The best hybrid SUVs to buy in 2024

James Batchelor

3 Jan 2024

SUVs have traditionally been powered by big engines, as large amounts of power and torque were needed to haul around all of that interior space and (sometimes) off-road gadgetry. However, times change, and many of the largest SUVs now come with hybrid engines and cheaper running costs. 

When we say hybrid we are including full-hybrids (or 'self-charging hybrids' as they are often called), where a tiny electric motor and battery pack assists the petrol engine at low speeds and can power the car on electricity for short distances, and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). The latter uses a larger electric motor and battery pack to allow greater distances to be covered in EV mode, and these need to be charged up from an on-street charger or, better still, overnight at home for the cheapest running costs.

Full-hybrids work well for those who are making their first steps into electric motoring, and perhaps will find charging a car with a cable difficult due to their circumstances. PHEVs, meanwhile, are excellent for those with convenient charging and also for company car drivers thanks to tax breaks through the benefit-in-kind (BiK) system. 

Here we run down the best hybrid SUVs on sale right now. If you need an SUV with four-wheel drive and, perhaps, greater off-road abilities, take a look at our best hybrid 4x4s to buy in 2024 list.

10. Citroen C5 Aircross Plug-in Hybrid

Our pick: Shine

Price: £35,935

Range: 37 miles

Citroen is now well known for producing electric cars thanks to the e-C4 and the crazy Ami, but it also has a good line in plug-in hybrids. The C5 Aircross has been on sale for around five years now, but it’s still a great option for families who desire comfort and cheaper running costs. 

Under the bonnet lies a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine alongside a 13.2kW battery to produce 225bhp. Emissions come in at 32g/km with a claimed EAER fully electric range of 38 miles (which is more like 34 miles in everyday driving), and power shifts between the petrol engine and electric motor smoothly. What’s even more smooth is the ride comfort – the C5 Aircross, like all, recent Citroens, has specially tuned suspension to deliver a very cushy ride.

The C5 Aircross is a little on the pricey side and the car’s battery does eat into boot room, but the interior is still spacious (it has nifty sliding rear seats), it’s well made and it’s a very easy car to live with.

Citroen C5 Aircross, action shot, front three quarters, French registered, blue car Like all Citroens, the C5 Aircross concentrates on comfort

9. Mercedes-Benz GLC

Our pick: GLC 300de 4Matic AMG Line Premium

Price: £70,460

Range: 72-73 miles

Mercedes offers something a little unusual in the hybrid segment as some of its models come with petrol and also diesel engines. One of those is the newly launched GLC which comes with either a 201bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine and a 134bhp electric motor, or for around £2,000 more, a 194bhp 2.0-litre diesel and the same electric motor. Both give over 70 miles of pure electric driving, which is more than any other car on this list, and Mercedes claims wildly impossible figures of between 500 and 700mpg. 

Which one you go for really depends on your driving style and your circumstances. For mostly town work and the occasional long journey the petrol will be more than suitable, but for those who slog on the motorway everyday then the diesel is probably the better option as it’ll be more efficient. The diesel (called 300de) is our choice on this list as it’s an excellent all-rounder.

It isn’t cheap but the GLC has a classy look inside and out, and by falling into the 11-12% tax bracket it’ll be super cheap to run for business users – only one of Merc’s fully-electric models would be cheaper on BiK. 

The GLC - older readers might instantly think of London councils or naughty 1990s bands

8. Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid

Our pick: E-Hybrid

Price: £79,800

Range: 41-46 miles

Porsche has just launched a new Cayenne E-Hybrid, and we’ll admit we haven’t tested it yet. But as the new model is a heavy update of the previous model and a car we are very familiar with, so we can confidently place it in this list and recommend it as one of the best hybrid SUVs on sale.

The new version just builds on what was a very compelling package. The 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 remains, but the battery grows from 17.9 to 25.9kWh, meaning the big Porsche can now cover up to 46 miles on electricity alone. The electric motor has been tweaked resulting in more power, with the E-Hybrid’s total output now standing at 463bhp. That’s good for a 0-62mph acceleration time of 4.9 seconds.

