What Are Today's Best All-Wheel Drive Hybrid Cars?
One of the best things about hybrid technology is how flexible it is. Because hybrids add electric power to gasoline power, automakers can be very creative with the placement and size of batteries, electric motors, and power electronics.
And because of how compact they are, electric motors are a great way to add all-wheel drive capability to a vehicle without adding the complexity of additional drive shafts, differentials, and other complex mechanical pieces.
All-wheel drive hybrids offer the best of all worlds: you get all of the efficiency of hybrid driving with the traction advantage of four wheels for tough conditions – without a lot of extra weight and complexity. There’s an all-wheel drive hybrid for everyone.
Compact: Toyota Prius AWD-e
For over two decades, the Prius has been one of the best-selling hybrids in America, and for good reason: it is practical, supremely economical, and extremely durable. Indeed, the Prius’ distinctive teardrop shape and its futuristic cabin arguably set the template for all hybrids that followed. The latest-generation Prius is the most futuristic yet, with aggressive styling, a high-tech interior, and a choice of three drivetrains: conventional hybrid, plug-in hybrid (Prius Prime) and now all-wheel drive.
For a small premium over the regular Prius, the Prius AWD-e features a compact, on-demand electric all-wheel drive system. Fuel economy suffers a little thanks to the extra weight, but in return you get increased reassurance for challenging conditions. The rest of the package mirrors the regular Prius, including a wide-opening hatchback, plenty of room, and a large central screen that works with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa.
- Starting MSRP: $28,850
- EPA estimated City/Highway MPG: 51/47
Compact SUV: Honda CR-V Hybrid
Consistently one of the U.S.’s top-selling SUVs, the CR-V built its reputation on its mix of space, performance, driving fun, and economy. The CR-V Hybrid significantly ups its capability in the performance and economy stakes, achieving 40 MPG in the city, without sacrificing any of the other attributes that made it so popular in the first place.
A 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder is paired with an electric motor to produce a total of 212 horsepower, and you can select economy, sport, and even a full-electric drive mode for zero-emissions commuting. All-wheel drive is standard, meaning excellent stability and traction as well. Inside, smart tech includes a touchscreen audio system, available wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A wide-view camera and radar, traffic jam assist, low-speed braking control, and traffic sign recognition are also standard.
- Starting MSRP: $32,950
- EPA estimated City/Highway MPG: 40/35
SUV: Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid
We’re big fans of the Hyundai Santa Fe. It is one of the best-packaged SUVs on the market, offering three rows of space and a generous cargo area on a relatively compact footprint. It has high-end styling inside and out, with its interior a particular standout thanks to its premium finishes and flowing, organic design. The Santa Fe is also packed with features, including a fully-digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster as well as a large central touchscreen and standard wireless CarPlay and Android Auto. A full suite of safety systems is standard, too.
The Santa Fe Hybrid’s powertrain is also a standout. The 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine may seem small, but it’s fortified both by turbocharging as well as an electric motor to deliver 226 horsepower as well as 36 MPG in the city – even with standard all-wheel drive. Plus, Hyundai also includes complimentary scheduled maintenance for the first three years of ownership and an industry-leading 10-year battery warranty, for additional peace of mind.
- Starting MSRP: $35,910
- EPA estimated City/Highway MPG: 36/31
Minivan: Toyota Sienna
Before SUVs became the default American family car, minivans used to be a much more common sight on our roads. While they may not be the sexiest, or most image-enhancing vehicles, on the market, minivans are still better than SUVs at balancing space, features, and economical running. Most offer seven seats and huge cargo areas in the same footprint as a five-seater SUV, while also sipping significantly less fuel and offering a similar array of technology.
The Toyota Sienna, refreshed for 2022, is one of the most economical minivans on the market thanks to its standard hybrid powertrain, which combines a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor to produce 245 hp, and unlike a lot of minivans, all-wheel drive is available as an option, giving it additional capability and traction for very little penalty in weight or fuel efficiency. The rest of the package is also very appealing, and includes dual power sliding doors, three-zone automatic climate control, seven USB ports, a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa, and much more. If you’re looking for a spacious, comfortable vehicle for long road trips with the kids and their gear, there are few vehicles on the market better-suited than the Sienna.
- Starting MSRP: $36,135
- EPA estimated City/Highway MPG: 35/36
Luxury SUV: Lexus RX450h
Lexus was one of the pioneers of hybrid technology in luxury cars, and the RX450h is the fourth generation of one of the world’s most successful luxury hybrids. Starting at just under $50,000 with all-wheel drive, it combines a powerful 3.5-liter V6 and an electrically-driven rear axle to produce 308 hp and impressive all-weather stability and traction. The driving experience is smooth and silent, on par with much more expensive vehicles, while still delivering decent city and highway fuel economy.
The interior of the new RX is an oasis of calm, with beautiful finishes all around, easy-to-use ergonomics, and a large central screen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa built-in. The Mark Levinson sound system is one of the finest on the market at any price, and the rear seats fold at the touch of a button as well. Lexus’s Safety System+ 2.0 includes pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, road sign recognition, dynamic radar cruise control, and more. And if you need even more space, there’s a long-wheelbase RX450hL with a third row of seats available.
- Starting MSRP: $50,150
- EPA estimated City/Highway MPG: 31/28