By: Byron Mathioudakis

The SUV has long been a favourite with West Aussie car buyers. Now there's an ever-increasing choice of popular hybrid SUV options as well.

We've compared a range of both regular hybrid SUVs and plug-in hybrid SUVs on offer in Australia in 2022 for under $100k, to help you make the right choice. 

These reviews cover SUVs that are hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) as opposed to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). We also have reviews of hybrids cars (HEVs) available in Australia in 2022 that are not SUVs.

If you're unsure about the different kinds of hybrids available and the pros and cons of each, see our Hybrid cars explained guide. 

Toyota Yaris Cross Hybrid from $28,990 plus on-road costs

2022 Toyota Yaris Cross HEV SUV

From $26,990, the Yaris Cross is the smallest SUV Toyota sells in Australia, and the hybrid version for $2000 more is also the cheapest. Three grades are available – GX, GXL and Urban – for another $3000 apiece.

Based on the all-new fourth-generation Yaris city car released in 2020, the Yaris Cross is a little longer and wider and quite a bit larger inside, with substantially more luggage space as well as ground clearance, making it a compact, high-riding wagon. Or, if you like, a shrunken RAV4.

The hybrid system is a series-parallel set-up. In this case, a dinky yet delightfully willing 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine works in concert with an 59kW electric motor, driving the front wheels via a CVT auto. Low-speed and short-distance battery-only drive is available, before the petrol unit takes over.

The e-Four AWD system costs another $3000 and adds a second motor on the back axle, for added rear-drive traction.

With its spacious cabin, comfy seating and long list of standard driver-assist features (including adaptive cruise control), the Yaris Cross Hybrid makes for a sophisticated, great-value urban-focused SUV.

Best of all it’s also huge fun to drive out on the open road too. Keep it on your test-driving list.

Toyota Yaris Cross Hybrid specifications
Engine: 67kW/120Nm 1.5L in-line 3 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: CVT/front drive or AWD
Motor: 59kW/141Nm permanent magnet synchronous /3.9kW/52Nm induction (AWD models)
Battery: 4.3Ah Lithium ion
Total system power: 85kW/141Nm
Combined range: 1091km
Electric range: N/A
Fuel: 3.8-4.0L/100km
CO2: 86-90g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid from $34,000 (estimated)

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross HEV SUV

Pencilled in for later this year, the Corolla Cross is an all-new series of small SUV that might shape up to be one of 2023’s most popular models. Sharing a similarly-sized footprint with the swoopy C-HR, it will be placed between the lightweight Yaris Cross and medium-sized RAV4 (Australia’s current non-truck-based bestseller).

Like the Corolla series it is based on, there will be petrol as well as hybrid versions, with the latter expected to offered on both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations. Like all Toyota series-parallel hybrids, this one mates a four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor, to boost low-speed engine response as well as dramatically cut fuel consumption.

That’s one reason why the Corolla Cross is expected to sell so strongly in Australia; another is its just-right size and packaging, with the required elevated driving position and sense of security that an SUV brings, combined with compact dimensions that should make it easy to live with and park.

Factor in low running costs, engaging driving characteristics, plenty of power, high-quality engineering and dependable, Japanese-made technology, and the Corolla Cross is set to make a big impact. Long waiting times may still be a factor though.

Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid** specifications
Engine: 2.0L in-line 4 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: CVT/front or AWD
Motor: AC synchronous electric
Battery: TBC
Total system power: TBC
Combined range: 1000km-plus
Electric range: N/A
Fuel: TBC
CO2: TBC
Safety rating: TBC

** Outputs to be confirmed

Mazda MX-30 G20e from $34,190 plus on-road costs

2022 Mazda MX-30 G20e HEV SUV

The G20e was the first of the MX-30 versions to arrive in Australia in 2021, later joined by the all-electric E35 EV, while a range-extender rotary version of the petrol-powered model is expected to follow in 2023.

The third small Mazda SUV after the popular CX-3 and CX-30, the MX-30 is aimed at people who want a bit more style and differentiation in their high-riding wagons.

