The Best and Worst Hybrid SUVs on the Market

When it comes to a hybrid, most people tend to visualize a small sedan or hatchback. Unbeknownst to many, the hybrid market has recently seen an influx of sport utility vehicles (SUV) competing for best in show.

Most of the major car makers, including Toyota, Chevrolet and Ford, have released their versions of the hybrid with a wide range of options, features and fuel economy. If you’re in the market for a hybrid SUV, it’s important to know what makes a good hybrid and which vehicles are considered the best and worst on the market today.

What makes a good hybrid?

Obviously, if you’re looking a hybrids, you’re concerned about fuel economy. When comparing gas mileage, it’s helpful to know the different types of hybrids that are on the market.

The three types are “Full” or “Parallel”, “Mild” and “Plug In”.

The “Full” or “parallel” systems can be powered solely by the gasoline engine, solely by the electric engine or both at the same time.The “Mild” can only run on the gas or gas and electric engines combined but it cannot run on the electric engine alone.The “Plug In” runs solely off the electric motor and only uses the gasoline engine once the batteries that power the electric motor have run out.

The most fuel efficient of the three models is the plug-In hybrid, because it uses the gasoline engine the least. The next in line would be the full hybrid, followed closely by the parallel hybrid system. Pulling up the rear is the mild hybrid system, which offers only minimal fuel economy improvement (but which is also the least expensive option).

Finally, once you understand the different types of hybrid systems, it’s important to understand how much each one costs. You’ll find that plug-in systems have the highest cost premium, and that mild hybrids have the lowest. However, not every manufacturer prices their hybrid system correctly, meaning that a mild hybrid from one manufacturer might cost just as much as a full hybrid from another.

Top 3 Hybrid Sport Utility Vehicles

When comparing hybrid sport utility vehicles, the Ford Escape Hybrid has the rest of the market beat in fuel economy. It averages a combined fuel economy of 32 mpg with 34 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway. It has an MSRP of just over $30,000 and features a “full” hybrid system.

The Lexus RX 450h Hybrid is next in line. The Lexus RX is also a “Full” hybrid system with the ability to run solely off gas, solely off its electric motor or both. The fuel economy in the Lexus is comparable to the Ford; however, the price of the Lexus is quite a bit higher. With a higher price comes a much more powerful engine, more accoutrements, etc. MSRP starts at $45,000.

Last but not least is the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Starting at $38,000, it’s slightly more than the Ford Escape but less than the Lexus. One of the perks of this hybrid SUV is that it has been rated the most fuel efficient seven passenger SUV on the market. The Toyota Highlander features 28 mpg in the city and on the highway.

3 of the Worst Hybrid Sport Utility Vehicles

It is no surprise that the three worst picks for a hybrid SUV are also the largest in size. With size comes weight and that will always affect fuel economy.

The Cadillac Escalade Hybrid not only has much lower fuel economy than most other hybrid SUVs, it also has one of the highest price tags. At about $73,000 MSRP, it is difficult to justify the purchase when fuel economy is only 21 MPG combined. While it does not miss a single detail when it comes to luxury, obviously the Escalade is not as concerned with fuel economy as it is with bling.

The 2013 Chevy Tahoe and 2013 GMC Yukon hybrids are next in line at a close tie. Both have an MSRP of just over $52,000 and average 21 MPG combined. The gasoline only version of these two vehicles averages 17 mpg combined. That is only a 4 mpg difference. To most car buyers, the hefty price tag that accompanies the hybrid will not be worth it when the difference is only a few miles more than the much cheaper standard gasoline version.

It’s interesting to note that all three of these SUVs use the same dated parallel hybrid system that first debuted in 2007. Look for GM to update this system soon.

About the Author: Kyle Harris is a life-long car enthusiast with a special place in his heart for Fords. When Kyle isn’t comparing hybrid SUVs, he’s working for Blue Springs Ford Parts, a website offering genuine Ford replacement parts at wholesale prices.

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