There really aren't that many hybrid crossover vehicles out there. In fact, the list of the best hybrid crossovers gets shorter and shorter each year as manufacturers experiment with other methods of saving fuel such as turbocharging, direct injection, or diesel power plants. We've surveyed the field and put together this list of the best hybrid crossover SUVs currently on the market to give you an idea of what's out there for those seeking a capable and efficient people mover or tow vehicle. Let's take a quick look at eight of the best hybrid crossovers on the market.
1) 2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
The 2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a large mid-size crossover that represents one of the most affordable seven-passenger hybrid crossover SUVs available. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid provides three rows of seating, can tow 3,500 lbs, and is based around a 280-horsepower drivetrain. The Highlander Hybrid's gas-powered 3.5-liter V-6 is matched with not one, not two, but three electric motors, and all-wheel drive is standard (as is a continuously-variable automatic transmission). The third electric motor only kicks in if a loss of traction requires that power be shunted to the vehicle's rear wheels. Fuel economy for the Highlander Hybrid is listed at 27 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.
2) 2015 Lexus RX 450h
The 2015 Lexus RX 450h is a very popular hybrid crossover SUV by virtue of the fact that it's been based on one of the best-selling Lexus models for more than a decade. The Lexus RX 450h is a five-passenger vehicle, which means that there's a decent amount of second row legroom and excellent cargo space to go with it. Comfortable and quiet, the RX 450h features a drivetrain that is similar to that of the Highlander Hybrid, only it offers the choice between front-wheel drive (two electric motors) and all-wheel drive (three electric motors). The Lexus hybrid crossover comes with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine, and together the system generates 295 horsepower and is managed by a continuously variable automatic transmission. Fuel mileage for the RX 450h shows as 32 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.
3) 2015 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid
The 2015 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid apparently didn't get the memo that crossover hybrids are expected to offer modest performance. The Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid delivers exceptional handling and poise when pushed hard at higher speeds, and it also provides startling acceleration for such a heavy vehicle. Popping the hood reveals a supercharged, 3.0-liter V-6 that combines with a single electric motor to churn out not just 416 horsepower but also 435 lb-ft of torque. The Cayenne E-Hybrid is a plug-in hybrid that offers both gas-only and electric-only modes, with the latter offering an EPA rating of 47 mpg-equivalent in combined driving. All-wheel drive helps to make sure all of that grunt makes it to the pavement with a minimum of drama, and an eight-speed automatic transmission helps to keep things interesting for the driver.
4) 2015 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid
The 2015 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid is a stealth luxury hauler, one of the best hybrid crossovers around that few people have actually heard about. The 2015 Touareg Hybrid is powered by a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 combined with an electric motor, providing a total power output of 380 horsepower and 428 kb-ft of torque. Interior room is generous, all-wheel drive is standard, and the availability of a substantial amount of premium features come as part of the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid's package. Throw in fuel economy figures of 20 mpg in stop-and-go driving and 24 mpg on the highway, and for those who don't need the badge recognition provided by the Cayenne it would seem like the Volkswagen is a serious contender.
Photo Credit: Christian Wardlaw
5) 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid
The introduction of the XV Crosstrek Hybrid in 2014 marked Subaru's first foray into the hybrid vehicle market. Unlike the competition, the 2015 XV Crosstrek Hybrid is a mild hybrid, or in other words, the system was designed mainly to improve EPA ratings, and there are no real performance benefits over the regular gasoline-powered version of the vehicle, since the hybrid only kicks in at speeds less than 40 mph. Subaru stuffed a small electric motor alongside a tuned version of the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine used in the regular Crosstrek, mated to the same continuously variable transmission. The drivetrain's total output is a relatively modest 160 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque, with a similarly modest EPA rating of 31 mpg combined. However, this compact all-wheel drive crossover offers tons of the utility expected from Subaru.
6) 2015 Audi Q5 Hybrid
Audi's crossover Q5 seems like a solid candidate for a hybrid system, although it's competing against its own two gasoline drivetrains and a turbodiesel, as well as its mechanical cousins from Volkswagen and Porsche. That said, the 2015 Q5 Hybrid does have plenty of merit. It is powered by a version of the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder found in the base gasoline model, paired to an electric motor and lithium-ion batteries, for a total output of 245 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. The drivetrain is matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. This combination helps the Q5 Hybrid make the 0-60 sprint in 6.8 seconds, and achieve an EPA rating of 26 mpg in combined driving. Standard features are plentiful, including Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system. Potential buyers, take note: the 2015 Q5 Hybrid only comes equipped at the Prestige trim level. On the upside, lots of luxury features; on the downside, a price tag to match.
7) 2015 Infiniti QX60 Hybrid
The 2015 Infiniti QX60 Hybrid is on the larger side of most of the vehicles on this list, combining three rows of utility and plenty of luxury with a dash of efficiency. It's powered by a supercharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine mated to an electric motor, a combination that produces a total output of 250 horsepower and yields EPA fuel economy ratings of 25 mpg in the city, 28 mpg highway. The 2015 Infiniti QX60 Hybrid features a continuously variable transmission, and comes standard in front-wheel drive configuration, although an upgrade to all-wheel drive is available.
8) 2015 Lexus NX 300h
The Lexus NX 300h is an entry-level luxury option that's all new for 2015, joining the hybrid crossover fray when other manufacturers are fleeing from it. It's a little less powerful than some of its more established competition, carries five passengers instead of seven, and compromises cargo space in favor of styling, but Lexus hopes that to the target market, those drawbacks are offset by the NX 300h's relative accessibility. Powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, the Lexus NX 300h mimics the larger Lexus RX system in which front-wheel drive models get two electric motors to assist, and all-wheel drive models get three. The 2015 NX 300h earned EPA fuel economy ratings of 35 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.