As SUV sales continue to grow, so too does the number of hybrid models available. The question then, which hybrid SUV is best?
Not so long ago, Lexus was the go-to car brand for people wanting a hybrid SUV. However, more recently the range of hybrid SUVs in the UK has got considerably larger. This greater variety means that your chances of finding the right hybrid SUV have never been higher. Whether it’s a full-fat luxury SUV like a Range Rover, or a smaller, more compact model like the Toyota C-HR, there are plenty of models worth considering, and when you throw in the option of plug-in or conventional hybrid powertrains, you are almost spoilt for choice.
• What is a hybrid car?
A large proportion of SUVs sold in the UK run on diesel power so you might have thought that most hybrid SUVs would use diesel engines for maximum efficiency. But that isn’t the case, a number of factors including the preferences in the large Japanese, Chinese, and American markets dictated that the cars in this guide have petrol engines with electrical assistance.
What is a plug-in hybrid?
A plug-in hybrid vehicle, or PHEV, works like a traditional hybrid but, as the name suggests, can be plugged in to charge the batteries. PHEVs tend to have better range than conventional hybrids and can, therefore, be driven further on electric power.
Plug-in hybrids are designed to deliver the efficiency of a diesel, but with the smoothness of a petrol engine. The latest models feature a battery pack that’s good for up to 20 miles of electric running, and as long as you keep the battery charged up, you should be able to return decent fuel figures to match or beat a diesel model. Fail to keep it charged, and you’re presented with a false economy, because a depleted hybrid that relies on its petrol engine will be no more efficient than a standalone petrol model. That’s especially true when you factor in the usually higher purchase price of a hybrid model.
Why buy a hybrid SUV?
Aside from the tax benefits and incentives available with any hybrid car, one benefit of the hybrid SUV is that their size means there’s not much compromise in terms of passenger space. The hybrid system usually takes up space under the boot floor, and many makers fit a smaller fuel tank to make room for it, the reasoning being that the charged battery and electric motor will more than make up for the smaller fuel tank range. As a result, there are a few seven-seat hybrid SUVs on sale that feature a third row in the boot.
• Best 4x4s and SUVs on sale
If you’re looking for a hybrid SUV or crossover, your options are wider than ever. At the lower end of the range in terms of size, the Kia Niro is more of a hatchback with SUV styling cues than a full crossover, but is the least expensive non-plugin hybrid on sale.
Where the real expansion is taking place is in the plug-in hybrid market. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was the first to arrive in 2012, but since then it’s been joined by the Volvo XC90 Twin Engine, Audi Q7 etron, Porsche Cayenne E-hybrid, and the MINI Countryman S E.
But which hybrid SUVs are our favourites? Check out our top 10.
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