That’s why it has ‘Freestyle’ rear-hinged rear doors, as per the old Mazda RX-8. It also explains the sleek silhouette, small luggage capacity, 18-inch alloys and compact dimensions. This is an SUV coupe for all intents and purposes.

The MX-30 G20e also has a very mild hybrid version of the 114kW/200Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, with a 24-volt integrated starter-generator to help save fuel by storing brake energy and then assisting the petrol engine with a bit more ‘kick’. On the other hand, there is no pure electric drive, so this is almost stretching the definition of ‘hybrid’.

Still, with its five-star safety rating, beautifully crafted interior, generous equipment levels, excellent handling and refined powertrain, the MX-30 G20e is a modern interpretation of the classic Japanese personal two-door coupe – with just enough green credentials to earn it a mild hybrid badge.

Mazda MX-30 G20e specifications
Engine: 114kW/200Nm 2.0L in-line 4 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: six-speed auto/FWD
Motor: Integrated Starter Generator
Battery: Lithium ion
Total power/torque: 114kW/200Nm
Combined range: 797km
Electric range: N/A
Fuel: 6.4L/100km
CO2: 150g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Mazda CX-30 G20e from $36,040 plus on-road costs

2022 Mazda CX-30 G20e HEV SUV

The CX-30 is essentially a raised, wagon version of the evergreen Mazda3 hatch and sedan small-car range.

That said, there are key differences – a sleeker (and some say prettier) SUV body, a larger cabin, greater ground clearance and the option of all-wheel drive.

The ‘e’ in the G20e refers to Mazda’s SkyActiv-X M Hybrid (for mild hybrid) system.

Powering the front wheels only via a variation of the familiar 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, the aim is to increase smoothness and economy. Among its features is an integrated, belt-driven starter generator, which assists the engine and recoups lost energy during deceleration and braking. This saved energy is then redeployed to boost engine performance and braking.

Mazda makes the point that this is a ‘mild hybrid’ system that’s meant to work away quietly and without intrusion or extra weight. So, while the driver might detect the stop/start system shutting the engine down momentarily when slowing down, it’s barely noticeable. And there’s no electric-only drive.

The aim is to decrease fuel consumption: the saving compared to the regular CX-30 G20 (without the ‘e’) is just 0.2L/100km. To help justify the circa-$4000 premium, Mazda does include a few extra safety and convenience features as well.

Mazda CX-30 G20e Mild Hybrid specifications
Engine: 114kW/200Nm 2.0L in-line 4 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: six-speed auto/FWD
Motor: Integrated Starter Generator
Battery: Lithium ion
Total power/torque: 114kW/200Nm
Combined range: 810km
Electric range: N/A
Fuel: 6.3L/100km
CO2: 148g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Subaru XV Hybrid - From $36,790 plus on-road costs

2022 Subaru XV HEV SUV

Sometimes a few small, concentrated changes make for a greatly improved package.

Case in point: the latest Subaru XV Hybrid. A tiny facelift in late 2020 saw minor alterations to the nose, but a rethink of the suspension components has resulted in a quieter and more comfortable ride.

A revised CVT transmission also benefits hybrid performance – it feels more responsive, even though the 110kW/196Nm boxer engine/12.3kW/66Nm electric motor outputs remain as before.

A series-parallel hybrid set-up is meant to enhance economy, which it does, by half-a-litre per 100km on average. We’re not talking Toyota hybrid levels of frugality, then.

The only time you feel the XV’s hybrid system in action is when coasting along with your foot off the throttle or when braking, as the petrol engine switches off in these times. However, if you’re feather-footed enough at take-off speeds, it is possible to move up to about 30km/h before the engine fires up again.

Improved acceleration addresses one of the normal XV’s few issues. Select ‘Sport’ mode, and there’s noticeably stronger performance. That’s a win. However, the hybrid ditches the spare wheel for a tyre repair kit – not great for rural buyers.

Still, going hybrid means buying the best of the substantially improved XVs.

Subaru XV E-Boxer hybrid specifications
Engine: 110kW/196Nm 2.0L boxer 4 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: CVT/AWD
Motor: 12kW/66Nm AC synchronous electric
Battery: 0.6kWh Lithium-ion
Total system power: 110kW/196Nm
Combined range: 814km
Electric range: N/A
Fuel: 6.5/100km
CO2: 147g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid - From $36,900 plus on-road costs

2022 Toyota RAV4 HEV SUV

Arriving in mid-2019, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has been a massive hit, introducing electrification to the mainstream medium SUV segment at enticing prices.

