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  2. What is the Best Plug-In Hybrid SUV to buy in 2021 & 2022?

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Overview

Even though plug-in hybrid SUV models have been available in the global market for some years by now, the fact is that they have only truly taken off recently. More and more people are developing interest in their fuel efficiency, as PHEVs are able to deliver figures that were unimaginable some years ago. They are good for the environment, help you cut down fuel costs, and of course, the ride quality is great. 

As you can imagine, this post is dedicated to show you the best PHEVs in the SUV market category. However, it is not limited to cold fuel-efficiency figures because we know that the purchase of any car depends on many other variables. You are going to see why exactly we recommend each one, then some general questions to further assist you in the purchase of your SUV plug-in hybrid.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Plug-in Hybrid SUVs?

Plug-in hybrid SUVs are the most obvious choice of new car buyers. If you too are considering owning one, let’s take a quick look at the advantages and disadvantages of a plug-in hybrid.

Pros

  • Ideal for driving around the city 
  • Lower emissions 
  • No range anxiety, as you can run the vehicle on regular fuel if charge runs out

Cons

  • Needs access to charging points 
  • Electric-only options offer better fuel economy
SUV
2022 Kia Niro Hybrid
2021 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid
2022 Kia Sorento Plug-in Hybrid
2022 Jeep Wrangler 4xe
2022 Volvo XC60 Recharge
2022 Lexus NX450H+
2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e
2022 Porsche Cayenne e-Hybrid
2021 Bentley Bentayga Hybrid
2022 Hyundai Tucson Plug-in Hybrid
Starting price
$30,805
$36,395
$49,305
$54,125
$55,345
$56,725
$66,395
$84,650
$166,425
Safety Rating (NHTSA)
4 stars
5 stars
4 stars
5 stars
4 stars
J.D. Power Reliability Rating
Not rated
82/100
Not rated
Not rated
Not rated
Not rated
78/100
82/100
Not rated
Not rated
MPGe
105
90
79
49
57
84
50
46
46
80

10. 2022 Kia Niro Hybrid

Class: Generalist subcompact, Type: 2-row, Price: $30,805

Jeep Compass

Source: www.kia.com

Why We Picked It: Yes, this is the 2022 model. And yes, we know that an all-new one will debut for 2023. The thing is, the Niro has always been popular for its great value so, if you find the outgoing model at discounted prices, it easily becomes the best plug-in hybrid SUV in the subcompact niche. We can say that the 2022 Niro teaches you to live at a slow pace: it takes long to reach high speeds but takes even longer to require another visit to the fuel station or to a recharge point.

Pros
Class-leading combined fuel efficiency
Good value even as a plug-in hybrid
Shares parts with several other models
Cons
New generation comes for the 2023 line
Rough transition of energy sources
Low performance even for a hybrid car

2022 Kia Niro Hybrid Specs

  • Engine: The turbocharged, four-cylinder 1.6L unit of the regular versions is paired to an electric motor to generate combined 139 hp of power and 195 lb-ft of torque.
  • Fuel economy: The EPA estimates an impressive and class-leading total of 105 MPGe.
  • Safety features: The list of standard items includes electronic systems for blind-spot monitoring, collision avoidance and mitigation, lane keeping, and stability control. There are also front, side, and curtain airbags.

9. 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

Class: Generalist subcompact, Type: 2-row, Price $36,395

Jeep Wrangler

Source: www.subaru.com

Why We Picked It: While its Impreza origins barely allow it to qualify as an SUV, the Crosstrek wins the spot of best plug in hybrid SUV 2021 in its category because of its combination of qualities: no-frills character, excellent fuel efficiency, and engaging dynamic behavior. However, Subaru’s typical rationality may not be the best option in a segment which heavily depends on flashy images.

Pros
Car body provides nimble handling
Design is pleasant without being flashy
Excellent PHEV fuel-efficiency
Cons
Not as roomy as some key competitors
Neat, but uninspired cabin design
Does not bring the beloved SUV flair

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid Specs

  • Engine: The model uses a four-cylinder 2.0L unit paired to an electric motor in order to reach the combined figures of 148 hp of power and 134 lb-ft of torque.
  • Fuel economy: Official figures indicate 36 mpg in the city, 35 mpg on the highway, and 35 mpg combined. There is also an electric equivalent of 90 MPGe and an EV range of 17 miles.
  • Safety features: Blind-spot detection, collision mitigation (front and rear), emergency SOS, lane-keeping system, stability and traction controls and tire pressure warning among others.

