2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4xe ・ Photo by Jeep
If you’re not quite ready to dive into the battery-electric vehicle world, a good way to dip your toe into it is buying a plug-in hybrid vehicle. A plug-in hybrid SUV is an interesting compromise between a conventional hybrid and a battery-electric vehicle. A plug-in offers the electric-only driving ability of a battery-electric, but they are also equipped with an internal combustion engine. If the onboard battery runs out of juice, you are not left high and dry. Instead, the plug-in will seamlessly transition from battery power to the gasoline engine. Many plug-in hybrid SUVs offer their owners the opportunity to drive day-to-day on electricity alone. For longer trips, the gasoline engine is always available. If you commute a short distance each day and take the occasional road trip, a plug-in hybrid SUV could make a great deal of sense. Here are the 10 best new plug-in hybrid SUVs available in America.
The Toyota RAV4 Prime represents plug-in hybrids at their best. The most powerful RAV4 ever, it is very quick and fun to drive. With a combined 302 net horsepower on tap, it will sprint for 0-60 mph in just 5.7 seconds. That makes it the quickest model in the Toyota lineup. The RAV4 Prime also features all-wheel-drive and a lengthy 42 miles of all-electric range. EPA fuel economy is 94 MPGe combined. Of course, it has all the creature comforts and versatility that has made the Toyota RAV4 one of the best-selling vehicles in the country. Available in SE and XSE trims, the RAV4 Prime has tech and safety features like standard Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa compatibility, an available 9-inch infotainment touchscreen, and even an optional head-up display.
Photo by Toyota
The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe is a plug-in hybrid version of the two-row Grand Cherokee mid-size SUV. Unlike many on this list that are street-oriented, the Grand Cherokee 4xe is fully off-road capable. In fact, Jeep engineers will tell you it is the most capable of all the Grand Cherokee models. The 4xe’s rear-drive-oriented chassis and plug-in hybrid powertrain offer uncommonly good all-terrain performance plus stellar fuel economy. Jeep starts with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and adds a liquid-cooled motor-generator that replaces the alternator. A high-voltage electric motor replaces the automatic transmission’s torque converter. The electric motors are powered by a 400-volt, 17-kWh battery. The combined system offers 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. The torque is directed through an eight-speed automatic transmission. As a cross-country family cruiser, the Grand Cherokee 4xe is comfortable and filled with entertainment options. Plus, it is a no-compromises Jeep that can tame the toughest trails a vehicle its size can tackle.
Photo by Jeep
The Ford Escape PHEV is not nearly as visible as the Toyota RAV4 Prime, but they both hoe the same row of corn. The Escape is about the same size as the RAV4 and has similar capabilities. Like the RAV4, the Escape is offered in a number of varieties including a conventional internal combustion engine model, a hybrid, and a plug-in hybrid. The plug-in hybrid model has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors producing a combined 221-horsepower. The 14.4-kWh battery pack enables the Escape PHEV to get an EPA estimated 37 miles on battery power. The vehicle achieves 105 MPGe. It is a road-oriented vehicle while its non-PHEV sister ship, the Ford Bronco Sport, is the better choice for all-around off-roading.
Photo by Ford
The 2023 Volvo XC60 Recharge plug-in hybrid is an automotive engineering dream. It offers the advantages of a plug-in hybrid vehicle, and at the same time, it is a strong performer. Fuel economy is 28 mpg city/28 mpg highway/63 MPGe combined. The XC60 Recharge offers up to a combined 462 horsepower, and it will rocket from 0-60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. Volvo says its top speed is 180 mph. With a sophisticated suspension to match its high horsepower, the 2023 XC60 mid-size crossover is about more than just fuel economy. It can travel up to 35 miles on a charge, not quite to the 50-mile level that brings comfortable commuting. But the XC60 is an excellent, high-style partner for the day-to-day tasks of the typical mid-size luxury crossover. Of course, it also offers Volvo’s leading-edge safety features including cross traffic alert with automatic braking. It also features a touchscreen infotainment system with Android/Google integration.
