Best Hybrid SUVs for 2018

Best Hybrid SUVs for 2018

The Top-Rated Hybrid SUVs

See our Best Hybrid SUVs for 2019

Jump To: Hybrid SUVs | Luxury Hybrid SUVs | Hybrid SUVs with 3rd Rows

On paper, a hybrid SUV sounds like an ideal blend, a car that offers versatility with a roomy interior and above-average fuel economy. The reality is a bit more complicated. Since SUVs sit higher off the ground, they create more aerodynamic drag than a sleek hybrid hatchback such as the Toyota Prius, which can achieve 50 mpg.

Finding somewhere to locate the hybrid battery pack, especially in an SUV that also needs to offer all-wheel drive, presents an additional challenge for automakers. Rear-seat and cargo space often suffer as a result. And while interest in hybrids tends to rise along with fuel prices, regular crossovers generally carry significantly lower prices without a major penalty at the pump.

That's why you'll find that the field of hybrid SUVs isn't overflowing with options. There are only a few good picks among mainstream models that start at less than $40,000 and a handful more when moving up to the luxury realm of SUVs that cost $50,000 or more. Whether you're looking for maximum fuel efficiency with simple utility, or something with more style and cachet, we've gathered our picks of today's best hybrid SUVs. We give you not only our expert ratings but also our insightful reviews to help you decide the right fit.

Best Hybrid Crossovers and SUVs for 2018

Our editors have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for today's crop of hybrid SUVs. We've put these hybrid SUVs through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors. Our analysis dives deep into trim levels, pricing, features, mpg, safety, interior features, and driving and performance. Is there enough room for our families and our weekend gear? Will our favorite drink fit in the cupholder? We want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.

Best Hybrid SUVs

Among SUVs, hybrid technology is no longer limited to premium models, having filtered down to more affordable model lines. Regardless of pedigree, however, SUVs present challenges for fitting and packaging hybrid components such as battery packs and cooling systems, especially in an all-wheel-drive configuration. There aren't many good non-luxury choices on the market, but our testing reveals the best in this limited field.

2019 Mini Countryman Cooper S E Hybrid

2019 Mini Countryman Cooper S E Hybrid - Front 3/4

The Countryman hybrid offers Mini's iconic style with gas-electric propulsion. It's a great idea that doesn't always deliver in the real world.

The idea seems sound: Take a stylish little SUV, add plug-in hybrid power that in theory could cover city driving on battery power alone, and make it as fun to drive as its gas-only counterparts. And Mini almost got it right. The Countryman Cooper S E delivers quick acceleration — faster than other Countryman models — and Mini's trademark nimble handling without sacrificing ride comfort. But the hybrid's brakes don't inspire confidence (stopping distance is far too long for a car this small), the cargo area is meager even for this pint-size class, and the gas tank shrinks considerably for hybrid duty. That means you'll be stopping for gas a lot when you're leaning on the gas engine, which is inevitable given the Mini's pitiful electric range of 12 miles or so. Ask us how we know. The Mini hybrid is also fairly expensive, although eligible tax credits can help lessen the sting. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $37,750 (less eligible tax credits)
Fuel economy: 27 mpg combined

2019 Mini Countryman Overview and Pricing

2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid - Action Front 3/4

The RAV4 hybrid is actually quicker than the non-hybrid version.

Roomy seating for five, generous cargo space and Toyota's reputation for reliability make the RAV4 a hit even without its 194-horsepower hybrid engine. But factor in 32 mpg combined and quicker acceleration than the gas-only RAV4 (which averages 24-26 mpg), and we think the hybrid is the one to get. Like its standard counterpart, the RAV4 hybrid offers a well-tuned, compliant suspension and a quiet highway ride. There's also a generous package of standard safety aids, including lane departure warning and automatic emergency braking. But also like the non-hybrid, the RAV4 tends to feel a little low-rent and basic inside. Look for improvement in the next-generation RAV4. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $28,430
Fuel economy: 32 mpg combined

2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Overview and Pricing

2018 Kia Niro

2018 Kia Niro - Action Front 3/4

The Niro qualifies as more of a hatchback than an SUV, but it's impressively efficient, in any case.

