Best hybrid SUVs 2024 – reviewed, rated and ranked

Sales of SUVs and hybrids are booming, making hybrid SUVs some of the most desirable cars around. But which of them are best ones to go for and which are best avoided?...

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by
George Hill
Published03 April 2024

Not so long ago, if you wanted an SUV, it was almost always best to go for a diesel engine. However, changes to the company car tax system, combined with improvements in hybrid car technology, means cars which mix petrol and electric power are now great for your wallet as well as your conscience.

In addition, the number of hybrid SUVs available has exploded in the last couple of years. But this increased choice can be a negative as well as a positive, making it harder to decide what to go for.

So, here we count down our current top 10 across both regular hybrid and plug-in hybrid SUVs, starting with the our experienced team of road testers has determined to be the class leader – the Mercedes GLC 300e – and reveal the model that's best avoided. As well as our reviews, we'll show you the best hybrid SUV deals available for these models.

Range Rover Sport and Lexus RX

While the prices you'll see for models below reflect the car's range as a whole, you can click through to the relevant page on our free New Car Deals service to see the price for the hybrid and plug-in hybrid models we're looking at here.

Learn more about how we test cars

Our pick: GLC 220d 4Matic AMG Line 5dr 9G-Tronic

0-62mph: 8 sec
MPG/range: 52.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 141g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 620 litres
Insurance group: 40E
Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • Well equipped
  • Plug-in hybrid has impressive electric range
  • Spacious interior

Weaknesses

  • Slightly firmer ride than rivals
  • Stylish interior doesn't feel the most sturdy
  • Petrol engines need working hard

When choosing a plug-in hybrid you naturally want the longest electric-only range possible, and the Mercedes GLC 300e has just that. 

It can officially travel 80 miles on electric-only power, meaning that it tops both the Lexus NX 450h+ (45 miles) and Range Rover Sport P460e (76 miles). 

Of course, that long official electric-only range brings low CO2 emissions and a low benefit-in-kind (BIK) rating, which makes the GLC 300e a brilliant choice for company car drivers.

However, it’s not just about the numbers. The GLC is comfortable to drive and practical, while the interior design (with its large central infotainment screen) presents a real wow factor that few rivals can match.

“It was easy for me to get comfortable inside the GLC, because it seat is set nice and high. This also helps visibility, because I get a good view when I'm trying to see at junctions.” – Will Nightingale, reviews editor 

 

Read our in-depth Mercedes GLC review

Our pick: 1.6T GDi 157 48V ISG 3 5dr

0-62mph: 9.9 sec
MPG/range: 42.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 149g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 562 litres
Insurance group: 20E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Lower-spec models are great value
  • Smart interior
  • Generous rear leg room and boot space

Weaknesses

  • Hybrid petrol engine sounds strained
  • Rear head room compromised with panoramic roof
  • No clever rear seat functions

The Kia Sportage is popular for many reasons: it’s spacious, comfortable to drive, smart inside and very well equipped.

The regular hybrid version is also a good option if you’re looking for a car that offers strong performance and impressive real-world fuel economy. In fact, we recorded a 0-60mph time of 7.2sec at our private test track, while an average of 43.8mpg was clocked up during our real-world fuel economy test.

Even though the hybrid isn’t as refined as the PHEV version, it’s still whisper-quiet when running on electric power at low speeds. Plus, it’s quicker and a lot cheaper to buy outright than the PHEV.

“I love that the latest Sportage retains physical controls for its air conditioning system – they're so much easier to use than having to delve into a touchscreen or prod at a touch-sensitive panel, as you'd find on some rivals.” – Neil Winn, deputy reviews editor

 

Read our in-depth Kia Sportage review

Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • Outstanding seven-seat practicality
  • Plush interior
  • Long warranty

Weaknesses

  • Pricing yet to be confirmed
  • Hybrid engine not particularly inspiring
  • Styling might be divisive

The previous Hyundai Santa Fe was one of your best bets if you wanted a hybrid SUV with seven seats, and this all-new version aims to carry the same accolade.

It'll eventually be offered in both hybrid and plug-in hybrid forms, but it's the regular hybrid we're focussed on here. It uses a tweaked version of the 1.6-litre engine and electric motor from the old Santa Fe, and while it's not especially fast, it has no trouble in getting you up to motorway speeds and should be relatively cheap to run.