Under the bonnet is a 2.5-litre engine, working in tandem with an 88kW electric motor, to drive the front wheels via a CVT auto. It offers low-speed short-distance battery-only drive, before the petrol unit takes over, for punchy performance.

For another $3000, the e-Four AWD system adds a 40kW rear-mounted motor driving the back wheels to provide extra traction.

Attractive design is another RAV4 drawcard. The dash is clear and functional, backed up by comfy seating, excellent ventilation, heaps of storage and good all-round vision. High equipment levels, leading driver-assist safety and a huge luggage area top off an ideal family hauler. Only the lack of a front passenger seat height adjuster disappoints, as the cushion is set too high for taller folk.

Finally, Toyota has gone all-out with choice. Though there is no longer a diesel, the GX has everything you need, the GXL adds a few more gadgets, the XSE provides a sporty vibe, while the Cruiser is more luxurious. Toyota has also recently released a hybrid version of the range-topping Edge.

Other than very long waiting lists (unless you’re not too fussy about colour), the RAV4 will be a strong choice for many families.

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid specifications
Engine: 131kW/221Nm 2.5L in-line 4 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: CVT/front or AWD
Motor: 88kW/202Nm AC synchronous electric / 40kW/121Nm AC synchronous electric (AWD)
Battery: 1.6kWh Nickel-metal hydride
Total system power: 160kW (AWD: 163kW)
Combined range: 11462km
Electricity: N/A
Fuel: 4.7-4.8L/100km
CO2: 107-109g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Toyota C-HR 2WD Hybrid - From $37,665 plus on-road costs

2022 Toyota C-HR HEV SUV

The C-HR finally scored a hybrid three years on from its 2016 launch, along with a minor facelift consisting of a big multimedia update with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

The familiar Toyota series-parallel hybrid set-up honed over decades, which consists of a 1.8-litre petrol engine, electric motor and battery combo, was all substantially upgraded for this application. Battery drive is only possible under soft acceleration, cruising or when braking, before the petrol unit kicks on almost unobtrusively.

Acceleration is strong, the handling precise and ride comfort supple. Besides being more economical than the regular C-HR’s 1.2L turbo petrol, the hybrid needs only 91 RON unleaded and not premium fuel. Bonus.

Speaking of premium, the small SUV feels unexpectedly so for a Toyota, until you learn the C-HR shares its sophisticated underpinnings with the upmarket Lexus UX. This may explain the classy dash design, thoughtful switchgear placement, quality finishes and lofty equipment levels.

Note only the up-spec Koba and racy GR Sport are hybrid, and include luxuries like keyless entry/start, leather and big alloy wheels. Supportive seats, space aplenty and sizeable boot (with a temporary spare) are further pluses, though the back-seat area can seem a bit dark and gloomy.

Chic, frugal and rewarding, the C-HR hybrid is another Toyota winner.

Toyota C-HR 2WD Hybrid specifications
Engine: 72kW/142Nm 1.8L in-line 4 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: CVT/front
Motor: 53kW/163Nm AC synchronous electric
Battery: 1.3kWh Nickel-metal hydride
Total system power: 90kW/163Nm
Combined range: 1132km
Electricity: N/A
Fuel: 4.3L/100km
CO2: 97g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Haval Jolion Hybrid from $38,000 (approximately)

2022 Haval Jolion HEV SUV

After a successful debut in 2021 at the lower end of the small SUV class, Chinese carmaker Haval has expanded the Jolion range with a hybrid-powered flagship version.

Aimed at the Toyota C-HR, Honda HR-V e:HEV and Kia Niro HEV hybrids among others, it employs a variation of the larger H6’s turbo petrol engine, connected to an electric motor and battery pack. Drive is sent to the front wheels via a dual-clutch transmission. Like the Toyota Prius, this is a series-parallel hybrid set-up, so does not run for any meaningful distance in electric mode.

