Best Plug-In Hybrid SUVs – The best vehicles on the road, ranked by our experts:
#1 – Hyundai Tucson Plug-In Hybrid
I’m very happy with my 2023 Tucson PHEV (SEL model). It is a quiet, smooth riding car. All the tech works well. I’m getting great mileage. The gray trim interior with gray seats is very stylish. The car is very enjoyable to drive.
After picking up my new Tucson Plugin, I drove 500+ miles back home and it handled great. The lane correction was there in case I got drowsey but luckily, it didn’t happen. The battery was not charged for me at pickup so I drove home on hybrid only. The mileage increased with each stop. Two things that are not there as with my Sonata Hybrid Limited (and this is a limited also) is 600 miles possible before stopping for gas and the center above sunglass holder! Also, I had to read the manual to find out that the charger is set to 6amp charging with takes forever to charge the battery. I know now that you can charge at 6, 8, 10, or 12 amp speed. Love the automatic windshield wipers! Even better that intermittent setting. Apple play is great with cordless phone charging as well.
Just purchased 2 weeks ago, love it. The tech is what had me choose it over the competition. Specifically love the cameras for parking that not only show the back of the vehicle, but also the front, and the blind spot cameras that pop up live video in the dashboard when you put the turn signals on. Oh and heated and cooling seats. The remote start with forward and reverse when you are near the vehicle, but parking space is too tight to get into the vehicle. Other highlights, it has good power/pick-up. Has lots of interior space. And nice small interior and exterior accent lights. Negatives: the side mirrors do not have motors to fold them in, you have to move them manually. (Not great when someone else folds it in and you are already driving when you realize you can’t use your passenger side mirror.) No space for a spare tire- the batteries are positioned in the middle below the trunk space, if they had been positioned to one side a spare would have fit. Also would love a bit more range on the battery, or a bit faster charge, or both. And I would love a bit tighter turning radius, it’s not bad, but tighter would be nicer.
#2 – Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid
Now having owned the car for three months, 2000 miles (and only on our fourth tank of gas), I feel ready to share the things that drive us crazy about the car, first a couple mechanical notes and then the electronics. 1. No Tow Hitch Option – I wanted to put a tow hitch on the car to carry my bicycles – So far this is impossible because Kia placed the evaporative canister in front of the hitch attachment. The hitch shop was reluctant to move the canister to another location. I had to buy a new bicycle carrier that hangs on the rear hatch – not my preferred solution but I can live with it is as we have road bikes. If we had heavy electric bikes we would be sunk. 2. Brake noise – Six weeks after delivery the car started to make a horrible noise on acceleration after a stop within the first few hundred yards of starting a drive. The noise would then go away for the rest of the trip. The noise is especially prevalent when it is rainy or very humid. We have determined that rust is building up on the rear brake rotors and the tolerance is so tight that it must be burnt away on a daily basis. 3. Backup Camera – the camera is very poorly located. It is worthless in the rain as it is unprotected from the elements and quickly gets wet and dirty. We have not had this problem with any other car. Kia engineers were not thinking when they decided the location of the camera. 4. Memory Seats – As my wife and I share this car, the memory seat function was imperative. Unlike other cars we have owned, however, the mirror settings are not linked to the seat memory switch. Mirror settings are part of the Driver Profile settings in the infotainment system. While we have yet to figure out the entirety of what the Driver Profile controls, it does remember seat and mirror settings for each profile. Changing the driver profile is a major nuisance and potentially painful: Get in the car, start the car, (the seat and mirrors adjust to the last setting) wait for the infotainment system to boot, reset the profile, wait for the seat to move and mirrors to reset. What this means in reality is that if my wife was the person who drove the car before me, when I get in the driver’s seat and start the car, the seat pulls up to her setting, nearly killing my knees against the steering wheel, before I can activate my profile, thereby moving the seat back. 5. Infotainment system – While I could complain about the complexity of the system and its many options I will limit my comments to functionality. Two months into ownership, the system began to randomly and frequently cut-out and reboot when connected to the phone — calls disconnected, no map, no music, just a black screen on the car. As this happened on two different phones (I-phone with new cable and Android) I can only assume there is an issue with the car electronics, that we have yet to work it out. It might be the effect of a known glitch between Google maps and Kia, or perhaps something as simple yet annoying as a USB port that needs to be replaced at the dealership. AS the problem is intermittent, I am loathe to go to the dealership until I I try to determine a pattern for the disconnect. 6. Conclusion: Good car with enough little glitches to make me wonder if we would have bought it knowing all of this in advance.
