A self charging hybrid SUV is a type of vehicle that runs on petrol or diesel, alongside an electric motor. The term ‘self-charging’ has been widely popularized by Toyota, and it’s also been adopted by Lexus and Kia later on to market this special class of hybrids. These SUVs do not have a plugged-in system like PHEVs (plug-in hybrid), they charge themselves on-the-go, when you slow down, brake, or stop. This may sound groundbreaking, but they are just the same as any regular hybrid sports utility vehicle.
This list compiles the ten best self charging hybrid SUV models currently on sale. In other words, the ones which power the electric motor on their own, whether through regenerative braking or simply by making the gasoline engine act as a generator. Is one of them going to be the next one to appear in your garage?
#10 Ford Explorer Hybrid
Midsize SUV. Base price $ 51,745
Why We Picked It: Having a history of off-road activity and belonging to a company known for its huge pickup trucks, the Explorer’s appearance among all other best self charging SUVs is surprising. The truth is, times have changed and it does not want to be left behind. The current generation debuted last year with a hybrid powertrain for the first time to keep the Explorer attractive to a younger audience.
It seems that the intention was to keep changes to a minimum. The electric motor is paired to a V6, so there was no performance decrease. However, the integration between both sources of energy is coarse and the brake pedal is not so responsive. In the end, if you want to help the environment but do not want to sacrifice your driving preferences, the fuel-sipping Explorer might be perfect.
Ford Explorer Hybrid Specs
- Engine– V6 3.3L plus electric motor
- Acceleration– 0-100 kph in 7.5 sec
- Fuel economy– Combined 27 mpg
#9 Lexus RX450h
Midsize SUV. Base price $ 49,170
Why We Picked It: The best part of self charging hybrid SUV models being so numerous is that they encourage automakers to find new market niches. The RX came in the late 1990s and helped found the niche of luxury SUVs. Now, three generations and so many years later, it has founded the family-oriented luxury variation of that body style. Its sales figures indicate that people really like what Lexus does.
Such a specific market position means that, while the design is chiseled and athletic, the RX is pretty much an upgraded minivan. The standard equipment list is long, the powertrain is vigorous but also relaxed, the ride is smooth and comfortable, and the cabin is welcoming to families. There is a long-wheelbase version with a third row of seats, but it should only be used by children on long trips.
Lexus RX450h Specs
- Engine– V6 3.5L plus two electric motors
- Acceleration– 0-100 kph in 6.5 sec
- Fuel economy– Combined 30 mpg
#8 Lexus NX300h
Compact SUV. Base price $ 41,510
Why We Picked It: The next one on our list is the Lexus NX300h, whose first model came out in 2014. Offering a luxurious riding experience to its customers, this hybrid compact SUV is a worthy contender in this segment. However, the only drawback is that this model is not meant for a sporty demeanor.
The good part is that it preserves a tall seating position and imposing looks, even though Lexus’ visual identity is more sporty than rugged. However, seven years is too much for the current standard and it shows: the NX’s infotainment needs an upgrade and its fuel economy no longer stands out. If you are interested in the niche of old-school models of a brand new category, this is a unique choice.
Lexus NX300h exus RX450h Specs
- Engine– Four-cylinder 2.5L plus electric motor
- Acceleration– 0-100 kph in 9.2 seconds
- Fuel economy– Combined 31 mpg
#7 Toyota Highlander
Midsize SUV. Base price $ 39,585
Why We Picked It: If car enthusiasts were not so fond of traditional station wagons, it would be possible to make a case that the segment was not extinct; only updated to the niche of SUVs such as the Highlander. The external design is imposing but not in an off-road way; it is easier to picture soccer parents driving kids around in it than people traveling to spend a weekend in the country.
The urban customers that do choose the Highlander will be graced with a nice standard equipment list and plenty of room as long as you only leave the third row for children. The dynamic behavior is not the best, but its typical driver is going to have other concerns anyway. Fortunately, the fuel cost will no longer be one of those: the powertrain does a good job at making the Highlander one of the best self charging SUV models.
Toyota Highlander Specs
- Engine– Four-cylinder 2.5L plus electric motor
- Acceleration– 0-100 kph in 7.3 seconds
- Fuel economy– Combined 36 mpg
#6 Kia Sorento
Midsize SUV. Base price $ 37,765
Why We Picked It: Receiving an all-new generation for 2021 makes the Sorento one of the best self charging hybrid SUVs. The boxy design takes after the acclaimed bigger brother Telluride to keep it away from any minivan references. Instead, it strives to offer engaging dynamics, a great list of items, and trim and powertrain options for everyone: the hybrid one appears for the first time.
