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Best PHEVs: The 7 top plug-in hybrid cars and SUVs of 2023

Plug-in hybrids make great transitional vehicles for people wanting to ditch gas without all of the potential hassles of living with an EV. They offer all-electric range and efficient hybrid operation when the battery power is exhausted, beautifully splitting the balance between green and serene urban commuting and gas-powered highway hauling. While they’re a bit more expensive than traditional hybrid vehicles, their electric range means that many people can own one without needing to stop for gas until the occasional Disney trip or day-long errand run says they should. Heck, the site’s founder even owns one!

That said, we’ve rounded up our favorite PHEVs for 2023 here. The models on this list offer great tech, upscale interiors, and solid performance. Care to take a look at the best plug-ins the market has to offer? Perfect. Then let’s get rolling.

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Quarter View
Image: Chrysler
  • Starting price: $50,795
  • Horsepower: 260 hp
  • Torque: 262 lb-ft.
  • MPG combined: 30 MPG
  • MPGe combined: 82 MPGe
  • Battery capacity: 16 kWh
  • EV range: 32 miles 

Laugh all you want at minivans, but the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is genuinely one for the books. Interestingly, it used to be the only hybrid van on the block, but that changed when Toyota introduced the latest Sienna. But Chrysler beats it out with plug-in functionality and a surprisingly stout 32-mile range estimate. On top of that, it returns 82 MPGe and up to 30 mpg with its gas powertrain. The Pacifica Hybrid also brings comfortable minivan handling and confident-but-numb steering. 

Though aging, especially compared to its more recently updated rivals, the Pacifica Hybrid’s interior offers fantastic comfort and solid space for people and gear. Leather upholstery and heated front seats come standard, and the second-row captain’s chairs bring good padding and support. Chrysler uses Stellantis’ Uconnect infotainment system, which is easily one of the most intuitive and easy-to-use interfaces on the market. Even if it’s not the newest system to date, it rewards buyers with rapid touch response and a brainless-to-navigate layout that even our new editor-in-chief can attest to, having experienced many modern Stellantis/FCA vehicles. It runs flawlessly on the standard 10.1-inch touchscreen and brings wireless smartphone connectivity, Bluetooth, USB inputs, and six speakers. 

Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV

Hyundai Santa Fe plug-in Front Quarter View
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Alexander Migl
  • Starting price: $42,410
  • Horsepower: 261 hp
  • Torque: 258 lb-ft.
  • MPG combined: 33 MPG
  • MPGe combined: 76 MPGe
  • Battery capacity: 13.8 kWh
  • EV range: 31 miles

The Hyundai Santa Fe was an all-new model in 2021 and gained a frugal plug-in hybrid powertrain last year. While not a performance vehicle by any stretch of the imagination, the Santa Fe Hybrid offers brisk acceleration and reasonably athletic handling. At the same time, it maintains easy-going ride quality and offers a quiet cabin. 

With the recent overhaul, Hyundai moved the Santa Fe in a more premium direction, giving it an upscale interior with excellent materials quality and handsome design. Hyundai’s infotainment tech is less complicated than many other brands’ systems, and it runs smoothly on the Santa Fe PHEV’s standard 10.25-inch touchscreen. Other standard tech includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, wireless charging, and HD radio.

Hyundai Tucson PHEV

Hyundai Tucson PHEV front quarter view
Image: Hyundai
  • Starting Price: $37,500
  • Horsepower: 261 hp
  • Torque: 258 lb-ft.
  • MPG combined: 35 MPG
  • MPGe combined: 80 MPGe
  • Battery capacity: 13.8 kWh
  • Range: 33 miles

The Hyundai Tucson was recently overhauled, which brought sharp style, updated hybrid functionality, and better tech. This SUV offers a smooth ride, solid acceleration, and a refined hybrid system that smoothly hands off between gas and electric components. All-wheel drive comes standard, and Hyundai opted for a six-speed automatic over a CVT here, which significantly improves drivability. At the same time, the SUV returns up to 80 MPGe combined and 38 mpg in gas mode. 

Regardless of trim, the Tucson offers a spacious, upscale interior with solid materials quality. There’s good head and legroom in both rows of seats, and passengers in the front enjoy comfortable buckets with good padding and support. An 8-inch touchscreen comes standard, bringing wireless smartphone mirroring. Wireless charging, SiriusXM radio, Bluetooth, and dual-zone automatic climate controls are also standard. 

Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe

Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe PHEV front quarter view
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Alexander Migl
  • Starting Price: $60,360
  • Horsepower: 375 hp
  • Torque: 470 lb-ft.
  • MPG combined: 23 MPG
  • MPGe combined: 56 MPGe
  • Battery capacity: 17.3 kWh
  • Range: 26 miles

The Grand Cherokee 4xe was launched by Jeep following the success of the plug-in hybrid Wrangler. The SUV offers a decent all-electric range with energetic acceleration, though the transition between gas and electric powertrain elements can sometimes be awkward. Four-wheel drive is standard, and a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission helps the powertrain maintain smooth, quiet operation. And, okay, so it’s not the most efficient of this gathering at only 23 mpg and 56 mpge combined, but it sure packs a healthy wallop of power and torque, great for off-the-line jumps and highway passes.

The Grand Cherokee offers comfortable seating for up to five people. Jeep offers a range of upscale features, including leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, massaging seats, and a heated steering wheel. An 8.4-inch touchscreen comes standard, along with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, six speakers, and a 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster.