The latest Santa Fe is comfortable, too, even though the rival Peugeot 5008 feels a little more settled on faster roads. 

Space was a big selling point in the old Santa Fe, and the new model continues that trend. Not only is access to the second and third rows fantastic, but once seated your passengers will have more room to stretch out than they would in most rivals. The boot is massive, too – in five-star mode it'll swallow even more than the Kia Sorento.

“It might be boxy, but I like the various 'H' motifs which have been included in the latest Santa Fe's design. Look closely and you'll spot them in the headlights, tail-lights, even even within the front bumper.” – Stuart Milne, digital editor

 

Read our in-depth Hyundai Santa Fe review

Our pick: 3.0 D300 Dynamic SE 5dr Auto

0-62mph: 6.1 sec
MPG/range: 38.9mpg
CO2 emissions: 191g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 647 litres
Insurance group: 48E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Offers lots of Range Rover qualities for a lower price
  • Incredible ability off-road
  • Fantastic range on the PHEV model

Weaknesses

  • Cheaper than a Range Rover, but still very expensive
  • Rivals are sharper to drive
  • Land Rover’s reliability record is a concern

The Range Rover Sport takes many features from the full-size Range Rover (including its plush interior and impressive off-road ability), but offers them at a slightly lower price. 

There are two plug-in hybrid options to choose from, named the P460e and P550e. Our favourite of the two is the P460e, which combines a silky-smooth 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine with an electric motor to produce 454bhp.

With its vast 31.8kWh (usable) battery, the P460e can manage 76 miles officially on electric-only power. That’s almost as much as the 80 miles the Mercedes GLC 300e can manage officially.

Even though the Sport is slightly cheaper to buy than its full-size sibling, it still remains a pricey option.

"I think the Range Rover Sport's boot is especially clever, because not only can you drop the rear seatbacks at the touch of a button, but there's also a handy flip-up partition you can use to keep things separate in the back – or to even use as a makeshift seat.” – Darren Moss, deputy digital editor

 

Read our in-depth Range Rover Sport review

Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Great driving position
  • Well-equipped
  • Slow depreciation

Weaknesses

  • Limited boot space
  • So-so fuel economy and emissions
  • Land Rover’s reliability record

It may well be the Evoque’s looks that first pique your interest, but it’s a fine car on more objective levels, too. 

It’s comfortable, really posh inside and even reasonably practical by class standards, with this PHEV losing no luggage space compared with its purely combustion-engined siblings, despite having a battery that's big enough for 38 miles of electric driving.

The PHEV is also the fastest engine option in the Evoque range (0-60mph takes just 6.1sec), while the hybrid system is smooth around town and punchy on the motorway. 

Land Rover’s reliability record remains a concern, though – the brand finished in 28th position out of 32 manufacturers in our latest What Car? Reliability Survey.

“While most of the Evoque's controls are now accessed through its touchscreen, at least shortcuts to some commonly-used ones – the climate, for example – are permanently displayed, so you don't need to go hunting for them.” – Doug Revolta, head of video

 

Read our in-depth Range Rover Evoque review

Our pick: 450h+ 2.5 5dr E-CVT [Premium Pack]

0-62mph: 6.3 sec
MPG/range: 313.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 21g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 520 litres
Insurance group: 38E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Strong performance
  • Promise of stellar reliability
  • PHEV has an impressive electric range

Weaknesses

  • Petrol engine isn’t the smoothest
  • Choppy high-speed ride on F Sport versions
  • Takumi versions are pricey

Even though the Lexus NX 450h+ can’t quite beat the Mercedes GLC 300e on electric-only range, it does top the rival Audi Q5 50 TFSIe and BMW X3 xDrive30e, being officially able to take you up to 45 miles.

It can also reach speeds of up to 83mph solely on battery power, and is exceptionally smooth and quiet, even when the battery has been exhausted and the 2.5-litre petrol engine has taken over propulsion duties. Plus, it delivers impressive straight-line performance. 

Add in handling that inspires confidence, Lexus's superb reliability record, and an interior that's as classy as it is spacious, and you've got a hybrid SUV that’s a brilliant all-rounder.