There’s a new interior up front and the styling has been tweaked slightly, but the lovely combination of comfort and agile handling still features. For those who want the performance and prestige of a sports SUV and wallet-friendly running costs, the Cayenne E-Hybrid is a fantastic choice. 

Porsche Cayenne Hybrid The new model is a heavy update of the old car

7. Ford Kuga PHEV

Our pick: ST-Line X Edition

Price: £38,855

Range: 28-41 miles

Ford’s plug-in hybrid Kuga is a popular choice among families and business users and it’s easy to see why. It’s an SUV that doesn’t excel in one particular area but impresses in virtually all of them. 

Its 2.5-litre petrol engine isn’t all that remarkable and the slightly sloppy CVT (continuously variable transmission) doesn’t improve things either. But it’s fine for everyday driving and the 14.4kWh battery should give in excess of 30 miles, which is enough for the average commute. It falls into the 12% BiK bracket, and while some rivals offer more electric range and consequently are placed in lower tax bands, the Kuga is good enough considering its competitive price. 

All rather middling, but then you realise the ride and refinement are actually really rather good, and it steers and handles far better than nearly all of its rivals. The interior is also logically laid out, it’s well equipped, comfortable and has decent practicality. 

Ford Kuga ST Line X Eco Blue PHEV The Kuga looks a bit meh on paper, but drives really well

6. Range Rover Sport P460e

Our pick: Dynamic SE

Price: £92,980

Range: 70 miles

The previous Range Rover Sport appealed more for its low running costs than the way it drove as its 2.0-litre petrol engine was a little too weedy for such a large SUV. 

That’s no longer the case as the new third-generation Sport now features a lusty 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine and a much larger battery – 38.2kWh to be precise. It all adds up to a stomach-churning 0-62mph sprint time of 5.2 seconds, just 16 g/km and a claimed 70 miles of pure electric range. That puts it into the 5% BiK bracket meaning it’s a very appealing option if you’re a corporate high-flyer, as it’ll be super cheap to run and yet has all the presence and prestige of all the other Range Rover Sports in the same business car park.

The new Sport features much of its bigger brother’s opulent interior and a similar wafty ride when you just want to cruise from board meeting to board meeting. But when you’re in the mood for a more exciting commute, the Sport serves up a rather thrilling driving experience thanks to its four-wheel steering and active roll-bars, which help prevent the car’s body rolling around through the corners. 

There are two versions called the P460e and the more powerful (and pricier) P550e, but we’d opt for the former. Neither are cheap but do you really expect a Range Rover to cost buttons?

The new Sport has an unbeatable tax rate for company car drivers

5. Volvo XC90 Recharge

Our pick: T8 Plus

Price: From £61,528

Range: 42 miles

The seven-seater plug-in hybrid SUV is a common thing these days, but when Volvo placed its plug-in hybrid powertrain into its new XC90 in 2015 there were few, if any, rivals. The Swedish firm has tweaked its range-topping SUV over the years, and the latest version is the best yet. In fact, despite it being nearly a decade old, the XC90 is still a class act.

At the heart of the XC90 (and any plug-in hybrid Volvo) is a 2.0-litre petrol engine that’s both turbocharged and supercharged, meaning there’s plenty of power and torque all of the time. The battery pack is one area that has improved since the car originally launched and now measures 18.8kWh (14.7kWh useable), which is now good enough for more than 40 miles of pure electric running. Despite this, there’s still just 450bhp on offer giving this 2.4-tonne SUV a 0-62mph sprint time of 5.4 seconds – that’s seriously impressive.

One area that hasn’t changed over the years is the interior. There’s still ample room for seven people on board, and the interior has a cool, Swedish minimalist design that still looks good a decade on.  

