Best hybrid SUVs 2023
Sales of SUVs and hybrids are booming, making hybrid SUVs some of the most desirable cars around. But which of them are worth a place on your shortlist and which are best avoided?...
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, mean these 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 – and reveal the model that's best avoided.
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Top 10 hybrid SUVs
10. Honda CR-V 2.0 i-MMD Hybrid
Honda's latest CR-V offers excellent space for both passengers and luggage, and the hybrid version – which combines a 2.0-litre petrol engine with an electric motor – provides plenty of poke. It's also the most efficient and refined CR-V variant, so makes a fine family car.
The X3 xDrive30e is a great choice if you're looking for a prestige SUV with five seats. Keen drivers will like its strong performance and top-notch handling, while passengers can enjoy the luxurious and spacious interior. Plus, the 30e can travel up to 34 miles purely on electric power.
8. Volvo XC90 Recharge T8
The XC90 T8 hides an ace up its sleeve: it's the only plug-in hybrid luxury SUV with seven seats. On top of that, it's the quickest XC90 by some margin, and has an impressive fully electric range, yet it doesn't compromise what made this big Volvo so appealing to begin with: its classy and family-friendly interior.
7. Kia Sorento 1.6 T-GDi HEV
The Sorento's hybrid tech combines decent real-world fuel economy with comparatively low CO2 emission, 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.
6. Ford Kuga 2.5 PHEV
In our tests, the plug-in hybrid version of the Kuga went almost 50% farther on electric power than similarly priced alternatives. Plus, it trounced them when petrol power took over, returning 52mpg. The Kuga also gives you a lofty view of the road ahead, while the supple suspension makes it very comfortable, both at speed and when trundling around town.
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 is even reasonably practical by class standards, with this plug-in version losing no luggage space compared with its purely combustion-engined siblings, despite having a battery that's big enough for 34 miles of electric driving.
4. Hyundai Santa Fe 1.6 T-GDi HEV Premium
There’s loads to like about the Santa Fe, including its huge boot, seven-seat practicality and impressive roster of standard equipment. The regular hybrid version will make more sense to most private buyers, while the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) is a no-brainer if you're a company car driver.
3. Volvo XC40 T4
In most respects, the Range Rover Evoque and Volvo XC40 are very closely matched and offer similar strengths. However, it's the latter that has the edge for us, because it gives them to you for a significantly lower price.
2. BMW X5 xDrive45e
The plug-in hybrid X5 is every bit as comfortable and luxurious as the petrol and diesel versions, and you barely notice the extra weight of its batteries, even in corners. You can't have seven seats, but that's the only significant downside. Indeed, it has a much longer electric range than the rival XC90 T8, a far more user-friendly infotainment system and attracts significantly lower company car tax bills so, unless you need those extra seats, it's the better car.
The NX has a longer electric range than the rival Audi Q5 50 TFSIe and BMW X3 xDrive30e, and sits in a much lower company car tax band. It can also each 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. 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 the best hybrid SUV on sale today.
And the hybrid SUVs to avoid...
Jeep Renegade 1.3T 4xe
The hybrid system in the Renegade works well enough. Unfortunately, it's undermined by other aspects of the car, including the sloppy handling, unsettled ride and awful refinement
Lexus UX 250h
The UX is almost as bad as the NX is good, suffering from a distracting infotainment system and shockingly poor rear-seat and boot space. It is very efficient, though.
Best hybrid cars you don't have to plug in
Like the idea of a hybrid, but don't want to faff around with power cables? If so, these are the top 10 cars for you. We also name the models that look good on paper but are actually best avoided
Suzuki Swace long-term test
The Suzuki Swace hybrid is one of those cars that seems to slip under everyone’s radar, but we think it might be a bit of a hidden gem. We’ve decided to run one to find out for sure