Miserly to Muscular: Hybrid, Plug-In & Electric SUVs

© Volvo Cars of North AmericaAlt-Fuel SUVs
The ever-popular sport-utility vehicle is a great landing spot for hybrid and EV powertrain technologies. Sport utilities haul a lot of people — rolling up miles both around town and on the open road — and are historically enthusiastic gas guzzlers. In many ways alt-fuel SUVs are projections of their gas-powered selves: the more fuel efficient become more fuel efficient, while sporty SUVs retain their speed but improve their mpg performance. The following list of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric SUVs runs the gamut from miserly to muscular.

© Tesla MotorsTesla Model X
Starting MSRP: $79,500
Big on buzz, the Model X says forget the gas pump altogether . . . it’s fully electric. The Tesla is a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive proposition that comes in three variants, each with higher capacity batteries and more range. The 75D and its 75-kWh lithium-ion battery has a 237-mile range. The 90D’s 90 kWh battery provides 257 miles of range, and the P100D and its 100-kWh battery pack is capable of 289 miles on a single charge. Of course these are averages, so an overtly heavy right foot will sacrifice some range. The P100D can sprint to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds, recharge 170 miles worth of electricity in 30 minutes, tow up to 5,000 pounds, and it has those cool Falcon Wing doors. There’s a lot to like about plugging in versus pumping up.

© Porsche Cars North AmericaPorsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid
Starting MSRP: $79,900
With a Porsche badge on its hood, you can bet performance is paramount for the Cayenne S E-Hybrid. A 3.0-liter supercharged V6 gas engine and an electric motor generate a total system output of 416 horsepower. This kind of muscle and a capable all-wheel-drive system make for an enthusiastic drive through the hills one apex at a time — or over the hills one ridge at a time. The Cayenne S E-Hybrid is a plug-in hybrid, which means it can be recharged and can run solely on electricity for short distances. In the case of the Cayenne, its all-electric range is 14 miles. In conventional hybrid mode this hybrid SUV delivers 22 mpg combined fuel efficiency . . . impressive considering the 400-plus horsepower under the right pedal.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceKia Niro FE
Starting MSRP: $23,340
Kia is a latecomer to hybrid SUV game, but it’s a chart-topper when it comes squeezing the miles out of every drop of fuel. Where many automakers offer more powerful or sporty SUVs, Kia focuses on efficiency, using a small economical 4-cylinder gasoline engine — not a larger V6. Its 1.6-liter, single electric motor front-drive powertrain only manages 139 horsepower, so drivers won’t be tearing up freeway on-ramps. However, the Niro’s 52-mpg city and 49-mpg highway ratings mean you’ll be motoring past plenty of off-ramps before needing to fuel up. Kia is developing a plug-in version of the Niro for 2018. It has a larger battery pack, a larger motor, and provides about 25 miles of all-electric range.

© Toyota Motor Sales USALexus RX 450h AWD
Starting MSRP: $45,695
As the more powerful model in the Lexus hybrid SUV lineup, the RX features a 3.5-liter V6 and an electric motor for total system horsepower of 308. The RX line features nine distinct versions, and the hybrid is the seventh most expensive. (It also happens to be 10 inches longer than the NX.) A gasoline V6 engine drives the front wheels while an electric motor is on call out back, completing the all-wheel-drive system’s 4-wheel prowess. Being a Lexus, the hybrid RX has an interior dressed to impress. At the pump, the 450h has EPA-estimated ratings of 28 mpg city / 31 mpg highway / 30 mpg combined.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord C-MAX SE
Starting MSRP: $24,120
It can be hard to put a finger on whether the C-MAX is an SUV or not. It has the cargo capacity and seating arrangement to qualify, but it is only available in front-wheel drive. The C-MAX is all about efficiency and it is not set up for sportiness. Ford offers it as a conventional hybrid or a plug-in hybrid under the C-MAX Energi banner. Both feature a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and an integrated electric motor with a total system output of 188 horsepower. The Energi ($27,120) will run 20 miles on only electricity and return 41 mpg city / 38-mpg highway / 39 mpg combined in hybrid mode. The standard C-MAX delivers 42 mpg city / 38 mpg highway / 40 mpg combined, making it the second-most-miserly ride on our list.