Jeep Wrangler 4xe

Jeep Wrangler Willys 4xe PHEV on rocks
Image: Stellantis
  • Price: $60,360
  • Horsepower: 375 hp
  • Torque: 470 lb-ft.
  • MPG combined: 20 MPG
  • MPGe combined: 49 MPGe
  • Battery capacity: 17.3 kWh
  • Range: 22 miles

Surprised that this made it? Come on, now. The Jeep Wrangler 4xe has become America’s best-selling plug-in hybrid, and its powertrain delivers good acceleration with a reasonable all-electric range. However, like the Grand Cherokee, the Wrangler 4xe’s powertrain sometimes stumbles in the handoff between the electric motors and gas components. The Wrangler can also be a handful to manage on the highway, as its off-road suspension makes it feel busy and sometimes unsettled at higher speeds.

It must be noted that while the Wrangler 4xe is the least efficient member of this club, it may as well be a Prius among standard Wranglers, eking out a healthy 20 mpg and 49 mpge combined. Hey, after all, it’s still a big ol’ Wrangler, sculpted by a wind tunnel if the wind tunnel was out of service. But try going to Moab in a Corolla Cross.

The new Wrangler is much more luxurious and plusher than its predecessors, but this is still a rugged off-road SUV we’re talking about. Jeep did a good job at balancing materials quality throughout the Wrangler’s cabin, as there’s a mix of low-rent and upscale materials throughout. The SUV comes standard with a 7-inch touchscreen running Uconnect infotainment software. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, along with eight speakers and Bluetooth. Higher trim levels get a larger 8.4-inch screen and navigation.

Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota Prius Prime XSE PHEV rolling shot
Image: Toyota
  • Price: $32,350
  • Horsepower: 220 hp
  • Torque: 139 lb-ft.
  • MPG combined: 48 to 52 MPG
  • MPGe combined: 114 to 127 MPGe
  • Battery capacity: 13.6 kWh
  • Range: 39 to 44 miles

Toyota redesigned the Prius and its Prime plug-in variant for 2023, giving it a striking appearance overhaul that made it surprisingly attractive from a design standpoint. It doesn’t just look better, it’s also more engaging to drive, with more power and far better acceleration than the previous generation.

The plug-in powertrain provides solid acceleration and refined operation, and there are up to 44 miles of all-electric range on tap in the most efficient models (it varies on the wheel/tire package). Regardless of trim level and tires, Prius fans are in for one of the most efficient plug-ins by a vast margin and one of the most improved generations of Prius, period. And no better is that reflected than its cabin.

The Prius Prime’s interior feels more upscale and premium than in years past. Toyota implemented heavy updates to the infotainment system, making it easier to use and more intuitive. Front-seat space and comfort are both top-notch, but folks in the back seat may find a shortage of headroom because of the car’s sloping roof. An 8-inch touchscreen comes standard, along with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, and Amazon Alexa functionality. 

Volvo XC60 Recharge T8 PHEV

Volvo XC60 T8 PHEV
Image: Volvo
  • Price: $58,495
  • Horsepower: 455 hp
  • Torque: 523 lb-ft.
  • MPG combined: 28 MPG
  • MPGe combined: 63 MPGe
  • Battery capacity: 18.8kWh
  • Range: 36 miles

The Volvo XC60 Recharge T8 PHEV blends Volvo’s safety and luxury aesthetic with an advanced plug-in powertrain and great tech. The SUV delivers up to 36 miles of all-electric range, and acceleration isn’t wimpy by any measure. At the same time, the XC60 maintains a comfortable ride, though it’s not as athletic as some rivals. An eight-speed automatic transmission sends all that delicious, fiery power to all four wheels, and the stout powertrain operates smoothly in most situations.

Oh, did anyone mention this thing pushes 523 pound-feet? The Grand Cherokee 4xe sprints, but this is definitely a hard charger, with magazine-tested zero-to-60 runs in the low-four-second range and quarter-mile sprints in the high-twelves. For reference, that’s Mustang GT territory. But you’d never know from a mere glance at its opulent innards.

Volvo’s austere Scandinavian design gives the XC60 a calming, serene feel, and the materials are top-notch, no matter where you look. The front seats are supportive and generously padded, complementing a spacious back seating area that comfortably accommodates adults. Volvo moved to Google-based infotainment, which operates well on the 9-inch display. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.

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2024 Alfa Romeo Stradale 33 front end
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Alfa Romeo’s 33 Stradale supercar sold out before it was announced – here’s what to buy instead

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On a livestream previously thought to be an announcement for a new 6C, Alfa Romeo unveiled, well, something not that far off. Based on the old 33 Stradale from the ’60s, which itself was based on the Tipo 33 Alfa racing prototype, the 2024 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale is a mid-engine, two-seat Italian supercar that’s also available as an EV, making it the first true Alfa Romeo electric car, for the purists who don’t count plug-in hybrids.

I know what you’re thinking, “Hell yeah, brother! Sign me up!” However, I regret to inform you the new Stradale sold out before it was even announced. Oh, and only 33 of them will be made. Ever. Then again, if you think about it glass half full, that’s a 3200% increase over the production volume of the single Giulia SWB Zagato Alfa sold to a German car collector in late 2022. But unlike the Giulia Zagato, all 33 customers who purchased the 2024 Stradale were pre-selected by Alfa Romeo to create their own personalized renditions of the car in collaboration with an internal team of designers. For that reason, no two Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale will be exactly alike. Because consistency is the enemy of Italian engineering.