8. 2022 Kia Sorento

Class: Generalist midsize, Type: 3-row, Price: US$ 49,305

2022 Kia Sorento

Source: www.kia.com

Why We Picked It: Many Kia SUVs have become regular awardees of gold medals from press tests over the past years and the Sorento is no exception. While the design is getting more daring with each generation, this SUV plug-in hybrid manages to preserve its overall great taste along with the attractive equipment list and Kia’s signature warranty plan. What is not to love in such an SUV? Oh yes, the third row of seats.

Pros
Tasteful external and internal design
Great value-oriented equipment lists
Pleasant dynamic behavior
Cons
Third seat row works best as decoration
Not all systems bring wireless charging
Cargo space could be larger

2022 Kia Sorento Specs

  • Engine: The plug-in hybrid Sorento uses a turbocharged, four-cylinder 1.6L engine paired to an electric motor and offers combined power of 261 hp and combined torque of 258 lb-ft.
  • Fuel economy: EPA estimates indicate 35 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway and 34 mpg combined, with an electric equivalent of 79 MPGe and a pure EV range of 32 miles.
  • Safety features: The standard equipment list features collision avoidance and mitigation, lane keeping and departure assist, parking distance warning, and roll and stability controls.

7. 2022 Jeep Wrangler 4xe

Class: Generalist midsize, Type: 2-row, Price: $54,125

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Source: www.jeep.com

Why We Picked It: The midsize segment is just too diverse to have only one representative in this list. One of the best plug-in hybrid 4WD SUVs is Jeep’s legend, whose 4xe version was designed to offer fuel efficiency which used to be unimaginable for the model while preserving every bit of the off-road capability which built the company’s reputation in the first place. Just keep in mind that such a strong character leaves no room for frivolities such as ride smoothness.

Pros
Still the reference in off-road capability
Stylish design with a droptop option
Hybrid is not much more expensive
Cons
Unrefined dynamic behavior
Internal space could be larger
Subpar fuel efficiency among PHEVs

2022 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Specs

  • Engine: The 4xe version pairs a four-cylinder, turbocharged 2.0L engine to an electric motor to offer combined 375 hp of power and 470 lb-ft of torque.
  • Fuel economy: The EPA estimates 20 mpg for city, highway and combined while the gasoline + electricity equivalent is rated at 49 MPGe. The pure EV range is rated at 21 miles.
  • Safety features: You will find ABS, emergency SOS, front and side airbags, roll, stability and traction controls and tire pressure warning, among others.

6. 2022 Volvo XC60 Recharge

Class: Luxury compact, Type: 2-row, Price: $55,345

Source: volvocars.com

Why We Picked It: After a complete reinvention of its design identity, Volvo is now focused on the goal of electrifying itself as soon as possible. The XC60 Recharge is one of the best plug in hybrid SUV models because it manages to be desirable, not simply convenient. There is still room for some improvements, of course, but its combination of handsome design, comfortable cabin, huge list of safety items, and efficient powertrain makes it hard to resist.

Pros
Just as stylish as the other recent Volvos
Signature huge package of safety items
High fuel efficiency for its segment
Cons
Dynamic behavior could be smoother
Storage areas are not so large
Infotainment system is not intuitive

2022 Volvo XC60 Recharge Specs

  • Engine: The Recharge model uses a supercharged 2.0L engine paired to an electric motor and generates a combined 400 hp of power and 472 lb-ft of torque.
  • Fuel economy: EPA estimates indicate combined 25 mpg and an electric + gasoline equivalency of 57 MPGe.
  • Safety features: Blind-spot monitoring with steer assist, collision mitigation system, driver monitoring, emergency SOS, lane keeping system, rear park assist and tire pressure sensor.

5. 2022 Lexus NX450H+

Class: Luxury compact, Type: 2-row, Price: $56,725

Source: www.lexus.ca

Why We Picked It: After seeing so many rivals appear and/or be updated, the NX welcomes a new generation with much needed improvements. While the design changes were largely evolutionary, the new cabin is even more appropriate for a luxury model, the hybrid options now include a PHEV, and the list of safety items became larger. It may not be the very first model you think of in the category, but it certainly became even more interesting than before.
Pros
Design was refreshed but is still sleek
Cabin became safer and more luxurious
Several driver assists are now available
Cons
Dynamic behavior could engage more
Subpar noise levels for the category
Plug-in hybrid version is too expensive

2022 Lexus NX450H+ Specs

  • Engine: Just like the Toyota RAV4 Prime, this version of the NX uses a four-cylinder 2.5L engine plus electric motors to reach 302 hp of power and 176 lb-ft of torque.
  • Fuel economy: According to EPA, you can expect the plug-in hybrid NX to make 36 mpg combined and the electric and gasoline equivalent of 84 MPGe.
  • Safety features: Some of the standard items are collision mitigation, driver monitoring, emergency SOS, front and rear parking assist, and front, side, curtain, knee and cushion airbags (not all those airbag types are available to all passengers).

