If you’re in the market for a roomy family vehicle with an environmentally friendly image, but aren’t ready to go fully electric over concerns of driving range and cost, hybrid SUVs might be worth a look. Unlike full electrics, gas-electric hybrids aren’t limited to a charging network. You can take them on long trips, filling up like normal at gas stations. And you can offset taller, heavier SUVs’ inherit inefficiency with better fuel economy. But, we get that hybrids in general can be seen as dorky or unsexy—certainly more so than saucy full-electrics such as the Tesla Model X or Audi e-tron SUV, or ass-hauling plug-in hybrids such as Porsche’s Cayenne Turbo SE Hybrid PHEV. To help you choose a hybrid crossover or SUV that isn’t boring, we’ve gathered the six most appealing options available today:
2020 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD
Price: $53,895 | EPA combined fuel economy: 27 mpg
If you want a cool super sports car that’s also a hybrid, get an Acura NSX. Want an NSX but really need a big hauler with three rows capable of seating up to seven? Then the Acura MDX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD is your highly specific solution. Its 257-hp V-6 engine is aided by a 47-hp electric motor in powering the front wheels, while two 36-hp motors power the rear wheels, for a grand total of 321 horsepower. This powertrain layout is, as Acura likes to say, essentially the same as the NSX sports car’s, only flipped backwards. (In the NSX, a similar duo of electric motors turn its front wheels while a third works with a much more powerful V-6 engine to spin the rears.) Thus, the MDX’s “SH-AWD” (Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive) is capable of torque vectoring on the rear axle, since each wheel is individually powered by an electric motor, making the Acura a surprisingly sweet-driving suburban conveyance. A hand-built(!) MDX PMC Edition comes only in sparkly Valencia Red Pearl paint and is available for less of a premium than you might expect.
2020 Ford Escape Hybrid
Price: $30,095 | EPA combined fuel economy: 40–41 mpg
The ’20 Ford Escape Hybrid is conventionally powered, for a compact hybrid crossover, but wears sleek sheetmetal. A 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine delivers 163 horses and 152 lb-ft of torque. Its electric motor bump total output to 200 ponies, aided by the hybrid Escape’s 1.1-kWh, liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack. That’s fairly standard stuff. Less standard? Ford says the hybrid can motor along on electricity alone at speeds of up to 85 mph, and it is capable of delivering more than 400 miles of range even with its available all-wheel drive. Stick with front-wheel drive, and the snappy-looking Escape Hybrid can go 550 miles between fill-ups.
2020 Ford Explorer Limited Hybrid
Price: $54,120 | EPA combined fuel economy: 25–28 mpg
Ford’s large, three-row Explorer Limited Hybrid packs a 3.3-liter V-6 and an electric motor that delivers a combined 318 horsepower. Oh, and it sits on a new, rear-wheel-drive platform that delivers altogether peppier handling than did the previous-generation, front-drive-based Explorer. The Explorer Hybrid’s EPA-estimated range of 450 miles (when equipped with AWD) and up to 5,000 pounds of towing capacity (depending on cargo and number of passengers); rear-wheel-drive variants offer up to 500 miles of range from a modestly sized 18-gallon fuel tank. This means the Explorer isn’t some short-range, limited-usefulness urban dweller. Instead, it can take to the open road and take your stuff with it. That is all the more impressive given the rear-drive model’s 27-mpg city, 29-mpg highway fuel-economy ratings.
2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid
Price: $29,000 (est.) | EPA combined fuel economy: 43 mpg (est.)
How does one make Honda’s best-selling CR-V compact SUV better? While we might harbor some fantasies of stuffing the Civic Type R’s 306-hp turbocharged engine under the CR-V’s hood, that just isn’t in the cards. So, consider the 2020 CR-V Hybrid the next-most compelling alternative. All-wheel drive is standard, along with Honda’s latest active safety features. The hybrid powertrain is the same high-tech bundle used in the Accord Hybrid, with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, two electric motors, and a clever single-speed transmission setup. In the CR-V, expect 212 horsepower and an average fuel economy near 43 miles per gallon along with a 525-mile range. Keep an eye out for final specifications, however, which are due closer to the CR-V Hybrid’s launch in spring 2020.
2020 Lexus UX, NX, and RX Hybrids
Prices: $35,375, $40,295, $47,775 | EPA combined fuel economy: 39 mpg, 31 mpg, 29–30 mpg
Lexus offers three distinct hybrid crossovers, but the best-looking (okay, most interesting-looking) is its smallest, the $35,375 UX 250h. This subcompact hybrid has a low-slung, sport-hatchback vibe to it, and it is also available in a tarted-up F Sport trim. (An amusing fun fact? The F Sport emits an ambitious, faux Formula 1 race car–like sound from its audio speakers that rises in sync with throttle inputs. It’d be cheesy if it weren’t so fun.) Its 39 mpg combined EPA rating is as eye-popping as its riotous exterior styling. Next up the Lexus hybrid ladder sits the NX300h, which has nearly the same general body shape as its Toyota RAV4 cousin but different mechanicals. If you need more room and power, then opt for the larger Lexus RX and RX L hybrids, which combines a 3.5-liter V-6 with electric motors and styling every bit as pointy and attention-grabbing as the smaller Lexuses already mentioned here. The RX also is the least fuel-efficient of the three, posting 30 mpg combined in regular RX450h guise and 29 in longer RX450h L form.
2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Price: $29,275 | EPA combined fuel economy: 40 mpg
The 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid packs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a starter/generator motivating its front wheels and another electric motor driving the rear wheels. With the same-size fuel tank as the non-hybrid RAV4, the electrically assisted version can go at least 100 miles further per fill-up. The base LE Hybrid trim starts at $29,275 and a fully loaded Limited Hybrid will set you back nearly $38,000 depending on options. Oh, and we know this list is only for hybrids, but we should mention that Toyota is rolling out a surprisingly powerful plug-in hybrid RAV4 for 2021.
The post The Least-Boring Hybrid Crossover SUVs You Can Buy in 2020 appeared first on Automobile Magazine.