Ask Nathan: Where Are The PHEV Pickup Trucks, Helping EVs Tow, and – Crosstrek vs 2023 Honda HR-V?

This is not a PHEV pickup truck, it’s the Nissan Surf Out electric concept. (Image: Nissan)

In this week’s Ask Nathan:

  • Why don’t we have any PHEV pickup trucks?
  • We need trailers to help EVs tow.
  • 2022 Subaru Crosstrek 2,0 vs 2023 Honda HR-V?

The first question is from an old fan who wants to know why we don’t have any plug in hybrid electric, or PHEV pickup trucks in the U.S.A.

Q: (via Twitter @NathanAdlen) Have you noticed that there’s not a single PHEV pickup truck in the USA?

That makes no sense to me! I hear a rumor that Nissan was working on one but there’s no proof of that. Have you heard anything?


We still see Mavericks testing, and we expect to see the lineup to expand. (Image: TFLtruck)

A: You’re right, but it looks like there is substantial evidence that Ford is working on a PHEV pickup truck – the Maverick.

Recently, Motor Trend caught a prototype Ford Maverick testing. It was heavily disguised, but there were a few telltale signs that this was a PHEV pickup truck. Not only that, it looks like it was an all-wheel drive (AWD) PHEV pickup truck.

According to the article, they speculate that this Maverick will have (at least) a second 1.1-kWh battery. There’s room under the seat for a battery of that size – or larger. Another source says that it is capable of holding the 14.4 kWh out of the Ford Escape PHEV.

As for Nissan testing a PHEV pickup… I have no information on that. The only thing we’ve heard is that Nissan is seriously considering an all-electric pickup truck of some sort. They recently released some cool images of an EV concept called the Surf Out.

You can see more Nissan concepts (here).

Out of all the ideas of extended range, all-electric and hybrid vehicles out there. Building a plug-in hybrid electric pickup truck makes a ton of sense. Especially if it serve as a power-station like the Pro Power Onboard system used by Ford.

We’ll see what happens, but we DO know that the Ram REVeloution is supposed to have a range extender optional. This could be a hell of a compromise, if it’s affordable. We’ll see in a year or so.

Finally: there is the upcoming Jeep Gladiator 4xe. We fully expect this PHEV to have a similar system that the Wrangler 4xe has. It may have a larger battery, but that’s just conjecture. That PHEV pickup truck may debut next year.

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The next question comes from an EV fan who wants motorized campers to help EVs with range issues.

Image: Dethleffs

Q: (Discussion over coffee, thus – paraphrased) Why can’t EVs tow trailers that also carry batteries?

– As the EV drives, the batteries from the trailer fill it up. Can that work?

Dude at Starbucks in S. Denver

A: Right now, a few trailer builders are testing something kind of what you’re describing.

I covered this topic back in February, and you can read about the specific trailers (here).

Batteries are very heavy, and it’s one of the biggest issues for modern electric vehicles. Adding a trailer to drag along loaded with batteries isn’t practical. On top of that, charging while you’re driving isn’t a safe option either. Still, there is an interesting option: powered trailers.

If you watch the Airstream video I added, you’ll see an example of what can be done with a trailer that can basically drive itself. At the very least, it can free up the EV to feel less stress when towing. Recently, we’ve done extensive tow testing with our all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning. Highways, combined with the drag of pulling a trailer – murders the range of an EV.

If the trailer provided power to its own wheels, there would be a lot less parasitic loss. Now, if that trailer could produce its own power; if it could serve as a generator, it could power up the EV tow vehicle when stopped. Of course, if the trailer runs out of juice, you’re pulling a lot of dead weight.

Check out this video and see what I’m talking about.

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The last question comes from a viewer who is wondering if they should buy a current Subaru Crosstrek, or wait and buy the new 2023 Honda HR-V.

Q: (Via YouTube) Hi Nathan! I want to compare the Subaru Crosstrek with the 2.0 next to buying the 2023 Honda HR-V you just reviewed.

It’s pretty simple for a tiger like me. Love the Subaru Crosstrek and I did a build of a blue Premium that comes to $29,000. It has the smaller engine and the optional automatic transmission. Then I built a 2023 Honda HR-V AWD EX-L in red for about the same price. The only options was all wheel drive.

So which one would be a better bang for the buck?

  • Crenshaw

A: I wish you gave me more to go on…

Now that I’ve driven the 2023 Honda HR-V, and spent many months with our former studio car, the Subaru Crosstrek 2.0 – yes – I have an opinion. Before I get to that, I have to say that both cars are quite good, but they have different personalities.

If you are actually going to drive on trails, rough ones, and you want better efficiency, the Subaru Crosstrek is the way to go. It has an excellent AWD system, outstanding ground clearance, and an efficient powertrain. It’s painfully slow, and some people find the interior feels somewhat primitive.

If you want a better driver in town, one with a modern interior and great tech – the 2023 Honda HR-V is the way to go. It’s okay in the dirt, but much happier on the asphalt. It has more grunt than the Subaru, and it feels more athletic on roads. Not everyone is excited by its design, its long nose and low ground clearance make it more of a Civic wagon than an SUV.

Next time, let me know more specifics like what climate you live in. Perhaps a clue as to who or what you’ll haul in it, and if you actually need an AWD crossover. With that type of information, I can dive deeper into the pros and cons.


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