4. 2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e

Class: Luxury midsize, Type: 3-row, Price: $66,395

2022 BMW X5 xDrive45e Hybrid

Source: www.bmwusa.com

Why We Picked It: What was one of the first luxury SUVs at all is now one of the references in a crowded segment. The X5 deserves a spot among the best plug-in hybrid SUVs with 3 rows for its combination of handsome exterior, classy cabin and efficient powertrain, even though the latter could be better for PHEV standards and comes at the expense of dynamic engagement. Still, it is easy to see that the German model has much more strong suits than weaknesses.

Pros
External design is athletic as always
Cabin uses high-quality materials
Infotainment finally became easy to use
Cons
Third-row seats should be avoided
Steering feels too vague for a BMW
Only average fuel efficiency for a PHEV

2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e Specs

  • Engine: The thermal engine is a turbocharged and intercooled, six-cylinder 3.0L and it is paired to an electric motor to generate a combined 389 hp of power and 443 lb-ft of torque.
  • Fuel economy: EPA testings indicate 22 mpg in the city, 19 mpg on the highway, and 20 mpg combined. The electric equivalency is rated at 50 MPGe and the EV range is 31 miles.
  • Safety features: Some of the standard items are blind-spot detection, collision warning, driver monitoring, lane departure warning, park distance control, and tire-specific pressure monitor.

3. 2022 Porsche Cayenne e-hybrid

Class: Luxury midsize, Type: 2-row, Price: $84,650

ford expedition

Source: www.porsche.com

Why We Picked It: One of the best plug-in hybrid 4WD SUVs comes from a legend among sports cars, ironically. The Porsche Cayenne manages to combine the practicality of an SUV to the sportiness which has always characterized Porsche and, more recently, a plug-in hybrid powertrain which makes it more fuel-efficient than ever. Keep in mind that if you do not quite appreciate its design, you can always take a look at its brand new Coupé sibling as well.

Pros
Energetic powertrain for a PHEV
Impressive driving behavior for an SUV
Towing capacity of up to 7,700 lb
Cons
Few storage areas for small objects
Ride can be firm and harsh at times
Desirable options are highly expensive

2022 Porsche Cayenne e-hybrid Specs

  • Engine: This version of the Cayenne pairs a turbocharged 3.0L V6 to an electric motor and reaches combined power of 455 hp and combined torque of 516 lb-ft.
  • Fuel economy: EPA estimates show that the model makes 21 mpg on the highway and combined while the PHEV equivalency is rated at 46 MPGe. Pure EV range is 17 miles.
  • Safety features: Brake assist, collision mitigation, front and rear park assists, stability and traction controls, and front, side, curtain and knee airbags (not all those airbag types are available to all the passengers).

2. 2021 Bentley Bentayga Hybrid

Class: Luxury large, Type: 3-row, Price: 166,425

Source: www.bentleymotors.com

Why We Picked It: At a first glance, it is easy to think that, the more expensive a car is, the better it would be as well, right? When it comes to fuel efficiency, the truth is that the Bentayga is actually one of the worst in this list. What still makes it one of the best plug-in hybrid SUV 2021 is related to the goal of this article: showing you that PHEVs are much more than MPGe figures. And, of course, you have to make peace with the fact that the 2022 Bentayga is not available in all countries.
Pros
Absolutely luxurious cabin
Refined and engaging dynamics
High fuel efficiency for its dimensions
Cons
External design is hard to appreciate
Base price is already very expensive
Extra features make it cost even more

2021 Bentley Bentayga Hybrid Specs

  • Engine: The plug-in hybrid is the base option here and features a turbocharged and intercooled 3.0L v6 engine plus an electric motor to reach a combined 443 hp of power and 516 lb-ft of torque.
  • Fuel economy: The EPA indicates a combined range of 19 miles and a PHEV equivalency of 46 MPGe, while the pure EV range is rated at 18 miles.
  • Safety features: Aerial view camera system, automated parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, collision mitigation, roll, stability and traction controls. 

1. 2022 Hyundai Tucson

Class: Generalist compact, Type: 2-row, Price: $35,975

Source: www.hyundaiusa.com

Why We Picked It: After the design revolution of the 2000s, Hyundai and Kia have managed to keep their names strong for an even better reason: populating best-car charts written by the specialized press. The Tucson becomes an excellent plug-in hybrid SUV for being good or great at pretty much everything plus offering a design which everyone can easily define as impressive. While you may not define it as “beautiful”, it is undeniable that the car is a great package.

