Best hybrid SUVs and hybrid 4x4s
Most SUVs on sale today that have some kind of electrified element also have a plug, which means you can attach them to a power supply to recharge the battery, boosting efficiency. But just because an SUV isn’t a plug-in it doesn’t mean you should discount it.
Conventional hybrid models are generally cheaper to buy than their plug-in alternatives, but still bring big economy benefits, especially at low speeds around town.
And while there aren’t all that many hybrid SUVs and 4x4s on sale today, the select group of vehicles that are on sale are certainly worth considering.
That’s because they deliver strong fuel economy and low running costs in practical SUV bodies, with many offering 4x4 all-wheel-drive capability as well.
They range in size and price, but every hybrid SUV and hybrid 4x4 on this list definitely deserves its place. Here they are, in no particular order...
Lexus RX 450h
The Lexus RX 450h comes in two forms: the standard five-seat model and the seven-seat RX L version, but both use the same 3.5-litre petrol V6 engine and electric drive system to give four-wheel drive in this SUV. Performance is swift enough – 0-62mph takes 7.7 seconds – but you’d never describe it as fast. What’s more impressive is the 48.7mpg Lexus claims; not bad for a big, heavy SUV model.
Quality is a given for any Lexus, and the RX is no different, while there’s plenty of advanced safety technology fitted as standard, so it’ll provide peace of mind if you’ll be transporting the family.
The interior is loaded with equipment and is beautifully, too, but the RX’s strongest trait is its refinement and comfort on the motorway. Read our full review.
Toyota C-HR Hybrid
While the Toyota C-HR Hybrid doesn’t boast four-wheel-drive capability, it's an SUV that combines the latest hybrid technology with attractive styling thanks to its raised-up body. However, despite that, this SUV isn’t all that practical, as the boot and rear aren’t all that roomy.
It's great to drive, though, and while the 120bhp power output from the 1.8-litre petrol engine and electric motor isn’t all that great, it’s about the same as some downsized diesel rivals, while the electric motor gives an instant burst of power from low speed to help with performance around town.
The suspension treads the line nicely between fun and comfort, so the C-HR Hybrid doesn’t sacrifice enjoyment or ride quality in pursuit of low running costs. Read our full review.
The Niro was one of Kia’s first hybrids, and it chose an SUV body to package together the 1.6-litre petrol engine, electric motor and battery. This arguably delivers more usability and style than a conventional hybrid model, which can still put some people that are looking for a conventionally styled car with ultra-low running costs off.
There's a lot to like with the Niro, though. With up to 83.1mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 86g/km, it’ll not only be a great family car that’s affordable to run, but its CO2 emissions put it in the 19% Benefit-in-Kind company-car tax band, so it’ll be cheap to run for business users.
When you factor in infotainment that tops the class and a 427-litre boot that means there’s enough practicality to cope with family life, the Niro earns its stripes as a solid and dependable hybrid SUV. Read our full review.
Lexus NX 300h
The Lexus NX is a size smaller than the larger RX we’ve already featured in this list, but the focus on quality and economy is still present.
The interior isn’t quite as luxurious, but it’s still beautifully built and no matter which trim level you go for, there are plenty of lovely materials and a strong list of kit. However, some of that equipment, such as the infotainment system, is infuriating to use.
The 2.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor combination in the 300h redeems the NX though, and while it’s a little raucous at full throttle, it still delivers enough acceleration, sprinting from 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds. It’s the 48.7mpg potential with relatively low CO2 emissions of 133g/km for a mid-size premium SUV that’s even more attractive, though. Read our full review.
Suzuki Ignis SZ5
The Suzuki Ignis is a left-field choice, but there's a mild-hybrid version available that supports the 1.2-litre petrol engine for a total of 89bhp. It only comes in SHVS mild-hybrid form with a five-speed manual gearbox and four-wheel drive, so the Ignis has a surprising level of off-road ability.
But it’s the 62.8mpg economy and 101g/km CO2 emissions that make this such an affordable model to run, despite permanent four-wheel drive. This should help in slippery conditions in winter, too.
The Ignis is cramped inside, the 265-litre boot isn’t the biggest and the ride is on the bouncy side, but if you’re looking for a city car that’s just a little bit different, then this compact but efficient mild hybrid SUV could be worth a look.
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