“Usually, going for larger wheels on your new car can affect the ride quality. In the NX, however, you'll get a comfy experience whether you stick with the standard 18in alloys, or the upgraded 20in units.” – Lawrence Cheung, new cars editor

 

Read our in-depth Lexus NX review

Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • One of the more spacious seven seaters at this price
  • A massive boot
  • Well equipped

Weaknesses

  • Priced above mainstream rivals
  • Hybrid engine isn't as fuel efficient as a Honda CR-V's
  • Interior quality not as good as similarly priced premium rivals

The Sorento's hybrid tech combines decent real-world fuel economy with comparatively low CO2 emissions, while the ride is comfortable and the steering accurate. 

Throw in a nicely made and well equipped interior, a driving position that’s lofty enough to make HGV drivers jealous and Kia’s unmatched seven-year warranty, and the Sorento is a fine choice. 

All models come with plenty of luxuries, although that’s largely a result of the Sorento being available in one fully-loaded trim level – Edition. As a result, the Sorento is more pricey than the rival Nissan X-Trail.

However, it’s difficult to fault the Sorento on the practicality front. All three rows of seating are spacious, while the boot is vast (we managed to fit 10 carry-on suitcases below the parcel shelf with five seats in place).

“Smoothness is something the Sorento does very well – whether it's the way it switches between petrol and electric power, the progressive feeling of the brakes or simply changing gear, the Sorento does it all in a calm and sophisticated way.” Dan Jones – reviewer

 

Read our in-depth Kia Sorento review

Our pick: 1.6 TGDi Hybrid 230 SE Connect 5dr 2WD Auto

0-62mph: 8 sec
MPG/range: 50.4mpg
CO2 emissions: 127g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 616 litres
Insurance group: 18E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Frugal hybrid is a worthy alternative to diesel
  • Well-made interior
  • Spacious for passengers and luggage

Weaknesses

  • So-so handling
  • Ride can get choppy at times
  • No sliding rear seats

The Tucson is available with a wide range of engines, including petrol, mild hybrid, hybrid and plug-in hybrid units.

Our favourite of the bunch is the regular hybrid, which is quick, quiet and efficient. It pairs a 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor to produce 227bhp, while a small battery allows for short bursts of electric power at low speeds, which helps boost refinement and fuel economy around town. 

However, the achilles heel of the Tucson is its sibling, the Kia Sportage. While that car is slightly more expensive, it does feel more polished to drive, with better judged brakes, tidier handling and a slightly more comfortable ride. 

"While we recommend going for SE Connect trim to help keep your costs sensible, it's worth looking at range-topping Ultimate versions if you're likely to have multiple people driving your car, because this gets you a fully electric driver's seat with a memory function." – Mark Pearson, used car editor 

 

Read our in-depth Hyundai Tucson review

Our pick: 2.5 FHEV ST-Line 5dr CVT

0-62mph: 9.1 sec
MPG/range: 52.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 123g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 628 litres
Insurance group: 22E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Good to drive
  • Spacious in the back
  • Well equipped

Weaknesses

  • Interior quality doesn’t impress
  • Relatively small boot
  • Busy low-speed ride on ST-Line trims

Ford knows a thing or two about making a car that’s good to drive, and the Kuga lives up to that reputation. 

In our favourite ST-Line Edition trim, it’s one of the more engaging family SUVs to drive, with quick steering and a firmer suspension set-up that allows it to follow the contours of the road more easily than the entry-level versions.

The Kuga’s engine range includes two hybrid options: a regular hybrid and a PHEV. The former is our recommended option for private buyers, and it pairs a 2.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and battery pack. The system is smooth and easy to drive, although the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage are slightly quicker and equally as efficient. 

Those cars also have more spacious and practical interiors (but only just), while quality isn’t as good for the price.

“Hybrid SUVs can sometimes feel more wallowy through corners than their combustion-engined siblings because of their extra weight. However, with the Kuga hybrid, it handles with such precision that you'd be hard pressed to tell it apart from the regular car.” – George Hill, staff writer

 

Read our in-depth Ford Kuga review

Our pick: 450h+ 2.5 5dr E-CVT [Premium Pack]

0-62mph: 6.5 sec
MPG/range: 256.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 25g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 612 litres
Insurance group: 44E
Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • Well built and well appointed inside
  • Hushed on the move
  • Strong performance

Weaknesses

  • Rivals are better to drive
  • Takumi versions are pricey
  • PHEV's electric range isn't the best

The Lexus RX of the early 2000s was one of the first luxury SUVs to use a hybrid system, and this latest version is proof of the firm’s expertise.

The plug-in hybrid RX 450+ is incredibly quiet and refined, while reliability remains a strong point for Lexus. In fact, the RX should be more dependable than the Range Rover Sport P460e.

