As hybrid-electric vehicles continue to grow in popularity as of 2010, more automakers are offering hybrid SUVs. These vehicles combine a small gasoline engine with an electric motor and battery pack, giving them more range than an electric vehicle and better fuel economy than their gasoline-powered counterparts. But not all hybrid SUVs are created equal, and several models stand above others for various reasons.
Lexus RX 450h
The Lexus RX 450h was the highest-ranked hybrid SUV in 2010 by U.S. News & World Report. The model replaces the original generation of Lexus hybrid SUVs, known as the 400h series. The average fuel economy of the 450h is around 30 miles per gallon, placing it high on the list of most fuel-efficient hybrid SUVs. It also contains advanced safety features that earned it a 9.9 out of 10 on the U.S. News report. Overall reliability and interior comfort are other prized assets. At just over £26,000, the Lexus RX 450h is among the moderate-priced hybrid SUVs available.
Ford Escape Hybrid
Ford's hybrid version of the popular Escape SUV is one of the most fuel-efficient SUVs ever made, with an estimated 31 miles per gallon on the highway and 34 miles per gallon in city conditions. Like the Lexus RX 450h, the Ford Escape is a second-generation model. It also achieved the same 9.9 safety score from U.S. News & World Report. While performance and reliability are only average, the Escape starts at under £19,500, making it one of the most affordable vehicles of its kind.
The Ford Escape hybrid shares many components with the Mercury Mariner hybrid, which deserves much of the same praise.
Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid
The Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is a rare full-size hybrid SUV. It offers seating for eight people and actually uses two electric motors, along with a V8 engine, to provide ample power. Fuel economy is just over 20 miles per gallon, but this is a significant improvement over the gas-guzzling standard Tahoe. The Tahoe hybrid is expensive, starting at more than £32,500, but for drivers who need a large seating or cargo capacity it is one of few hybrid alternatives.
The Chevy Tahoe hybrid is related to the GMC Yukon hybrid, which has very similar specifications.
Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Toyota's Highlander Hybrid is a midsize crossover hybrid SUV more in line with the size and performance characteristics of the Ford Escape. It has seating for five or seven and provides fuel economy in the 26 miles per gallon range. U.S. News & World Report has applauded the Highlander Hybrid for its safety, but was unimpressed by its bland exterior appearance. But with prices between £22,750 and £26,000 and many options featured, it offers good performance and value for its class.