What’s the best hybrid SUV on the market? What’s the best hybrid truck on the market in the USA? Here’s my best shot at answering those questions.
These best-of lists are well-worn territory at this point. Indeed, none other than Zachary Shahan recently published a list of the 7 best cars under $70,000 you could buy — but I decided there was a problem with his list. Simply, all the vehicles on his list are BEVs. And, while I agree with his assertion that, “full electric cars are far better than non-electrics,” I do not believe that the average American new car buyer is ready to make the switch to electric vehicles. In fact, loads of people are searching for the best hybrid SUV or best hybrid truck or car at this very moment. As such, I have a different list — one that, I think, might do more to get your in-laws to dramatically reduce their carbon emissions, without forcing them to totally reconsider the fuel that drives their cars.
At least, not all at once.
So, without any further justification, here’s my list of the 4 best hybrid cars and trucks for people who don’t know much about cars (electric or otherwise), and who, if they have their way, never will! I’ll also do a piece on what I think are the best electric cars and trucks on the market.
The Best Hybrid Truck — Ford Maverick Hybrid
When I first drove the new-for-2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid pickup last winter, I was stunned by how absolutely normal it was. Here was a roomy, relatively capable pickup about the same length as 1990s-era F-150 “full sized” truck that offers nearly double the fuel economy of the compact pickups of yore. What’s more, the base truck was available for just $19,995 (plus freight, taxes, tags, etc.), and came with a laundry list of safety features and luxury options that would have been unthinkable a few decades ago — and all of that adds up to the Maverick being one of my top picks for greening up American roads.
You might not convince your Chevy Colorado driving cousin to put money down in the hopes of getting behind the wheel of an F-150 Lightning in two or three years’ time, but a Maverick? Cutting their fuel bill in half while still being able to tow the fishing boat out to the pier (the Maverick’s 1,512 to 1,564 lb. payload capacity is fully 100 lb. more than the 1,410 lb. rating of the base body-on-frame Ford F-150) might be a compelling enough argument — and half the fuel burnt means half the carbon spent. We all win!
The Best Hybrid Off-Roader: Jeep Wrangler 4Xe
The first plug-in hybrid from Jeep is so invisibly electric that there were stories circulated about buyers who didn’t even realize they were buying a hybrid when they drove it home — and nothing, nothing says “I’m a fashion buyer” like not having a clue, or care, about what’s happening under the hood of your new car!
If you have a Jeep fan or two in your circle of friends, steering them towards a 4Xe plug-in hybrid and its 20-ish miles of all-electric range (once they figure out how to plug it in, anyway) should be the easiest thing you do all week — especially since it’s the cheapest Wrangler lease deal!
The Best Hybrid SUV Daily Driver — Toyota RAV4 Prime
With more than 40 miles of EPA-rated all-electric range, the 302 HP Toyota RAV4 Prime is the perfect vehicle to recommend to someone who might be considering an EV, but who is still more likely to opt for a “normal” car once the time comes to start writing checks. For those people, the RAV4 Prime offers hitherto unimaginable levels of beige and anonymous normalcy that will pay huge dividends for the Earth if they plug it in, and significantly lower emissions than a purely conventional V6- or V8-powered ICE SUV even if they don’t.
What’s more, those buyers who do manage to get the plug into the wall will probably find that the RAV4 Prime’s 40 miles of electric range is more than enough to meet their needs — and their next vehicle? That one will almost definitely be an EV.
Is this the best hybrid SUV on the market? Maybe. But …
The Luxo-cruiser, Best Hybrid SUV — Volvo XC90 Recharge
Updated for the 2022 model year with 32 miles of all-electric range (up from 18), the Volvo XC90 Recharge offers genuine three-row seating with 455 HP of high-performance punch, sustainable wool or vegan “leather” interiors, and a corporate pedigree of progressive environmental and social policies for plenty of genuine, Earth-loving “green cred.” As if that weren’t enough, the XC90 has the added benefit of being able to go toe-to-toe with any manufacturer when it comes to safety and autonomous technology — and does it all with an understated style that definitely won’t get a second look from passers-by.
In other words: it’s just about perfect — but you’d expect that from Volvo, if you’d been paying attention.
See, Volvo told us all who they were all the way back in 1959, when the company patented the three-point safety belt, and then gave away the life-saving technology for free, putting life ahead of profits. Advances in seat belt tensioners and collapsible steering wheels also helped save lives. In 1976, they revolutionized the auto industry again, inventing the three-way catalytic converter and O2 lambda sensors that became the go-to emissions control system for the entire auto industry until — well, until the switch to EVs. There’s a very real chance that you don’t have asthma today because of Volvo, and that’s not even an exaggeration.
And the cars themselves? Unlike virtually every other carmaker, Volvo (and its high-performance sister brand, Polestar) hasn’t adopted a “skateboard” approach to EVs. Instead, it uses a Lotus-inspired backbone frame that enhances rigidity and improves safety by moving vulnerable battery and electrical components into the center of the car. At the same time, the design improves the vehicle’s dynamic handling — proving once again that, if a low center of gravity was the only thing that mattered in terms of handling, a steam roller would have the track record at Willow Springs.
When I was selling Volvos, I had about 90 minutes of material I could draw from to give a customer a proper “walkaround” of the car. I’d ask them first how much they wanted to know, and if they said “everything,” I gave them everything — from a nearly invisible crease in the front fenders that picks up again in the taillights, to a cast aluminum torque arm that could be a piece in MOMA, but that most customers would never see, to the padded black engine cover designed to prevent pedestrian injuries in the event that there was ever a collision. The seats? Designed by chiropractors. The trim? From the tactile walnut to the reclaimed driftwood to the machined aluminum to the molded plastic — they’re all winners.
If the person you’re recommending a car to can appreciate the difference between a Timex and a TAG, or cares enough about specifications and build quality to choose a MacBook Pro to cruise Facebook and watch Netflix on an airplane, then trust me when I tell you that there is plenty for them to geek out about in the Volvo.
Is this indeed the best hybrid SUV on the market. Not only that, but it’s the best SUV on the market. Buy it and enjoy!
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