Equipment levels are high, with a full suite of driver-assist safety technologies, as well as all the usual Jolion attributes. These include a very modern interior featuring a 7.0-inch electronic instrument display, a 12.3-inch central touchscreen, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights, panoramic sunroof and a seven-year warranty.

As with all Havals, the Jolion hybrid is large for its class, offering ample room for five and a large cargo area. That said, it still manages to undercut most direct rivals on price, meaning that the hybrid should prove popular with buyers seeking a not-so-small compact SUV with keen pricing and low running costs.

Haval Jolion Hybrid specifications
Engine: 1.5L in-line 4 cylinder petrol turbo
Transmission/driving wheels: dual-clutch/front-drive
Motor: AC synchronous electric
Battery: 1.6kWh lithium-ion
Total power/torque: 140kW/375Nm*
Combined range: N/A
Electric range: N/A
Fuel: 4.2L/100km*
CO2: N/A
Safety rating: N/A

*Based on overseas data

Kia Niro Hybrid from $40,000 (approximately)

2022 Kia Niro II HEV SUV

Only launched in Australia in 2021, the original Niro was well-packaged, but did seem dated, having been on sale elsewhere since 2016. The second-generation Niro changes all that.

Strikingly modern nowadays thanks to a complete redesign, the five-door crossover now comes in two rather than three powertrain choices – Hybrid and Electric. The plug-in hybrid has been discontinued in Australia until further notice.

Once again, the Niro hybrid combines a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and a six-speed dual clutch transmission, mated to an electric motor, for a total system power output of 104kW. Likewise, a battery helps to enhance economy, and is charged through either braking or by the petrol engine operating, with no pure-electric driving available.

The previous Niro was praised for its roomy and comfortable interior, as well as general ease of operation, and the new one only builds on that with more space. The dashboard features a massive touchscreen as well as all the latest multimedia and connectivity amenities you’d expect.

The same also applies to the generous safety specification, which includes a long list of driver-assist technologies. With the related Hyundai Ioniq hatch being phased out and Toyota Prius now discontinued, the Niro II makes a compelling case for itself.

Kia Niro II Hybrid specifications
Engine: 77kW/144Nm 1.6L in-line 4 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: six-speed dual-clutch auto/FWD
Motor: 32kW/170Nm AC permanent magnet synchronous
Battery: 1.32kWh Lithium ion
Total power/torque: 104kW
Combined range: 945km*
Electric range: N/A
Fuel: 4.2L/100km*
CO2: 97g/km*
Safety rating: N/A

*Based on overseas data

Subaru Forester Hybrid - From $43,290 plus on-road costs

2022 Subaru Forester S HEV SUV

A first for the fifth-generation series, the Forester E-Boxer hybrid was a welcome if slightly compromised addition to the Forester range.

Subaru’s first steps into electrification for Australia, the E-Boxer is a series-parallel hybrid set-up, featuring a thrummy 2.0-litre horizontally-opposed engine linked to a small electric motor and a lightweight battery.

Average consumption slides by 0.8L/100km as a result. Battery-only power (with no petrol engine interference) happens during light take-off speeds, coasting, or braking only, with the latter also providing battery recharging.

While the hybrid application is seamless to the point of imperceptibility, it does come at a cost, since the normal Forester’s willing 2.5L is replaced by the slick but smaller hybrid powertrain that brings with it less torque, resulting in slightly tardier throttle responses. Only at speed or cruising out on the highway does it feel truly lively.

Note, too, that the hybrid trades its spare wheel for a puncture repair kit instead.

Otherwise, it’s business as usual for the family-friendly Forester, with its acres of passenger space, superb vision and a comfortable, supple ride.

In late 2021 a facelift brought a new-look front-end, improved safety, a larger touchscreen and minor suspension tweaks to make it a bit more comfortable.

Subaru Forester E-Boxer Hybrid specifications
Engine: 110kW/196Nm 2.0L boxer 4 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: CVT/AWD
Motor: 12kW/66Nm AC synchronous electric
Battery: 0.6kWh Lithium-ion
Total system power: 110kW/196Nm
Combined range: 774km
Electric range: N/A
Fuel: 6.7/100km
CO2: 152g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Nissan Qashqai e-Power from $45,000 (estimated)

2022 Nissan Qashqai e-Power HEV SUV

One of the most anticipated releases of 2022, the third-generation Nissan Qashqai will also include the company’s first e-Power version by the end of the year.

