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 2021 for under $100k, to help you make the right choice.

These reviews cover SUV hybrid cars. For a run down of other hybrid options, check out our reviews of Hybrid cars available in Australia 2021.

Regular hybrid SUVs:

(Skip to plug-in hybrid SUVs)

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

Silver Toyota Yaris Cross Hybrid

From $26,990, the Yaris Cross is the smallest SUV Toyota sells in Australia, and the hybrid version for $2,000 more is also the cheapest. Three grades are available – GX, GXL and Urban – for another $3,000 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 all-wheel drive system costs another $3,000 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. A top recommendation.

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, or 3.9kW/52Nm induction (AWD models)
Battery: 4.3Ah Lithium ion
Total system power: 85kW
EV range: <2km @ <130km/h
Electricity: N/A
Fuel: 3.8-4.0L/100km
CO2: 86-90g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Mazda MX-30 G20e from $33,990 plus on-road costs

Red Mazda MX-30

The G20e is the first of the MX-30 versions to touchdown in Australia, with the all-electric E35 EV launching mid-year and EV with range-extender expected to follow in 2022.

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 Hybrid specifications
Engine: 114kW/200Nm 2.0L in-line 4 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: 6-speed auto/FWD
Motor: Integrated Starter Motor
Battery: Lithium-ion
Total power/torque: 114kW/200Nm
EV range: 0km
Electricity: N/A
Fuel: 6.4L/100km
CO2: 150g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Honda HR-V e-HEV from $35,000 (approximately)

Beige Honda HR-V

A complete ground-up redesign from the ultra-successful RU-series released in 2015, the re-engineered third-generation HR-V builds on its predecessors’ exceptional interior packaging 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 likely to be 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.

At the time of publication, no power, torque or economy figures were made available, but Honda has said that the HR-V e-HEV will be one of its most important models moving forward.

Honda HR-V Hybrid specifications
Engine: 1.5L in-line 4 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: CVT/front-drive
Motor: AC synchronous electric
Battery: Lithium-ion
Total power/torque: N/A
EV range: N/A
Electricity: N/A
Fuel: N/A
CO2: N/A
Safety rating: N/A

Kia Niro Hybrid from $39,990 (approximately)

Blue Kia Niro Hybrid

Launched globally in 2016, it’s taken a few years longer than expected, but the Kia Niro hybrid is set for a mid-year launch.

Aimed at Toyota’s pioneering Prius hatchback, the attractive Niro is a slightly larger and higher-riding SUV, but with a similar agenda – bringing affordable hybrid mobility to the masses. It is very closely related to the Hyundai Ioniq range. Both series use extensive lightweight materials to help keep economy-sapping mass down.

Like the Ioniq, the Kia’s front-drive powertrain specifications are relatively simple – a 77kW/147Nm 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and a six-speed dual clutch transmission, mated to an electric motor for a 104kW total system power output. The battery helps to enhance economy, and is charged through either braking or by the petrol engine operating, with no pure-electric driving available in the Hybrid version.

The Niro has been praised for its roomy and comfortable interior, as well as general ease of operation. On the other hand, the Hybrid petrol engine’s performance is leisurely, and can get a bit noisy under acceleration, while its economy benefits aren’t quite as impressive as either the Ioniq or Prius’.

But you do have a more family-friendly package as compensation.

Kia Niro Hybrid specifications
Engine: 77kW/147Nm 1.6L in-line 4 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: Six-speed dual-clutch auto/FWD
Motor: 32kW/170Nm AC permanent magnet synchronous
Battery: 1.56kWh Lithium-ion
Total system power: 104kW
EV range: N/A
Electricity: N/A
Fuel: 4.5L/100km*
CO2: 119g/km*
Safety rating: N/A
*Based on overseas data

Subaru XV Hybrid from $35,490 plus on-road costs

Yellow Subaru XV Hybrid

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

Case in point: the 2021 Subaru XV Hybrid. A tiny facelift sees 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, so not greatly enhanced.

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 at 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 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
EV range: <2km @ <40km/h
Electricity: N/A
Fuel: 6.5L/100km
CO2: 147g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid from $37,070 plus on-road costs

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Arriving in mid-2019, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has been a massive hit, introducing electrification to the mainstream medium SUV segment and enticing prices. Less than $2,500 separates the series-parallel hybrid from the regular petrol equivalent.

Under the bonnet is a 131kW 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 $3,000, the e-Four all-wheel drive system adds a 40kW rear-mounted motor driving the back wheels to provide extra traction.

Attractive design is another RAV4 drawcard. The dash is a model of clarity and functionality, 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 while the flagship Cruiser is luxurious. This is one of the best family cars available.

