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2022 Lexus NX 450h+.Handout

I’m looking at buying a hybrid or plug-in hybrid for my next vehicle. I have access to hydro. Most of my mileage is highway (50-to-100-kilometre trips, once per week). Some trips are 400 and 900 kilometres when visiting family. The rest of the time, the car would be on the road for trips shorter than 10 kilometres. Budget is not an issue. Rarely are there more than two people in the car, and I need ample trunk space. – Walter

Mark Richardson: Even though Walter is specifying that he wants a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), the circumstances he’s describing suit a fully electric car best, especially because he says he has access to hydro.

Petrina Gentile: You’re right. He drives short distances most of the time. Maybe he wants a mild hybrid or PHEV for those longer trips to visit family so he doesn’t have to deal with the headache of public charging on the road. And I don’t blame him.

Richardson: Occasionally, we’ve noticed a few readers - including one with a Tesla Model Y - comment that we fabricate letters and cherry pick those we do receive to avoid recommending Teslas. Neither of those points are true, of course. For that reader, we should acknowledge this is the perfect scenario for Walter to consider a Model Y.

Gentile: It’s not what Walter is asking for, but I’ll entertain you briefly. How so?

Richardson: An EV would obviously be well suited for such short distances. He needs to take occasional long trips and the Tesla public charging system is better than other networks. He needs “ample trunk space,” so the 2,100 litres in the Model Y is the advantage over the Model 3 sedan. And budget is not an issue, so it’s not a problem to pay the upfront price for the Model Y. It has recently dropped to a starting price of $59,990, which qualifies it for the $5,000 federal rebate.

Gentile: Have you driven the Model Y?

Richardson: I have, but only to borrow it for a couple of hours from a friend. Tesla doesn’t provide vehicles to journalists for them to test – we have to rent one to do so, or borrow one from a friend, or take a half-hour test drive at a dealership with a Tesla salesperson on a slow sales day. It’s the main reason we don’t recommend them more, because it’s not so straightforward to evaluate them in the same way as the other vehicles we drive. You’ve driven one, haven’t you?

Gentile: Yes - also from a friend - and I liked it. But the biggest selling point is Tesla’s network of supercharging stations. If I were buying an EV today, it would be a Tesla hands-down based primarily on the infrastructure.

Richardson: Another friend of mine got rid of his Audi for a Tesla Model Y because he has to charge away from home once a week, and he was frustrated by the public chargers. The Tesla network is almost always well-maintained and all you do is plug in to the high-power charger. The computer recognizes your car and bills your credit card. No signing-in needed.

Gentile: And they’re located in well-lit areas with restaurants and restrooms nearby. There are often a dozen reliable stations and the charging is typically less than 20 minutes. Whenever I’ve done it, I’ve stayed in the car and watched Netflix to pass the time.

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2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.Mark Richardson/The Globe and Mail

Richardson: So for those occasional longer drives, the experience will be easier in a Tesla than other EVs. However, those other EVs are often considered more reliable in the long run. Tesla has well-publicized issues with sometimes sketchy build quality.

Tesla workers shared sensitive images recorded by customer cars between 2019 and 2022

Gentile: True. Let’s move on and give Walter some other options. What are you thinking?

Richardson: Well, for electric cars with cargo space that can go the distance, the best right now are the Kia EV6, the Hyundai Ioniq 5, and the Volkswagen ID.4. We’ve mentioned them a lot recently, so Walter should just know that they’re great alternatives to the Tesla – less costly and with consistently better quality. If Walter wants a luxury EV with space, because “budget is not an issue,” then BMW, Audi and Mercedes are excellent models, but I prefer the Volvos over all of them.

Gentile: Enough about all-electric – let’s talk about conventional hybrids and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) as an alternative. There are a few, like the Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in-hybrid, that would fit the bill, too.

Richardson: For sure, except the RAV4 Prime isn’t available right now unless you live in Quebec or B.C., and even then, the wait-list can easily be a couple of years. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is perhaps the most available, because it’s new, and if Walter keeps the second and third row folded flat, he’ll have plenty of room for cargo.

Gentile: The Outlander PHEV is too big for him and besides, budget isn’t an issue. Let’s give him a luxury plug-in option. I’m thinking a Canadian-made Lexus NX plug-in hybrid. It’s luxurious, comfortable and it has a spacious cargo area.

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Tesla Model Y Long Range.Carlos Osorio/The Associated Press

Richardson: The NX is basically the more expensive, more luxurious version of the Toyota RAV4. It’s built on the same platform and costs about $10,000 more than the Toyota, which means there’s less of a wait list for delivery. He would pay about $70,000 out-the-door for the most basic version, which is nicely equipped, and he should be able to get it this year, even as a plug-in hybrid.

Gentile: That’s about the same price tag as a Tesla Model Y, but the quality is much better. I’d go with the Lexus NX plug-in. What’s your verdict?

Richardson: I think you’re right about the Lexus being ideal as a plug-in, but the Tesla Model Y is the best choice for an all-electric vehicle. It’s what Walter really should buy given his circumstances.

Editor’s note: In an earlier version of this story, it was stated that the Tesla Model Y has a starting price of more than $72,000 and doesn't qualify for the federal rebate. In fact, Tesla recently reduced the starting price for a rear-wheel-drive version with 394 kilometres of range to $59,990 and it does now qualify for the federal rebate.

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