5 Hybrids That Don’t Hibernate
By Coleman Molnar
The appeal of a hybrid or electric vehicle is easy to identify: save money on fuel, do right by the planet. It’s a win-win situation. That is, until about November, if you live in Canada.
The cold, hard (cold and hard on account of it being frozen) truth is that cars don’t want to winter in Canada any more than you do, especially electric cars. Their batteries would rather live in LA or Florida, where it’s warm and balmy year round. (Can you blame them?)
And though winter’s colder weather slows the chemical process happening within the batteries of all cars, the stakes are higher within an electric or hybrid vehicle, where the battery drain affects the electric-only range. Plus, the cold weather means the electric system is drawing power otherwise dedicated to mileage, to keep you nice and toasty while you sit inside cursing the ice and snow.
But that’s not to say there’s no hope for the eco-conscious driver when the mercury falls. There is, but it’s probably not in a Tesla. Hybrids, which allow you to tap into the temperature-resistant powers of a gas engine, can help you weather the winter, while continuing to do your best to conserve fuel.
Starting with the right vehicle makes a big difference. Here are five that can brave the True North strong and freezing.
Subaru Crosstrek 2016
With top-shelf safety features, all-wheel drive and 220 mm of ground clearance, this eco-friendly crossover utility vehicle will get you up to the cottage, snow belt or not. The 2016 hybrid model employs the same engine as its predecessor (a 148 hp 2.0-litre, gas sipping Boxer engine), and adds to the efficiency with an electric motor hooked into the transmission. Plus, it’s kind of cute, isn’t it?
Price: $30, 495
Power: 148 hp
BMW 7 Series 740e xDrive
We’re putting this one on our holiday wish list in hopes that Santa tells the boys and girls at BMW to offer their supremely luxurious flagship sedan to hybrid fans in Canada. On top of being one of the swankiest ways to get from A to B—think reclining lounge seat with built in massage capabilities and more connectivity options than your little brother’s startup office—the new all-wheel-drive 7 Series can also drive like a Bimmer should: damned athletically.
Power: 309 hp
Winterability: a projected 8.5/10
Toyota Prius 2016
It’s the best-selling hybrid car on earth, so there’s that. Expected to launch in Canada next year, the next-gen Prius HEV has been purpose built, and is projected to provide a 10 per cent improvement in fuel economy to it’s already pretty solid base. It will also be sportier, have more trunk space, and come with an optional all-wheel drive option, which, for us winter warriors, is hardly an option at all.
Winterability: a projected 9/10 (*note for art, “a projected” needs to be included)
Porsche Panamera S-E Hybrid (See Above)
If you're a Porsche person, that doesn’t change when the snow starts to fall. At least, it doesn’t have to. Porsche’s Panamera S-E Hybrid, the iconic German brand’s first plug-in hybrid, allows you to crawl over the snow in your Porsche, almost completely silently—winter tires strongly advised. The all-electric option, though doubtless reduced in the winter, can be tracked with the digital display to make sure you can get the most out of your electric mileage.
Power: 416 hp
2016 Lexus RX 450h (note for art: Subaru copy was used in Lexus space in layout)
Lexus’ 2015 RX was just the right amount of sporty, luxurious and practical. Canadians let the brand know by helping to make it the best selling luxury crossover SUV in Canada last year. The 2016 RX 450h (h for hybrid) looks to improve on its popular predecessor. Available for the first time in the F Sport trim, it’s sportier looking, and feeling, than ever before.
Power: 308 hp