Currently reading: Top 10 best hybrid SUVs 2024
We pick the very best hybrid SUVs on the road, with compact, family and luxury models all making the cut

A hybrid SUV could well be the most sensible option on the menu for the medium term for any family. For commuting and most running around, they now offer very usable electric range, and any trips further afield can be made without having to rely on an EV charging network that’s still in its infancy.

And while these petrol-electric models are still expensive to buy, they continue to attract preferential benefit-in-kind taxation rates for company car drivers, which usually makes them a far more wallet-friendly alternative to a traditional company car. In fact, it's in the context of the corporate car park that these bi-fuel models make the most sense.

Funnily enough, plug-in powertrains also make a lot of sense when they’re installed in SUVs, where the bulk of the battery and extra electric motors can usually be accommodated without any loss in space and practicality.

And because these higher-rised, convenience-first cars continue to be hugely popular with buyers, there’s a wide choice of contenders, from relatively affordable compact crossovers to higher-priced and higher-performance luxury machines.

The best hybrid SUVs

1. Mercedes-Benz GLC


If it's the potential for lots of electric-only running that attracts you to the idea of a hybrid SUV - whether that be for what it saves you at the petrol pump or on your annual P11D form - there is currently one contender that stands out clearly from the field: the Mercedes GLC 300e.

Mercedes fitted a whacking great 31.2kWh drive battery to this car as part of its second-generation version: which would have been unusually large for a full-size luxury SUV, let alone a mid-sized one. It makes the GLC 300e good for a claimed 83 miles of 'EAER' tax-qualifying electric range - and one of few cars in this list that'll get you a five-per-cent BIK qualification even if you lavish plenty of options on it.

The snag is, however, that even base spec models cost around £65,000. But it is a modern Mercedes SUV, which means it's not short of digital multimedia technology or luxury cabin feel.

The car's driven by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine working in tandem with a 134bhp electric drive motor. Weighing almost 2.3 tonnes, it's not the most dynamic drive in this list, struggling a little with vertical body control on country roads. But it's smooth and quiet whether running electrically or not; has decent electric-only oomph to match that electric range; and doesn't penalise owners with reduced boot volume, either.

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2. BMW X5


A refreshed version of the BMW X5 landed in showrooms in 2023, and as before the star attraction of the plug-in version is its creamy smooth 3.0-litre straight-six, which works in tandem with an electric motor to give both a startling turn of speed and surprisingly low running costs.

Given its head, this combination musters an impressive 485bhp, while the electric motor has enough urge to make the car feel brisk enough while mooching around. Speaking of which, thanks to a 25.7kWh battery the X5 can travel on pure electricity for up to 66 miles, which is both nifty and allows the car to qualify for the UK government's 8% BIK tax bracket.

In spite of the increase in kerbweight (this BMW causes the scales to creak under strain of 2495kg), the 50e drives as well as any BMW X5 there's ever been; and, for those who don't know, that's a high dynamic marker for a large SUV. It's polished, slick and refined, but also controls its mass well and handles neatly and with compelling poise for a big car. 

Inside, cabin quality is good enough to compete with anything else on this list, and practicality is strong despite the fact that the packaging of the PHEV drive battery robs the car of its third-row seats, and a little of its cargo capacity.

Read our BMW X5 review

3. Kia Sportage


Cars with two engines rather than one, as well as enough drive battery for a significant amount of electric running, typically don't come cheap. It can also be tempting to look past the list price of a plug-in hybrid to its benefit in kind bracket, without realising the defining impact that former has on how much it may take out of your monthly pay packet.

And so, for a PHEV to be really tax-efficient, it must offer a blend of electric range and value: which is precisely what the Kia Sportage PHEV does. You'll have to look long and hard for a family car as practical as this, that has more than 40 miles of lab-test-certified electric range and so qualifies for 8 per cent BIK, and that can also be snapped up for little more than £40,000.

It is a fairly compact SUV but offers adult-appropriate passenger accommodation in both rows of seats, and a robust and high-quality cabin. It can be bought with a 48-volt mild-hybrid powertrain; as a 'HEV' full hybrid with only limited electric range and 'no plug'; or as a 1.6-litre PHEV with a certified 42 miles of electric range. The PHEV has the most power, and also better performance and drivability than the cheaper 'HEV'.