Pros
External style leaves no one indifferent
Great equipment lists in all trim levels
High pure EV range for the category
Cons
Push-button shifter is not so intuitive
Stereo does not have physical buttons
No high-performance versions available

2022 Hyundai Tucson Specs

  • Engine: This model employs a turbocharged, four-cylinder 1.6L unit combined with an electric motor in order to reach 261 hp of power and 258 lb-ft of torque.
  • Fuel economy: According to the EPA, the Tucson’s plug-in hybrid version makes a combined 35 mpg and the electric equivalent of 80 MPGe, with a pure EV range of 33 miles.
  • Safety features: The standard version brings blind-spot monitoring, collision avoidance and mitigation, cruise control, driver monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and tire pressure monitor.

Why Plug-Ins Make Sense?

First of all, the simple fact that they use electricity should convince you. In hybrid cars, the electric motor assists the thermal one all the time, albeit at variable proportions, and that sharply reduces the final fuel consumption.

When it comes to plug-in hybrids, there is an additional advantage: pure EV range. In other words, you can recharge their batteries by yourself, when you come back from work for example, and enjoy a totally petrol-free ride next time you use the car.

Now, you may notice that plug-in hybrids have a significantly lower EV range than fully electric cars. That happens because they are a completely different type of vehicle: a plug-in hybrid is primarily a gasoline-powered car, only enhanced by an electric motor which plays a supporting role.

The list presented above shows the plug-in hybrid SUV models, that is, those with the technology which allows a pure EV range.

What is the Most Fuel-Efficient PHEV SUV?

While the 2022 Kia Niro Hybrid is a strong contender, we pick the 2022 Ford Escape SE PHEV. Those models have a tie at the MPGe rating, while the Kia makes more miles per gallon of gasoline. However, the priority of a plug-in hybrid is the efficiency of its electric motor; the Ford becomes the best selection because its pure EV range is 37 miles, one of the highest in the segment.

Then again, you have already noticed that the Escape did not make our SUV plug-in hybrid list. That is because it has subpar performance in other aspects compared to its main competitors, such as cabin refinement, warranty plan, and value package.

Which is the Plug-In Hybrid SUV With the Best MPGe Ratings?

Both the 2022 Kia Niro Hybrid and the 2022 Ford Escape PHEV earn this title. They have been rated at 105 MPGe, which is by far the best figure in the segment – the closest competitor, 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime, is rated at 94 MPGe, which is almost 10.5% worse.

Here, it is interesting to mention that, while the RAV4 Prime was not named one of the best plug-in hybrid 4WD SUVs mentioned above, the Lexus NX450H+ was. They use the exact same powertrain but it fits the Lexus much better because its performance matches that of key competitors and the price hike it represents is much less impactful in the luxury market than in the generalist.

What is the highest rated plug-in hybrid and why?

The 2022 Hyundai Tucson is frequently lauded by the specialized press basically for being great at everything. It has a practical cabin, plenty of standard items, a modern project which brings all the latest comfort and safety technologies, and an efficient plug-in hybrid powertrain. The only divisive point in this SUV is the external design, which may be considered too aggressive for some buyers.

Conclusion

All the 10 PHEVs included in this article have a unique characteristic of their own, so ultimately it comes down to the buyer’s personal preferences. Even though there are specific points where the Hyundai Tucson, Ford Escape PHEV, the Kia Niro Hybrid, and the Toyota RAV4 Prime perform better and worse, the difference between them is small enough to make them all highly recommendable at a first glance.

We know that, in practice, it is also important to take many other factors into account when choosing a new SUV, such as its reliability, safety, and design. After this second part of the analysis, the Niro moves down on that list because of its upcoming redesign.

So go through the list carefully, analyze which vehicle works the best for your requirements and budget, and then go ahead with one that ticks all the boxes.

FAQ

1. Which SUV is the highest rated plug-in hybrid?

Hyundai Tucson is the highest rated plug-in hybrid.

2. How long do PHEV cars take to charge?

The size of the battery and the capacity of the outlet determine the charging time. A small battery takes around 1.5 hours to charge at 240 V, whereas it takes 3 hours at 120 V. For large batteries the time can go as much as 8 hours and 20 hours, at 240 V and 120 V respectively. 

3. Which is the best plug-in hybrid compact SUV?

Hyundai Tucson is the best plug-in hybrid compact SUV.

4. What companies make plug-in hybrid SUVs?

Some of the notable companies that make plug-in hybrid SUVs are Kia, BMW, Porsche, Bentley, Subaru, Jeep, Volvo, Lexus, and Hyundai.