We pick the very best hybrid SUVs on the road today, with compact, family and luxury models all making the cut
4 September 2019

Hybrid powertrains combine the silent, emission-free driving of an EV with a traditional fuel tank that eliminates range anxiety. If you’re not quite ready to make the switch to an electric car, they are the perfect compromise.

The Government may not give you a grant to buy one any more, but the differences to your wallet still make a hybrid worth the investment, whether you opt for a traditional hybrid system that uses electric motors to assist the petrol engine, or a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that uses the engine exclusively to recharge its batteries.

They make particular financial sense in an SUV, where the equivalent diesel or petrol model can cost significantly more to keep on the road. Taller, larger SUVs have more room than hatchbacks, too, so the complex hybrid systems don’t eat into cabin or boot space.

We’ve driven every hybrid SUV on sale in the UK today, and have picked our favourites from the compact, family and luxury segments.

1. Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine

Genuinely usable seven-seat cabins are few and far between, and ones with hybrid powertrains even more so. Volvo’s largest SUV manages both, with a fantastic blend of spaciousness, styling, cabin ambience and engine efficiency, beyond what you’d expect from a vehicle of its size.

Save money with new Volvo XC90 deals on What Car? 

Our Verdict

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Top-selling plug-in SUV gets major revisions to styling and suspension as Mitsubishi bids to keep its market advantage


Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

2. BMW X5 45e

The new BMW X5 plug-in hybrid has gained two extra cylinders yet somehow become more economical (officially) and more BIK tax-efficient at the same time. This feat has been achieved primarily thanks to a significant increase in battery capacity: it’s now 24kWh, up from just 9.2kWh in the previous-generation X5 xDrive40e.

Happily, what you're also getting here is an enjoyable steer by the standards of most hybrid SUVs, and cabin quality is good enough to shade the Volvo and pretty much anything else on this list, except perhaps the Porsche. If you need hybrid power, the X5 45e is wonderful company.

Save money with new BMW X5 deals on What Car?

3. Honda CR-V Hybrid

While the new CR-V might not be quite as appealing on the eye as its key rival - the Toyota RAV4 - it remains a highly appealing, practical wagon for city-dwelling families. The hybrid powertrain is smooth and refined around town, while it rides in a comfortable enough manner so as to avoid any great complaint. There’s loads of space inside, and while the infotainment graphics might appear a touch dated, Honda has done an excellent job of isolating the CR-V’s occupants from external road and wind noise.

Save money with new Honda CR-V deals on What Car?

4. Audi Q5 55 TFSIe

More refined on the move and sharper from behind the wheel than the already excellent Volvo XC60 T8 plug-in hybrid. Claimed electric range is nothing special, at 26 miles, and neither is the Audi as practical as the Volvo, but its polish wins out in the end, and it's also quicker than most hot-hatches in a straight line.

It’s also dutifully comfortable on all surfaces and at all speeds, even on 19in wheels and standard steel suspension (optional air suspension is available on higher trim levels). Refinement is top-notch, even when the engine kicks in, and it delivers a decently sporty note if you really open the taps.

Save money with new Audi Q5 deals on What Car? 

5. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The UK’s best-selling plug-in hybrid car can offer significant savings over the equivalent diesel family SUV. A significant facelift in 2018 added a new 2.4-litre engine and improved its ride, and also introduced a few exterior styling tweaks. Electric-only range is around 25 miles, and while it’s possible to drive at pace, it’s far happier to cruise in comfort.

Save money with new Outlander PHEV deals from What Car? 

6. Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid

In the absence of a diesel variant, the 3.0-litre hybrid is now the most economical Cayenne in Porsche’s line-up. It’ll do 25 miles purely on electric power when required, while the 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 provides the grunt for five-second 0-62mph times and a near 160mph top speed. Driven with more restraint, it’s every bit as comfortable and luxurious as you’d expect from the marque.

And for those who aren’t quite as concerned about out and out economy, there’s the new Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid too. It’s the fastest, most powerful Cayenne ever produced, with a 671bhp twin-turbo V8 and electric motor combo that enables it to hit 62mph from a standstill in 3.8sec. It’ll cover 25 miles on electric power only, too.