While the novelty of reviving a classic sports car from half a century ago with today’s tech is an attractive premise, the 33 Stradale is little more than a concept car for billionaires to hold hostage in a garage and never drive. Or maybe I’m just jealous. Who can say? Whatever the case may be, Alfa says more like this is on the way. I can only hope that means more high-performance sports coupes with timeless interiors, mid-mounted engine layouts, and a low center of gravity – not just more limited-run special editions for the uber-rich and SUVs for everyone else. At least with the proliferation of EVs, those last two bits are all but guaranteed.

2024 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale price and release date

Prior to the reveal of the 33 Stradale, Alfa confirmed in an email to Acceleramota that all 33 units had already been sold. To be more precise, they were sold at the end of 2022. The affluent 33 Stradale customers paid more than €1.5 million (roughly $1.6 million USD) apiece, according to Automotive News Europe. Alfa says 2-3 units will be produced every month, with the first delivery slated for December 17, 2024. That just so happens to be the 57th anniversary of the 1967 car of the same name.

ModelStarting price
2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio$81,855 USD
2024 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio$87,770 USD
2024 Maserati GranTurismo Modena$174,000 USD
2024 Maserati GranTurismo Folgore$205,000 – $215,000 USD (estimated)
2024 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale (ICE)$1.6 million USD (estimated)
2024 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale (EV)$1.6 million USD (estimated)
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio vs Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio vs Maserati GranTurismo vs Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale prices

2024 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale specs and performance

2024 Alfa Romeo Stradale 33 driving from behind
Image credit: Alfa Romeo

If we’re being honest, though, the purpose of the Stradale isn’t to profit from its sales directly but to raise Alfa Romeo’s profile and sell more cars at the dealership. It’s a glorified concept car for a select few members of the wealthy elite, so that you, too, will covet an Alfa Romeo. The Giulia, Stelvio, and Tonale – the only three Alfa Romeo sells in the United States – share similar styling to the 33 Stradale, and the Quadrifoglio (QV) models even have a more potent version of the same engine.

While, in many other ways, the 33 Stradale has a lot more in common with the 2024 Maserati GranTurismo, the Stradale powertrain is based on the Giulia QV’s Ferrari-derived 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6, according to, as opposed to Maserati’s Nettuno engine. Still, the displacement is about the same and both twin-turbo V6 engines are found in supercars from Italian brands owned by the same company. The comparable spec sheets are no strange coincidence.

ModelPowertrainPerformance outputTransmission0-60Top speedWeight / DimensionsChassisWheels
2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio2.9L twin-turbocharged V6505 hp, 443 lb-ft torque8-speed automatic (ZF)3.8 seconds191 mph182.6x 73.8x 56.1″ (LWH); 3,806 lbsDouble wishbone suspension (front), five-link suspension (rear), anti-roll bars, anti-roll bars (front and rear), cast iron Brembo brakes245/35ZR19 (front), 285/30ZR19 (rear); 111.0″ wheelbase
2024 Alfa Romeo Stelvio2.9L twin-turbocharged V6505 hp, 443 lb-ft torque8-speed automatic (ZF)3.6 seconds191 mph110.9×77.0x66.3″ (LWH); 4,309 lbsDouble wishbone suspension (front), five-link suspension (rear), anti-roll bars, anti-roll bars (front and rear), cast steel Brembo brakes255/40ZR20 (front), 285/35ZR20 (rear); 110.9″ wheelbase
2024 Maserati GranTurismo3.0L twin-turbocharged V6542 hp, 538 lb-ft torque8-speed DCT automatic transmission (ZF)3.8 seconds202 mph195.2–195.5×77.0x53.3″ (LWH); 3,844 lbsDouble wishbone suspension (front, five-link suspension (rear), anti-roll bars (front and rear), steel Brembo brakes245/35ZR20 (front), 285/35ZR20 (rear); 115.3″ wheelbase
2024 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale (ICE)2.9L twin-turbocharged V6612 hp, torque TBD8-speed DCT automatic transmission (ZF)<3 seconds206 mph<3,307 lbsFull double wishbone suspension, virtual steering axle, anti-roll bars, carbon ceramic Brembo brakes245/35R20 (front), 305/30R20 (rear); 106.3″ wheelbase
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio vs Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio vs Maserati GranTurismo vs Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale specs

The same goes for the battery-electric version of the 33 Stradale, which houses the same tri-motor configuration as the GranTurismo Folgore while making about the same power. At any rate, if you’ve got deep pockets but not, like, $1.9 million deep, the Maserati GranTurismo Folgore is right around the corner – for a lot less money if the $205,000$215,000 estimates turn out to be true.

ModelPowertrainPerformance output0-60Top speedElectric rangeBattery capacityWeightDimensionsChassis
2024 Maserati GranTurismo Folgore3 electric motors761 hp, 995.7 lb-ft torque2.7 seconds202 mph240 miles (est.)83 kWh4,982 lb195.2-195.5 x 77.0 x 53.3 in (LWH);255/35ZR20 (front), 295/30ZR20 (rear)
2024 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale (EV)3 electric motors750 hp, torque TBD<3 seconds192+ mph280 miles90 kWh<4,630 lbs182.6 x 77.4-85.5 x 49.8 inches (LWH)245/35R20 (front), 305/30R20 (rear); 106.3″ wheelbase
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio vs Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio vs Maserati GranTurismo vs Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale specs

2024 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale design

As I noted earlier, the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale takes us back to a simpler time, 1967, when the world treated our global fuel supply as if it were endless. Gas prices were of no concern, and we didn’t yet fully understand the environmental impact of slapping a naturally aspirated V8 on just about anything with a chassis.