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, or 40kW/121Nm AC synchronous electric (AWD)
Battery: 1.6kWh Nickel-metal hydride
Total system power: 160kW (AWD: 163kW)
EV range: <2km @ <130km/h
Electricity: N/A
Fuel: 4.7-4.8L/100km
CO2: 107-109g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

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

Gold Toyota C-HR Koba

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 usual Toyota series-parallel hybrid set-up honed over decades, the 1.8-litre engine, electric motor and battery combo had all been 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 premium 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 top-line Koba is hybrid, and includes luxuries like keyless entry/start, leather and 18-inch alloys. 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 Koba 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
EV range: <2km @ <40km/h
Electricity: N/A
Fuel: 4.3L/100km
CO2: 97g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Subaru Forester Hybrid from $40,490 plus on-road costs

Two Subaru Forester Hybrids

A first for the fifth-generation series, the Forester E-Boxer hybrid has been a smash hit since its introduction in early 2020, with long waiting lists.

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 space, superb vision, a comfortable, supple ride and huge cargo area. Available in two well-equipped grades, it brings an appealing eco dimension to one of our favourite medium-sized SUVs.

Subaru Forester 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
EV range: <2km @ <40km/h
Electricity: N/A
Fuel: 6.7L/100km
CO2: 152g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Mazda CX-30 M Hybrid AWD from $46,690 plus on-road costs

Silver Mazda CX-30

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.

As with the Mazda3, the top-line Astina X20 is the sole CX-30 to offer the company’s SkyActiv-X M Hybrid (for mild hybrid) system, powered by 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.

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.

The aim, says Mazda, is to improve efficiency – and to that end, the X20 succeeds, using half a litre per 100km less petrol (albeit the premium unleaded stuff). Like the Mazda3 X20, there is no pure electric drive, nor anything to plug in, meaning it’s all completely subtle. Hence ‘mild hybrid’.

Mazda CX-30 M Hybrid specifications
Engine: 132kW/224Nm 2.0L in-line 4 supercharged petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: Six-speed auto/front or AWD
Motor: Integrated Starter Motor
Battery: 24V Lithium-ion
Total power/torque: 132kW/224Nm
EV range: 0km
Electricity: N/A
Fuel: 6.0L/100km
CO2: 141g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

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

Silver Lexus UX250h

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 107kW 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 $4,500 ‘e-Four’ all-wheel drive 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 Hybrid 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
EV range: <2km @ <130km/h
Electricity: N/A
Fuel: 4.3-4.6L/100km
CO2: 103-107g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

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

Red Toyota Kluger Hybrid

After nearly 20 years, Toyota’s first four-cylinder Kluger is upon us.

Available across all three grades – GX, GXL and Grande – for $6,500 above the 3.5-litre petrol V6 front-drive or $4,000 more than the V6 all-wheel drive 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).

Only a couple of kilometres of pure EV drive is available, before the engine kicks in. With motors on both axles and a battery underneath the big SUV, Toyota’s e-Four all-wheel drive system unperceptively 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.

As the fourth-gen Kluger (Highlander elsewhere in the world), the 2021 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 until the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe hybrids take it on later in the year.

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
EV range: <2km @ <40km/h
Electricity: N/A
Fuel: 5.6L/100km*
CO2: 128g/km*
Safety rating: 5 stars
*Based on overseas data

Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid from $55,000 (approximately)

White Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid

Hyundai is preparing to roll out its first electrified big SUV this year.

Tasked with competing against the new Kluger Hybrid, the Santa Fe hybrid is slated to arrive in dealerships well before Christmas, to give the brand one of the widest choices of three-row crossovers on the market when you also consider the larger eight-seater Palisade.

At the heart of the Santa Fe Hybrid is a variation of the company’s 132kW/265Nm 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.

This is 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, and a 187km/h top speed – 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, the MY21 Series II rides on a completely overhauled 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 system power: 169kW/350Nm
EV range: N/A
Electricity: N/A
Fuel: 7.4L/100km*
CO2: 159g/km*
Safety rating: 5 stars
*Based on overseas data

Kia Sorento HEV from $55,000 (approximately)

Red Kia Sorento HEV

Kia’s third new electrified SUV for the year is tipped to be the Sorento HEV – for Hybrid Electric Vehicle.

Expected soon after the closely related Sorento PHEV launches in the third quarter of 2021, the HEV-without-the-P (for plug-in) is charged with competing head-on with the recently unveiled Toyota Kluger Hybrid – though the two rivals differ markedly in the way they present their eco seven-seater wagons.

Kia’s biggest SUV for Australia employs the same 77kW/147Nm 1.6-litre turbo as the former, but with front-wheel drive rather than all-wheel drive and a much smaller battery. In contrast, the Kluger employs the Camry’s 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated engine and three electric motors, with a pair driving the rear wheels for all-wheel drive.