© Toyota Motor Sales USAToyota Highlander Hybrid LE
Starting MSRP: $36,670
This Highlander hybrid is much more fun than the entry-level gasoline-powered version. The Hybrid LE is all-wheel drive and teams a 3.5-liter V6 with an electric motor to generate 306 total system horsepower. The driveline is similar to the Lexus RX hybrid, but you save $9,000 if you can live with a little less leather and fewer swanky features. The Hybrid LE has EPA ratings of 30 mpg city / 28 mpg highway / 29 mpg combined, while providing an eminently more engaging drive compared to its entry-level gasoline counterpart. Like leather? Investigate the XLE and Limited model hybrids for more opulence and more features.

© Jaguar Land RoverJaguar I-PACE
Starting MSRP: $76,000 (est.)
Due in mid-2018, Jaguar’s all-electric SUV is a street terror that provides neck-snapping acceleration when hammering the throttle and a smooth hum when cruising the highway. The I-PACE has some strange proportions . . . a short nose with very little overhang and a swooping rear hatch that makes folks question whether they’re looking at an SUV or not. Think about it . . . why does an electric need a long hood? This all-wheel-drive Jaguar runs two motors that produce 400 horsepower and a whopping 516 lb-ft of torque. Its 90-kWh battery provides a 220-mile range. This Leaping cat has the credentials to be a real game-changer. Look out Tesla.

© American Honda MotorsAcura MDX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD
Starting MSRP: $52,100
A 257-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 is the MDX Sport Hybrid’s main motivator. It drives the front wheels and is paired with a 47-horsepower electric motor mounted in the transmission housing. At the stern, two additional 36-horsepower motors are positioned side by side between the rear wheels. The Acura’s overall output is 321 horsepower, and a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters keeps the driver focused on fun. Acura is Honda’s luxury brand, so the MDX has a generous standard equipment list and a vast palette of indulgent option packages. EPA estimations of pump performance at 26 mpg city / 27 mpg highway / 27 mpg combined is respectable middle ground for this list.

© Toyota Motor Sales USALexus NX 300h AWD
Starting MSRP: $38,335
The NX is the Lexus line’s smaller SUV offering. The styling of these SUVs is becoming too polarized; the proportions of the vehicle feel overmatched by the spindle grille that has become the nexus of the Lexus design universe. And the grille keeps getting larger and more domineering. The 300h combines a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder powerplant that motivates the front wheels and an electric motor on call out back. In this configuration, the NX brings a total system output of 194 horsepower to the table. Not nearly as muscular as the 450h, the NX 300h wins at the pump: its EPA estimates of 33 mpg city / 30 mpg highway / 31 mpg combined are among the most miserly on this list.

© Nissan North America, Inc.Nissan Rogue SV Hybrid
Starting MSRP: $26,640 FWD; $27,990 AWD
New for 2017, the hybrid version of Nissan’s popular Rogue SUV is the automaker’s only hybrid vehicle, and it’s priced to be a popular candidate for those considering eco-friendlier motoring. A 141-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gas engine and a 40-horse electric motor are at the heart of the matter. Although the Rogue delivers EPA estimates of 33 mpg city / 35 mpg highway in front-wheel drive and 31 mpg city / 34 mpg highway with all-wheel drive, these numbers aren’t much better than the already frugal gas-only Rogue’s 26 mpg city / 33 mpg highway. And no matter how you slice it, the Rogue Hybrid’s 176-horsepower total output makes for meek performance.

© Mitsubishi Motors North AmericaMitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Starting MSRP: $34,595
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV won’t set the world on fire from a performance perspective, but it’s no world-beater from a fuel-efficiency standpoint, either. The Outlander PHEV is powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gas engine rated at 117 horsepower and two 60 kW electric motors, seemingly setting the stage for great fuel economy. The Mitsubishi delivers 22 miles of range in all-electric mode but only 25 combined hybrid mpg. Recharge times depend on the voltage and amps of the source. The Outlander can be recharged from 3.5 to 13 hours, and Fastcharged to 80 percent capacity in 25 minutes.