The Niro is the most affordable way into a hybrid SUV, although its low ground clearance and lack of all-wheel drive make it more of a hatchback than anything else. Whatever you choose to call it, the Niro is an intriguing addition to the hybrid class, offering an impressive range of premium touches in a segment that's not known for luxury. Standard features include dual-zone climate control and Apple CarPlay, while heated seats and advanced driving aids are optional on upper trims. The FE base model is the thriftiest of all, returning 50 mpg. But we like the midlevel EX for its additional features, and it still returns 49 mpg. The Niro is also available as a plug-in hybrid, offering up to 26 electric-only miles per charge. Overall, it's the small cargo area, lackluster powertrain refinement and the unavailability of AWD that keep the Niro from scoring higher. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $24,280
Fuel economy: 43-50 mpg combined

2018 Kia Niro Overview and Pricing

Compare Mainstream Hybrid SUVs

Best Luxury Hybrid SUVs

Moving up to the luxury class of hybrid SUVs, you'll find models that typically provide all the luxury goodness of their gas-only counterparts with the benefit of increased fuel efficiency. Some even offer three-row seating. Hybrid models, however, do tend to cost several thousand dollars more than conventional alternatives, which may not prove very cost-effective in the long run. And don't expect a luxury hybrid SUV to tow as much as non-hybrids; the systems typically can't handle the stress of pulling large loads.

2019 Volvo XC60 T8

2019 Volvo XC60 T8 - Front 3/4

The XC60 looks stylishly handsome as it moves through the curves.

With a handsome interior, luxury touches and a full complement of advanced safety aids, the XC60 T8 comes generously equipped. But this hybrid stands out as much for its knockout style as for its plug-in fuel-saving capability. A 2.0-liter gasoline engine for the front wheels and an electric motor for the rears deliver a combined 400 hp, which is real giddy-up for both city and highway scenarios. Like many hybrids, though, the T8 suffers from poor brake feel, and it also fails to deliver exceptional fuel economy. In our tests, the T8 returned 24.3 mpg (it's rated at 26 mpg), which is on par with the gas-only, and less expensive, T6 model. That said, the T8 also reliably gave us 20 electric-only miles on a full battery charge, so it's worth considering for drivers who only make short hops between charging sessions. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $53,895
Fuel economy: 26 mpg combined

2019 Volvo XC60 T8 Overview and Pricing

2019 Lexus NX 300h

2019 Lexus NX 300h - Front 3/4

With the larger Lexus RX hybrid as a template, the NX 300h offers similar quality and refinement in a smaller package.

With the benchmark RX 450h as its guide, the Lexus NX 300h occupies a similar niche when it comes to small hybrid luxury SUVs. The NX delivers class-leading fuel economy at 31 mpg, combined with a four-cylinder gas-electric powertrain that won't impress you with speed, but also won't disappoint on the highway or when threading through city traffic. A roomy interior, quiet ride and full suite of advanced safety aids enhance the NX's appeal, while only its below-average cargo capacity and quirky mouselike infotainment interface give us pause. Like the larger RX, the NX smartly balances refinement, comfort and fuel savings. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $39,560
Fuel economy: 31 mpg combined

2019 Lexus NX 300h Overview and Pricing

2018 BMW X5 xDrive40e

2018 BMW X5 xDrive40e  - Action Front 3/4

The X5 remains a favorite for the way it handles both curves and straight ribbons of open road.

The regular X5 remains a consistent favorite for us since it combines excellent space and utility with sporty handling and performance. The hybrid xDrive40e is a different story. Still lively and stable, the hybrid X5 suffers from common hybrid ailments: mediocre braking performance, bumpy transitions between electric and gas operation, and steering that feels lifeless. This is a BMW, however, so you still get a top-notch interior and advanced infotainment tech. There's also a nifty hatch split into a liftgate and a short tailgate, which is a handy configuration for daily use. But with just 14 miles of electric range and a $4,250 premium over the gas-only xDrive35i (rated at 20 mpg combined), we're not convinced the X5 hybrid is worth the extra cost. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $64,745
Fuel economy: 24 mpg combined

2018 BMW X5 Hybrid Overview and Pricing

Compare Luxury Hybrid SUVs

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Hybrid SUVs with 3rd Rows

Hybrid components such as batteries and cooling arrays consume a lot of space under the car, so it's remarkable when designers and engineers develop systems that don't compromise interior packaging. For instance, the Acura MDX Sport Hybrid and Lexus RX 450hL, our top pick in this category, can seat seven. They're ideal for larger families who still require top fuel economy.

2018 Lexus RX 450h

2018 Lexus RX 450h - Front 3/4

A quiet ride, impeccable interior quality and excellent fuel economy make the RX 450h a benchmark.