The Sportage's slightly anodyne handling is unlikely to excite you, but its styling remains really distinctive, and its ownership credentials are clear.

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4. Range Rover Sport


Now in its third generation, the most dynamic of all Range Rovers is, unsurprisingly, the best 'Sport' yet. At the heart of the car’s appeal is the brand’s latest plug-in hybrid drivetrain that combines a lusty turbocharged Ingenium 3.0-litre straight-six with a gearbox-mounted electric motor and very generous 38.2kWh battery.

The result is an impressive electric only range of up to 74 miles. That means, provided you don't put too many heavy options or big alloy wheels on your car, it could become the only other way in this top ten, along with the Mercedes GLC 300e, to get access to a five-per-cent BIK classification.

In terms of cosseting luxury there’s not a car on this list that can match the Range Rover, its spacious and opulent interior dripping in rich materials and the sort of slick tech that adds plenty of showroom appeal. On the move it’s nearly as quiet and comfy as its big brother, but the addition of four-wheel steering and active anti-roll adds an extra dimension of agility and driver engagement.

It’s not cheap, but the best things in life rarely are. A shoo-in for pride of place in the directors' car park, then.

5. Porsche Cayenne


The Porsche Cayenne remains the segment's defining performance SUV. It has always offered knock-out performance powertrains, of course; but in this latest, facelifted third-generation version, it puts at least as much emphasis on tax-savvy plug-in hybrid power, in order to keep the car relevant as the high-powered business executive's status SUV of choice.

Between Cayenne E-Hybrid, Cayenne S E-Hybrid and Cayenne Turbo E-Hybrid versions, there are now three PHEV models to choose from - and, while none quite compete with rivals of the longest electric range on this list, all qualify for an eight-per-cent BIK band. The two lesser models combine V6 turbo petrol engines with their electric motors, the S E-Hybrid making a little over 500bhp, and managing 0-62mph in a little under 5.0sec; while the Turbo E-Hybrid is one of few V8-hybrid PHEVs on the market, with in excess of 700-horsepower, 0-62mph in just 3.7sec, and a top speed beyond 180mph.

WIth a renewed interior packed with material quality and digital technology, and bristling with driver appeal, there's no other PHEV quite like this - and few that justify a high price in such clear and direct sporting terms.

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6. BMW X1


BMW's second entry in this top ten really proves how quickly PHEV technology is improving. Three years ago, only a handful of electrified mid-sized SUV were rated for more than 40 miles of electric running, and most of those priced at a premium even when sold by non-premium brands.

Today, however - even with the rampant inflation we've seen since then - you can pay less than £45k for a mid-sized SUV rated for more than 50 miles of 'EAER' electric range, provided you know where to look.

The BMW X1 is where. It is offered with two PHEV powertrains in addition to cheaper 'ICE' powertrains: the X1 xDrive25e and xDrive30e. Both use 1.5-litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol engines for the front axle, and electric drive motors over their rear ones; both can be equipped just so for a little over 50 miles of EAER electric range; and while the -25e offers 242bhp of total system power, the -30e increases that to 321bhp.

The X1 has an especially spacious cabin for a mid-sized SUV, and handles with plenty of grip and precision; although its multimedia usability isn't great. But it is one of the smarter ways to get lots of electric running in a smaller and more affordable package.

Read our BMW X1 review

7. Lexus NX


Refinement feels like it should be a natural quality of the hybrid SUV, but few of them offer as much of it as the Lexus NX. Lexus has been making electrified SUVs for longer than most car companies, of course - but it's the company's habitual focus on filtering out the outside world, and lavishing fine attention-to-detail on producing a really relaxing driving experience, that shines through in the NX.

This is a mid-sized, five-seater SUV sized to compete with anything from a Range Rover Evoque to a BMW X3. Available with a choice of electrified powertrains - as a 350h self-charging four-cylinder hybrid, or a 450h+ plug-in option - it doesn't railroad private buyers into living with a PHEV option that may not suit them. If you go for the pricier PHEV, you'll get a car rated for 45 miles of electric range; but if you can't charge it, and don't pay company car tax anyway, you could have the regular hybrid instead, save a few quid, and know that you're not lugging around so many kWh of battery ballast that isn't really useful to you.