Nevertheless, on the outside, the 33 Stradale stays true to its roots, with sharp yet functional styling, minimal body lines, and an Italian design ethos that is distinctly Alfa Romeo. And it wouldn’t be an Alfa without the scudetto grille prominently on display, as every model has done since the 6C 2500 in the late 1930s. Because of its low center of gravity and wide stance, it should be able to cut through wind, generating enough downforce to corner at speeds that would lift most cars off the ground. Thanks to its active shock absorbers, the 2024 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale’s double-arm suspension automatically adjusts to the terrain, making it as comfortable to drive on the road as it is on the track. In fact, that’s where its name comes from: ‘stradale’ translates from Italian to ‘road-going’ or ‘street-legal’.

Although the original Stradale weighed merely 1,543 pounds, modern safety and CAFE standards, as well as the inclusion of electronic luxuries in every vehicle have seen to it that even the lightest sports cars exceed 3,000 pounds. It’s probably for the best, though. Imagine pushing 612 horses in a 0.75-ton car with no modern safety features. No thanks!

Known for its unique, vibrant paint colors, it comes as no surprise that Alfa gave 2024 Stradale customers a decent-sized palette to choose from, most of which won’t be found on Alfa’s other current cars. The three standard options are Villa d’Este (tinted clearcoat red), a refashioned Royal Blue, and the classic Rosso Alfa (Alfa Red). Alternatively, nostalgic 33 Stradale buyers had the choice to outfit their ride in a white and red livery, a retro throwback to the Tipo 33 design.

2024 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale interior and tech

Here’s where the Stradale will be polarizing among people who weren’t the target demographic anyway: the interior isn’t quite as high-tech as many consumers have grown accustomed to. You won’t find a giant tablet in the center stack as you would in a Tesla Model X, nor does it claim any sort of ‘auto-pilot’ mode. Inside, it’s more Bugatti Chiron than Mercedes EQS.

As I’ve quoted countless times, and I’ll continue to quote countless times more, Alfa Romeo CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato has gone on record saying, “I don’t sell an iPad with a car around it, I sell an Alfa Romeo.” Still one of the most badass things the head of a car company has said since Enzo Ferrari argued, “The client is not always right.” (Although, Fiat discontinuing the color gray because it’s boring is a strong contender.)

The Stradale is intended as a true driver’s car, unencumbered by a dizzying array of touch screens and scroll wheels. There’s a digital instrument cluster behind the wheel, a small UConnect-based infotainment display, and an aluminum control panel in the center console. Above the rotary gear shift are a mishmash of knobs and dials for changing drive modes, adjusting the suspension, and even controlling the sound of the exhaust – you know, so you can tone it down a bit while your neighbors are sleeping. From the photos, you’ll notice a set of extra physical controls positioned along the center of the car’s interior roof. Unfortunately, the only one I can see is the hazard light switch. I’ve reached out to Alfa Romeo for clarification on the other overhead inputs.

The best Alfa Romeo cars you can actually buy, used and new

Don’t have $2 million and a time machine?

Because it’s impossible to buy a Stradale, not to mention prohibitively expensive for most people to begin with, those interested in driving a modern Alfa Romeo might want to take a peek at used listings on CarGurus. While the 2024 Giulia‘s 505-horsepower Quadrifoglio (QV) trim sells for north of $80K, you can pick up a lightly driven one for less than $50,000 if you’re willing to travel for it. I should know – back in May, I drove six hours each way to trade in my BMW 4 Series for a 2018 Alfa Red Giulia QV and haven’t looked back.

After putting another 5,000 miles on the odometer, so far the only major problem I’ve had was when one of my blinkers went out and I had to replace the headlight. Granted, that was an expensive and time-consuming fix that resulted in me taking it to the dealer, but so long as you opt for a bumper-to-bumper extended warranty, you’re golden (I recommend Mopar Maximum Care, which covers my Gabagiulia for up to 96,000 miles).

Though it’s not quite the same as pushing a relatively lightweight-for-2023, four-door super sedan with a low center of gravity, you can squeeze the about same power out of a Stelvio Quadrifoglio SUV, the only way to get a QV with all-wheel-drive. In some cases, the Stelvio is even cheaper. Even if it still handles more like an SUV than a sports car, it’s just as fast off the line as the Giulia QV – both can accelerate from 0-60 mph in under 4 seconds.

Not all Alfas are equal, though. Some models are less about performance and more about making that timeless Alfista style and handling to the everyday driver. Maybe you don’t need 505 horsepower and you’d rather have better fuel mileage and save some money on your lease. In that case, you can find a secondhand Alfa Romeo Giulia without the Ferrari V6 for less than a new Nissan Altima, and it’s probably just as reliable, if not more so because CVT. Plus, unlike the Quadrifoglio trim, which is built for the track, the

You can also get an Alfa Romeo Stelvio with a 2-liter turbocharged four-banger. It’s basically the same thing as the four-cylinder Giulia except it’s an SUV. Not to sound like a broken record, but if you are considering a new Stelvio, I strongly encourage you to at least test drive an Alfa Romeo Tonale. I know it’s a lame mom car or whatever and the Dodge Hornet is the same thing but cheaper if you don’t buy the PHEV and make false equivalencies between trim levels – but trust me on this! The torque hits different in a hybrid.

Why do Alfa Romeos depreciate so much?

