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What Car? Electric Car Awards in association with ONTO

Electric Car Awards 2021: Best hybrid large SUV

With electrified cars now coming in all shapes and sizes – and available to suit every budget – we’ve named the best models in every class. Here we look at the best hybrid large SUV...

Best hybrid large SUV

Ford Kuga 2.5 PHEV Vignale

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Plug-in hybrid large SUVs don’t simply cut your tax bill. The Ford Kuga PHEV can potentially slash your running costs too, because it’s capable of 35 miles of electric-only driving officially, allowing you to do daily trips without burning any petrol.

Charging up your Kuga’s battery from empty to full takes around 3hr 30min with a typical 7kW home wallbox. If you do that regularly and cover mostly short journeys, you could return as much as 201.8mpg. Even when the battery is flat, the 2.5-litre petrol engine can achieve more than 50mpg in the real world, rivalling many diesel equivalents.

Ford Kuga 2021 interior dashboard

If you’re able to charge it up at work as well, the Kuga makes perfect sense as a company car. It has a low CO2 output of 32g/km, making the benefit-in-kind tax rating 11% – lower than for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Volvo XC60 Recharge T6.

The Kuga is swifter than the Outlander PHEV too, if not quite as punchy as the plug-in hybrid Kia Sorento. Most drivers will find that the Kuga provides plenty of performance for their needs, and a lot of journeys can be done on battery power alone – the electric motor gets the car up to motorways speeds without needing to trouble the petrol engine.

When it does switch from electric to petrol power, it does so smoothly. The Kuga’s plentiful low-down grunt means there shouldn’t be any high-revving histrionics from its CVT auto gearbox when you ask for a burst of acceleration.

Ford Kuga PHEV rear

It’s also more agile in corners than most large SUVs, proving to be much more wieldy than the bigger Sorento. The Kuga doesn’t lean over as much as its rivals, and has accurate steering that allows you to guide it where you want it to go easily. Some people might not be keen on the firm ride of ST-Line models (particularly the ST-Line X, which has 19in wheels), but that’s not a problem in our preferred Vignale trim, with its softer, more compliant suspension.

You might expect a top-spec Vignale Kuga to be expensive, but it’s actually cheaper than the entry-level Sorento. And while the Kuga doesn’t have seven seats like the Sorento, it’s still highly practical, with a big boot, generous second-row leg room and lots of storage up front. You also get the high driving position that most SUV owners desire.

All in all, whether you’re a private buyer or a company car driver, the Kuga PHEV is one of the best large SUVs around.

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