Best hybrid SUVs 2021

All the benefits of a big car, without the big fuel bills (sometimes): here are the best hybrid SUVs available in 2021

BuyaCar team
Apr 29, 2021

With a focus on environmental protection becoming an increasing priority, all areas of the motoring industry are hell-bent on reducing the environmental impact of cars. Manufacturers in particular are investing heavily in the move towards hybrid and electric cars, and we're expecting plenty of new hybrid SUVs to arrive during the next few years.

This change in philosophy gave birth to the first hybrid cars back at the beginning of the last decade. Hybrid power comprised a traditional petrol or diesel combustion engine combined with an electric motor. The general idea was that cars would be able to supplement the engine with electric power and therefore burn less fuel.

This kind of technology has slowly been phased into the majority of new cars in some form or another. We've got details on the different types of hybrid cars currently available on the market:

Generally speaking, a hybrid car, if used correctly, should be far more economical than a standard petrol or diesel car in terms of fuel consumption. They should also produce less exhaust emissions such as CO2 as well, so, in theory, hybrid cars are much better for the environment than a traditionally powered car.

We've picked out some of the best here, so if you're interested in making the switch to a hybrid car, this is a good place to start. You can also check the excellent choice of used hybrid cars avialable on BuyaCar.

Best used hybrid SUVs

1. Volvo XC60

Best hybrid SUV for safety

Volvo XC60 Hybrid deals from £31,500
Monthly finance from £561*
Fuel economy
122.8mpg
CO2 52g/km

The family-friendly Volvo XC60 offers more than just frugal fuel economy. The 2.0-litre plug-in hybrid engine on offer generates 407hp, which is enough to accelerate from 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds: just 0.2 seconds slower than a Porsche 718 Boxster.

But we imagine most drivers will be looking to drive the comfortable and sophisticated XC60 with a more relaxed style, especially if they're keen to make the best use of the XC60s 28-mile electric range before the petrol engine is required. The official 134.5mpg is most achievable if your typical journey is 30 miles, where you'll need very little engine use. Longer journeys will see fuel economy fall closer to 50mpg, which roughly equivalent to what you'd achieve with the least powerful petrol engine in the range.

VOLVO XC60 BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Mini Countryman Plug-in Hybrid

Best hybrid SUV for style

Mini Cooper Countryman S E deals from £17,693
Monthly finance from £274*
Fuel economy
113mpg
CO2 56g/km

The Mini Countryman is the largest car in the Mini range. Like the XC60 above, it's available with a plug-in hybrid system that pairs a petrol engine with an electric motor and is able to make use of electric-only driving. On a gentle 15-mile commute, you may never hear the petrol engine kick into life, but it will start up during hard acceleration, where it combines with the electric motor for fairly swift acceleration from 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds.

Efficiency is less impressive when the battery runs out, as real-world fuel economy is only around the 35mpg mark, making it expensive for long motorway trips. Older cars, badged Cooper S E, were in the lowest company car tax bracket but recent cars, renamed Mini Countryman Plug-in Hybrid, have gone through new emissions tests, which has increased the official CO2 figure to at least 56g/km, moving the car up a band.

MINI COUNTRYMAN BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Kia Niro Hybrid

Best hybrid SUV for raising expectations

Kia Niro deals from £11,455
Monthly finance from £184*
Fuel economy (hybrid)
76.3mpg
CO2 86g/km

The Kia Niro is available as a plug-in hybrid, but also as a cheaper standard hybrid model which still brings low company car tax rates and delivers excellent fuel economy in town and city driving.

On faster roads and over longer distances, fuel economy of around 50mpg is comparable to many diesel powered rivals. With a reasonable amount of interior space, a high level of standard equipment and Kia's seven-year warranty, the Niro makes an excellent case as a family car.

Prices for a plug-in hyrid Niro continue to drop , meaning these cars are becoming increasingly attractive for drivers looking for strong value for money, as they qualify for the lowest rate of company car tax and can handle a commute of 20 miles on electric power alone.

KIA NIRO BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Lexus NX 300h

Best hybrid SUV for reliability

Lexus NX deals from £17,995
Monthly finance from £260*
Fuel economy
48.7mpg
CO2 133g/km

Despite the extra complexity of having a plug-in hybrid engine underneath the bonnet, the Lexus NX was ranked the most reliable new car to own in this year's Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, above all conventional petrol and diesel cars, with very few owners reporting any sort of issue.

Lexus is an upmarket arm of Toyota, so models tend to err on the luxurious side. The plug-in hybrid system makes the NX extremely quiet and it comes extremely well-equipped, but it doesn't offer the same efficiency as more recent hybrid models. This means that company car tax and fuel economy are no better than a standard diesel SUV. In fact, owners say that mpg in real-world conditions is worse than from a diesel, with less than 40mpg common in normal driving. It's also not as smooth as you might expect at slow speeds, where potholes and speed bumps create noticeable jolts.

LEXUS NX BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Audi Q7 e-tron

Best hybrid SUV for comfort

Used deals Limited stock
Fuel economy
156.9mpg
CO2 48g/km

The Q7 e-Tron is no longer on sale following the introduction of new emissions tests, but it was replaced by a new version of the Q7 with a new plug-in hybrid engine badged as the 55 TFSI e.

