Editor's Note: This story ran in a previous edition.
Once again, I’m left wondering why all vehicles aren’t plug-in-hybrids.
I’ve spent several weeks driving two of the best models out there: the 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale and 2024 Volvo S60 Recharge. And they make being "green" so easy.
For those who aren’t familiar, plug-in hybrids or PHEVs offer the best of both worlds. There is a battery for a commute-friendly amount of pure electric driving coupled with a gas engine for longer trips. You don’t have to do anything to flip from electric to gas, the vehicles do it automatically.
In the case of the surprising affordable Tonale (with a base price of $44,995) the vehicle offers about 33 miles of all-electric range coupled with about 330 miles of gas range. That gives it a combined city/highway rating of 77 mpg-e. The gas-only mpg is 29 mpg combined city/highway.
Charging time on a 240 volt plug is about 4 hours. There’s no need to install a special charger at home with these vehicles, a regular wall plug works fine. And there’s never a need to go to public charger. Just put gas in the tank if you are running low. The smaller batteries actually prefer to be charged at the slower home plugs.
The elegant and modern Volvo S60 Recharge (with a base price of $51,950) offers about 40 miles of all-electric range coupled with 490 miles of gas range. That gives it a combined city/highway rating of 74 mpg-e. The gas-only mpg is 31 mpg combined city/highway.
Both of these vehicles are pure pleasure to drive. I hadn’t driven either brand in quite some time and was impressed with the strides they have made to offer a vehicle that’s both comfortable and lovely to look at.
The exterior color on the Alfa Romeo is Alfa Rosso, aka red and the interior was black and tan. The wheel 18-inch by 7.5-inch Black Diamond-Cut Wheels paired with a colored Alfa Romeo center wheel cap were very distinctive.
Sport cloth seats had a distinctive “Biscotto” stitching. I received positive feedback from friends and neighbors, who were surprised that the well-equipped vehicle I drove was still under $50k (or $49,090 including destination, to be exact.)
The start/stop button is on the steering wheel, which took a little getting used to. But it made for a cleaner middle console.
I immediately noticed the distinctive thin font numbers in the mph readout on the left side of the 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. It struck me as decidedly European, although one fellow auto journalist described them as “1960s-style fonts and an odometer designed to look like an old-fashioned revolving trip meter.” I’m a “font geek” so whatever they are, they are cool and different.
The Volvo S60 Recharge I tested had the AWD Ultimate and “Dark Theme” which bumped the price to $57,400. Add-ons include a $750 Climate Package (which adds heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel to the standard heated front seats) and $3,200 for the Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound. Even if you are an audiophile, you might be perfectly happy with the standard Harmon Kardon Premium Sound, which is what the Ultimate package features.
The interior of this vehicle, which feels Scandinavian, has several features that make it feel like a piece of art, including the beautiful Tailored Wool Blend Seating Surfaces and an Orrefors crystal gearshift. Yes, you read that right, not plastic — but crystal. I wish my crystal-obsessed mother were still alive so I could take her for a ride. She would love this car.
Both cars are on the small side, so if you are looking to haul kids or lots of gear around, these are not the models for you. But if you want a stylish and comfortable way to get from point A to point B without using a ton of gas, either of these would be terrific picks.