In 2020, almost 455,000 hybrid vehicles were sold in the United States, representing a 17% increase compared to 2019. Hybrid vehicles offer improved fuel efficiency, and as technology has matured, hybrid vehicles have become comparable to their gasoline-powered counterparts in terms of performance, power, and comfort.
With few drawbacks compared to gas-only vehicles and government encouragement through tax rebates and credits, hybrid car sales are expected to continue to increase in the coming years.
Meanwhile, SUVs are among the most popular vehicle classes in the United States. Combining luxury, space, and safety into one versatile package, the demand for SUVs continues to increase. Unfortunately, SUVs have traditionally been some of the least fuel-efficient vehicles on the market.
With gas prices hitting historic highs in 2022, many drivers are switching to hybrid SUVs to get the benefits of an SUV with good gas mileage and a money-saving electric motor. While this relatively new auto market segment is quickly expanding, not all hybrid SUVs offer the right balance of performance and efficiency. Here are some important features you’ll find in the best hybrid SUVs.
Most base-model gas-engine SUVs offer a fuel efficiency rating of between 15 and 25 miles per gallon when highway driving. However, their fuel efficiency decreases when driving in stop-and-go traffic inside city limits.
However, many hybrid models offer fuel economy ratings of between 30 and 40 miles per gallon. Over a year, the increased efficiency of hybrid vehicles can save you thousands of dollars in fuel costs.
When choosing a hybrid SUV, look for a vehicle with a fuel economy rating above 30 miles per gallon. You can also find hybrid SUVs that offer even better fuel economy, particularly plug-in hybrids.
For example, the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Prime offers a fuel economy rating of 38 miles per gallon and 94 miles per gallon of gasoline equivalent. A charged RAV4 Hybrid Prime will offer the equivalent of 94 miles per gallon when operating only electrically, as it would under normal circumstances.
You’ll still get 38 miles per gallon when the battery is depleted, and the vehicle must run on gasoline, which is far better than most gasoline-only vehicles.
Some vehicles offer other features to improve fuel economy further. Some models, like the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid, provide regenerative braking. With this feature, the kinetic energy created by using the brakes is captured, saved, and used to help power the vehicle, increasing its efficiency and electric range.
Always check the vehicle’s fuel economy rating (MPG and MPGe) and look for additional fuel-saving features as you shop to save as much as possible on fuel costs.
Another primary consideration when choosing a hybrid SUV is the vehicle’s hybrid powertrain and engine performance. As with traditional vehicles, the primary units of measurement to pay attention to are horsepower and torque per foot.
A vehicle’s horsepower rating measures how much power the engine can create, which determines the vehicle’s top speed and acceleration capabilities. The torque rating measures how efficiently the engine operates, determining how quickly the vehicle responds when you press the gas pedal.
A vehicle with a high horsepower rating can accelerate quickly to high speeds, while a vehicle with a high torque rating will begin accelerating quickly.
Generally, electric and hybrid vehicles can have higher torque ratings than the average gas-powered vehicle. In many electric vehicles, there is no delay between pressing the gas pedal and the engine response. While this makes the vehicle fun to drive, it also makes it safer and more efficient for drivers.
A high torque rating helps you merge onto the highway and safely pass other drivers if you mainly drive on the highway. A high torque rating keeps fuel use down if you’re a city-dweller.
Hybrid SUVs typically offer the ideal combination of torque and power. For example, the 2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid has 295 horsepower and 263 pounds of torque per foot. To compare, one of the most popular gas-powered midsized SUVs – the 2022 Nissan Rogue – offers 201 horsepower and 225 pounds per foot of torque.
Beyond the capabilities under the hood, safety options are among the essential features to look for when shopping for a hybrid SUV. Over the past few years, many helpful safety accessories have become commonplace, with AI-powered tools improving the driving experience and helping you drive safely.
While many vehicles include safety features, such as adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring, some hybrid SUVs have taken safety to another level. The 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid is one of those vehicles.
The 2023 CR-V’s safety features are led by a newly-standard group of features called The Honda Sensing Suite. These features use sensors to alert drivers to dangerous situations automatically.
For example, the CR-V’s sensors can detect an impending head-on collision and alert the driver before applying the brakes automatically to avoid a collision. The sensors can perform other helpful functions, such as adjusting your steering to keep you centered in a lane.
These features, combined with already-common features like blind spot detection, backup cameras, cross-traffic monitors, and parking sensors, can help you avoid a collision and keep you safe in your new hybrid SUV.
In addition to providing improved fuel efficiency, performance, and safety, some hybrid SUVs also offer luxury features to improve comfort and utility. While every hybrid SUV model will be different, drivers who want a touch of luxury in their vehicle should look for some of the following features:
- Leather seating
- Heated seats
- Heated steering wheel
- Integrated infotainment center
- Touch-free trunk operation
- Remote start capabilities
- Compartmentalized climate controls
- Window shades
- Wireless device charging
- Expanded cargo space
- High-fidelity sound system with subwoofer
- Augmented reality overlay navigation and HUD system
- Remote vehicle parking
While this is not an exhaustive list of luxury features that may be included with a hybrid SUV, they are some of the most common. In some cases, you may have to select an upgraded trim package to get all of the luxurious features available; depending on how much you drive your car, springing for the extra features may be worth it.
Find the SUV of Your Dreams with SUViews
Discerning shoppers know they don’t have to settle when they purchase a vehicle. Buying a hybrid SUV provides you with the efficiency of an electric vehicle and the luxury, safety, and performance of a traditional gas-powered vehicle.
If you are in the market for a hybrid SUV, explore our in-depth reviews to help you get the inside scoop on the best vehicles on the market. We pride ourselves in assisting drivers in finding their perfect vehicle, and our information can help you make the right purchasing decision for your lifestyle.