11 best hybrid SUVs for 2021 and 2022

·12 min read

If you're searching for the best hybrid SUV, the truth is there actually aren't that many choices. While there's an endless sea of those powered solely by gasoline, those that add batteries and superior fuel economy to the mix are few and far between. The very good news, however, is that the choices you have are actually excellent. The top-selling and top-rated Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 are not only available as hybrids, for instance, but are actually at their most appealing as hybrids. 

Luxury hybrid SUVs are a different story. While Lexus offers each of its crossover SUVs as a conventional hybrid, those of other brands are by and large plug-in hybrids that provide a relatively brief amount of all-electric propulsion, superior fuel economy and higher prices that are somewhat countered by EV tax rebates. We include both conventional hybrids and plug-in hybrids in the below list of best hybrid SUVs.

All are listed alphabetically within each category.

Best small hybrid SUVs | Best midsize hybrid SUVs

Best luxury hybrid SUVs | Best luxury plug-in hybrid SUVs

Best small hybrid SUVs

Honda CR-V Hybrid

Why it stands out: Best-in-class back seat space; hybrid's distinctive EV-like power delivery; middle lower LATCH anchor
Could be better: Antiquated and glitchy tech interface; a bit dull

Hybrid fuel economy: 38 mpg combined (AWD only)

Read our 2021 Honda CR-V Review

Consider the CR-V the baseline for any compact SUV search. Objectively speaking, it's tough to beat due to its massive cargo capacity, voluminous back seat, well-balanced driving dynamics, competitive pricing and features, strong safety ratings and well-regarded reliability. In terms of its hybridness, we like that Honda's distinctive hybrid system sees most of its propulsion handled by the electric motor (the engine rarely powers the wheels directly), resulting in a more EV-like, torque-rich power delivery and a less obtrusive gas engine. For the vast majority of compact SUV buyers, and especially families, the CR-V Hybrid checks every box. 

 

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

Why it stands out: Beautiful interior; excellent infotainment and safety technology; traditional automatic transmission
Could be better: No spare tire; styling a tad outrageous

Hybrid fuel economy: 37-38 mpg combined (AWD only)
Plug-in hybrid electric range: 33 miles
Plug-in hybrid fuel economy: 80 MPGe

Read our 2022 Hyundai Tucson Review

The Tucson is the new kid in town and it's made quite an entrance. Its fuel economy is effectively the same as the CR-V and RAV4, and its roughly the same size (it has a more useful cargo area, but that comes at the expense in part of no spare tire). On paper, it lines up closely with those top competitors. The big difference, and advantage, the Tucson Hybrid has can be found inside where it showcases a premium design with higher-quality materials and wildly superior technology. Be it the standard unit or the pretty widescreen one, Hyundai's touchscreens put Honda and Toyota's to shame in terms of functionality and aesthetics. Its driver assistance tech is also better executed. Basically, the Tucson is the more state-of-the-art choice. There is also a Tucson plug-in hybrid coming soon with 33 miles of range, but we have yet to test that. 

 

Kia Niro and Niro PHEV

Why it stands out: Lower price and better fuel economy than other hybrid SUVs; user-friendly tech
Could be better: AWD is not available; it's a smaller SUV and therefore it has less space

Hybrid combined fuel economy: 49 mpg (most trim levels), 50 mpg (FE trim) and 43 mpg (Touring trim)
Plug-in hybrid electric range: 26 miles
Plug-in hybrid fuel economy: 105 MPGe (FWD only)

Read our most recent Niro PHEV review

The Niro is different than the other small hybrid SUVs here in that it's smaller and cheaper. Technically, it's a subcompact SUV, but as the rest of those aren't offered as hybrids, the Niro gets to hang out with the big kids for a while. There are pros and cons to its unique positioning. A price tag that starts between $3,000 and $6,000 less than the others is the most significant pro, and you'll no doubt notice that it basically gets 10 mpg better than the other hybrid SUVs. Its fuel economy is more akin to a Prius. The downside is that although it's still reasonably spacious, there's no denying how much passenger and cargo room the Niro gives up to the far more family-friendly CR-V, RAV4 and Tucson. So it's different, but it's definitely worth a look.