While the electric-only range with the 450h+ isn’t as long as the Range Rover Sport or Mercedes GLC 300e’s, those cars are more expensive to buy outright. There’s also a more affordable regular hybrid version available, which is a good choice if you don’t have easy access to a charger.

“I enjoyed how serene the RX is, because there's hardly any wind or road noise on the motorway. Plus, when its petrol engine needs to wake up and take over from the electric motor around town, the changeover is seamless.” – Claire Evans, consumer editor

 

Read our in-depth Lexus RX review

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And the hybrid SUV to avoid...

DS 7

The DS 7 is a well equipped, relatively comfortable and practical hybrid SUV. However, the pricing is too close to established rivals such as the Lexus NX, and it doesn’t feel as refined or luxurious as that car. What’s more, cheaper alternatives such as the Kia S... Read our review

How we choose the best hybrid SUVs

Our team of highly experienced reviews have tested every hybrid SUV on sale to deliver their definitive verdicts. Based on that testing, and continual reassessment, we’re able to provide this authoritative guide to the best hybrid SUVs on sale today.

While every car undergoes the same testing, we’re able to use the responses from more than 20,000 car owners to focus on the factors that are more important to buyers of hybrid SUVs. These include:

Buying and ownership costs

Hybrid SUVs are often bought on the basis of their impressive fuel economy. Yet we don’t treat official figures as gospel; we put hybrid SUVs through our own fuel economy tests. For plug-in hybrids, we test them when their batteries are flat, too, to ensure we give figures for all scenarios.



Hybrids and plug-in hybrids can be expensive to buy. So on top of evaluating the cars running costs, we evaluate the car’s pricing and trim levels to see which ones are the best value for money.

Reliability

Hybrid systems can be very complex, but thankfully, our Reliability Survey can tell you which ones to buy and avoid. We extract real-world data from more than 20,000 owners to give you the best possible advice on reliability, including on a number of hybrid SUVs.

Comfortable driving position

A comfortable driving position is vital for any new car purchase, including a hybrid SUV. As such, we take into account the positioning of the steering wheel, seat and pedals, as well as the adjustment of the seat and steering wheel, to judge how comfortable the seating position is. Our research shows that SUV buyers like to sit up high, too, which is why we measure the height from the base of the seat to the road to judge this.

Our testing criteria is extensive, and covers many other areas than the ones quoted here. To find out more, you can head to our how we test cars page.

FAQs

Which hybrid SUV has the fewest problems?

In our 2023 survey of the most reliable cars, the 2014-2021 Lexus NX was ranked in third position overall, and was the highest placed hybrid SUV in our rundown. It scored a remarkable rating of 99.8%, and just 2% of owners told us they’d encountered a problem – and any issues that did emerge were dealt with swiftly and for free by dealers. The current Lexus NX finished in fifth, followed by the Lexus UX (eighth).

Which hybrid SUV has the best UK MPG?

The Suzuki Ignis with its mild hybrid engine is the most economical hybrid SUV we’ve tested as part of our fully independent fuel economy tests, achieving a remarkable average figure of 59.9mpg. Of all the full hybrid models we’ve tested, the 2016-2022 Kia Niro hybrid topped our list with 50.1mpg.

Is there a downside to buying a hybrid SUV?

Most new SUVs have some kind of hybrid technology, be that mild hybrid tech that works in the background to save fuel, full hybrids which don’t require plugging in, or plug-in hybrid models which do. The main downsides are as the amount of hybrid assistance increases, so – generally – does cost and complexity.

On the flip side, the more hybrid assistance provided, the lower your fuel bills could be. The caveat – and key drawback – with plug-in hybrids is that you need to charge them as often as possible for the best fuel economy. 

What is better? A hybrid SUV or a plug-in hybrid SUV?

Whether a hybrid SUV or a plug-in hybrid SUV is better depends largely on your circumstances. Many plug-in hybrid SUVs offer the potential of more than 100mpg, but only if you’re willing and able to plug them in to charge regularly to make use of their all-electric range – typically between around 20 and 50 miles. Once the battery is depleted, the economy will tumble.

There are no such vagaries with full hybrid SUVs, though. They use their petrol engine to charge a small battery, enabling the motors to assist the engine under acceleration, or power the car on electricity alone for short distances. These hybrids don’t require plugging in.

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