Save money with new Porsche Cayenne deals on What Car? 

7. Toyota RAV4

The RAV4’s back, this time with the latest generation of Toyota's hybrid powertrain. In fact, in fifth-generation guise, the RAV4 is now only available as a hybrid in the UK. This sharply styled SUV blends commendable practicality and rolling refinement with safe, secure handling and a solidly built cabin. Its smooth and hushed around town, though the petrol motor can become a touch coarse under full throttle. As a spacious, comfortable urban cruiser, though, it makes a strong case for itself.

Usefully, it's much more natural feeling to drive than before, and with more than 220bhp this hybrid SUV is quicker than any other in its class. But there's also plenty of capability and character on offer here, with genuine off-road ability and a serious interior with plenty of useful features. Ultimately it loses out to the CR-V Hybrid, however – it can't match the Honda's rolling refinement, real-world fuel economy or everyday ease of use.

Save money with new Toyota RAV4 deals on What Car?

8. Kia Niro PHEV

Comfortably Kia’s most fuel-efficient car (that still uses a combustion engine in some capacity, at any rate), the Niro compact crossover claims an economy figure in the region of 217mpg, and low CO2 emissions of 29g/km, albeit on the old NEDC cycle.

It has an electric-only range of 36 miles and is based on the well-equipped “3” trim level of the standard car. That means an 8in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay support, wireless smartphone charging, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist. You can expect clever packaging and lots of cabin space, and Kia’s typically keen pricing.

Save money with new Kia Niro deals on What Car?

9. Range Rover Sport P400e PHEV 

Such was the demand for a plug-in version of Land Rover’s sportier Range Rover that by the time we’d driven one on UK roads, a 2019 model with more powerful electric motor had already been confirmed. That’s good news, as even with a lesser motor the P400e proved itself a capable steer. As with its larger range mate, it is best suited to shorter-range drivers and urbanites that can keep the battery charged, but however you drive it, you’ll be travelling in luxury.

Save money with Range Rover Sport deals on What Car?

10. Toyota CH-R

A real departure from the norm, Toyota’s eye-catching crossover SUV stands out with coupe-like styling - and it has the handling to back up its looks. The sloping roofline does limit rear headroom, and Toyota’s basic infotainment system isn’t a patch on some rivals’. Its powertrain can feel a little gutless, but it still fulfils its brief as a sporty-looking, family-friendly hybrid.

Save money with new Toyota CH-R deals on What Car?

Read more

The 10 best electric cars on sale in Britain 2020

10 Best Electric Hatchbacks 2020

10 Best Hybrid Hatchbacks 2020

Join the debate


8 November 2018

I had a Lexus NX 300h hybrid as a loan car while my Boxster was being serviced a couple of weeks ago and can't say I was much impressed.  The car first appeared to be softly sprung, rolling quite a bit through roundabouts and bends, but the ride is still strangely brittle: you can feel every ridge and imperfection in the road surface through the seat and even the steering wheel.  Moreover, while smooth and relatively quiet at lower speeds, it sounded strained and gutless when pushed and had little mid-range acceleration.  I had the car for two days and covered about 180 miles of relaxed open road driving, but still used about 3/8ths of a tank of fuel (according to the gauge) suggesting the real-world fuel economy is nothing special either.  This was my first experience of driving a hybrid and I'm far from sold on the concept.

23 January 2019

This is should be in the "Hybrid Hatchbacks" category. Kia try to sell it as a "crossover", but basically it's a family hatchback with a slightly taller than average body style

4 September 2019
sierra wrote:

This is should be in the "Hybrid Hatchbacks" category. Kia try to sell it as a "crossover", but basically it's a family hatchback with a slightly taller than average body style


That, in essence, applies to all crossovers. 

1 June 2019

RR sport p440e is the best.

26 September 2019

No matter how I wanted these hybrids, still my pocket clings on 2nd hand crappy car back in my garage. Nice magazine though for some references and reviews, not bad to look forward in the future where my dream car lies beneath the curtains of my 2-storey luxury car garage.

retaining walls perth

23 December 2019


17 March 2020

Please people, if something has space it is said to be spacious. If so it has space. It does not have spaciousness!

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week