Best plug-in hybrid SUV 2021

Looking for a family car that can deliver ultra-low running costs? The best plug-in hybrid SUVs of 2021 could be perfect

Joe Holding
Mar 3, 2021

If you need a spacious, practical car to deal with family life, but you’d also like to keep running costs to an absolute minimum, then the best plug-in hybrid SUVs of 2021 could serve you very well indeed. Regularly charge the car and you could slash your fuel bills dramatically.

You see, a plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) is basically two cars in one; the first is a normal car that runs on a petrol or diesel engine, and the second is an electric car that’s powered by a battery that’s charged by plugging in.

This allows you to complete most (or possibly all) of your short journeys using cheap electric power - provided you remember to charge up between journeys - but with a petrol or diesel engine to fall back on you can still drive the kind of long distances that fully electric cars aren’t quite as prepared for just yet.

SUVs are some of the most suited cars to plug-in hybrid technology too, as their size means they can make room for a large enough battery without compromising luggage capacity and passenger space too much. In smaller cars like hatchbacks, the drop in practicality is far more noticeable.

There are some terrific new plug-in hybrid SUVs coming in 2021, and we’ve listed the best ones below. But if they grab your attention and you're on a tighter budget, fear not; BuyaCar has some amazing deals on used PHEVs that represent great value for money. Click on the button above to start your search.

Best plug-in hybrid SUV 2021

1. Volkswagen Touareg R

The new Volkswagen Touareg R was revealed early in 2020, and it’s expected to arrive in the UK sometime in 2021. The top-of-the-range model will harness plug-in hybrid tech in order to generate a mighty 462hp from an electric motor and a 3.0-litre, six-cylinder petrol engine.

It will use an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and four-wheel-drive will be a permanent feature in both electric and standard driving modes. 0-62mph will take in the region of five seconds, and Volkswagen claims that the Touareg R will be capable of up to 87mph without needing to wake the engine.

Meanwhile, a 14.1kWh battery gives an estimated range from a full battery of 27 miles in zero-emission driving mode, and the cells should be fully replenished from flat in a couple of hours when charging on a dedicated home wallbox. Assuming you have an average electricity tariff, a full top up is likely to cost just over £2. Feasibly, you could go to the supermarket or do the school run without using any petrol at all.

VOLKSWAGEN TOUAREG BUYERS’ GUIDE

2. Nissan X-Trail PHEV

Nissan has shunned plug-in hybrid technology thus far, preferring to draw a line between its electric car offering (namely the Nissan Leaf hatchback) and the rest of its petrol and diesel range. However, that could be about to change when the next-generation X-Trail SUV arrives in the UK.

The new X-Trail has been previewed by the US-only Nissan Rogue, which was revealed in the summer of 2020. The design features various new exterior elements, while the length of the vehicle has shrunk by 39mm, which should make it easier to drive than before. Inside, the X-Trail could follow the smaller Nissan Juke crossover by moving its touchscreen media system to the top of the dashboard, with a nine-inch display working together with a 12.3-inch digital screen for the instruments.

Most notably though, it’s possible that the X-Trail could borrow plug-in hybrid petrol-electric kit from Mitsubishi. This is because diesel sales have plummeted across Europe lately, and there’s huge pressure on carmakers to find alternatives to the increasingly unpopular fuel. Watch this space.

NISSAN X-TRAIL BUYERS’ GUIDE

3. Renault Captur Hybrid

The Renault Captur is one of the best-selling small SUVs on the market, having basically jointly invented the 'crossover' class when the first-generation car arrived in 2012. The latest model now has a plug-in hybrid version as part of its lineup alongside petrol and diesel cars.

The Renault Captur Hybrid contains a 9.8kWh battery that gives it an electric range of just over 30 miles on a full charge. Under the bonnet there’s a 1.6-litre petrol engine that’s assisted by two electric motors to generate 160hp, resulting in a 0-62mph time of a smidge over 10 seconds. The Captur can be charged in well under two hours using a 7kW home-charging unit, but it’ll take closer to four hours if you plug into an everyday three-pin socket.

On paper, the Captur Hybrid achieves 188mpg, although in our experience you’re more likely to see 40-50mpg once the battery has run out of juice. The more you can plug in and charge up using the cable, the higher your average economy figures will climb - as is the case with all plug-in hybrids.

