The best hybrid SUVs 2020

  • Which hybrid SUV should you buy in 2020?
  • Parkers picks the best examples on sale
  • Plenty of choice in the UK car market 

Hybrid cars and SUVs are both enjoying immense popularity among motorists – the former for their green credentials and low running costs, the latter for their rugged appearance, high driving position and good practicality. Surely then, combining the two is practically a licence for car manufacturers to print money?

Needless to say, many automotive firms are cottoning on to this, and a great many now offer a hybrid SUV in their range. These range from so-called mild hybrids – cars that can’t operate solely on electric power and instead simply add a tiny bit of electrical assistance to a conventional engine – right up to plug-in hybrids, which are capable of doing an average weekly mileage without ever resorting to their combustion engines.

>> What is a hybrid car?

The advantages to a hybrid SUV are obvious. These large, often heavy cars tend to suffer worse fuel economy than their hatchback, saloon or estate car siblings. It’s the price you pay for that commanding height and blocky styling, but it’s one that can be aided with the addition of hybrid technology.

Plug-in hybrid

Better yet, the larger bodies of these cars are often more accommodating of a bulky battery pack and electric motor than their smaller competitors, making them ripe candidates for hybridisation.

Not every hybrid SUV is a sound buy, however – as well as the powertrain, there are so many other things to consider. Does it drive well? Is the interior practical? Would a non-hybrid model prove better value? We’ve driven all the cars on this list, and feel confident in recommending them as hybrid SUVs that perform all of their duties very well indeed.

Scroll down to read our choices. You can click on the links below to jump to your favourite, or click further down to read the full Parkers reviews – which will also take you through the car’s non-hybrid options, if there are any.

Best hybrid SUVs

Volvo XC90 

Volvo XC90 T8

We rate the Volvo XC90 highly in so many areas it’s quite hard to keep track. It’s one of our favourite seven-seat SUVs, with plenty of space for a big family and all their gubbins. It has one of the best interiors of any SUV, blending Scandinavian style with sumptuous comfort. And it’s incredibly safe – Volvo has a long and storied history of building safe cars and this is no exception.

Though it can be bought with conventional engines, it’s the T8 ‘Twin Engine’ plug-in hybrid model that interests us the most – it pairs a 2.0-litre petrol engine to an electric motor. The combination delivers speeds that would shame many a hot hatchback – a healthy 395hp combined sees to that.

It’s capable of around 25 miles on electric power alone, and if you heavily rely on this and can charge at home you could save hundreds of pounds on fuelling costs. The trade off? You’ll struggle to best 30mpg on longer trips if you have to rely on the petrol engine alone.

Price new: From £67,495
Lease this car: From £560 per month
Search for a used Volvo XC90 on Parkers here

Toyota RAV4 

Toyota RAV4

The previous-generation Toyota RAV4 was available with a hybrid drivetrain, but it was far from a good option. The current model, however, is available exclusively as a hybrid, and benefits from Toyota’s now-decades of experience in building these models. In short, it’s a very well-sorted vehicle indeed.

A relatively large, unstressed 2.5-litre engine is paired up to either one electric motor or two (the latter in 4WD models) in a self-charging configuration – that means no electric-only range to speak of, but a lower purchase price and more consistent fuel economy. A plug-in hybrid model has been announced, too.

The RAV4 drives better than ever – it’s comfortable and handles very well for a car of its size. While it’s a strict five-seater, it makes an excellent family car too, with a huge boot, loads of room in the back and a robust interior well up to the perils of life with children.

Price new: From £30,970
Lease this car: From £311 per month
Search for a used Toyota RAV4 on Parkers here

Honda CR-V 

Honda CR-V Hybrid

Honda’s decision to drop diesel engines from its CR-V line became justified when it launched this excellent hybrid model. The CR-V Hybrid maintains the benefits of its incredibly practical combustion-engined sister – a cavernous boot, loads of space for passengers and lots of clever interior touches – and adds a refined and efficient hybrid powertrain.

Unusually, the CR-V’s engine doesn’t engage with the wheels at all at low speeds – rather, it provides charge for the batteries and electric motor. Once on a faster road, such as a motorway, a single-speed gearbox engages and the engine directly drives the wheels. In practice, you’ll never notice the two power sources shifting around.

Honda’s legendary reputation for reliability means ownership should be painless, and overall the CR-V Hybrid should prove a thoroughly pleasant car to own.

Price new: From £30,500
Lease this car: From £314 per month
Search for a used Honda CR-V on Parkers here

Porsche Cayenne 

Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid

Okay, maybe opting for the £120,000+ ‘Turbo’ model is a bit of an indulgence when the still excellent Cayenne S E-Hybrid can be had for less than £70,000. This model is a cut above other large SUVs when it comes to its driving dynamics. We’d expect no less from Porsche, of course, but it really is impressive how well this huge, heavy SUV takes corners.

Porsche hasn’t forgotten about the rest of the car’s features, either. It’s good for 20 miles on a full charge, will seat four in comfort or five at a slight squeeze, and – provided you spend enough on the extensive options list – can be had with as much up-to-date technology as you like.

Then, of course, there’s the bragging rights earned by driving a Porsche. And the smugness points earned as you set off silently on pure electric power, or the intoxication of allowing the 3.0-litre V6 to fire up and catapult you towards the horizon at a frightening pace. This is an expensive car, but it’s a very good one indeed.