#3 – Kia Sorento Plug-In Hybrid
I bought this 2022 Kia Sorento PHEV SX Prestige in March 2022. Took a while to find one, and had to pay $1000 over sticker, but that was the norm for a new car last year. I “was” driving a Honda Clarity PHEV so I knew a PHEV was a must for me, and I now I’m fairly comfortable with the minor differences from a gas vehicle. But I needed a 3rd row because I’m hauling around my grandkids to and from places all day long. My choices were a Volvo XC90, Lincoln Aviator, or this. This vehicle by far was the obvious choice. Pricewise, it blew the others out of the water. Also, all features are standard, including leather seats and ventilated front seats, which are a MUST for me. It’s roomy enough for everything I need, but not oversized where I have trouble getting it in the garage. I’m at 13,500 miles and not an issue, yet. Not recall because I don’t have the tow package. The gas mileage is amazing and I literally fill the 9 gallon tank up once every 6-7 weeks, because I’m doing short trips all day (no more that 35 miles) so I’m able to drive all electric most of time and recharge between trips. One difference from the Clarity…. I could force the clarity to stay in EV mode 99% of the time no matter what electric consuming features I was using, but the Sorento will automatically go the HEV mode if you have the heated seats and steering wheel on and the heat turned up. It’s a battery saving feature and it really does make sense, so not such a bad thing. And that feature makes sure the engine gets used more often which will keep it in better shape in the long run. The only complaint I have about performance – there a glitch in the acceleration (probably a safety feature) where if you are stopped on a steep downhill, like at a stopsign, and you go to pull out onto a level surface, there’s like a 2 second delay in the accelleration – not a huge deal, but if youre trying to get out in front of oncoming traffic quickly, it really gives you a scare when it doesn’t move right away. I AM able to override this by putting the car in sport mode (which reduces your gas mileage), but who has time to think about that. I just have gotten used to knowing it’s not gonna accelerate quickly in that situation and I am more careful.
#4 – Ford Escape
Escape has been in the shop 7 times for the same issue and all under 2000kms. I recieved exactly 99 Charging system fault warning in the two weeks it was parked and not moving. When I drove it, I would get the alert every 3-4 minutes along with a burning smell. Every time I get into these escapes I do like how well they handle and how sporty they can feel, how good the audio is, and the decent MPG. But that about sums it up for things I like about the 2020-2022 escapes. The transmissions before the break in period make the car miserable to drive, meaning that it hunts for gears, jerky shifts, sometimes pushes it to 4-5k RPM when using small amounts of throttle ( and this happens on all 3 of the ones I’ve drove ). I do not like all of the cheap plastics inside of the escapes, even the top trims have the cheap plastics, such as the SEL/TITANIUM. They just feel cheap for the absurd price you have to pay for one of these escapes ( the titanium can get up to 45k dollars… really? ). Also, one last little complaint… UNCOMFORTABLE. I truly do not see these cars lasting past 100-150k miles just due to the 1.5 turbo motor paired with the 8 speed, plus I don’t see owners of these cars wanting to own them for 8-12 years. Compared to even the last generation Escape, this thing is quite pathetic.
#5 – Subaru Crosstrek
Crosstrek 2023 changed the eyesight cruise control function that makes it unsafe for some one who owned a previous Subaru like my Forester. Crosstrek cruise control will disengage after coming to a stop with in one second and want to hit the car or person it came to a stop for. Subaru won’t reprogram the Crosstrek. I was looking for a crossover and was interested in the Crosstrek. After a test drive of the Limited trim I was sold and reserved one. It has so many safety features that it compares to my Tesla. There are some minor things it doesn’t have like memory for seat positions and automatic trunk lift but overall an amazing car. I love the look and it drives well with decent pick up (I have the 2.5 engine). Was also looking for a gas efficient car and I think this will deliver nicely. I also love that Subaru includes mats and cargo cover and basic things that other car companies make you beg to be included or charge you extra. So far great car and I am thrilled with my purchase. Also, in terms of current crossovers and the prices, this is a great value for what you get.