RENAULT CAPTUR BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Jaguar E-Pace P300e

Think of Jaguar and you’ll probably imagine an exciting drive but with a luxurious, comfortable interior to go with it. The Jaguar E-Pace ticks both of these boxes, but it also falls victim to that other Jaguar trait of higher-than-average running costs.

Luckily there’s a plug-in hybrid version of Jag’s small SUV on the way, called the P300e. It promises 141mpg, and while this figure is exceedingly difficult to meet in real life, at least regularly charging the battery gives you a fighting chance. The battery itself is a 15kWh unit that Jaguar claims will deliver 34 miles of zero-emission range in the E-Pace from a full charge. Compared to what other manufacturers have done with smaller batteries, this leaves the Jaguar lagging somewhat.

The same won’t be said for you if you put your foot down; the E-Pace’s 1.5-litre turbocharged engine joins forces with an electric motor to generate a substantial 309hp, allowing it to complete the 0-62mph sprint in just 6.5 seconds. That’s not far off from what some high-performance hot hatchbacks can achieve.

JAGUAR E-PACE BUYERS’ GUIDE

5. Cupra Formentor PHEV

Cupra used to be the badge applied to hot Seats, but these days it’s a brand in its own right with its own lineup of vehicles. One of those is the Formentor SUV which hit our roads in 2020, and there’s a plug-in hybrid variant set to join the party in 2021.

The Formentor PHEV will use the same petrol-electric tech that drives the Volkswagen Golf GTE; it consists of a 1.4-litre petrol engine that works in tandem with an electric motor to produce 245hp. Meanwhile, the battery measures 13kWh, and in the Formentor that equates to a range of 31 miles or so from a full charge.

Exact performance figures are yet to be revealed, but the non-plug-in version of the SUV uses a 2.0-litre, turbocharged petrol engine to generate 310hp and can hit 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds. If the PHEV model gets anywhere near that time, it’ll be jolly fast indeed.

MORE DETAILS ON THE CUPRA FORMENTOR

6. Hyundai Tucson PHEV

The Hyundai Tucson lineup will gain a plug-in option in 2021, with a 91hp electric motor and 1.6-litre petrol engine producing a combined 265hp. Performance figures haven’t been confirmed yet, but the Tucson PHEV should have a fairly handy turn of speed.

Underneath there’s a 13.8kWh battery which Hyundai says will give an electric-only range of more than 30 miles per charge. The company also says it’s gone to great lengths to make sure that boot space isn’t overly compromised in the plug-in hybrid model (most PHEVs suffer from a significant reduction in boot space thanks to the inclusion of a battery pack). In the Tucson the boot measures 558 litres, down only slightly on the 620 litres provided by non-hybrid versions.

Hyundai has also introduced new technology inside to boost the Tucson’s appeal; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity are supported for added convenience, and there are a pair of 10.3-inch screens that form the instrument display and the media system.

HYUNDAI TUCSON BUYERS’ GUIDE

7. Alfa Romeo Tonale PHEV

A couple of years ago Alfa Romeo pulled the covers off a compact SUV concept vehicle, which is due to enter production in 2021. Called the Tonale, it’s anticipated that a plug-in hybrid version will feature in the lineup when the car does eventually go on sale.

This will be the very first time that Alfa Romeo has used an electrified power system, and it’s thought that the Tonale will come with four-wheel-drive; a 1.3-litre petrol engine will power the front wheels, while an electric motor will drive the rears.

It’s not clear yet exactly how big the on-board battery will be, which makes charging times impossible to estimate. But given what most other carmakers go for, it’s hard to see you needing more than a couple of hours to charge the Tonale PHEV using a home charger.

8. Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid

The RAV4 is one of the most dependable SUVs on sale, and Toyota is consistently rated as one of the most trusted carmakers. That means you should be able to purchase a RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid safe in the knowledge that you’ve made a wise investment.

Its 18.1kWh battery is larger than you’ll find in most PHEVs of this size, and accordingly the electric range is an impressive 46 miles per charge on paper. A pair of electric motors combine with a 2.5-litre petrol engine for 306hp, with 0-62mph taken care of in only six seconds. This is by no means a sporty vehicle, but it's reassuring to know that you’ll never be short of speed when it comes to overtaking on the motorway.

Charging shouldn’t take much more than a couple of hours using a 7kW wallbox charger, while three-pin plug users should expect something more like seven hours. If that sounds like a lot, just remember that you can plug in when you get home in the evening and wake up to a full battery the next morning.

TOYOTA RAV4 BUYERS’ GUIDE

 

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