Best hybrid SUVs 2019

All the benefits of a big car, without the big fuel bills (sometimes): here are the best hybrid SUVs available in 2019

BuyaCar team
Sep 10, 2019

The first hybrid cars, such as Toyota’s Prius, combined a battery and motor with a petrol engine for ultra-efficient driving.

That technology is still used to make extremely economical cars, but it's also being added to tall and spacious sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) in order to improve fuel economy and cut carbon dioxide emissions. In theory, this means you can have the extra space and capability of a large car with the efficiency of a smaller one.

When used with a petrol engine, some hybrid SUVs can match the fuel economy of a diesel version. Most efficient of all are plug-in hybrids, which have a larger battery that can be charged up. They can then power the car using electricity alone, typically for between 20 and 30 miles. These can be extremely efficient on short journeys but fuel economy may be little different to a conventional car.

For now, hybrid SUVs with low CO2 emissions benefit from some of the lowest company car tax rates. However, this will change next year, when rates will be cut enormously for electric cars. The plug-in hybrid cars on this page will remain roughly at their current level.

 

Hybrid SUVs: need to know

  • Petrol hybrid uses a combination of a petrol engine with a battery and electric motor
  • Diesel hybrid sses a battery and motor with a diesel engine, so may be liable for future diesel charges, despite its green hybrid badge
  • Plug-in hybrid fitted with a larger battery that can be charged up, allowing the vehicle to travel for several miles on electric power alone

 

Best hybrid SUVs 2019

Volvo XC60

Best hybrid SUV for safety

Latest Volvo XC60 Hybrid deals from £42,990
Monthly finance from £630
Fuel economy 122.8mpg
CO2 52g/km

Volvo's family-friendly XC60 offers more than just frugal fuel economy. A 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric motor combine to generate 407 horsepower, which is enough to accelerate from 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds: just 0.2 seconds slower than a Porsche 718 Boxster.

But sensibly is how most buyers will drive the comfortable and sophisticated XC60, making it more likely that they'll achieve the 28-mile electric-only range. 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.

Volvo XC60 buyers' guide

 

Mini Countryman Plug-in Hybrid

Best hybrid SUV for style

Latest Mini Cooper Countryman S E deals from £20,300
Monthly finance from £278
Fuel economy 113mpg
CO2 56g/km

Mini's largest car is powered by a hybrid system that pairs a petrol engine with an electric motor. 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

 

Kia Niro Hybrid

Best hybrid SUV for raising expectations

Latest Kia Niro deals from £14,999
Monthly finance from £215
Fuel economy (hybrid) 76.3mpg
CO2 86g/km

Kia's Niro is available as a plug-in hybrid as well as a standard hybrid model, which is much cheaper, but 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 a diesel crossover. 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.

As prices of used plug-in Niros continue to drop (the cheapest currently available on BuyaCar costs £21,000 or £312 per month with finance), these cars are becoming more attractive, 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

 

Lexus NX 300h

Best hybrid SUV for reliability

Latest Lexus NX deals from £20,444
Monthly finance from £270
Fuel economy 48.7mpg
CO2 133g/km

Despite the extra complexity of having two power sources 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.

The petrol-hybrid system makes the car extremely quiet and it comes extremely well-equipped, but 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

 

 

Audi Q7 e-tron

Best hybrid SUV for comfort

Fuel economy 156.9mpg
CO2 48g/km

The Q7 is no longer on sale following the introduction of new emissions tests, which have increased the official CO2 figures for some hybrids, reducing their tax benefits. Used Q7 e-tron models start from around £45,00, and are still classed in the lowest company car tax band.

This plug-in hybrid version of Audi’s biggest SUV 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

 

Volvo XC90 T8

Best hybrid SUV for seven seats

Latest Volvo XC90 T8 deals from £33,900
Monthly finance from £434
Fuel economy 108.6mpg
CO2 59g/km

Large SUVs tend to be available with seven seats, but this is often removed from plug-in hybrid versions - such as the Audi Q7 e-tron and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV - because the batteries required take up the space needed by the extra seats.

That's not the case with this Volvo, 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

 

Range Rover Sport P400e

Best hybrid SUV for on- and off-road excellence

Latest Range Rover Sport P400e deals from £56,900
Monthly finance from £672
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 Porsche's 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

Mitsubishi Outlander

Best hybrid SUV for low company car tax

Latest Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV deals from £11,590
Monthly finance from £177
Fuel economy
139mpg
CO2 46g/km

Mitsubishi's Outlander was the first plug-in hybrid SUV in 2013 and the company sold thousands. Since then its appeal has faded as competition has cropped up: the Outlander is still a comfortable SUV, but 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

 

Toyota C-HR Hybrid

Best hybrid SUV for low budgets

Latest Toyota C-HR Hybrid deals from £17,699
Monthly finance from £224
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

 

Range Rover P400e

Best hybrid SUV for luxury 

Latest Range Rover Hybrid deals from £68,986
Monthly finance from £908
Fuel economy 91.1mpg
CO2 72g/km

Formerly the symbol of gas guzzlers, the latest Range Rover combines a petrol engine with an electric motor for efficiency. It's still a brute, though, as the power output of 404hp will really make this green Range Rover shift. It can accelerate from 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 137mph.

Official economy figures are most unlike a car that's this large and imposing, but the disparity between these and your real-world experience can be enormous. It can 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 cuts fuel economy to 25mpg.

Until next year, the company car tax benefits are considerable. The CO2 emissions are considerably lower than the 200g/km emitted by the most efficient diesel. This can amount to a saving of £5,500 per year for a 40 per cent taxpayer. And, of course, you’ll get all the luxury you can expect from a Range Rover – plushly upholstered 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

     

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