What Are the Benefits of Driving a Plug-In Hybrid?
If you’re in the market for a new SUV but aren’t yet ready to go for a full-electric model, the choice of new vehicles has never been better. There are a huge range of SUVs and crossovers available with plug-in hybrid powertrains, and all offer a great range of features and technology.
We’ve focused on plug-in hybrid models for two reasons: first, if you’re able to install a home charging unit, they offer the ability to do most of your commuting on electricity alone – potentially resulting in huge fuel and therefore cost savings – while retaining the flexibility and convenience of gasoline power for long trips where you don't want to stop and charge. Second, most plug-in hybrid models are eligible for substantial federal and regional financial incentives which can save you thousands of dollars.
Our List of the Best Plug-in Hybrid SUVs
In our list of the best plug-in hybrid SUVs we’ve chosen five models at different price points and sizes, from a variety of brands. We encourage you to explore your options even further using the GreenCars comparison tool. Please note that all fuel economy insights are EPA estimates only. Actual mileage and efficiency may vary.
Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid
Using an Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter four-cylinder paired with an electric motor, the Ford Escape plug-in hybrid is exceptionally economical, with an EPA rating of 105 MPGe despite a fulsome 221-hp power rating. Clever packaging of the battery and hybrid equipment means that the Escape’s spacious interior isn’t significantly impacted by the extra hardware, and there’s plenty of room inside for growing families. We like the Escape’s straightforward controls and practical features. Key items include Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system, which has natural-language voice input, a sleek capacitive touchscreen, wireless charging, and Amazon Alexa capability on top of the expected Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Ford’s impressive CoPilot 360 suite of advanced driver assist systems is also available.
- GreenCars Score: 3.90
- MPGe: 105
- Base MSRP: $40,500
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Mitsubishi may not be a brand you think about much, but the Outlander is actually one of the best-selling plug-in hybrids in the country. It’s no wonder: this is an exceptionally efficient, appealing, and economical package for families, with a low base price, lots of room, great hybrid stats, and impressive technology. Combining a 2.4-liter gasoline engine with twin electric motors, the Mitsubishi Outlander has five drive modes and an all-electric range of 24 miles. You can DC fast charge the 13.8-kWh battery as well as use a conventional level 2 charger – rare for a plug-in hybrid. Safety features are numerous and include forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, and much more. Plus, the PHEV components come with a 10-year limited warranty. Contact your Mitsubishi dealer for limited warranty details.
- GreenCars Score: 2.97
- MPGe: 74
- Base MSRP: $41,190
Jeep Wrangler 4xe
Just because you want to go play in the woods with your SUV doesn’t mean sacrificing green credentials. The Jeep Wrangler 4xe adds plug-in hybrid capability to Jeep’s legendary off-road capability to create something truly unique: an iconic off-roader with impressive electric range. In full electric mode, the Wrangler 4xe can travel up to 21 miles emissions-free, and when you need the additional flexibility of gasoline power, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is there to back you up. Multiple driving modes let you cruise in full-electric, mix both engine and motor, and even use the engine to charge the battery. Plus, with 375 total horsepower and 470 total lb-ft of torque, you don’t sacrifice any off-road capability: the Wrangler 4xe carries Jeep’s top “Trail Rated” 4x4 designation.
- GreenCars Score: 2.70
- MPGe: 49
- Base MSRP: $55,260
Audi Q5 55 TFSIe
If you’re looking for a midsize luxury SUV with some green credentials, it’s tough to beat the Q5. With its sophisticated plug-in hybrid system, the Audi Q5 55 TFSIe delivers 362 hp, 369 lb-ft of torque, and dashes to 60mph in just 5 seconds – as fast as the “sporty” SQ5 – while also being capable of driving on pure electric power, with zero emissions. It shares the virtues of every Q5 model – namely, sharp exterior styling, a relatively compact footprint with a spacious cabin, fantastic interior materials, and a generous helping of the latest technology.
Its combination of a four-cylinder engine and electric motor is remarkably economical in day-to-day use, and you can drive up to 20 miles on a charge – enough for many commutes. The interior was upgraded in 2021 as well, with a larger touch screen, standard digital dashboard, and wireless charging.
- GreenCars Score: 3.20
- MPGe: 61
- Base MSRP: $56,595
Volvo XC90 Recharge
In the market for a big, luxurious, three-row SUV that also has plug-in hybrid capability? If so, you can’t do much better than the Volvo XC90 Recharge. Thanks to an improved battery, the XC90 Recharge can now drive up to 35 miles on electricity alone. When combined with the turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine, total horsepower jumps to 455 – more than enough to whisk your family away from every stoplight.
We also love the XC90’s interior, which is roomy and beautifully crafted with a typical Scandinavian sensibility. You'll find beautiful materials, simple shapes, excellent ergonomics, and a portrait-format touchscreen that is simple to use. Being a Volvo, it has a full suite of amazing safety gear, with front and rear collision avoidance systems, 360° parking view, blind spot monitor, lane keeping assist, and more.
- GreenCars Score: 2.37
- MPGe: 66
- Base MSRP: $72,995