Compare the best hybrid SUVs
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Best hybrid SUVs of 2023
The combination of style and practicality SUVs offer is hard to beat, but the problem of course is that SUVs are bigger and heavier than conventional cars, so they tend to be thirstier.
And while diesel engines would previously have solved this issue, that fuel has fallen out of fashion in recent years, leaving hybridisation to pick up the slack. Unsurprisingly, then, there are plenty of hybrid SUVs to choose from.
As such, you can have a hybrid SUV in almost any flavour you want: big or small, affordable or expensive, premium or mainstream, plug-in or conventional hybrid - there are a heck of a lot of options out there. All blend the long-distance capabilities of the internal combustion engine with the zero-emission nature of an electric motor and batteries to some extent, and we've consulted our car-review gurus to bring you 10 of the best.
Here, we run down a selection of brilliant hybrid SUVs for you to consider, covering as many bases as possible.
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A hybrid SUV is a tall, practical car with the style (if not always the capability) of a 4x4, and which uses a combination of petrol and electric power to drive. The electric half of the system can either save fuel by running on battery alone, or can help by adding extra power when you need it.
Hybrid SUVs come with an electric motor and a petrol or diesel engine. That motor is fed power from a small battery (or in the case of a plug-in hybrid, quite a big battery). The idea is that the petrol engine can be tuned to run a more fuel-efficient setting, allowing the electric motor to add extra power when needed for acceleration. The electric motor can also power the car by itself for short bursts, and if you add up lots of those short bursts (such as when driving around town) you can see some very impressive fuel savings. Plug-in hybrid SUVs can charge up their larger batteries from mains power and drive for short commuting-style distances on electric power, saving their petrol engines and fuel tanks for longer drives.
To find out more about how hybrid SUVs work, check out our guide on what is a hybrid car?
Well you won’t be short of choice, that’s for sure. There are currently more than 50 hybrid models to choose from, and that number will only continue to grow over the coming months and years.
A self-charging hybrid SUV will only manage around a mile or so on electric power, as their batteries are quite small. Of course, the idea is that the battery charges up again quickly (from both the engine and from regenerative braking) so you get lots of those short hops in one journey, saving you quite a lot of fuel. A plug-in hybrid SUV gets a bigger battery and can charge from mains electricity, so can go a lot further on electric power - as much as 70 miles if you’re looking at a new Range Rover plug-in hybrid - but around 40 miles is more common.
If we’re talking plug-in hybrids, then it’s the Mercedes-Benz GLE plug-in, which combines diesel and electric power to hit a claimed 353mpg (although it’ll be a struggle to reach that figure in day-to-day driving). If it’s a regular self-charging hybrid you want, then Toyota’s C-HR will do a claimed 61mpg on the combined fuel economy cycle.
With so much choice on the market, and cars so competent these days, picking a 'best' is tricky, not least because small hybrid SUVs come from almost every manufacturer offering a range of prices. The Toyota Yaris Cross is a great option, because it's just so economical and comes with an excellent warranty.
Well, if you really want the best of the best, the Bentley Bentayga and Range Rover plug-in hybrids are right up there, though these are six-figure cars.
First, decide if a plug-in or self-charging hybrid is right for you; company car drivers, and those who can charge at home may favour the PHEV option. Next, hybrids are so commonplace, and offered as an option with so many cars, that you should decide in general what cars you would consider, then find out if they come with hybrid power; decide the car first, not the powertrain.
Hybrid SUVs tend to be more expensive than their petrol and diesel counterparts, but the trade-off is that they also tend to be more efficient, not least when diesel has fallen out of favour in recent years, and SUVs tend to use a little more fuel than equivalent hatchbacks.
There are no overtly bad hybrid SUVs on the market, but be sure to make the right choice between plug-in and self-charging hybridisation: if you don't have off-street parking you're less likely to keep the batteries of a PHEV charged up, negating the efficiency gains the extra cost of a hybrid typically brings. Oh, and don't go thinking a mild hybrid is a proper hybrid; this term effectively means the car has a sophisticated stop-start system, and can switch off its engine when going down hill, for example; mild hybrids can't power themselves by electricity alone.
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