As such, there is no meaningful pure electric driving distance available in the Sorento HEV, but significant fuel-consumption cuts (by nearly 3.0L/100km) compared to the 200kW/332Nm 3.5-litre V6 petrol Sorento models it may replace over time – if demand is high enough. Conversely, the HEV is also quicker across most conditions, with a 0-100km/h sprint-time of 8.7 seconds.

Otherwise, the Hybrid is pure fourth-generation Sorento – spacious, safe and special inside, with heaps of standard features for the family to enjoy, as well as Kia’s seven-year warranty.

Kia Sorento Hybrid specifications
Engine: 77kW/147Nm 1.6L in-line 4 petrol turbo
Transmission/driving wheels: Six-speed auto/FWD
Motor: 44kW AC permanent magnet synchronous
Battery: 1.5kWh Lithium ion
Total system power: 169kW/350Nm
EV range: N/A
Electricity: N/A
Fuel: 6.9L/100km*
CO2: 158g/km*
Safety rating: 5 stars
*Based on overseas data

Lexus NX300h from $60,500 plus on-road costs

Silver Lexus NX300h

It’s hard to believe Lexus’ bestseller is now six years old, or that it is based on the previous narrow-bodied Toyota RAV4.

The NX300h in question is a parallel-series hybrid using Toyota’s 114kW 2.5-litre engine, mated to an electric motor for a total power output of 147kW. The transition between the two is seamless, with sole battery motivation only possible at low speeds, when coasting or off-throttle deceleration. It’s there to boost both power and economy. In all-wheel drive models, a bonus 50kW/139Nm electric motor on the back axle turns those wheels as needed. In either application, the Lexus’ performance is rapid and responsive.

The 2017 facelift brought a round of updates and upgrades, including driver-assist safety and suspension modifications. The NX now turns into corners accurately and handles curvy roads well, but the steering feels numb. The ride can become pretty jiggly too.

The upmarket cabin is aided by distinctive design, superb build quality and lovely instrumentation nestled among all the practical stuff, though the multimedia feels dated. Great seats, sufficient space and a sizeable 475L boot are further plus points.

Best on smooth roads, the NX300h is a sound buy. The next-gen model is out in 2022.

Lexus NX300h Hybrid specifications
Engine: 114kW/210Nm 2.5L in-line 4 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: CVT/front or AWD
Motor: 105kW/270 AC synchronous electric/AWD: 50kW/139Nm rear motor
Battery: 1.3kWh Nickel-metal hydride
Total output power: 147kW
EV range: <2km @ <40km/h
Electricity: N/A
Fuel: 5.6L/100km*
CO2: 131g/km*
Safety rating: 5 stars

Lexus RX450h from $92,388 plus on-road costs

Gold Lexus RS450h

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 all-wheel drive, 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 slurs into life as speeds build or under heavier loads. In keeping with the brand’s image, the RX450h’s performance is strong, smooth and instantly reactive to throttle inputs.

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

Minor but important changes, they keep the ageing RX450h competitive.

Lexus RX450h Hybrid 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 output power: 230kW
EV range: <2km @ <40km/h
Electricity: N/A
Fuel: 5.7L/100km*
CO2: 131g/km*
Safety rating: 5 stars

Plug-in hybrid SUVs:

Kia Niro PHEV from $46,590 (approximately)

White Kia Niro PHEV

The Niro PHEV is a costlier alternative to the Hybrid model, but it’s still one of the cheapest plug-in EV SUVs in Australia.

Released globally in 2018, it’s taken a while to get here, but with keen pricing and useable pure-EV range availability, the wait has been worth it.

Like the Niro Hybrid, the PHEV uses a 77kW/147Nm 1.6-litre petrol engine and dual-clutch transmission combo, paired to an electric motor and driving the front wheels. Just over 40km of pure-EV range is possible, before the internal combustion engine fires up. Recharging from empty to full via a regular power socket at home takes around seven hours, or under two hours at a charging station.

Besides enjoying the quietness and smoothness of pure-EV driveability, one of the advantages of stretching to the PHEV over the Hybrid is stronger performance, with livelier acceleration for safer highway overtaking scenarios. And if extra muscle is required or when charge runs out, the transition from electricity to petrol is seamless.

Otherwise, it’s the same spacious, practical and comfy small SUV experience as the Niro Hybrid – and a great stepping stone to full-EV ownership. Oh, and don’t forget Kia’s seven-year warranty too.