2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio Quadrifoglio 100th anniversary models with 1923 RL Quadrifoglio
Image credit: Alfa Romeo

Truth be told, the answer is complicated. No, they’re not as unreliable as the haters make them out to be. Or at least no less reliable than their German counterparts. Before 2014, when the mid-engine 4C was released, Alfa Romeo had been absent in the United States since 1995. Sure, there was the Alfa 8C in 2008, but between the Competizione grand tourer and the Spider convertible, only 125 units made it stateside. So even though Alfa led the pack in JD Power’s initial quality survey in June 2023, repairs and maintenance are mostly relegated to a limited network of dealers.

Although its sales and service presence has grown 40% since its reintroduction to the States almost a decade ago, there are still only 130 dealerships open across the entire country, according to ScrapeHero, an online data collection and aggregation service. That includes the 107 Fiat and three Maserati dealerships that also sell Alfas. All 130 are spread across just nine states, the vast majority of which are concentrated in major metropolitan areas in states like Florida, California, and Texas. 18 of these locations are within 100 miles of where I live in New York City.

Regardless of badge or nameplate, cars today are more difficult than ever to service yourself. This is due in part to the sheer number of components required to increase performance while simultaneously reducing emissions. As a result, carmakers are forced to get creative with the engine bay layout, adding things like turbochargers to keep improving performance despite housing fewer (or no) cylinders. Moreover, the technology we now take for granted – built-in navigation, backup cameras, parking sensors, and heated seats – are all nice to have, but it also means more parts to break… parts that can obstruct other parts, making it harder to replace them yourself.

Take your Alfa to an independent repair shop, and most mechanics will look at you puzzled for a minute before sending you back to the dealership. And when you only have 130 to choose from, chances are you’ll have to travel. Even here in Manhattan, the Maserati dealership where I would’ve gotten my Alfas serviced closed the same month I bought the Giulia. Fortunately, there are about eight others I can reach in an hour or less by car. But I’m in the minority. The next time you see a suspiciously good deal on a Giulia in Nebraska, bear in mind that in a state with 1.9 million people scattered across nearly 80,000 square miles, there is only one Alfa Romeo dealer.

Back to the question, for those asking whether an Alfa Romeo is worth it after seeing the 33 Stradale in all its glory, remember, you can’t be a “true petrolhead” without having owned one. Just kidding.

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The best racing games, driving sims, and overall car games of all time, according to enthusiasts

In the documentary Apex: The Story of the Hypercar, Dan Greenawalt, the creative director behind the Forza Motorsport games said video games are the catalyst for the next generation of car enthusiasts. That carmakers have “fundamentally changed their relationship to video games” and have “empowered us to actually stoke passion” in a younger crowd. That’s not to say all the best racing games are new releases, but as driving simulators become increasingly more realistic so too does the dream of a motorsports career for non-trust fund babies.

That said, today’s car games aren’t just for the aspiring racecar drivers training for the Nurburgring. If you’re new to the genre, don’t worry, the urge to squeeze 741 horsepower out of a Toyota GR Yaris comes later. As is the case with most modern video games, there’s a “best racing game” for everyone in 2023. F1 weirdos like Sheilah have, well, F1. Even the indie snobs get to do a little racing, as a treat, in The Art of Rally. Depending on who you ask, Need for Speed is back or it sucks or it never went away.

As we near the imminent arrival of heavy hitters including Forza Motorsport and Test Drive Unlimited: Solar Crown, these are the best racing games, driving simulators, and otherwise, interactive car-related media you can check out or revisit in the meantime.

Gran Turismo 7

by Gabe Carey

Image credit: Polyphony Digital

While the Forza Horizon series was the key to the ignition of my automotive interests, Gran Turismo 7 was the fuel that fired up the cylinders. Driving in the open-world Forza Horizon games is realistic but in a way that also harkens back to the classic arcade-style racers like Burnout and Need for Speed which had declined in popularity by the mid-2010s. It combined high-production visuals and sound but the handling was more forgiving than what you’d get with a capital ‘S’ Sim racer.

In true Japanese game developer fashion, Polyphony let an entire console generation pass between the release of Gran Turismo 6 and its successor. Sure, there was Gran Turismo Sport for the PlayStation 4, but GT‘s brand recognition had already dwindled in favor of Assetto Corsa during Gran Turismo 7‘s lengthy development cycle. But unlike Assetto Corsa, Gran Turismo 7 was not made for the lifelong car enthusiast who grew up playing the classics. You know, that car kid from your childhood that had a tuned WRX with BBS rims and a tint by the time they hit puberty?

Gran Turismo 7 is Car Culture 101 for the next generation of enthusiasts who don’t know where to start. It’s at once an automotive history lesson and a performance driving school disguised as a video game. Even more so if you splurge on a decent wheel like the Logitech G923 or the primo Thrustmaster T-GT II. When you boot it up for the first time, Gran Turismo 7 serves you 8 minutes of glorious unskippable cutscenes showcasing the evolution of the automobile. Then it’s off to the races. Well, sort of.

The campaign is then broken up into more than 60 “menu books” found at the GT Café (sound familiar?), each with its own unique challenges themed after a different type of car. Along the way, you’ll not only unlock multiplayer, but you’ll learn a lot if you take the time to read. My one complaint is the notable lack of accessibility options in Gran Turismo 7 for adjusting the text size on both the PS4 and PlayStation 5.

Forza Horizon

by Jeric Jaleco

Image credit: Playground Games

I wanted to pick the easy answers. Gran Turismo 4, Need For Speed: Underground, etc. But who am I kidding? I was a pipsqueak when those legends came out, and as iconic as they’ll be, now and always, what did they really do except teach me Skylines were fast and racing is cool? To elementary school me, not much. But the OG Forza Horizon, that now-11-year old Xbox 360 masterpiece? Utterly life-changing. And that’s no hyperbole.