© Volvo Cars of North AmericaVolvo XC90 T8 eAWD Plug-in Hybrid Momentum
Starting MSRP: $64,950
Volvo offers three trims of its plug-in hybrid: the Momentum, followed by the sportier R-Design ($68,950) and more luxurious Inscription ($70,050). The main method of motivation is a 2.0-liter four cylinder outfitted with a turbocharger and a supercharger. The intensely boosted 316-horsepower engine is joined by an 87-horse electric motor to produce a total output of 400 horsepower. In all-electric mode the Volvo can go 14 miles; running like a traditional hybrid it delivers 26 mpg city / 30 mpg highway / 27 mpg combined. Since its 2016 redesign the XC90 has won accolades, including North American Utility Vehicle of the Year. So it’s one well-rounded ride.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceToyota RAV4 LE Hybrid
Starting MSRP: $27,235
The RAV4 runs the same powertrain as the Lexus 300h but charges you $10,000 less for the privilege. The RAV4’s main engine is a thrifty 2.5-liter 4-cylinder unit. It powers the front wheels while an electric motor funnels thrust to the rear rubber. Total system output checks in at 194 horsepower. An advanced ECVT handles the shifts; CVTs have an advantage over conventional automatic transmissions because they provide more immediate initial acceleration and, thanks to their electric motors, hybrids can really get busy off the line. The RAV4 has EPA ratings of 34 mpg city / 30 mpg highway / 32 mpg combined.

© Volvo Cars North AmericaVolvo XC60 T8 eAWD Plug-In Hybrid Momentum
Starting MSRP: $52,900
The Volvo XC60 is a smaller-platform version of the XC90. The smaller sibling has the same 316 horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged 4-cylinder gas engine and 87-horsepower electric motor tag team. The XC60 also is offered in a racier R-Design ($56,200), and the swankier Inscription ($56,700). The Volvo features savvy Scandinavian design, plenty of luxury amenities, 14 miles of all-electric range, and traditional fuel efficiency of 26 mpg city / 28 mpg highway / 26 mpg combined.

© Mercedes-Benz USAMercedes Benz GLE550e Plug-In Hybrid
Starting MSRP: $66,700
The GLE Class is the first Mercedes-Benz SUV to offer a hybrid powertrain for the U.S. market. As one would expect, Mercedes designed speed and luxury into the 550e. A twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 is backed by an electric motor, and this combo is good for 436 horsepower. That’s plenty of power to motivate the big Benz with authority. It’s also good for up to 19 all-electric miles and 21 mpg combined fuel efficiency in hybrid mode.

© BMW of North AmericaBMW X5 xDrive40e
Starting MSRP: $63,750
Here’s a Bavarian take on the hybrid SUV experience. The X5 xDrive40e is a plug-in hybrid that lands on the performance side of the ledger. Remember this is a BMW first, so the X5 xDrive40e has all the form and function built into conventional gas-powered X5s. Its powertrain consists of a 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder rated at 240 horsepower, run in conjunction with 111-horsepower electric motor to generate a total of 308 horsepower. The BMW can travel 14 miles in all-electric mode before switching over to gasoline/electric hybrid mode, where it delivers 24 mpg combined fuel efficiency.

© BMW of North AmericaMINI Cooper S E Countryman All4
Starting MSRP: $36,800
With MINI’s reputation for producing cars with go-kart handling and a dose of British cheekiness, this hybrid has some big wellies to fill. The MINI Cooper S E Countryman All4 is a plug-in hybrid. Motivation gets sourced from a 134-horsepower 1.5-liter turbocharged inline 3-cylinder engine driving the front wheels, mated to an 87-horse electric motor that drives the rear wheels. Combined horsepower checks in at 221 and gives the MINI 12 miles of all-electric driving range. In full hybrid mode the MINI posts 27 mpg city / 28 mpg highway / 27 mpg combined.


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