Using a 1.6L gasoline engine paired to the electric motor will certainly not make it the fastest of the class, but that is really not the purpose here: the Sorento belongs to a highly competitive crowd, so Kia wants it to be value-oriented with a stylish touch. The only points likely to get complaints are infotainment, which could be more practical, and the cramped space for the third row and cargo.
Kia Sorento Specs
- Engine– Four-cylinder 1.6L plus electric motor
- Acceleration– 0-100 kph in 9 seconds
- Fuel economy– Combined 37 mpg
#5 Honda CR-V
Compact SUV. Base price $ 31,680
Why We Picked It: From the casual SUV which debuted in the 1990s, little has survived the passage of time. Every generation made the CR-V bigger, better equipped, and more fuel-efficient up to the present, when it boasts an irresistible combination for small families. You will get a nice equipment list, especially in terms of safety, fuel-sipping powertrain, Honda’s reliability, and attractive design.
An important point here comes from the fact that the CR-V was made to be a great self charging hybrid SUV for small families. The powertrain is focused on minimizing energy consumption rather than making tight curves or reaching high speeds. The ride quality is composed and refined, but you should not expect it to be engaging. Besides all that, its prices are quite competitive in the segment.
Honda CR-V Specs
- Engine– Four-cylinder 2.0L plus two electric motors
- Acceleration– 0-100 kph in 7.5 seconds
- Fuel economy– Combined 38 mpg
#4 Toyota Venza
Midsize SUV. Base price $ 33,645
Why We Picked It: In the late 1990s, Toyota employed the Japanese Harrier to spawn the Lexus RX, which helped establish its long line of SUVs in North America. Nowadays, the same model has been recruited to create the all-new Venza as a stylish counterpart to the truckish Highlander and RAV4: it offers a fully urban approach, has all-wheel drive as standard, and is one of the best self charging SUV models here.
While it is not a typical coupé crossover, it acts as such in Toyota’s portfolio: rational customers will surely consider it impractical and cramped compared to those two. Unfortunately, its handling will disappoint some customers as well. Nevertheless, its design is really pleasant and comes with an interesting equipment list, not to mention Toyota’s vast experience with hybrid powertrain.
Toyota Venza Specs
- Engine– Four-cylinder 2.5L plus electric motor
- Acceleration– 0-100 kph in 7.6 seconds
- Fuel economy– Combined 39 mpg
#3 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Compact SUV. Base price $ 29,675
Why We Picked It: This model has not become one of the best self charging hybrid SUV models in the U.S.A. by chance. The current generation combines an attractive design, modern construction, and trim levels for all tastes and budgets. There are two other characteristics that come from being a Toyota: the typical reputation for reliability and the expertise at hybrid powertrain obtained after selling the Prius for so many years.
On the other hand, you have to keep in mind that this is still the compact SUV of a generalist brand. Focusing on fuel efficiency makes its ride generic and bland and the nice external appearance and the desirable equipment are restricted to the upscale trim levels. Toying with the list of optional items can make the price (which is already quite hefty from the beginning) escalate rather quickly.
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Specs
- Engine– Four-cylinder 2.5L plus two electric motors
- Acceleration– 0-100 kph in 7.4 seconds
- Fuel economy– Combined 40 mpg
#2 Ford Escape Hybrid
Compact SUV. Base price $ 27,155
Why We Picked It: Now that the Bronco line is taking the outdoorsy customers to itself, the Escape was set free to cater to the urban crowd. When you think of it that way, the truth is that it delivers what you expect. Pleasant design, comfortable cabin, and nice equipment lists are all there, but the highlight here is efficiency: you can choose between small gas engine, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that not everything is perfect here. This is still a budget self charging hybrid SUV, so the base trims look and feel cheap while the upscale ones are expensive. Besides that, the ride could be more refined, and the discreet looks may bore you quickly. If you simply want a well-rounded means of transportation, this SUV will do the job quite well. Anything beyond that can be done better by Escape’s direct competitors.
Ford Escape Hybrid Specs
- Engine– Four-cylinder 2.5L plus electric motor
- Acceleration– 0-100 kph in 8.7 seconds
- Fuel economy– Combined 41 mpg
#1 Lexus UX250h
Compact SUV. Base price $ 37,575
Why We Picked It: We often complain about people who try to please everyone. We say that they have no character and that they make no real connections. Lexus seems to have thought of that when creating the UX: it is decidedly smaller and more urban than the SUV façade which its rivals keep trying to sell. The interesting part is that it is not sporty either: it only relies on its own image.
