Best plug-in hybrid SUVs
Sales of SUVs have exploded in the last few years, with buyers throughout the country enjoying their high driving positions, spacious dimensions and relatively low running costs.
On that last point, plug-in hybrid SUVs are capable of slashing even the cheapest fuel station bills, thanks to technology that combines electric power with that of a petrol or diesel engine.
Plug-in hybrid SUVs are very straightforward: they contain a battery that's charged via a plug, giving a certain amount of electric-only range. When the battery runs out, a petrol or diesel engine steps in to drive the car as normal.
This means you could complete short-distance journeys without burning any fuel, potentially saving a lot of money over the course of a year. However, you’ll experience none of the range anxiety usually associated with all-electric cars, which are entirely reliant on being charged regularly.
With the above in mind, which plug-in hybrid SUV would most suit your needs? Below, we’ve rounded up five of our favourites for your consideration.
5. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the nation’s favourite plug-in hybrid car, and that includes all the non-SUVs that don’t feature on this list. It’ll do 25 miles in electric-only mode and a domestic socket will charge it fully in four hours. The boot is a useful 463 litres in size and features a lip-free opening to make loading as easy as possible. The Outlander PHEV is also spacious inside, boasting good head and legroom throughout.
4. Kia Niro PHEV
Officially, the Kia Niro PHEV will do 36 miles on battery power alone and hit a combined fuel-economy figure of 200mpg. Of course, these numbers are difficult to reach in the real world, but even the more realistic numbers are at the upper end of what you can expect from a good plug-in hybrid SUV. The 324 litres of boot space are handy if not class-leading, and the abundance of standard equipment makes it ideal for family duties.
3. Audi Q7 e-tron
There’s no getting away from how expensive the Audi Q7 e-tron is (£67,550 at the last count), but then few other plug-in hybrid SUVs deliver quite as much luxury. The amount of space on offer inside is huge, meaning head and legroom is generous, and the relaxed feel of the car is only enhanced by the smoothness of the hybrid system. Up to 34 miles of electric range will serve you well on short journeys, and over longer distances you’ll be supremely comfortable thanks to the excellent seats. Audi’s MMI infotainment system is a joy to operate, too.
2. MINI Countryman Cooper S E All4 Hybrid
The name might be a bit of a mouthful, but the MINI Countryman Cooper S E All4 Hybrid is an extremely palatable car. It’s one of the best plug-in hybrid SUVs to drive thanks to its responsive hybrid system and its assured all-wheel-drive, and it has many other things going for it besides. Electric-only range is 25 miles and recharging should take no more than three hours from a domestic socket, reducing by an hour if you have a wallbox at your disposal. The smooth ride ensures comfort and while interior space can’t match the Q7 e-tron, it’ll handle four adults quite happily.
1. Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine
Volvo might not strike you as a performance brand, but its XC60 T8 Twin Engine is rapid by any measurable standard. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 5.5 seconds (hot-hatch territory) en route to a top speed of 140mph, thanks to 385bhp from an electric motor and 2.0-litre petrol engine that's both turbocharged and supercharged. Speed credentials aside, the XC60 T8 Twin Engine can get close to 122.8mpg over short distances, with an electric-only range in the region of 28 miles. The only drawback is the steep starting price of more than £53,000, although that’s still less than the Q7 and Range Rover Sport PHEV.