The then-new concept rocked gamers and car enthusiasts alike. You mean this game is halfway between arcade and sim racing in an open world centered around a massive music and motorsports festival? Yeah. High school me found that pretty damn influential. The car list was mesmerizing, and the in-game dynamics made any car fun. Hell, a stock FR-S was just as hellacious Initial D’ing my way down Red Rock Canyon as a Ferrari 458. Try saying that about any recent Need for Speed game. Oh, and don’t forget this was the first and (so far) only Forza with a legitimate story, complete with drawn-out cutscenes, boss races, an overarching plot, and a main antagonist – eat a dick, Darius Flynt!

Perhaps most groundbreaking of all was how it molded me into the gearhead I am today. All my friends love Horizon too, as it’s one of the few games we can all collectively play, and it’s undoubtedly been a big inspiration for us to seek new adventures on distant roads. One of our ultimate goals as a group is to fully realize our Horizon dreams and attend a #GRIDLIFE festival, racing all day and jamming all night. This game showcased new cars that became dream cars of mine, and the soundtrack featured certified bangers that are still on my road trip and childhood nostalgia playlists today. So yeah. The original Forza Horizon is the winner for me. I’ll see you at the festival, superstars. 

Need for Speed Underground 2

by Nathan Meyer

Image credit: Electronic Arts

This is the game that put Need for Speed on the map. My high school sweetheart made me choose between Need for Speed Underground 2 and her – let’s just say, my virtual MK4 Golf GTI and I had some good times after that.

It doesn’t have sim racer physics, but there’s a fun factor that even Forza Horizon has yet to replicate. It’s the first game in the franchise to have an open world. AI racers will challenge you while you’re cruising. You aren’t chasing your tail all the time because there’s no police. No fast travel means you spend your time just enjoying the game, and the hidden shops give the map purpose. The world feels vibrant. You can take your car for magazine shoots!

The customization is like In-N-out. After you build your car here, everything else just doesn’t hit the same. You can take your car to the Dyno and tune it the way a mechanic would. 2000s licensing costs mean that your favorite car parts brands like HKS and GReddy are in the game. There’s an endless amount of body kits, rims and paint options. You can even put massive subwoofers in the trunk.

Speed Crew

by Sheilah Villari

Image credit: Wild Fields

Speed Crew for Nintendo Switch and PC has effortlessly cruised into my go-to spot for a relaxing game to wind down with after a long day. While it’s not overly complicated, it certainly presents a thrilling challenge as you accelerate through its 48 levels. Here, you step into the fast-paced shoes of a pit crew member, starting off in the vibrant 70s racing circuit. Your mission? To be the absolute best within the allotted race timeframe.

The game’s journey propels you toward championships, with each new level advancing not just your skills, but the decade you’re in, too. This nifty feature adds a delightful visual flair, transforming the game’s aesthetics and the design of the characters as you progress.

And what characters they are! Each one brimming with charm and moving with the lightning-quick hustle you’d expect from an actual pit crew in any motorsport. Select from four unique character options, name your team, and hit the tracks. I made sure to stay on-brand, naming mine “Alfred Romeo Racing,” and keeping company with creatively named teams like “Jilliams,” “McFlaren,” and “Red Hullers.”

With an option to play alongside up to four friends, Speed Crew could easily slide into your Mario Kart night for a change of pace. Yet, it’s equally satisfying to fly solo, changing tires, repairing damaged fenders, or swapping engines after a long day at the business factory. But remember, keep your eyes on the racing monsters roaring in, and the ticking clock. Just like in real racing, penalties fly as fast as the cars, impacting your leaderboard standing. With future updates promising new levels and modes, I’m excited to see how Speed Crew evolves.

Burnout 3: Takedown

by Joe Tilleli

Image credit: Criterion Software

I’m sorry but with all due respect, no one here knows what they’re talking about. Great games all around but nothing matches the adrenaline-fueled sensations of the Burnout series – particularly Burnout 3: Takedown. Originally released to the PS2 and original Xbox, this smash hit was adored by critics and regular folk alike with its Metacritic score ranking it as the second greatest game of its release year, and the best racing game of the Xbox generation.

Burnout 3 has a more arcadey feel than more modern racing games due to its fast pacing and emphasis on vehicular carnage. The premise is simple – elbow your way into pole position, but here, the elbowing is lethal. Players spend races ramming their cars against opponent vehicles forcing them to crash in what the game calls a Takedown. Playing Burnout 3 is like taking the wheel in your very own Justin Lin-directed Fast and Furious movie.

Like any good racing game, there are several modes to choose from including standard races, Road Rage where the goal is to see who can score the most Takedowns, World Tour which acts as a single-player career mode, and lastly Crash Mode. In that last one, you’re set not far from a high-traffic intersection while tasked with causing as much monetary damage as possible. It scratches that lizard brain itch in our head that makes us want to push our foot all the way down on the gas pedal and see what happens. 

And while all of this is happening, you are listening to a soundtrack that is just banger after banger. Just watch this intro set to Lazy Generation by The F-Ups and tell me I’m wrong.

Mario Kart: Double Dash!!

by Roger Feeley-Lussier

This one is a bit of a layup. Everyone knows Mario Kart. If you spent even an hour in a college dorm in the past 30 years, you’ve probably played (or at least seen someone playing) one of the now 14 games in this series. Check out The Gaming Historian’s YouTube Essay about Super Mario Kart if you want a deep dive into the history of this genre-defining franchise. 