Lexus knows that such a specific purpose will not attract so many buyers, but that is why it also offers some other models; the UX is a confirmed niche car. Having that in mind, people who actually buy it surely like several aspects such as its aggressive design, the premium feeling of the cabin, and the nimble handling. And because of all these reasons, it has made it to the top of our best self charging hybrid SUV compilation.
Lexus UX250h Specs
- Engine– Four-cylinder 2.0L plus electric motor
- Acceleration– 0-100 kph in 8.6 seconds
- Fuel economy– Combined 42 mpg
What are the benefits of self charging hybrid SUVs?
For modern-day urban drivers, nothing makes more sense than a hybrid SUV. Here are some of the primary benefits of leaving behind the old gasoline-only models and switching to a self charging hybrid vehicle:
Less Fuel Cost
As per the reports of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, hybrid cars consume 30-60% less fuel than regular, conventional cars. Hybrid SUV runs on battery when it’s on the urban roads, and as it hits the highways, it shifts to fuel to keep up the pace. As a result, the average fuel cost goes down.
These vehicles are not solely dependent on gasoline– so they are considerably less harmful to the environment. Petrol and diesel cars lead to heavy carbon dioxide emissions, but with hybrid SUVs, the emission is low.
Self-charging hybrid SUVs offer a smooth, noise-free and comfortable journey, thanks to the electric motors. Traditional engines let out loud noise while revving up, but the case is very different with hybrid models.
Why buy a self-charging hybrid SUV?
Still looking for reasons to buy a self-charging SUV? Here are some significant factors you must consider:
No Need for Charging Point
When you choose a self-charging hybrid SUV, you won’t have to stop in the middle of your journey to plug in your vehicle. These hybrids use regenerative braking and internal combustion to charge the engine, and there is no provision for charging the battery through a plug.
Can Run without Charge– No Range Anxiety
Fully electric vehicles or EVs lead to range anxiety in drivers– a phenomenon where the driver anticipates that the power of the battery might go down midway before reaching the destination.
In a regular hybrid car, you won’t experience the fear of being stranded, because the gas tank will always have your back, as long as there is sufficient fuel.
For those who want to move away from traditional engines, the two viable options are EVs and hybrids. While electric vehicles cost a fortune, hybrid SUVs are a lot more budget-friendly, with the starting price being just around $20,000.
Which is better: a self-charging hybrid or plug-in hybrid?
For self-charging vehicles, quite naturally, you won’t have to manually plug into a charging port. It offers good fuel economy and puts up an efficient performance around town. However, they are not the most ideal for highways, because the consumption goes up. Their range is quite low as compared to plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). Self-charging vehicles can cover barely around a mile on electricity.
A plug-in hybrid SUV or PHEV offers economical rides, but the only issue is that you have to have access to a charging point to keep it charged. Ideal for riding around city roads, plug-ins can easily go anywhere between 10-50 miles with a single full charge.
Some differences and similarities between self charging and plug-in hybrid SUVs:
You won’t suffer from range anxiety because the vehicle will run smoothly as long as you have a full tank. So it makes sense that when you do not have any charging point nearby, you can use it as a simple petrol/diesel vehicle (but the ride doesn’t remain economical anymore). However, if you do this too often, you are bound to carry the weight of a heavy battery that’s not adding any value, rather is affecting the ride quality.
Both self charging and plug-in hybrids have their positive and negative sides. Now it’s your turn to analyze both and decide which one is the most suitable for your lifestyle.
1. Are self charging hybrids any good?
Self-charging hybrids are the same as regular hybrids– they do not have a plug-in system for recharging the battery. If you’re cautious about the environment and want to reduce fuel consumption, a self charging hybrid is always a good option.
2. What hybrids are considered self charging?
Self charging hybrids follow a particular mechanism. When you brake or slow down the car while driving, energy is produced. This is a form of kinetic energy, which gets converted to electric energy, and is used to power up the vehicle’s battery. You have the option to use both the engine and the electric motor, or only the latter.
Lexus UX250h, Ford Escape Hybrid, Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, etc. are some of the popular self-charging vehicles.
3. How long does a self-charging hybrid battery last?
A self-charging hybrid battery lasts very long– in fact, for a lifetime.