What’s e-Power? Essentially, it combines a petrol engine (a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo with variable compression) and an electric motor. Just like most hybrids. But the big difference is that the engine does not drive the wheels, but instead charges a battery that powers the electric motor. Like a range-extender does. A similar set-up was employed in the Chevrolet-built Holden Volt of a decade ago.

The goal here is to bring the smooth and seamless all-electric car feel at all times, even when the engine is replenishing the battery in the background. To that end, it also features Nissan’s e-Pedal regenerative braking functionality, which enables one-pedal driving – but not to a standstill, as per the Kia EV6, for instance.

Beyond the powertrain, the third-gen Qashqai brings an all-new design inside and out, with more cabin space, modern digital displays and higher-quality materials, reflecting the premium British-built and European-focused nature of the popular small SUV range.

Significantly improved safety systems, better steering, handling and ride characteristics, and a quieter, more comfortable road feel are further areas where the Nissan has progressed. One to watch.

Nissan Qashqai e-Power specifications
Engine: 115kW 1.5L in-line 3 turbo petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: single-speed reduction gear/FWD
Motor: 140kW/330 AC synchronous electric
Battery: 2.1kWh Lithium Ion
Total power/torque: 140kW/330Nm
Combined range: 849km*
Electric range: 3km*
Fuel: 5.3L/100km*
CO2: 119g/km*
Safety rating: 5 stars

*Based on overseas model

Honda HR-V e:HEV from $45,000 driveaway

2022 Honda HR-V E HEV SUV

It took a while, but the third-generation HR-V is finally here.

A complete ground-up redesign from the ultra-successful RU-series released in 2015, the re-engineered small SUV builds on its predecessors’ exceptional interior packaging with the company’s so-called ‘Magic Seats’ by ushering in an all-new hybrid system dubbed e-HEV in Honda-speak.

Charged with taking on the popular Toyota C-HR and Yaris Cross hybrids, it breaks away from the company’s previous hybrid offerings in that it can run purely on electricity for limited periods at lower speeds, before the petrol engine seamlessly kicks in to help out when more performance is required.

The engine in question is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol unit working in unison with a CVT single-speed automatic transmission and two electric motors – one to drive the wheels and the other to charge the lithium-ion battery pack.

Among other features, there’s one-pedal operation, meaning the driver can use the throttle to accelerate and brake by pushing and lifting respectively, enhancing range and efficiency by preserving otherwise spent brake-pedal energy.

Note, however, that the latest HR-V is only a four-seater rather than a five-seater, with room for only two people across the back seat. That may be a deal breaker for some buyers.

Honda HR-V e-HEV specifications
Engine: 78kW/131Nm 1.5L in-line 4 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: CVT/front-drive
Motor: AC synchronous electric
Battery: 1.1kWh lithium-ion
Total power/torque: 96kW/253Nm
Combined range: 1379km
Electric range: N/A
Fuel: 4.3L/100km
CO2: 98g/km
Safety rating: 4 stars (Euro NCAP)

Haval H6 Ultra Hybrid from $45,990 drive away

2022 Haval H6 HEV SUV

Look out, Toyota RAV4 hybrid. Haval from China is coming for you, in the stylish shape of the H6 Ultra Hybrid.

Based on the second-generation medium-sized SUV launched in 2021, the H6 hybrid has arrived in Australia in a single, highly specified model to help justify pricing that actually puts it above more basic versions of the RAV4 and Subaru Forester hybrids from Japan.

Luxuries include heated/vented front seats, wireless charging, digital instrument dials, a head-up display, panoramic sunroof, an electric tailgate and 19-inch alloy wheels. You’ll also find goodies like adaptive cruise control with stop/go, lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, a 360-degree camera and automatic parking.

SUV buyers should respond enthusiastically to the Haval’s spacious and practical interior, which includes a family-friendly sized boot, though it may take some time to master the fiddly multimedia controls.