 

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and RAV4 Prime

Why it stands out: Two hybrid choices; regular and sport-tuned flavors; spacious back seat and cargo area; reliability
Could be better: Antiquated tech interface

Hybrid combined fuel economy: 40 mpg (AWD only)
Plug-in hybrid electric range: 42 miles
Plug-in hybrid fuel economy: 94 MPGe

Our full 2021 Toyota RAV4 Review

The RAV4 has more passenger and cargo space than most. It's comfortable and surprisingly responsive to drive (especially the XSE Hybrid and Prime). Its interior is well built with quality materials, and offers user-friendly controls and abundant storage. Its resale value and reliability should be better than almost anything on the road. Those are all the basics that the RAV4 nails, but the latest version really stands out by offering an unparalleled variety of models. Although you can't get the hybrid as the very cool Adventure or TRD Off-Road, the surprisingly sporty XSE trim level (pictured above) is exclusive to the hybrid and its sport-tuned suspension (and overall character) is shared with the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid. We like that there's a little something for everyone with the RAV4. (Note that the Toyota Venza is basically a RAV4 Hybrid with different styling, a more luxurious cabin and less space. It's a worthy alternative to consider).

 

Best midsize hybrid SUVs

Kia Sorento Hybrid

Why it stands out: Two hybrid choices; best fuel economy of any three-row SUV; high-end cabin; well-executed tech
Could be better: No AWD version; not all Sorento trim levels are available

Hybrid combined fuel economy: 37 mpg (FWD only)
Plug-in hybrid electric range: 32 miles
Plug-in hybrid fuel economy: 79 MPGe

Read our full 2021 Kia Sorento Review

The Sorento is small for a three-row SUV — it basically has the exterior dimensions of a two-row midsize SUV but manages to sandwich in a third row for those who could foresee needing one on occasion. Completely redesigned for 2021, the Sorento features revised styling in keeping with but not copying the successful Telluride. Inside, material quality is elevated, the design is handsome and technology is not only abundant, but user friendly. The same well-executed driver assistance and safety features that so impress in the Palisade and Telluride are also available in the Sorento. And finally, the Sorento benefits from a choice of two hybrid powertrains: the 37-mpg traditional hybrid available now and the late-availability plug-in hybrid. 

 

Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Why it stands out: Best fuel economy for a large three-row crossover by a lot; high-end interior
Could be better: Cramped third-row seat compared to other large three-row crossovers; sluggish and simplistic infotainment

Hybrid combined fuel economy: 35 mpg (AWD only)

Read our full 2021 Toyota Highlander Review

The Highlander Hybrid may not have as much space inside as class-leading three-row crossovers like the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade, but it gets 14 mpg better. That difference is as massive as it seems. On the other hand, its interior space is gigantic compared to most vehicles that manage 35 mpg combined. Either way you look at it, the Highlander Hybrid is compelling. Besides its fuel economy, though, the recently redesigned Highlander is appealing in its own right with Palisade-rivaling interior quality, composed ride and handling, and ample feature content. It's also only $1,400 more than the gas-only V6-powered Highlander, which means you'll quickly pay back the premium.

 

Best luxury hybrid SUVs

Lexus NX 350h and NX 450h+

Why it stands out: Exceptional fuel economy; strong build quality; available plug-in hybrid
Could be better: On the small side for a compact SUV; same hybrid powertrain as RAV4 and Venza

Hybrid combined fuel economy: 37 mpg (FWD only)
Plug-in hybrid electric range: 32 miles
Plug-in hybrid fuel economy: 79 MPGe

Read our Lexus NX Review

The baby Lexus gets 42 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 39 mpg with all-wheel drive, which is truly exceptional for a subcompact luxury SUV. The BMW X1 sDrive28i, for example, is considered very fuel efficient for the segment and gets only 27 mpg combined. If you want a premium small SUV and want to keep your fuel consumption low, this is your best bet. We also like the UX's handsome and high-quality interior (up front at least, there's some cheap plastic in the back) that has plenty of distinctive elements not found in other Lexus vehicles. There are downsides, however. The UX is pretty cramped inside, the Remote Touch tech interface is a constant source of frustration, and acceleration is glacial for a luxury SUV. So it's not a perfect choice, but then when it comes to a small hybrid luxury SUV, Lexus is your only choice. (Note that Lexus also sells the NX 300h that slots in between the UX and NX in size and price, but it's about to be replaced and its 31 mpg pales in comparison to the cheaper and surprisingly luxurious 39-mpg Toyota Venza).