I chose Mario Kart: Double Dash!! because it’s the entry I’ve put the most hours into. My sister gave me her GameCube when she graduated from college and it only came with a handful of games. Fortunately, this meager collection included Double Dash!! In the mid-00s I got to play it a bunch more thanks to the Wii’s backwards compatibility. I spent countless nights in my 20s dodging bananas and tossing blue shells carelessly from the back of the pack. One of my roommates became so obsessed he memorized all the courses, making it considerably less fun to play with him. 

In the mid-to-late 00s, Mario Kart found its way into every aspect of my life. Around that time, my band was playing an all-ages show at a church in Allston, MA. We were opening for a group called New Years Day, who – and I’m not throwing shade here – were huge on Myspace. Before the show, they invited me to their van and showed me a Nintendo 64 rigged to a small CRT, primarily for playing Mario Kart 64 on long drives. I challenged them to a few races and thought nothing of it, heading back to play our set. I think I taught one of them to drift.

The next day the band’s singer, who also had a big following on Myspace, added me to her top 8. I’ll never know why. Maybe I was just that good at Mario Kart.

Gran Turismo 4

by Chris Teague

Image credit: Polyphony Digital

I’m going to take a step back in time to Gran Turismo 4, one of the first racing games I became obsessed with. As a total Nintendo kid growing up, I didn’t even realize how many other game systems there were until well after I started college, which didn’t help my GPA at all. 

Armed with a job and a little disposable income, Gran Turismo 4 arrived at the point in my life when I was shopping for shitboxes and started tinkering with my own cars. Since it came out only a few years after the first Fast and Furious film, Gran Turismo 4 fed my JDM cravings and opened my eyes to more than the most popular car brands.

Now, at 40 years old, it’s fun to look back at GT4, though I have to agree with Gabe that Gran Turismo 7 is one of the best racing games ever. Even so, it won’t make the impact on my life the fourth iteration did, and for that reason above all others, Gran Turismo 4 is my pick. 

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Buying Guides

The best car subscription services for drivers with commitment issues

For better or for worse, there’s a subscription for everything in 2023. You can subscribe to TV, movies, video games, and even a place to store it all in the form of cloud storage. With the overall cost of car ownership on the rise, many consumers are turning to the fledgling car subscription market in its place.

As with most big investments, car ownership comes with its downsides. The price of a new car is more expensive than ever, and that’s before factoring in recurring costs like service and maintenance. In an act of desperation, you might be tempted to give in to the predatory interest rates at your local Nissan dealer. I mean, what other choice do you have than 30% APR?

Image credit: Big Altima Energy (Facebook)

A car subscription service provides an alternative to buying and leasing. In the same way you subscribe to Netflix or Spotify, you can now add a new Porsche or Audi to your queue. However, while subscribing to a car may sound like a foolproof plan, you’ll want to consider the downsides before asking where to sign. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back. We’ll not only help you figure out if a car subscription is right for you, but we’ve also weighed the pros and cons of the best car subscription services at your disposal in 2023.

Why choose a car subscription

  • No commitment: One month you want to tour the country in an Audi e-tron Sportback. For your next trick, you’re showing up in a new BMW M3. Pay the fee and swap rides as often as your contract allows.
  • No liability: So, you got your dream sports car. Unfortunately, the engine blows up within a year, and the company and insurance say it’s your fault. Now you’re stuck with an $80,000 paperweight. A car subscription will come with liability insurance to protect you against these situations. As long as they occur under normal vehicle operation.
  • No financing: You’re not tied down to a depreciating asset that will be too expensive to own post-warranty period. If you no longer want the vehicle or can’t afford the monthly fee, just cancel it. Opting out of an auto loan is a hassle and will affect your credit score.

Read the fine print

It should be obvious that car subscriptions aren’t a path to vehicle ownership. You can never modify the vehicle or conduct your own repairs. This will breach the agreement and you’ll be liable for any potential damages the company says you caused. Any other damage beyond normal wear and tear, it’ll be your time to foot the bill, Bill.

If the company wants to void your contract for any reason, it’s allowed to take the car back – with or without your approval.  Any fee increases and extra charges are yours to pay. This is all outlined in the contract terms, but companies know no one reads them.

Car subscription fees

As for what’s included in your subscription:

  • Maintenance and insurance: Most subscription fees cover the basics, like oil changes and tire protection, so you never even have to think about where to buy tires online, provided you operate the car like a normal person. However, what qualifies as ‘normal’ varies from company to company.
  • Roadside assistance: If the car breaks down, the company will send a lovely stranger to help get you back on the road.
  • Monthly mileage:  Subscriptions allow you to drive a set amount of miles per month. Most agreements are between 1,500-2,000 miles.
  • Liability insurance: Liability insurance covers you for a specific amount if you’re injured in an accident.

The best car subscription services



  • Insurance, maintenance and delivery included
  • No application fee


  • 6-12 month subscription period
  • 850 monthly miles

Germany-based Finn wants to revolutionize the car ownership experience. Its focus is on carbon neutrality while providing consumers with a quick-and-easy signup process. There’s more to come from this exciting startup and we can’t wait to see it blossom.

[Update!] FINN have partnered with German automaker Audi to offer the A5 Sportback and Q5. Practical and powerful, you can drive one of these for 1000$ with 850 free miles.


Image credit: Sixt+


  • Unused mileage carries over
  • Month-to-month contract


  • 1000 monthly miles ($0.47 per extra mile)
  • Accident cover, liability insurance and roadside assistance are not part of the subscription fee

Customize is not just a word for the good folk over at Sixt. Its car subscription, Sixt+, lets you personalize your subscription from the app. All the info is front-and-center on the website. Sixt+ creates tailored recommendations to suit your needs, as opposed to one-car-fits-all. It’s a refreshing, slightly less corporate approach to car subscriptions.