This older version of the plug-in hybrid Q7 uses diesel-electric power for tax-busting emissions of 48g/km CO2 and an official fuel economy figure of 156.9mpg. Opt for a model with air suspension and you’ll glide over bumps in virtual silence - for around 20 miles at least - which is typically the point at which the diesel engine is needed to boost power before the batteries run out (the car’s official electric range is an optimistic 34 miles). Having a diesel engine means that fuel economy isn't disastrous on longer journeys, but powering this large and heavy SUV isn't a frugal exercise: without electrical assistance, you can expect 36mpg.

It suits smaller families best, as the extra hybrid equipment has forced Audi to remove the third row of seats that’s offered in the rest of the Q7 range, making this a car that seats five rather than seven.

AUDI Q7 BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Volvo XC90 T8

Best hybrid SUV for seven seats

Volvo XC90 T8 deals from £35,100
Monthly finance from £625*
Fuel economy
108.6mpg
CO2 59g/km

The largest SUVs tend to be available with seven seats, but this capability is often lost in plug-in hybrid versions such as the Audi Q7 e-tron and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, because the batteries take up the space usually saved for the extra seats.

That's not the case with the Volvo XC90, though, which has an electric range of around 20 miles as well as three rows of seats. It's just as spacious as other XC90s, and even the rear two spaces offer a reasonable amount of legroom. Once you've used the car's electrical power and the petrol engine takes over, fuel economy takes a dip, and the 30mpg that you can expect is a firm incentive to keep the car charged as much as possible.

Until last year, the XC90 T8's official CO2 emissions put it in the lowest company car tax bracket, but a new testing method has increased the figure of more recent models to at least 59g/km CO2.

VOLVO XC90 BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Range Rover Sport P400e

Best hybrid SUV for on- and off-road excellence

Range Rover Sport P400e deals from £55,217
Monthly finance from £849*
Fuel economy
91.1mpg
CO2 71g/km CO2

A £5,000 annual company car tax saving over a standard diesel model is the headline figure that's likely to make you consider this plug-in hybrid version of the Range Rover Sport, which exactly matches the car's price premium over a diesel Range Rover Sport.

The electric-only range of around 25 miles is roughly in line with competitors and its performance (when petrol engine and motor combine) is swift, if lagging behind the Porsche Cayenne hybrid model. However, a familiar problem looms when the electrical energy runs out and the burden of powering the 2.5 ton car falls entirely on the petrol engine: fuel economy plummets to around 30mpg.

It may not be a problem if you're not paying your fuel bills, but doesn't really make this car a green choice. The extra batteries also means that there's no seven-seat option either.

RANGE ROVER SPORT BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Mitsubishi Outlander

Best hybrid SUV for low company car tax

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV deals from £12,995
Monthly finance from £226*
Fuel economy
139mpg
CO2 46g/km

The Mitsubishi Outlander was the first plug-in hybrid SUV on sale back in 2013 and it proved to be extremely popular, paving the way for many of the cars also on this list. However, that competition has meant the Outlander has lost much of that initial apeal, although it's still a comfortable SUV, but it lacks the stability in corners (where it leans noticeably) and the interior quality of most rivals.

But the Outlander PHEV is still a relatively unique offering: an affordable SUV - particularly on the used market - which is still classed in the lowest company car tax band.

Business users could save thousands of pounds, and fuel costs can be kept low on short trips, thanks to an electric range of around 25 miles. On longer motorway journeys, when the car’s petrol engine is in use, it’s considerably thirstier than a diesel SUV.

MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER BUYERS' GUIDE

9. Toyota C-HR Hybrid

Best hybrid SUV for low budgets

Toyota C-HR Hybrid deals from £14,099
Monthly finance from £176*
Fuel economy
74.3mpg
CO2 86g/km

After years of making forgettable cars that looked distinctly average, Toyota has produced the C-HR, which is distinctive at the very least, thanks to its bulging bodywork and curved roof. Underneath that design is hybrid technology borrowed from the Prius, pairing a petrol engine with an electric motor for an official fuel economy figure of 74.3mpg, which is closer to 60mpg in real-world driving.

The crossover - offering the dimensions of a hatchback with a higher driving position - is little more expensive than a standard petrol-powered Nissan Qashqai and is more comfortable than sporty with the heavy hybrid battery fitted. It’s best when you make smooth and calm progress: unless you’re very gentle on the accelerator, the engine revs noisily when you’re building up speed.

TOYOTA C-HR BUYERS' GUIDE

10. Range Rover P400e

Best hybrid SUV for luxury

Range Rover Hybrid deals from £64,900
Monthly finance from £1,117*
Fuel economy
91.1mpg
CO2 72g/km

The plug-in hybrid version of the Range Rover offers improved efficiency over its gas-guzzling predecessors. It's still a brute, though, and the 404hp on offer means it can accelerate from 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 137mph.

Despite that striking performance, the plug-in hybrid engine can still manage between 20 to 25 miles of electric-only driving, but when the batteries are exhausted the petrol engine has to work hard to keep the hefty SUV moving, despite its power. This dramatically cuts fuel economy to a lowly 25mpg.

Aside from the hybrid system, you’ll get all the luxury you can expect from a Range Rover – leather seats, lots of useful storage options (including an optional fridge), ambient lighting, the latest connectivity technology and two 10-inch touchscreens.

RANGE ROVER BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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