Behind the striking front grille is a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine, combined with an electric motor for a total system output of 179kW and 530Nm, making it the most powerful out of all the midsized hybrids. Like the RAV4, electricity is only used to help boost performance and cut fuel consumption, so there’s no pure EV drive.

Generously equipped, attractive and economical, the H6 hybrid should prove popular with those willing to try this emerging brand.

Haval H6 Ultra Hybrid specifications
Engine: 110kW/230Nm 1.5L in-line 4 petrol turbo
Transmission/driving wheels: dual-clutch/front-drive
Motor: 130kW/300Nm AC synchronous electric
Battery: 1.6kWh lithium-ion
Total power/torque: 179kW/530Nm
Combined range: 1173km
Electric range: N/A
Fuel: 5.2L/100km
CO2: N/A
Safety rating: N/A

Mazda CX-30 X20 Astina AWD from $47,690 plus on-road costs

2022 Mazda CX-30 X20 HEV SUV

Much was promised about this new-fangled engine technology from Mazda leading up to the X20’s release in 2020, but in reality, it doesn’t feel that much more powerful nor is it significantly more economical as a result.

Sitting at the top of the CX-30 tree, the X20 Astina AWD is meant to combine the low-down urge of a diesel with the top-end smoothness of a petrol.

Dubbed SkyActiv-X M Hybrid (for mild hybrid) system, it employs a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that pairs compression ignition (as most diesels do) with spark ignition (as per most petrol engines) to boost low-speed acceleration and higher speed performance response, while requiring less fuel.

The CX-30 X20 also features an integrated, belt-driven starter generator, 24-volt lithium-ion battery (which assists the engine and recoups lost energy during deceleration) and a supercharger, to help boost power up to 132kW and torque to 224Nm – compared to 114kW/200Nm in the normal 2.0L but below the 139kW/252Nm offered by the 2.5L versions.

While there are efficiency gains, it’s just not enough, only using half a litre per 100km less petrol (albeit the premium unleaded stuff). There is no pure electric drive, nor anything to plug in, meaning it’s all completely subtle. Hence “mild hybrid”. Hardly worth the hype.

Mazda CX-30 X20 Astina AWD specifications
Engine: 132kW/224Nm 2.0L in-line 4 supercharged petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: six-speed auto/AWD
Motor: 5kW/61Nm Integrated Starter Generator
Battery: lithium-ion
Total power/torque: 132kW/224Nm
Combined range: 800km
Electric range: N/A
Fuel: 6.0L/100km
CO2: 141g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Lexus UX250h from $52,025 plus on-road costs

2022 Lexus UX 250h HEV SUV

Launched in 2019, the UX is a genuinely intriguing Mercedes GLA alternative.

The UX250h version ushers in an evolved parallel-series hybrid powertrain, consisting of a 2.0-litre engine, 80kW electric motor and battery pack, sending 131kW to the front wheels. Silent, engine-off battery drive is possible during normal acceleration, coasting or deceleration scenarios, while otherwise-wasted energy from braking is redirected into recharging the batteries.

The result of all this is smooth and energetic acceleration right from the get-go, with strong throttle response when required to keep the UX250h moving along briskly. Light, accurate steering and secure road grip further highlight the Lexus’ lively nature, though the suspension can feel a little busy on models wearing bigger wheels.

For additional all-weather traction and oomph, the $4500 ‘e-Four’ AWD option on the mid-spec Sport Luxury and racy F Sport grades adds a 5.3kW electric motor to drive the rear wheels.

Interior comfort and quality are further UX250h strengths, with plenty of safety and convenience features, while the rear seat is surprisingly spacious. Sour notes include a fiddly multimedia interface, a shallow cargo area and no spare – instead, only runflat tyres are fitted.

Spirited, frugal and youthful in nature, the UX250h makes a unique statement among premium crossovers.

