One of the downsides of larger and, by extension, heavier vehicles is their relatively poor fuel economy. However, there is no denying their rugged curb appeal and hard-to-beat practicality make SUVs extremely desirable. But with the economy tightening up it is becoming harder to have your cake and eat it. Luckily, there are some great luxury hybrid SUVs that give you all the benefits of this popular body style while significantly reducing the burden on your wallet and conscience.
More than a stepping stone
As the automotive industry leans more heavily into EV technology, it can be easy to see hybrids as little more than a stop on the way toward progress. However, not everyone is quite ready to abandon the tried and true combustion engine. This is where hybrids come in. They have been around for a while now, and many shoppers appreciate the variety they bring to their respective segments.
Premium vehicles, in particular, benefit from this fuel-saving technology as they suffer from some of the worst mileage figures. Quality doesn’t come cheap, and natural woods and loads of features all increase the overall weight. Also, many luxury cars come equipped with all-wheel drive as standard, along with a powerful engine. After all, effortless confidence is the name of the game.
Some great options in the segment include the BMW X3 and X5, the Audi Q5, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC. There are even a few choice ultra-luxury models like the Bentley Bentayga Hybrid, though if you can afford one of those, the price of fuel is an amusing afterthought.
Where plug-in hybrids really shine is their all-electric driving range. Using no gas at all is clearly the ideal, but only some of these highlighted cars offer enough to be worth it. The X5, for example, can travel for 30 miles between recharging cycles, while the Q5 only manages 23 miles. The Lexus UX Hybrid beats both with 37 miles, but that’s not surprising from the luxury division of Toyota, one of the most reliable and economical brands operating in the USA.
Thanks to advances in battery and electric motor technology, these cars are stronger than they have ever been, and they don’t have to sacrifice back-seat and cargo space in order to accommodate the extra components. This is fortunate because premium SUVs usually fall short in these areas in comparison to more mainstream crossover SUVs like the Honda CR-V.
The new frontier
Now while we can’t discount plug-in hybrids as great alternatives to their regular gasoline-powered siblings, it’s clear that EVs are the future of the automotive industry. Whether or not the combustion engine will be abandoned completely is a discussion for another day, but most automakers have committed themselves to expanding their EV lineups and converting many of their current nameplates into electric vehicles.
The premium brands were a little late to the party, but there are still some excellent options available among luxury electric SUVs, with plenty more on the way. The Audi e-tron and BMW iX rank very highly in this category, each with loads of power on tap and respectable mpg returns. However, they are quite expensive. Volvo offers some slightly more affordable alternatives with its C40 and XC40 Recharge.
However, if it’s great overall value you’re after, then it would be foolish to ignore the Genesis GV60. The automaker is the premium division of Hyundai, which has populated the SUV classification with some truly impressive offerings, like the Kona. As such, the GV60 presents some of the best mileage numbers, and its starting MSRP is quite appealing. This is especially true when you consider that Genesis is capable of matching the German brands in terms of quality and even driving pleasure.
If you want something American, you don’t have quite as many options, but there are a few worth mentioning. Lincoln will be introducing its EVs in the coming years, but Cadillac has already presented us with the Lyric. This feels like the smaller, hipper brother to the Escalade – arguably one of the most impressive luxury SUVs money can buy. There is very little to complain about with the Lyriq, and even the asking price is reasonable.
Alternatively, there is the Ford Mustang Mach-E. While not technically a luxury model, the Mach-E proves that Ford has really stepped up its game. The cabin is well-appointed and the materials used are quite upscale. However, it is the good fuel economy and fun driving experience that will endear the first-ever Mustang SUV to buyers. To top it all off, the Ford is naturally a little cheaper than the true premium rivals, and its mpg returns are some of the best among the models mentioned so far.