Top 10 best hybrid SUVs 2024

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

The UK government has now done what amounts to a 180-degree U-turn on its stance on plug-in hybrid cars. Despite having had a benefit-in-kind company car tax system that has incentivised their adoption since 2021, it currently plans to treat PHEVs and regular HEVs (Hybrid Electric Vehicles) no differently from other combustion-engined vehicles in the longer term; they face a gradual phasing out as 'ZEV Mandate' legislation bites running up to and beyond 2030, followed by a total ban in 2035.

With the adoption of even more BIK-tax-efficient electric cars remaining problematic for a great many of us, however, a hybrid family SUV could well be the most sensible option on the menu for the medium term. And the good news is, for most people most of the time, the PHEV continues to makes a lot of sense. For commuting and most running around, they now offer very usable electric range, while 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-rising, 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.

These are our top 10 hybrid SUVs of 2024.

*1. Mercedes-Benz GLC 300e*

*Pros: *exceptional electric-only range, impressive digital cabin technology, lots of luxury cabin feel.

*Cons: *it rides and handles on country roads like the heavy SUV it is, and it's not cheap.

If it's the potential for lots of electric-only running that attracts you to the idea of a plug-in 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 along 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 this is a £65,000 SUV without options or any particularly lavish model trim. 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.

*Read our Mercedes GLC 300e review*

*2. BMW X5 xDrive50e*

*Pros*: rides and handles really well, offers plenty of real-world electric range, has a smooth and powerful BMW straight six

*Cons*: there's no seven-seat option, and it trades a little bit of cargo space

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 an enlarged 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.

Inspite 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 xDrive50e review*

*3. Kia Sportage PHEV*

*Pros:* great value compared with other 8 per cent PHEVs, looks distinctive, impressive cabin quality 

*Cons: *ride and handling are only okay

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 PHEV to be really tax-efficient in 2024, 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.

The Sportage 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. If a fully electric mid-sized company car won't work for you, this might be the next best thing.

*Read our Kia Sportage review*

*4. Range Rover Sport P460e*

*Pros: *low benefit-in-kind bracket, smooth six-cylinder petrol engine, enticingly luxurious cabin and ride

*Cons: *they start at £90k, and if you spend too much on options you might not end up in the wrong tax bracket

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.

*Read our Range Rover Sport review*

*5. Porsche Cayenne*

*Pros: *combines a low BIK rating with as much performance punch as you can afford, great cabin richness and digital tech

*Cons: *has the kind of pricing you might expect of a big Porsche, not quite as refined as some rivals

The Porsche Cayenne remains the segment's defining performance SUV. It has always offered knock-out performance powertrains, of course; but in this latest, 2024-mmodel-year, facelifted third-generation version, it puts at least as much emphasys on tax-savvy plug-in hybrid power, in order to keep the car relevant as a 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.

*Read our Porsche Cayenne review*

*6. BMW X1 xDrive 25e and -30e*

*Pros:* rated for more than 50 miles of electric range, priced from under £45k, well-packaged, and desirable with it.

*Cons:* touchscreen multimedia system is distracting to use

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. Renewed in 2022, this car 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*

*Pros: *refined and luxurious, with some smart digital features

*Cons: *not as spacious as some for the money, hybrid system isn't a natural entertainer

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 an HEV instead, save a few quid, and know that you're not lugging around so many kWh of battery ballast that isn't really uselful 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.

*Read our Lexus NX review*

*8. Hyundai Santa Fe*

*Pros: *decent value, seven-seat practicality, five-year warranty

*Cons: *it's a 12 per cent BIK running prospect

Not only is the Hyundai Santa Fe an Autocar award winner, it’s available with one of the widest array of powertrains, including pure ICE, hybrid and plug-in options. Of the three, it’s the latter that best suits the character of a car that’s as likely to be tackling the school run as it mooching along motorways.

With a combined output of 261bhp there’s just enough energy for brisk acceleration, while the accurate and assured handling is matched to a decent dose of comfort - few cars are as relaxing to drive. If there’s an issue then it’s the fact the Korean machine is limited to an EV range of just 36 miles, meaning it falls into a 12% BiK banding. However, given the Santa Fe undercuts some of the premium models in this list on price, you won’t be stung by as much as you think when it comes to paying tax.

More importantly, you’ll still be saving over an equivalent petrol or diesel, while the Santa Fe’s smart and spacious interior is proof positive that the brand’s premium aspirations aren’t misplaced. It’s also extremely well-equipped for the cash and has all the space a growing family could need; there are third row seats here, though they're best reserved for kids.

Other highlights include the excellent build quality and the lure, for private buyers at least, of a lengthy five-year warranty.

Read our Hyundai Santa Fe review

*9. Volvo XC60*

*Pros: *plenty of electric range, relaxing character, appealing interior, good space and versatility

*Cons: *T8 versions are expensive, not the most exciting car in its class to drive

Like the rest of the Volvo plug-in range, the handsome Volvo XC60 has been treated to some choice upgrades to its electrical hardware. The biggest change is the adoption of a larger 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.

As before there's a flagship T8 version that serves-up petrol-electric combined might of 395bhp, but it weighs in with a price tag that's uncomfortably close to £70,000. 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.

The Volvo XC60 has become the company's biggest-selling model in recent years, combining decent value with plenty of space and plenty of premium appeal.

*Read our Volvo XC60 review*

* *

*10. Kia Sorento*

*Pros: *good value, handsome looks, seven-seat practicality

*Cons: *only offers about 30 miles of real-world EV running, slightly soft body control

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.

*Read our Kia Sorento review*


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