Among today's crop of luxury hybrid SUVs, the RX 450h is a benchmark. Not only does it offer all the utility you expect from a crossover SUV (55 cubic feet of cargo space and even an optional third row in the RX 450hL), there's also a hearty 308-hp V6 engine that pairs with dual electric motors to return 30 mpg combined. For perspective, consider that the non-hybrid RX 350 all-wheel-drive model returns just 22 mpg. There's a suite of standard advanced safety aids, as you'd expect, along with the quality and craftsmanship that Lexus is known for, especially inside the cabin. The RX 450h isn't perfect, but in this class, none is better overall. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $46,920
Fuel economy: 29-30 mpg combined

2018 Lexus RX 450h Overview and Pricing

2019 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

2019 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid - Front 3/4

The MDX Sport Hybrid deftly walks the line between bold and restrained exterior design.

The MDX Sport Hybrid offers an alluring combination of performance, utility and daily efficiency. On curvy roads, the MDX hybrid feels eager and nimble, and it's impressively quick in a straight line. Inside, the MDX offers plush leather seats, a quiet ride (enhanced by electric-only operation at low speeds), and a cargo area that remains generous despite all the advanced hardware packaged underneath. Alas, like its rivals, the MDX hybrid suffers from stiff brake feel that can make it hard to judge stopping distances. The MDX also transitions between electric and gas power awkwardly, especially at low speeds, which takes a little shine off the overall experience. You'll appreciate the fuel economy, though — rated at 27 mpg combined, the MDX recorded an excellent 29.6 mpg in our combined-driving test. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $53,795
Fuel economy: 27 mpg combined

2019 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid Overview and Pricing

Compare Hybrid SUVs with 3rd Rows

Pros and Cons of Hybrid SUVs

Given the preference for crossovers and SUVs today, it makes sense to see similar interest in hybrid versions of these versatile vehicles. Hybrid SUVs do tend to return better fuel economy, especially in city driving, while offering plenty of room for other passengers and cargo.

Plug-in hybrid SUVs go a step further by allowing you to operate solely on electric power for miles at a time. Drivers with short commutes could conceivably travel almost entirely without gas. Depending on where you live, there might also be tax incentives for buying a plug-in hybrid SUV, reducing the cost to you. With fewer tailpipe emissions, you also help keep your community's air cleaner.

On the downside, hybrid battery packs eventually need replacing if you keep your car long enough, and that can be a big expense. Hybrid SUVs are also generally at their least efficient when cruising at high speed. So if you spend a lot of time driving on freeways with high-speed limits, you may not see the same mileage benefits. Hybrid SUVs also tend to come with a price premium over their non-hybrid competitors, which might offset your savings on gas.

Hybrid vs. Plug-in Hybrid

A conventional hybrid is one powered by a gasoline engine that works in tandem with a battery-powered electric motor (or motors) in certain driving conditions. In low-speed city driving, for example, the electric power provides a major assist to the gas engine, resulting in significantly lower urban fuel consumption. Hybrids also get a boost in acceleration thanks to that extra electric juice, although this advantage is frequently offset by the fact that the gas engine is rather weak on its own. Nearly all hybrids can self-charge the electric battery through engine power (similar to a generator) or during braking when the heat generated by braking can be converted to energy stored in the battery pack (hence the term "regenerative braking").

Plug-in hybrids take this a step further by offering a larger battery pack with a connection that allows direct "plug-in" charging. Even a standard household-style outlet can get the job done, though it'll take forever. Most owners will seek out Level 2 or DC fast-charging connections to cut charging times way down. Plug-in hybrids can typically go between 10 and 25 miles on electricity alone before the gasoline engine kicks in. Once its battery is depleted, a plug-in hybrid will operate using a mix of gasoline and electric propulsion, much like a conventional hybrid.

Choosing the Right Hybrid SUV for You

Shopping for the hybrid SUV that best suits your needs can be a daunting task. Good choices are few and come with compromises, including limited cargo capacity, awkward braking and some powertrain quirks. There's also the cost-value equation. Quite simply, many hybrid SUVs don't deliver eye-popping fuel savings compared to gas-only counterparts, yet they can cost considerably more.

But a hybrid SUV can make sense if your driving is limited to short commutes punctuated by stop-and-go traffic, especially if you opt for a plug-in hybrid that offers a cache of electric-only miles. Manage it correctly and you can do much of your driving without dipping into the gasoline supply. While hybrid SUVs pose some challenges, they can certainly be a great fit for many drivers. For a complete list of Edmunds' best SUVs, visit our SUV Rankings page.

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