- More plug-in hybrid vehicles are available than ever before, offering a quiet off-roading experience and plenty of total range.
- Until more charging stations are available and can power up an EV at a faster clip, PHEVs are a great compromise.
- Our list includes SUVs from Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, Jeep and Kia.
Here Are the Best Silent Off-Roading PHEVs You Can Buy
Just you and the sounds of chirping birds and crunching tires
If you’re out enjoying nature, part of the sensory experience is not just the sights but the smells and sounds of untamed territory. Exploring dirt roads off the asphalt and getting away from traffic whizzing by is a peaceful endeavor, previously punctuated by the intrusive sound of a gas-powered engine. Today, a selection of off-road capable plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles are available, so quiet you can almost tiptoe through the forest without disturbing the wildlife.
These are our top picks for off-roaders with a plug-in hybrid that allow you to operate silently on the trails.
The 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e 4Matic is equipped with an electric motor and a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine good for a total of 381 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. If getting off-road in a luxury SUV is your jam, you’re going to appreciate this plug-in hybrid’s capability to traverse the terrain in silence. No word on all-electric range yet, but we expect it to top out around 30 miles. That’s enough to get you through a solid day of overlanding.
2022 Jeep Wrangler 4xe
Jeep Wrangler 4xe
Jeep's iconic Wrangler is the mainstream standard for off-road adventuring, and the plug-in hybrid Wrangler 4xe offers plenty of rock-crawling prowess with 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. Its 21 miles of EPA-estimated electric range will take you nearly all the way through Jeep’s second home, the Rubicon Trail, and the 10-plus inches of ground clearance doesn’t hurt either. Sealed and waterproofed, the battery pack should do just fine even if you scrape the belly on a boulder that might have been a little bigger than you thought.
2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe plug-in hybrid
Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe
For those who prefer off-roading inside a nicely enclosed shell with niceties like massaging and heated seats, the Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe is a great choice. Powered by a turbocharged inline-four engine and two electric motors, the Grand Cherokee 4xe achieves 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. It squeezes a bit more range than the Wrangler 4xe — about 25 miles — and its Trailhawk trim offers as much ground clearance as the Wrangler 4xe Rubicon. The bigger Jeep is a bit more practical to boot, as the Grand Cherokee 4xe can tow up to 6,000 pounds while the Wrangler 4xe can handle up to 3,500 pounds.
Land Rover Range Rover Sport PHEV
With seating for five and a 3.0-liter twin-turbo straight-six paired with a 105-kW electric motor, the Range Rover Sport PHEV is rated for 434 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque. In the Rover plug-in hybrid, you can cruise off-road for a claimed 48 miles in all-electric mode. Range Rover calls this model "its quietest Range Rover yet" and it also boasts the capacity to plow through up to 35.4 inches of water. If it’s good enough for the Queen of England, it’s good enough for us.
Kia Sorento PHEV
Say what? Yep, a Kia Sorento. In 2021, Kia sent two teams to the Rebelle Rally in the brand-new PHEV version of its midsize crossover. Not only did both teams successfully finish the eight-day rally across the Mojave and Sonoran deserts, they ascended the podium in second and third place. The production version of the Sorento Plug-In Hybrid has only 6.9 inches of clearance (and even less if you add a skid plate to protect the underside), but its 32 miles of range and three rows of seating mean you can take the whole family along. Maybe stick to the easier trails, but you can certainly go off-road.
What we love about PHEVs versus EVs on the trail is that you have all the benefits of traditional power, including easy access to gas stations, but with zero-emission miles at the ready. Until the national EV infrastructure is shored up and faster overall, they may be the best option.