Lexus UX250h specifications
Engine: 107kW/188Nm 2.0L in-line 4 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: CVT/front or AWD
Motor: 80kW/202Nm AC synchronous electric
Battery: Nickel-metal hydride
Total system power: 131kW/202Nm
Combined range: 1000km
Electric range: N/A
Fuel: 4.3-4.6L/100km
CO2: 1103-107g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Toyota Kluger Hybrid from $54,150 plus on-road costs

2022 Toyota Kluger HEV SUV

After nearly 20 years, Toyota’s first four-cylinder Kluger is upon us, and it’s proven to be a huge hit.

Available across all three grades – GX, GXL and Grande – for $6500 above the 3.5-litre petrol V6 front-drive or $4000 more than the V6 AWD versions – the series-parallel hybrid combines three electric motors with a 2.5-litre petrol engine and an electric continuously variable automatic transmission (e-CVT).

As with other hybrids, pure EV driving is limited before the petrol engine starts pitching in. With motors on both front and rear axles and a battery underneath the big SUV, Toyota’s e-Four AWD system imperceptibly shuffles drive from 100 per cent to the front wheels to 80 per cent to the rear axle, according to prevailing conditions and driver throttle demands. Right now, you can’t get a hybrid front-drive. Note premium unleaded petrol is required.

As the American-made fourth-gen Kluger (Highlander elsewhere in the world), the latest model is all-new, with a stronger, roomier and safer body, significantly improved safety and helpful driver-assist technologies like adaptive cruise control standard across the range.

It’s also the best, quietest and most comfortable version yet, with the hybrid version providing a compelling proposition for eco-minded drivers – especially if they have a sizeable tribe of kids to cart around.

Toyota Kluger Hybrid specifications
Engine: 142kW/242Nm 2.5L in-line 4 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: CVT auto/AWD
Motor: 134kW/270Nm AC permanent magnet synchronous (front)
Battery: 1.6kWh Nickel-metal hydride
Total system power: 184kW
Combined range: 1161km
Electric range: N/A
Fuel: 5.6L/100km
CO2: 128g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Lexus NX350h from $65,600 plus on-road costs

2022 Lexus NX 350h HEV SUV

Toyota’s luxury brand has released the second-generation NX, to take on similar midsized SUVs like the BMW X3 and Volvo XC60.

With the original being a huge success, Lexus hasn’t rocked the boat – the styling looks much the same as before – but now it’s larger and roomier too.

By far the most popular version is the NX 350h hybrid. This time around, it’s available in a single electric motor front-wheel drive or dual electric motor all-wheel drive (for a hefty $4800 premium).

Both are powered by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, offering a combined power peak of 179kW. Being a series-parallel hybrid, it rarely drives on electric-only mode, but instead provides extra power or economy as required.

The biggest change over the old NX is the architecture, adopting a stronger platform base and a sophisticated suspension system that makes the Lexus quieter and more refined than before. It’s also far better to drive as a result.

Finally, the sumptuous and spacious interior is of a very high quality, with a dashboard that is far easier to use compared to before. It also includes plenty of standard features and no shortage of advanced safety gear.

Attractive, economical and beautifully made, the NX hybrid has at last come of age.

Lexus NX350h specifications
Engine: 140kW/239Nm 2.5L in-line 4 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: CVT auto/FWD or AWD
Motor: 134kW/270Nm AC permanent magnet synchronous (front)/40kW/121Nm (rear)
Battery: 1.5kWh Lithium ion
Total power/torque: 179kW/270Nm
Combined range: 1100km
Electric range: N/A
Fuel: 5.0L/100km
CO2: 114g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Kia Sorento HEV from $66,750

2022 Kia Sorento HEV SUV

It was meant to arrive in 2021 but electrification is now finally available in the big Kia Sorento SUV. And, fun fact: for the time being, it is the only vehicle in Australia offered with petrol, diesel, hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains.

Here we’re looking at the hybrid, or HEV, in single-grade GT-Line for now, to take on the fast-selling Toyota Kluger Hybrid.

The Kia employs the Hyundai Motor Group’s versatile 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, combined with a 44kW electric motor, and driving either the front or all four wheels (depending on your budget) via for a six-speed automatic transmission, for a total system output of 169kW/350Nm.

