Best hybrid SUVs 2020

All the benefits of a big car, without the big fuel bills (sometimes): here are the best hybrid SUVs available in 2020

BuyaCar team
Feb 13, 2020

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.

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.

Best used hybrid SUVs

1. Volvo XC60

Best hybrid SUV for safety

Latest Volvo XC60 Hybrid deals from £38,990
Monthly finance from £601
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

 

2. Mini Countryman Plug-in Hybrid

Best hybrid SUV for style

Latest Mini Cooper Countryman S E deals from £19,200
Monthly finance from £282
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

 

3. Kia Niro Hybrid

Best hybrid SUV for raising expectations

Latest Kia Niro deals from £13,750
Monthly finance from £182
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 £22,540 or £322 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

 

4. Lexus NX 300h

Best hybrid SUV for reliability

Latest Lexus NX deals from £18,279
Monthly finance from £258
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

 

 

5. 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

 

6. Volvo XC90 T8

Best hybrid SUV for seven seats

Latest Volvo XC90 T8 deals from £34,000
Monthly finance from £474
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

 

7. Range Rover Sport P400e

Best hybrid SUV for on- and off-road excellence

Latest Range Rover Sport P400e deals from £54,864
Monthly finance from £779
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

8. Mitsubishi Outlander

Best hybrid SUV for low company car tax

Latest Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV deals from £12,990
Monthly finance from £219
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

 

9. Toyota C-HR Hybrid

Best hybrid SUV for low budgets

Latest Toyota C-HR Hybrid deals from £17,000
Monthly finance from £235
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 

Latest Range Rover Hybrid deals from £69,860
Monthly finance from £1,008
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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