Top 10 best plug-in hybrid SUVs 2021
The finest plug-in hybrid SUVs offer low running costs, enough electric range for daily use and excellent practicality. These are the best plug-in hybrid SUVs to buy in the UK right now
Previously, if you wanted a big, luxurious SUV then you’d have to put up with high running costs in almost every case. Yet with advances in plug-in hybrid (PHEV) technology over the last few years, it’s now possible to drive an SUV that can be very efficient, depending on how you use it.
What you need is a PHEV like the BMW X5 xDrive45e or Volvo XC60 Recharge. They combine a petrol or diesel engine under the bonnet with an electric motor and a battery pack to store energy in. You fill up with fuel as normal, but also charge up at home or from a charging point, allowing you to make the most of cheaper electric power. If the battery runs out, you can use the petrol or diesel engine to get home and recharge, ready for the next trip.
Most trips can be driven without using the engine at all, saving you a lot of money in fuel over the long term. Yet since there’s still an engine on board, you won’t have range anxiety and will always be able to get where you’re going, even if you have a change of plan and suddenly need to do a long trip at short notice.
In this article we’ll take a look at which plug-in hybrid SUV is the best. Read on to find out more about each of our favourites, and then you can read more about each car in their respective reviews to find out which is best for you. And don't forget to follow DrivingElectric on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for the very latest news and reviews on plug-in hybrids.
BMW X3 xDrive30e
The BMW X3 is one of the best mid-sized premium SUVs you can buy and it's particularly impressive in plug-in hybrid guise. Using broadly the same drivetrain as the BMW 530e saloon, the X3 combines strong economy, 29 miles of electric range and low emissions that equate to great company-car tax costs. It's not just a fleet special, however: it's not much more expensive than an equivalent diesel. Read our full review here.
BMW X5 xDrive45e
In the 2020 DrivingElectric awards, we named the BMW X5 xDrive45e our best large plug-in hybrid vehicle. The headline figure is its official electric range of 54 miles, which should cover the daily journeys of a large proportion of buyers, but it's also massively quick, covering 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds. Handling is impressive for such a large and heavy vehicle, too, so as long as you can swallow the big purchase price, there are few downsides. Read our full review here.
Ford Kuga Plug-In Hybrid
Good-looking, practical and with very impressive on-paper figures, the Kuga makes a good case for itself in what is becoming a very busy segment of the market. It's good to drive, too, retaining much of what makes the standard car feel sharp on the road. Company-car users will welcome the low CO2 emissions, while families will be happy with the Kuga's large interior and good-sized boot. Read our full review here.
Jaguar F-Pace P400e
The Jaguar I-Pace electric car leads the charge for the British brand’s electrification efforts, but don’t forget about the F-Pace plug-in. It’s one of the most enjoyable cars of its type to drive, plus it has all the benefits of electric power for up to 33 miles on a single charge, including quiet running, instant power delivery and low running costs. It even comes with rapid charging at up to 32kW – faster than most PHEVs can offer. It has a 17.1kWh battery, so a full charge only takes about half an hour. Look out for the P400e name to pick out the plug-in hybrid model from the rest of the range. Read our full review here.
Kia Niro PHEV
Officially, the Kia Niro PHEV will do 30 miles on battery power and hit a combined fuel-economy figure of over 200mpg. Of course, these numbers are difficult to reach in the real world, but even the more realistic figures are at the upper end of what you can expect from a good plug-in hybrid SUV. The 324 litres of boot space on offer is handy if not class-leading, but an abundance of standard equipment makes the Kia ideal for family duties. Read our full review here.
Mercedes GLA 250 e
The Mercedes '250 e' plug-in hybrid engine impressed us in the A-Class executive hatchback, so it's not surprising to find that it works well in the A-Class-based GLA family SUV, too. It's one of the better-engineered plug-in hybrid solutions we've tried, boasting a strong pure-electric range, punchy performance when the power sources are combined and smooth transitions between the two. Mercedes' claim of just under 202mpg is a decent chunk ahead of most rivals' and its 32g/km of CO2 also undercuts the competition. Read our full review here.
MINI Countryman Cooper S E ALL4 hybrid
Updated in 2020, the MINI Countryman hybrid is a stylish, well built SUV with an electric range of up to 31 miles, strong fuel economy and low CO2 emissions. But aside from its competitive statistics, the MINI is one of the best-driving plug-in SUVs. With punchy performance, accurate steering and a genuine level of sportiness dialled into its chassis, this is the plug-in SUV to pick if you love to drive. Read our full review here.
Porsche Cayenne e-Hybrid
The Porsche Cayenne is renowned for combining SUV practicality with sports-car power and handling and that formula remains intact with the addition of a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. Two versions will shortly be available: a fast E-Hybrid and an even faster Turbo S E-Hybrid, with a choice of regular or 'coupe' bodystyles, too. Note that the Porsche is strictly a five-seater, in contrast to the seven-seat Volvo XC90, but it's still an impeccable choice for families after a swift and cheap-to-run form of transport. Read our full review here.
Volvo XC40 Recharge
It took a while to arrive, but the plug-in hybrid version of Volvo’s stylish small SUV was worth the wait. Powered by a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine paired with a 10.7kWh battery and electric motor, the XC40 Recharge T5 sends a total of 262bhp to its front wheels (a less powerful T4 is also available). The result is a swift SUV that, while not overly inspiring to drive, is quiet around town and relaxed at a cruise. The petrol engine can feel a little thrashy and the suspension is on the firm side, but the XC40 remains the great small SUV it always has been – albeit with a very useful 28-mile electric range and claimed 141mpg fuel economy. Read our full review here.
Volvo XC60 Recharge
Volvo might not strike you as a performance brand, but its XC60 Recharge plug-in hybrid SUV is rapid by any measurable standard. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 5.5 seconds en route to a top speed of 140mph, thanks to 385bhp from an electric motor and 2.0-litre petrol engine that's both turbo and supercharged. Speed credentials aside, the XC60 Recharge can see close to 123mpg over short distances, with an electric range in the region of 25 miles. The only drawback is the steep starting price, although it's still less expensive than the Audi Q7 and Range Rover Sport hybrids. Read our full review here.
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