult to see how consumers bought an average of 140 units per month in 2017. Consumers can do better in range and economy on other models, and used EV shoppers can get a low-mileage Soul EV for less than half the manufacturer price.
4. Ford Focus Electric
At the start of 2017, the revamped Ford Focus Electric seemed like a good deal. Its electric range jumped 50% (from 76 to 115 miles), yet it cost the same as the previous model ($29,010). However, the market moved faster than Focus Electric’s price can justify. By spring, Hyundai unveiled the Ioniq EV, capable of 124 miles on a full charge with 150 MPGe in city driving, blowing away Focus’s 120 mpg equivalant.
Bolt EV, which offers 238 miles of range at $37,500, was available in most states as of September. By the end of the summer the Tesla Model 3 ($35,000), featuring 220 miles of electric range, appeared. With these models on the market, Focus Electric’s value will decrease by the day. Consumers will find much better deals on the used EV market.
5. Chevrolet Volt
The Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid is another model starting to age. Although its 53 miles of EV range puts Volt in a class of its own, its price point ($33,220) makes it too expensive for consumers looking for a value car. Even when you apply the $7,500 tax credit, Volt is still several thousand dollars more than a Prius Prime after rebate. Prime’s convenience more than makes up for the fact it has half the EV range of Volt.
Remember, if you want to access the full range of Chevy’s plug-in, you’ll need to install a Level 2 charger in your home for around $1,000. If the Consumer Reports poor reliability ratings are an indication, you might be spending even more to keep this model on the road. Toyota showed how to do an economical compact car with Prime, and Volt became overpriced in the process.
6. Smart ED
To look at the Smart Electric Drive is to explore the EV market’s ancient history. This model, which first appeared in 2013, stands in 2017 exactly where it did four years earlier: offering 58 miles of driving range. It is by far the least capable EV available and is challenged by some plug-in hybrids for total range. Taking these things into consideration, the $24,150 starting price borders on absurd. Consumers seem to agree about this highly impractical car. Just 57 Smart ED models have sold in 2017.
7. Lexus CT 200h
If you want a car with a shot at reaching 300,000 miles, the Lexus CT 200h is a good bet. Consumer Reports reliability tests consistently rank it among the best, and with a Toyota Prius platform you know it is economical, too. However, at a starting price of $31,250, the CT 200h is another model stuck in time. Performance is subpar in this hybrid. And compared to a Prius, its fuel economy (42 mpg) leaves much to be desired. Pick up a used model to knock the price down to where it should be.
8. Nissan Leaf
Time has not been kind to the Nissan Leaf. Although the original model was a trailblazer in the EV segment, there was too long of a delay introducing the model that tops 100 miles in range ($30,680). As a result, consumers expected more in an electric model. A year and a half later, Leaf’s 107 miles on a full charge seem inadequate. Both Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 double that range for $5,000 to $7,000 more.