Photo by Volvo
The 2022 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4xe isn't your average plug-in hybrid SUV... And that's to its credit. It has all the idiosyncratic goodness of the four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and it adds a plug-in hybrid capability that enhances it off-road prowess. It uses the same powertrain and the Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe — a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a motor-generator that replaces the alternator. A high-voltage electric motor replaces the automatic transmission’s torque converter. Both draw on a 400-volt, 17-kWh battery. The combined system offers 375 horsepower channeled through an eight-speed automatic transmission. According to the EPA, it delivers more than 49 MPGe. It has an all-electric range of 22 miles on a charge and a total range of 370 miles. The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4xe is an all-terrain vehicle with few equals, not just another plug-in hybrid.
Photo by Jeep
The Hyundai Tucson is a compact SUV that is about the same size as the Toyota RAV4 Prime. For the 2022 model year, it is available as a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle, a hybrid, and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). Of course, it is the PHEV that we are concerned about here. The five-passenger crossover is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine teamed with an electric motor. The 13.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack enables the Tucson PHEV to drive for up to 33 miles in pure-electric mode. Total range is 420 miles. The EPA gives the Hyundai Tucson PHEV a very good 80 MPGe rating. The battery will recharge in about two hours when using a Level 2 charger in conjunction with the 7.2-kW onboard charging unit. An 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment is standard while many Tucsons are equipped with a larger 10.3-inch screen.
Photo by Hyundai
Substantially new for the 2023 model year, the 2023 Kia Niro PHEV is a small crossover SUV with a handy size that is perfect for urban driving. At the same time the plug-in hybrid powertrain makes long road trips more convenient than the Niro battery-electric sistership. Fun to drive is one of the Niro PHEV’s strong suits. The Niro plug-in pairs the familiar 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with a 62-kW electric motor. Total system output is 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. In this small package, 180 horsepower delivers enjoyable acceleration spiced up by the PHEV’s laudable handling. When connected to a Level 2 charger, the Niro PHEV can recharge its 11.1-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery in under three hours. When the Niro PHEV is fully charged, the all-electric range is estimated at 33 miles when fitted with 16-inch wheels. That’s a big improvement over the previous year’s model but short of the 50-mile range that could enable significant amounts of all-electric driving.
Photo by Kia
The Santa Fe PHEV is a mid-size crossover that delivers conventional SUV attributes, plus a highly efficient plug-in powertrain. As a plug-in hybrid, it gives its drivers the ability to charge their batteries at home, at work, or in the mall parking lot to provide added range. The Santa Fe’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is aided by an electric motor, giving the conservatively attractive Santa Fe a robust 261 horsepower. When operated as a conventional hybrid, it delivers an EPA fuel economy rating of 33 mpg combined. With the fully charged battery pack contributing electricity, the MPGe combined figure is 76 MPGe. Range on a full charge is EPA-estimated at 31 miles. The Santa Fe PHEV offers an estimated 440 miles of total range.
Photo by Hyundai
Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) was reengineered for the 2022 model year. The changes increased the overall value of the under-sung crossover suv. It incorporates Mitsubishi's advanced Super All-Wheel Control system, an efficient 2.4-liter gasoline engine, a large battery pack, and a high-performance twin-electric motor system. This is one PHEV with very real off-road abilities. The powertrain features a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine rated at 126 horsepower. The engine is supplemented by a 60-kW front electric motor and a 70 kW rear axle-mounted electric motor. Previously the rear motor in the Outlander PHEV was a 60-kW unit. The combined total system output is 221 horsepower, up 31 horsepower from the 2018-2020 model years. These updates allow the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV to achieve a combined 74 MPGe and 26 MPG. The battery capacity is 13.8 kWh, resulting in an all-electric range of 24 miles on a charge.
Photo by Mitsubishi
Car reviewers absolutely love the BMW X5, and they’ve loved it for many years. Now with the reasonably new plug-in hybrid powertrain, the 2022 BMW X5 gives them even more to love. If you are looking for through-the-roof fuel economy, shop elsewhere. But if you want excellent performance and luxury accommodations in the BMW tradition plus added fuel economy, the X5 xDrive45e is worth a long look. Under the hood of the 550e is a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine teamed with an all-wheel-drive system. While that sounds conventional enough, the gas engine is supplemented by an electric motor. All-electric range is 31 miles on a charge. The EPA gives the X5 xDrive45e a 50 MPGe rating. Total range is estimated at 400 miles.
Photo by BMW