Price new: From £68,358
Search for a used Porsche Cayenne on Parkers here


Black 2020 BMW X5 PHEV front three-quarter driving

BMW's X5 has just been boosted by a plug-in hybrid for the fourth-generation range, badged xDrive45e. Thankfully, this remains an extremely polished all-rounder, meaning it's comfortable, refined and drives really well - except now, you can silently waft under electric power for approximately 45 miles with a fully-charged battery (claimed figure is 50-54 miles).

Under the bonnet lies a 286hp six-cylinder petrol engine, and while we're big fans of the 3.0-litre diesel, the added smoothness and hushed performance is a bonus here. Paired up with a 113hp electric motor, the xDrive45e has a combined power output of 394hp, which, despite the cars heft, is plenty.

Official claims of up to 201.8-235.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 27-32g/km will doubtless impress, considering the X5's brutish looks. Speaking of which, the X5's dimensions and imposing front grille might be intimidating at first, but spend some time with it and you'll discover this is simply one big friendly giant.

Price new: From £59,580
Lease this car: From £719 per month
Search for a used BMW X5 on Parkers here

Vauxhall Grandland X 

White 2020 Vauxhall Grandland X Hybrid4 front three-quarter

Vauxhall - owned by French giant PSA - now shares technology with a number of other brands, including the plug-in hybrid system fitted to the Grandland X, including the closely related Citroen C5 Aircross, DS 7 Crossback and Peugeot 3008.

Combining a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine with battery power produces two versions of the PHEV Grandland X - the Hybrid with 225hp is front-wheel drive, while the Hybrid4 has 300hp and sends its power to all four wheels.

Both can be driven at up to 84mph in electric-only mode, but you'll soon erode the claimed ranges of 34 miles for the Hybrid, 35 for the Hybrid4. Not only do these SUVs appeal because of their low running costs with claims up 204mpg and CO2 emissions of 26g/km for the Hybrid4, they're not slow either. A 0-62mph time of 8.6 seconds is impressive enough for the 225hp Hybrid, but this is reduced to just 5.9 seconds for the 300hp Hybrid4 - enough to easily outrun many a sports car.

However, in more practical terms, they share other virtues with conventional petrol- and diesel-only Grandland Xs, such as a roomy, comfortable interior and high levels of standard equipment.

Price new: From £36,700
Lease this car: From £254 per month
Search for a used Vauxhall Grandland X on Parkers here

Kia Niro 

Blue 2020 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid front three-quarter

Kia was one of the first brands to combine the joint appeals of an SUV body and a hybrid engine when it launched the Niro back in 2016, but it's gone further than most. That orginal 'self-charging' Hybrid was later joined not only by a Plug-in Hybrid version, but also a fully electric e-Niro. Still no other brand offers that breadth of choice in an SUV package.

Both the Hybrid and Plug-in have a 1.6-litre petrol engine combined with an electric motor producing 141hp, paired to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, but they differ significantly in battery size. Whereas the Hybrid has a modest 1.56kWh pack under the rear seat, the Plug-in's is 8.9kWh and is fitted under the boot floor as well as the rear seat. For reference, the electric e-Niro's battery pack has a capacity of 64kWh.

Unsurprisingly, they also differ in terms of efficiency. While the Hybrid averages 58.9mpg and has CO emissions of 110g/km, the Plug-in is rated at 201.8mpg and 31g/km of CO2. Additionally, the Plug-in's larger battery will allow it to run in fully electric mode for up to 36 miles.

Less tall than many other SUVs, the Niro is nevertheless roomy and has modern, well-built interior that's packed with standard equipment. And, with a seven-year manufacturer's warranty, there's significant peace of mind, too.

Price new: From £24,855
Lease this car: From £244 per month
Search for a used Kia Niro on Parkers here

Audi Q5 

Green 2020 Audi Q5 TFSI e front three-quarter

Back in the earlier days of plug-in hybrid technology, Audi applied the E-Tron name to such models, but now that badge is exclusively used by its fully electric cars. Instead, the less catchy TFSI e monicker is used, as evidenced by the pair of Q5 PHEVs available.

Both use a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine paired with an electric motor, giving four-wheel drive - Quattro in Audispeak. There's a choice of two power outputs: the 50 TFSI e produces 299hp, while the 55 TFSI e has 367hp on tap. For the latter, it has enough urgency to complete the 0-62mph sprint in just 5.3 seconds. 

Of course, it's not primarily the performance that's the main attraction of these kind of cars, but the potential for low running costs, and in that regard neither disappoints. The 50 TFSI e is the more fruagl of the two with claims of up to 117.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 55g/km, but the 55 TFSI e isn't far behind at 104.6mpg and 59g/km. The battery pack is sufficient for an electric-only range of 26 miles.

The icing on the Q5's cake is that it's well-built, stylish, it handles well while remaining comfortable and there's strong demand for used ones, so it shouldn't prove difficult to sell it on when the time comes.

Price new: From £49,735
Lease this car: From £476 per month
Search for a used Audi Q5 on Parkers here

Further reading:

>> Best hybrid cars 2020

>> Best electric SUVs 2020

>> What is a hybrid?