Lexus's familiar hybrid drive system makes for a slightly distant-feeling driving experience, but it doesn't want for outright performance; while the handling of F-Sport grade cars, on adaptive dampers, is neat, tidy and precise.

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8. Volkswagen Tiguan


When you read the word Volkswagen, the next word that springs to mind is most likely Golf. But those in the know know that the Tiguan is in fact VW’s best-seller. Has been since 2018. 

And this latest third-generation model is better than ever. Engines come in two by two. There are two mild-hybrid petrols, two PHEVs, two turbocharged petrols and two 2.0-litre diesels.

Both PHEVs use the same sizeable drive battery and are rated for more than 70 miles of electric range, allowing them to qualify for benefit-in-kind company car tax of 5%.

Models fitted with the Golf-GTI-proven DCC Pro adaptive dampers hold the road exceptionally well, with crisp turn-in and well-contained body movement. This family SUV can really hide its bulk and does a passing impression of something lighter and smaller.

9. Volvo XC60


Like the rest of the Volvo plug-in range, the handsome XC60 boasts an 18.8kWh drive battery, which takes the car's EV range capability to around 50 miles according to WLTP figures. Not only does that make this sybaritic SUV an even more relaxing companion, it drops it into a wallet-friendly 8% BiK band for business users - and also means you can use plenty of short-range electric running to save money on fuel.

The flagship T8 version serves-up petrol-electric combined might of 395bhp, but it weighs in with a price tag that's uncomfortably close to XC90 money. Better is the T6, which musters a still very respectable 345bhp and a 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds, which is plenty for a near two-tonne SUV, especially one that prioritises cruising comfort over the high-jinx cornering antics that rivals such as the BMW X3 target.

Better still, its motor and battery are identical to the more powerful version, so you get the same refined and effortless urge when you're travelling on electricity alone.

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10. Kia Sorento


The Kia Sorento PHEV is one of a small handful of seven-seat plug-in hybrids on the market and, being a Kia, it doesn't come with an exorbitant price. For a company car driver with a family in tow, this could be a done deal.

It makes use of a 1.6-turbocharged petrol engine and a beefier electric motor than you get in the underwhelming Sorento 'HEV' Hybrid, as well as a larger, 13.8kWh battery pack. Kia claims that it can travel up to 35 miles on electrons alone, which slots it into the 12% BIK band.

Performance is good in both electric and hybrid running modes, and while it's hardly a vehicle to inspire a more spirited style of driving, it does at least handle with plenty of confidence - even if it wallows a bit on lumpier stretches of road.

Standard equipment is really strong, even in lower-end models, and the cabin is genuinely vast. Material quality might not be on quite the same level as that of some European rivals, but for sheer utility appeal, the Sorento is tough to beat. Not many seven-seat SUVs can comfortably accommodate adult passengers in their third rows, after all.

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

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harf 4 July 2023

Oh dear, PHEVs - where to start? Two main issues for me

 1. should always, always, have had their emissions based on a combination of battery full and battery empty. Stop manufacturers taking the p!ss by managing to package a big battery with a turbo V8 and this be considered an eco car. Whereas a smaller, lighter car can't fit a big enough battery to be able to achieve the required EV only range. Utter nonsense

 2. neighbour has a Mercedes C350e, 7 years old and 35k mileage and worth £13.5k trade in if working. A failure of the high voltage battery has left her with no choice but to pay a £9k (!) replacement cost otherwise the car won't move and has no value. So we're going to start writing off cars when they're worth £9k are we?

 For someone who typically owns cars 7-12yrs old I'll be avoiding PHEVs for as long as possible. The paltry fuel savings are completely offset by battery replacement costs or insurance to cover you against it happening

The Apprentice 4 July 2023
The Toyota is the only one with a sufficiently efficient hybrid system that as the article states can still do 45mpg even with a flat battery making odd long runs not super expensive. All the others will be in the 25 to 35mpg area when flat so its the only truly 'universal' vehicle in practice.
And so what actually 12 April 2021

these are all PHEVs, is that the only type of Hybrid? 

They can easily cheat their emissions tests in the real world. These are heavy cars often not being charged by the user.

Why not include a FHEV or 2 to mix it up?