Kia’s hybrid system is similar to Toyota’s in that it is a series-parallel petrol-electric set-up that helps boost performance and cut consumption but provides no pure-electric drive except during off-throttle or coasting situations. Compared to the 200kW/332Nm 3.5-litre V6 2WD equivalent it may replace over time – if demand is high enough – the Sorento HEV uses nearly half the amount of petrol, yet is no slouch, needing just 8.7 seconds to go from zero to 100km/h.

Otherwise, the Hybrid is pure fourth-generation Sorento – spacious, safe and special inside, and backed by Kia’s excellent seven-year warranty.

Kia Sorento Hybrid specifications
Engine: 132kW/265Nm 1.6L in-line 4 petrol turbo
Transmission/driving wheels: six-speed auto/FWD or AWD
Motor: 44kW AC permanent magnet synchronous
Battery: 1.5kWh Lithium ion
Total power/torque: 169kW/350Nm
Combined range: 1136-1241km
Electric range: N/A
Fuel: 5.3-5.8L/100km
CO2: 121-133g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid from $70,000 (approximately)

2022 Hyundai Santa Fe HEV SUV

It’s been repeatedly delayed, but the big Hyundai seven-seater hybrid is now on course for an end of year release in Australia.

Tasked with competing against the popular Kluger Hybrid, the Santa Fe will give the brand a wide choice of three-row vehicles when you also factor in the larger eight-seater Palisade SUV and the Staria van.

At the heart of the Santa Fe Hybrid is a variation of the company’s venerable 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine, combined with an electric motor and lithium ion battery driving the back wheels, to deliver a system total of around 170kW of power and 350Nm of torque.

Thus, like Toyota’s, this is a series-parallel set-up, with the engine charging the battery on the go while regenerative braking also replenishes it once the anchors are applied.

Overseas reports suggest lively acceleration to go with the expected excellent fuel economy – 9.1 seconds to 100km/h – but the turbo petrol engine can become a little loud and coarse when extended.

Though a thorough facelift of the fourth-generation TM-series Santa Fe launched back in 2018, the latest Santa Fe rides on a heavily modified platform, allowing for the implementation of future technologies like a PHEV plug-in hybrid version offered elsewhere.

Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid specifications
Engine: 132kW/265Nm 1.6L in-line 4 turbo petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: six-speed auto/AWD
Motor: 44kW/264Nm permanent magnet synchronous
Battery: 1.5kWh Lithium ion
Total power/torque: 169kW/350Nm
Combined range: 971km*
Electric range: N/A
Fuel: 6.9L/100km*
CO2: 157g/km*
Safety rating: 5 stars

*Based on overseas data

Lexus RX450h from $91,760 plus on-road costs

2022 Lexus RX 450h HEV SUV

Launched in 2015, the RX450h Luxury grade in normal or extended ‘L’ seven-seater guise offers plenty compared to rival entry-level premium midsized SUVs.

Facelifted in 2019 with modernised multimedia connectivity (at last), improved safety with added driver-assist technology and more standard features including a bigger central screen (but with the same fiddly controller), the long-lived series is actually (previous generation) Toyota Kluger-based, so you know it’s big and roomy.

A series-parallel hybrid AWD, a 3.5-litre V6 up front works in tandem with a rear-axle-mounted 50kW electric motor driving the back wheels, for 230kW in total and just 5.7L/100km. Together, they provide all-electric acceleration at take-off, before the petrol engine starts as speeds build. In keeping with the brand’s reputation for refinement, the RX450h’s performance is strong and smooth.

A raft of modifications under the skin are said to improve body strength, noise suppression, ride comfort and handling capabilities. And certainly, the RX450h’ss steering feels light and positive for confident cornering and reassured all-weather roadholding, though it still occasionally transmits bumps and road noise into the cabin.

Minor but important changes, they keep the ageing RX450h competitive. The fifth-generation and new-from-the-ground-up RX won’t hit Australian showrooms until 2023.

Lexus RX450h specifications
Engine: 193kW/335Nm 3.5L V6 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: CVT/AWD
Motor: 50kW/139 AC synchronous electric
Battery: 2kWh Nickel-metal hydride
Total power/torque: 230kW/335Nm
Combined range: 1161km
Electric range: N/A
Fuel: 5.7L/100km
CO2: 131g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

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Last updated: June 2022