In electrified vehicle applications, the heat generated of lithium-ion (Li-ion) cells may significantly affect the vehicle range and state of health (SOH) of the pack. Therefore, a major design task is creation of a battery thermal management system with suitable control and cooling strategies. To this end, the thermal behavior of Li-ion cells at various temperatures and operating conditions should be quantified. In this paper, two different commercial pouch cells for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are studied through comprehensive thermal performance tests.This study employs a fractional factorial design of experiments to reduce the number of tests required to characterize the behavior of fresh cells while minimizing the effects of ageing. At each test point, the effects of ambient temperature and charge/discharge rate on several types of cell efficiencies and surface heat generation is evaluated. A statistical thermal ramp rate model is suggested which enables fast and accurate determination of cell surface temperature and heat generation where the vehicle is started from cold or warm environments at a range of constant currents over the entire state of charge (SOC) range.