Best hybrid SUVs 2023
All the benefits of a big car, without the big fuel bills (sometimes): here are the best hybrid SUVs available in 2022
With so many new hybrid cars arriving on the market, and sales of hybrid and electric cars steadily rising year on year, it's little wonder some of the best cars currently on sale are also available in hybrid and electric form, and that includes SUVs. If you're looking for the best hybrid SUVs around, this list of 10 great models is a good place to start.
Car manufacturers are hell-bent on reducing the emissions of their cars. They're all trying to meet ever-tightening targets focused on reducing the overall environmental impact of new cars, and selling more hybrid and electric cars is the new priority in many cases. So not only are hybrid cars getting better all the time, there's also far more of them to choose from.
That choice even spreads to big, lumbering SUVs - cars that would formerly be considered especially bad for the environment due to their higher emissions figures. The market for hybrid SUVs is growing all the time, and the fact they're becoming readily available on the used car market means they can be picked up at far more affordable prices.
If you're new to the hybrid car concept, there are currently three types of hybrid car: mild hybrid, self-charging hybrid and plug-in hybrid. Each of these combines either a petrol or diesel engine with an electric motor and a battery to reduce the workload of the petrol or diesel part and improve efficiency - thereby reducing emissions and making the car more environmentally friendly.
Best used hybrid SUVs
- Volvo XC60
- Mini Countryman
- Kia Niro
- Lexus NX
- Audi Q7 e-tron
- Volvo XC90 T8
- Range Rover Sport
- Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
- Toyota C-HR Hybrid
- Range Rover
In the case of hybrid SUVs, the plug-in hybrid variety is the most common, and while these do offer the chance to drive under electric power for around 20-30 miles, their improved efficiency relies on you being able to regularly charge and make use of that electricity. If you spend too long driving with the petrol or diesel engine, you'll find that the extra weight of the hybrid system actually reduces the car's efficiency beyond the level of a non-hybrid car.
With that said, there are plenty of drivers on the road today that would perfectly suit the hybrid SUV lifestyle. If you think that includes you, read on for our list of the best hybrid SUVs, and get started on reducing your fuel emissions.
Best hybrid SUV for safety
The family-friendly Volvo XC60 offers more than just frugal fuel economy. We're looking at the plug-in hybrid T8 version here, it's powered by a 2.0-litre petrol engine combined with an electric motor to produce 405hp, which is enough to accelerate from 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds: about as quick as a Porsche 718 Boxster. There's also a 390hp T8 and a 340hp T6.
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 32-mile electric range before the petrol engine is required. The official 117.7mpg is most achievable if your typical journey is around 30 miles, where you'll need very little engine use. Longer journeys will see fuel economy fall closer to 40mpg, similar to an economical diesel-powered SUV.
Best hybrid SUV for style
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 20-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 be aware that both the tests, tax bands, and the Mini itself have all changed since it was first introduced.
Best hybrid SUV for raising expectations
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 hybrid 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.
Best hybrid SUV for reliability
Despite the extra complexity of having a 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 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.
Best hybrid SUV for comfort
The latest plug-in hybrid version of the Q7 is badged TFSI e, but earlier models which were less efficient in the real world were called e-tron.
Opt for a model with air suspension and you’ll glide over bumps in virtual silence - for around 30 miles at least - which is typically the point at which the engine is needed to boost power before the batteries run out. 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.
Best hybrid SUV for seven seats
The XC90 has an electric range of around 30 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.
Early examples of the T8's official CO2 emissions put it in the lowest company car tax bracket, but the new testing method has increased the figure of more recent models, making it more expensive to tax.
Best hybrid SUV for on- and off-road excellence
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-tonne 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 mean that there's no seven-seat option either.
Best hybrid SUV for low company car tax
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 appeal, although it's still a comfortable SUV, 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.
Best hybrid SUV for low budgets
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 56.4mpg, which is closer to 50mpg in real-world driving.
The crossover - offering the dimensions of a hatchback with a higher driving position - is a little more expensive than some mild hybrid powered Nissan Qashqai models. It 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.
Best hybrid SUV for luxury
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.
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