Volvo XC90 The XC90 will be replaced eventually by the fully electric EX90

4. Hyundai Santa Fe HEV

Our pick: 1.6 T-GDi Hybrid Premium 4WD

Price: £43,240

Range: N/A

Even though it will shortly be replaced, we feel the Hyundai Santa Fe is the best choice if you’re looking for a hybrid with seven seats, and it scores well in this list too. 

There’s a new Santa Fe just around the corner but this current model still offers fantastic value for money for those after space, refinement and low running costs. This is particularly the case compared to the Kia Sorento, which although closely related, costs a hefty chunk more to buy – and we can’t work out why. 

The current car only comes in two trims and it’s the cheapest Premium version we’d go for as it’s still well equipped, coming with 17-inch wheels (the 19-inch wheels on the Ultimate give too firm a ride), a 10.25-inch screen with sat nav, and a premium audio system with 10 speakers and a subwoofer. The interior is well made, it’s spacious and will easily deliver 40mpg on most journeys. 

The Santa Fe is a great seven-seat family car

3. Volvo XC60 Recharge

Our pick: Plus T6 AWD

Price: £51,767

Range: 48 miles

Ah, another Volvo! And like the larger XC90, the XC60 has been steadily refined over the years with the current version featuring Volvo’s latest 18.8kWh (14.7kWh usable) battery, giving just under 50 miles of pure-electric range. 

It too features the excellent 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder petrol engine, and there are two power outputs – 345bhp in the T6 version and 448bhp in the T8. There’s no need to spend extra to get the T8 because although it’s punchier, it’s nudging £70,000 and that’s far too much money. 

The T6 still delivers more than respectable enough performance, with 0-62mph taking 5.7 seconds – just under a second slower than the T8 range-topper. Regardless of which one you go for, they are super smooth to drive and providing you don’t choose massive alloy wheels the ride is comfy. 

Speaking of comfort, the XC60’s interior is a marvellous place to sit with quality fixtures and fittings and a cool, minimalist design. 

Plug it in and the XC60 might give you 50 miles of petrol-free motoring

2. Lexus NX 450h+

Our pick: F Sport

Price: From £51,767

Range: 40 miles

As Toyota’s premium off-shoot Lexus has been offering hybrids for years, but the NX 450h+ is the brand’s first plug-in hybrid. The wait has been worth it because the NX 450h+ is a seriously impressive package that we really recommend. 

At the heart of the NX is the same plug-in hybrid set-up that you’ll find in the Toyota RAV4 PHEV, which is a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and an 18.1kWh battery. But because the Lexus is a rung higher up the posh ladder, the whole powertrain is a lot smoother and more refined. The switch between petrol and electric power is practically seamless, and the whole driving experience is very hushed.

The clever bit, though, is once you’ve used up the 40 miles of electricity the car reverts to being a hybrid and still offers some EV driving capability – in most PHEVs, once the electricity is gone, it drives like a normal petrol/diesel car. Add in a very comfortable and upmarket feeling interior, and the NX 450h+ is a very compelling package. 

The NX is Lexus' first PHEV

1. BMW X5 xDrive50e

Our pick: M Sport

Price: From £79,265

Range: 67 miles

If you want a hybrid SUV that does it all then look no further than the latest BMW X5. The German brand updated the car in 2023, throwing in a larger 25.7 kWh battery pack to work with the petrol engine. It means the plug-in X5 can now travel up to 67 miles on electric, which is more than enough for most peoples’ commutes and daily driving chores.

If you need to call on the engine to give some extra performance and range, then it’s one of the nicest on sale. BMW’s 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol unit is creamy smooth, powerful (there’s a total of 485bhp on offer) and makes a lovely noise. The gearbox slips through the gears well, too, and the switch between petrol and electric power is almost imperceptible. 

As it’s been recently updated, the X5 now features all of BMW’s latest technology and the interior feels special and well made. There’s loads of room for five people and because it’s a BMW it delivers an enjoyable driving experience with sharp steering and good ride control. 

A larger battery pack means more electric-only miles

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