Lexus RX 450h

Why it stands out: It's the only midsize luxury hybrid; the interior is beautifully made; F Sport is enjoyable to drive
Could be better: Antiquated and unusual tech interface; L model's third row is pretty pointless

Hybrid combined fuel economy: 30 mpg (450h, AWD only) and 29 mpg (450h L, AWD only)

The Lexus RX has long enjoyed a reputation for bulletproof reliability and plenty of high-end features, but this latest version really kicked things up in terms of meticulous interior quality, improved driving dynamics (especially the F Sport model) and bold styling that admittedly won't be for everyone. It also introduced the extended-length RX 450h L that's more significant for its greater cargo capacity than its near-useless third-row seat. Since we're talking about hybrid SUVs, the RX 450h gets 30 mpg combined, which is pretty excellent for a midsize luxury SUV. Plus, unlike most other Lexus/Toyota hybrids, its 308 horsepower is perfectly competitive in terms of acceleration. 

 

Best plug-in hybrid luxury SUVs

BMW X3 xDrive30e

Why it stands out: Compelling price tag with tax rebates and gas savings; enjoyable to drive
Could be better: Minimal all-electric range; minimal color choices

Plug-in hybrid electric range: 18 miles
Plug-in hybrid fuel economy: 60 MPGe

Our full 2021 BMW X3 Review

Unlike BMW's 3 Series and 5 Series plug-in hybrids, the X3 doesn't suffer from a significant reduction in cargo capacity. Its reasonable $4,900 over the similarly equipped gas-only xDrive30i should also be erased by the $5,836 federal tax rebate plus the money you save by utilizing its 18 miles of all-electric range. In other words, this is not only a good plug-in hybrid SUV to consider, it's arguably the BMW X3 to get. You'll still get the same well-made and spacious interior, sharp driving dynamics, strong performance and ample in-car technology as every X3. 

The Volvo XC60 Recharge is also worthy of consideration. We think it looks better than the BMW and has a greater overall gas+electricity range, but it's also $4,000 more expensive and isn't as good to drive. 

 

Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring

Why it stands out: Massive performance; massive space; fashionable interior design
Could be better: High cost of entry

Plug-in hybrid electric range: 21 miles
Plug-in hybrid fuel economy: 56 MPGe

Our full 2022 Lincoln Aviator Review

The Aviator Grand Touring (aka plug-in hybrid) goes a bit further on a charge (21 miles) than the typical luxury plug-in hybrid and its overall miles-per-gallon-equivalent rating of 56 mpg-e is fully competitive. Despite these better-than-normal green credentials, it absolutely blows the competition out of the water with eye-bulging performance figures of 494 horsepower and 630 pound-feet of torque. That's borderline absurd. Like the gas-only Aviator, you get a spacious, well-equipped, easy-to-use and high-style interior, plus a refined driving experience that attempts to make your time behind the wheel "effortless" as opposed to "sporty." The main downside with the Grand Touring is you pay for that massive performance advantage — it starts at around $70,000. A Volvo XC90 Recharge is about $7,000 cheaper to start. 

 

Volvo XC90 Recharge

Why it stands out: Spacious third-row and cargo area; Scandinavian design; lower price for this subsegment of SUVs
Could be better: Unrefined gas engine; tech interface doesn't agree with everyone

Plug-in hybrid electric range: 18 miles
Plug-in hybrid fuel economy: 54 MPGe

Read our full 2021 Volvo XC90 Review

Rarely is a new car as equally capable of meeting practical needs and emotional wants, but the XC90 Recharge does just that. It's a three-row SUV with genuine room in all its rows for even adults and tons of cargo space. It's also a plug-in hybrid, so you should be saving plenty of gasoline and emitting less CO2. At the same time, the XC90 is one of the best-looking SUVs ever made, with clean Scandinavian design inside and out that still looks fantastic despite being introduced several years ago. Its luxury credentials are also well served with high-end materials and abundant feature content, and with 400 horsepower on tap, the XC90 Recharge also serves as the XC90's high-end, top-performance choice. Cake and eating too, etc. 

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