To understand what a hybrid SUV is, all one needs to do is understand what a “hybrid” vehicle is and how it functions. A hybrid, also often referred to a crossover vehicle, is a combination of at least two power sources to accelerate and move the vehicle forward. Generally, the most common types of power sources for these vehicles are hybrid electric vehicles (HEV). The HEV combines an internal combustion engine and one, though sometimes more, electric motors. Simply put, these SUVs are powered by gasoline and electricity, in most cases.
The way the engine system is designed enables the energy used in braking and the extra heat generated from the engine to re-power the electric motor. The electric motor is usually what is used by the car when traveling at slower speeds, as in urban versus highway driving.
There are two main reasons the hybrid cars and other vehicles have gained so much popularity in recent years. The first reason is the concern for the environment, as hybrid vehicles are cleaner and “greener” for the environment. The second reason is that, though often initially tagged with a higher sticker price than standard vehicles, the cost of operating the vehicles is much lower.
Many forms of transportation have begun to incorporate hybrid versions into their “inventory”. There are, of course, hybrid cars and SUVs, but there are also mopeds, electric kick scooters, boats, which often use solar power, and even trains are now available as hybrid alternative options. There are also different types of manufacturers who produce SUVs that are hybrids, and you can read about some of them here.
Top Hybrid SUV Options
The Toyota Highlander hybrid is the more environmentally kind, not to mention generally smaller, version of the standard Highlander. Currently, the most recent version of the vehicle gets an impressive 28 miles per gallon for highway driving and, surprisingly, 28 for city driving, too. It comes with Electric-on-Demand four-wheel drive. It also has horsepower of 280 and can seat up to seven people.
The Highlander Hybrid is a popular choice because of its 3.5 liter V6 engine with supercharger, but that is just one of the reasons. Much of the positive customer feedback has been about the superior handling and the design element of the interior. The $38,140 starting price is higher than some models and lower than several other vehicles, making it a middle of the road price point with a good number of standard features.
CHEVROLET TAHOE HYBRID
The MSRP of $51,145 makes this hybrid SUV one of the pricier ones, but you do get a lot of lean, green machine for the price. In fact, the standard Tahoe is one of the top selling SUVs, and the hybrid version helps fuel this. The current version boasts an impressive EPA estimated 20 miles per gallon for city roads and 23 for the highway. This may not be as decent as some of the competition, but with the Tahoe, it is about getting the mileage for a vehicle of this size.
The horsepower behind the Tahoe Hybrid is 332, and the engine is all muscle with a 6.0 liter V8 system. Inside, the seating capacity is eight. Overall, the safety features and many of the standard features available for the Tahoe are part of what makes the price justifiable. With the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, ample interior space and engine power are the highlights that make it a top seller.
FORD ESCAPE HYBRID
The fuel efficiency rating for this crossover SUV makes it a smart investment. For hitting the highway, the Escape gets 31 miles per gallon and on city roads it drops to 34 MPG. Not to mention, as far as pricing goes, this hybrid vehicle is at the more economic side of the pricing scale at a starting price of $30,570.
The Ford Escape Hybrid comes standard with front wheel drive but lacks a bit of power, compared to some of the competition, with just a 2.5 liter engine. The standard horsepower is 171, but the vehicle can be upgraded to a 3.0 liter engine that produces 240 horsepower. The seating capacity is only five, making it a good choice for those who have less need for space and seating capacity. In other words, the price is right for those who do not need as much power or interior space.
GMC YUKON HYBRID
With the Yukon, it is back to increased power, along with a price to match. That is also because this is America’s first full sized hybrid or crossover SUV. The more seating, space, power and towing capacity you get for an environmentally friendly sports utility vehicle, the more you have to be willing to pay. The starting point for pricing on this vehicle is $51,610, but the Yukon also gives you 43% better fuel economy for urban driving than any other SUV in its class.
The standard Yukon Hybrid Vortec engine is 6.0 liter with a V8 and two wheel drive and is available in four wheel drive, as well. This engine has 332 horsepower at 5100 RPM. It comes, standard, with four-wheel anti-lock brakes. For mileage, the miles per gallon for city is 20 and 23 for highway. For the interior, the GMC Yukon Hybrid has a seating capacity of eight.
LEXUS RX 450H
It may come as a bit of a surprise, but even with the steeper sticker price, the Lexus crossover SUV has been a top seller in the hybrid SUV market since it was first released. The reason for this is largely due to the fact that, with the RX 450h, you’re getting luxury in SUV driving. With this version, you are getting plenty of amenities, technology and a powerful SUV, not to mention the status.
The MSRP starts at $46,325 for the all wheel drive version, which is still under the starting price of the GMC and the Chevrolet. The Lexus SUV hybrid comes equipped to seat five. You get a 3.5 liter, V6 engine and 295 horsepower. Aside from that, you get some whistles and bells, some standard and some optional, voice recognition system, for one example. As for miles per gallon, the Lexus uses 30 for city, 28 for highway and 29 for combined.
SATURN VUE HYBRID
While this was a popular choice and decent selling option for SUVs, the Saturn brand is currently being phased out. You can still purchase already manufactured vehicles, or find one used, so there are still some details you should know about the VUE. At the present time, though, finding the pricing for the Saturn VUE Hybrid is tricky. By comparing prices from individual car dealerships, the price for the Saturn, versus the competition, puts this one at the lower end of the pricing spectrum.
The Saturn VUE does not have quite the same amount of power as the “big boys” such as GMC and Chevrolet, but for those seeking an affordable version of a crossover SUV, this is a good option. As for mileage, the VUE gets 32 miles per gallon for highway driving and 27 for city driving, with a 29 MPG for combined driving. The engine is smaller, a 2.4 liter four cylinder, but is still enough for those who do not need too much power in a hybrid sports utility vehicle.
CADILLAC ESCALADE HYBRID
This crossover SUV has been gaining recognition and popularity with consumers for its fuel efficiency. The standard version of the Cadillac Escalade is known for its luxury, including being spacious as well as stylish. Most consumers feel the hybrid alternative has retained all the same details, while adding the satisfaction of being environmentally friendlier. Now, the thing to keep in mind with Cadillac’s contribution to the hybrid SUV market is that the MSRP is the highest priced, at least of the ones mentioned here. To avoid sticker shock on the lot, you should know, now, that the starting price for this crossover vehicle is $74,135. You also get the combination of power and luxury, as well as space.
For mileage, the Escalade hybrid has an EPA estimated 20 miles per gallon for city streets and 23 for the highway, with 21 for combined driving. The Escalade has seating capacity for eight adults to fit comfortably. Powering this hybrid vehicle is a 6.0 liter V8 engine. This gives the motorist 332 horsepower at 5100 RPM. Of course, for this price, you get some impressive standard features, including rear view backup camera and heated and cooled front seats.
The bottom line is that in the world of hybrid transportation, SUVs have come a long way. There are now, more than ever, more car manufacturers offering their version of the earth friendly vehicle. The best way to make a decision about which one would work best for you is to determine how much power and seating capacity you realistically need. Of course, for most people, the other major player in making a choice is the sticker price. Compare these, read reviews and decide which hybrid SUV is right for you and your family.