Jim Travers broke down the difference between hybrids and plug-ins in a new piece at Cars.com. He notes that it is relatively simple: plug-in hybrids have the capability to charge their batteries through an outside electrical source. Regular hybrids do not have this option, and recharge their batteries through a combination of braking, ICE use, and other mechanisms.
PHEVs also have weightier batteries and generally cost a bit more than regular hybrids. However, a selling point for plug-ins is their ability to run on electric only power at times. The fact the plug-in has the ICE engine as a back-up, helps to minimize “range anxiety” found with full electric vehicles. Read more.