Best hybrid SUVs 2018

BMW X5 vs Porsche Cayenne vs Volvo XC90 - header
9 Jan, 2018 12:00pm Dean Gibson

As hybrid SUV sales continue to grow, so too does the number of models available in the UK. The question then, which is best?

In the not so distant past, Lexus was the go to name for people wanting a hybrid SUV. However, lately the range of hybrid SUVs in the UK has grown considerably, and what’s more, the market is still expanding. Luckily for you, this increase in variety means that your chances of finding the right hybrid SUV have never been higher. Whether it is a full-fat 7-seater or a smaller, more for getting about , there are several models worth considering, and when you throw in the option of plug-in or conventional hybrid powertrains, you are almost spoilt for choice.  

Arriving in 2005, the Lexus RX 400h was the first hybrid SUV to be sold here in the UK. Under the bonnet it had a V6 petrol engine (not quite offering the diesel rivalling economy of the more modern models listed here), battery pack and electric motor. Clearly popular, the Lexus RX lives on, currently in its fourth generation and featuring a more modern hybrid powertrain.

What is a hybrid car?

A large proportion of SUVs sold in the UK run on diesel power so you might have thought that most hybrid SUVs would use diesel engines for maximum efficiency. But that isn’t the case, a number of factors including the preferences in the large Japanese, Chinese, and American markets dictated that the cars in this guide have petrol engines with electrical assistance.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 2014 plug in

Plug-in hybrids are designed to deliver the efficiency of a diesel, but with the smoothness of a petrol engine. The latest models feature a battery pack that's good for up to 20 miles of electric running, and as long as you keep the battery charged up, you should be able to return decent fuel figures to match or beat a diesel model. Fail to keep it charged, and you're presented with a false economy, because a depleted hybrid that relies on its petrol engine will be no more efficient than a standalone petrol model. THat's especially true when you factor in the usually higher purchase price of a hybrid model.

One benefit of the hybrid SUV is that their size means there's not much compromise in terms of passenger space. The hybrid system usually takes up space under the boot floor, and many makers fit a smaller fuel tank to make room for it, the reasoning being that the charged battery and electric motor will more than make up for the smaller fuel tank range. As a result, there are a few seven-seat hybrid SUVs on sale that feature a third row in the boot.

If you're looking for a hybrid SUV or crossover, your options are wider than ever. At the lower end of the range in terms of size, the Kia Niro is more of a hatchback with SUV styling cues than a full crossover, but is the least expensive non-plugin hybrid on sale. Beyond that, the Toyota RAV4, Lexus NX 300h and RX 450h all use petrol engines with battery and electric motors.

Where the real expansion is taking place is in the plug-in hybrid market. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was the first to arrive in 2012, but since then it's been joined by the Volvo XC90 Twin Engine, Audi Q7 etron, Porsche Cayenne E-hybrid, BMW X5 40e, Mercedes GLE 500e and, most recently, the MINI Countryman S E.

But which hybrid SUVs are our favourites? Check out our top 10.

  1. 1. Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine
  2. 2. Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid
  3. 3. BMW X5 xDrive 40e
  4. 4. Audi Q7 e-tron
  5. 5. MINI Countryman S E
  6. 6. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
  7. 7. Lexus RX 450h
  8. 8. Kia Niro
  9. 9. Mercedes-Benz GLE 500e
  10. 10. Lexus NX 300h

Read more of our best car recommendations...

  1. Best hatchbacksBest crossover cars
    Best hot hatchbacksBest family cars
    Best estate carsBest MPVs
    Best 7-seat carsBest 8-seat cars
    Best SUVsMost economical cars
    Best electric carsBest hybrid cars
    Best diesel carsBest automatic cars
    Best company carsBest tow cars
    Safest carsBest Motability cars
    Best car leasing dealsMost reliable cars
    Best car discountsBest car deals
    New Car AwardsBest-selling cars
    Best used cars
For more breaking car news and reviews, subscribe to jumbo-bg - available as a weekly magazine and on your iPad. We'll give you