Image credit: Kyte


  • Wide range of vehicles (EV options)
  • Starts at $518


  • Only available in 14 cities
  • 850 miles free ($0.35 per extra mile)

Simplicity. Kyte doesn’t want to be more than a subscription.  Its focus is not on aesthetics or gimmicks, but rather offering a subscription that works for you every time.

Hertz My Car


  • Access to the full Hertz fleet
  • Unlimited miles
  • Insurance and loss waiver included


  • $1,660/month (Ford Focus, Austin Texas)
  • Personal insurance is $225
  • Additional drivers and roadside assistance cost extra

Hertz has been there, done that. If you’ve ever rented a car, Hertz is a company you’re familiar with. This means lower pricing and more cars to choose from, but you lose the personality and customer attention you get from smaller brands. At the end of the day, you’re dealing with a boring, old corporation. However, the Hertz My Car subscription service is as polished as you might expect from the company synonymous with car rentals.

Subscribe with Enterprise


  • Insurance, maintenance and roadside assistance come standard
  • Swap up to four times a month
  • 3,000 miles per month


  • Only available in three states (Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada)

Considering its modest price, Subscribe with Enterprise has a lot of perks. And coming from a household name in the rental car market, it damn well should. Contrary to its reputation, Enterprise doesn’t compromise on car quality either, with a wide range of premium SUVs and trucks to choose from. The bad news is that while it is one of the more compelling car subscription services, Subscribe with Enterprise is only active in a few states.

Porsche Drive

Image credit: Porsche


  • Delivery and pick-up available within 20 miles of a Porsche dealership
  • Insurance and maintenance included in subscription fee


  • $595 activation fee
  • $2,420/month for a single vehicle subscription (Porsche 718 Cayman, Dallas Texas)

Drive your dream car, today. For many, owning a Porsche is a fantasy that will never die. Porsche Drive allows you to make it a reality for a month or two without breaking the bank.

Audi on demand

Image credit: Audi


  • $1574/month (Audi A5 Sportback in Austin, Texas)


  • Full liability insurance is $924.
  • 1,000 miles limit ($0.30 per extra mile)

Audi on demand’s long-term drive service is impressive. You get the Audi experience without the hassle of owning a rapidly depreciating German luxury car. The pricing, range, and intuitive sign-up process make it one of the top car subscription contenders.

Autonomy EV subscriptions

Image Credit: Autonomy


  • Lowest monthly payment is $749/mo ($0 down payment)
  • Zero return fees (even on early returns)


  • Limited vehicle selection
  • Hidden eligibility requirements
  • 1,000 miles limit ($0.25 per extra mile)

Go green or go home! Autonomy makes it easy for you to think about the future the next time you drive. No return fees mean no hassle when you crave that spontaneous Bali getaway. Eligibility is not tied to your credit score either, so it’s perfect if you’re a younger driver.

Car subscription vs leasing

Leasing is the primary option for most Americans when looking at a new vehicle. There are many reasons you should choose a lease over a car subscription, even if it’s not as shiny and new.

Leasing can be cheaper

Let’s say you’re in the market for a luxury vehicle, you might be more accepting of the fact that it will lose around 80% of its value in 5 years. But, for most Americans, a normal car or truck will do. The average car lease is around $528 as of 2022. Most car subscriptions cost $1000 or more. If you’re like most Americans, you’ll be paying double on a subscription vs a lease.

One thing that this doesn’t consider is maintenance cost liability. Encountering a serious issue with your vehicle often means the costs fall on solely on your shoulders. Add tires and fuel to that, the costs can be much more than $528.

Nobody enjoys dealing with major services, insurance hijinks and extra costs. The more you think about it, the less appealing leasing becomes. The subscription service market is very much in its infancy. Prices are bound to come down as the market grows. That Cadillac for $99.99 might be a reality in a few years.

The benefits of owning your vehicle

Vehicles are long-term purchase. With regular maintenance and conservative driving, most vehicles will last 10-15 years. Certain brands retain their value more than others (resale value). You can recoup a lot of money from your initial car purchase.

Spirited driving is not possible with some subscription services. Gunning your subscription car down a sideroad might only be a dream. Chances are the vehicle’s tracker will pick up on it and it will void your subscription. Crashing at higher speeds also means that the insurance will not pay out and you will be left with a serious bill to the subscription service company.

You can modify your vehicle. If you’re a garage monkey like me, you like to see if you can eek out a few more horsepower with engine mods. You don’t own the car, you can’t modify it.

59.4% of trips are shorter than 6 miles

People don’t drive that much. Only 4.9% of trips were more than 30 miles. Unfortunately, that still exceeds the default allocation of most subscription services. If you drive six miles, five days a week, your yearly mileage is 1260 miles. Feel free to calculate your own yearly mileage and choose the best subscription plan for your needs.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, Americans drive 14,263 miles per year on average. A car subscription is still a non-option for most Americans. Especially those that plan to use the service for their primary vehicle.

There is a a place for the car subscription. If you want a weekend joyride, a fun second vehicle or a bit of short-term luxury subscriptions trump leasing every time.

Embrace the future

The steady decline in new car ownership means manufacturers need to find new ways to sell cars. Subscriptions are here to stay. Still, a thriving used car scene, right-to-repair laws, and cheaper future electric vehicles mean that personal ownership will still be the norm for years to come. More choices are a good thing for you, the consumer. Why not welcome it, as an option, with open arms?

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