Kia Niro PHEV specifications
Engine: 77kW/147Nm 1.6L in-line 4 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: Six-speed dual-clutch auto/FWD
Motor: 32kW/170Nm AC permanent magnet synchronous
Battery: 8.9kWh Lithium ion
Total system power: 104kW/265Nm
EV range: 42km
Electricity: N/A
Fuel: 1.4L/100km*
CO2: 30g/km*
Safety rating: 5 stars
*Based on overseas data

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV from $46,490 (approximately)

White Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV

Mitsubishi is busy readying its second foray into PHEV motoring later this year with the Eclipse Cross PHEV – small SUV brother to the successful Outlander PHEV.

Along with a 2.4-litre petrol engine, it features an electric motor located on both axles and a large 13.8kWh battery.

Three driving modes are offered. EV Priority alone uses the electric motors, with a 55km range before the petrol engine kicks in; Series Hybrid mode has the electric motors driving the wheels but the petrol engine charges the battery pack; and Parallel Hybrid mode has the petrol engine driving the front wheels but with electric motor assistance, and is usually reserved for higher speeds. The front electric motor always drives the PHEV off the line regardless of mode.

Charging the battery takes six hours using a regular 10-amp household plug, 4.5 hours with a 16A Wallbox or around half an hour at a high-speed charging station, or, alternatively, about 45 minutes having the petrol engine running whilst parked.

The Eclipse Cross is compact yet roomy enough for a small family, with an inviting cabin, enjoyable handling and plenty of practical touches. It also offers Mitsubishi’s unbeatable 10-year conditional warranty.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV specifications
Engine: 94kW/199Nm 2.4L in-line 4 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: CVT auto/AWD
Motor: 60kW/137Nm AC permanent magnet synchronous (front), 70kW/195Nm AC permanent magnet synchronous (rear)
Battery: 13.8kWh Lithium ion
Total system power: 157kW/332Nm
EV range: 55km
Electricity: N/A
Fuel: 2.0L/100km*
CO2: 46g/km*
Safety rating: 5 stars

MG HS PHEV from $45,990 plus on-road costs

Blue MG HS PHEV

From $45,990, the MG HS PHEV is the least expensive plug-in hybrid EV medium SUV right now, albeit by a small margin under the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

About the size of the current Mazda CX-5 that so obviously inspired the styling, it’s also one of the more powerful, using a gutsy 119kW 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine to drive the front wheels, alongside a 90kW electric motor and 16.6kWh battery, for a 0-100km/h acceleration time of a speedy 6.9 seconds and a 190km/h top speed. It will glide almost silently for around 50km (claimed) until the brisk petrol engine kicks in. Once the battery is depleted, it can only be replenished with an overnight charge (using a regular home socket), or a couple of hours at a fast charger, like other PHEVs.

The Chinese company has not skimped on equipment for the money either, with goodies like a big 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, heated and electric front seats, a 360-degree camera, sunroof and electric tailgate. On the safety front there’s also adaptive cruise control, AEB, rear-cross traffic alert and blind-spot detection.

Note, however, that MG offers a five and not seven-year warranty as per other models.

MG HS PHEV specifications
Engine: 119kW/250Nm 1.5L in-line 4 petrol turbo
Transmission/driving wheels: 10-speed auto/FWD
Motor: 90kW/230Nm permanent magnet synchronous
Battery: 16.6kWh Lithium ion
Total system power/torque: 187kW/370Nm
EV range: 52km
Electricity: N/A
Fuel: 1.7L/100km
CO2: 39g/km
Safety rating: N/A

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV from $47,990 plus on-road costs

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV is a profound game-changer.

Released in 2014 and facelifted three years later, it became the first SUV you can plug in to a household power-point (full in seven hours) or a fast charger (from 25 minutes to three hours) and drive purely on electric power.

You don’t have to worry when the electricity runs out, either, because the on-board petrol engine – updated in 2019 to a 94kW 2.4-litre unit (from a 2.0L) – will kick in to get you home.

There are three driving modes – EV Priority (a claimed 54km range from two electric motors – one front, one rear), Series Hybrid (engine engages to recharge generator to run electric motors when depleted or under heavy acceleration) and Parallel Hybrid (engine directly drives the front wheels, assisted by both electric motors, with 800km between refills).

Neither fun to hustle around corners nor especially powerful, Outlander instead shines with space and storage aplenty for five, is ultra-easy, light to drive, reliable and now offers a conditional 10-year warranty.

The 2020 update brought improved comfort, updated multimedia and more equipment, as well as a sporty GSR with higher-quality suspension components. It’s the pick of the range.

Note that an all-new PHEV model is due in 2022.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV specifications
Engine: 94kW/199Nm 2.4L in-line 4 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: 1-speed auto/AWD
Motor: 60kWh AC synchronous electric (front), 70kWh AC synchronous electric (rear)
Battery: 13.8kWh lithium-ion
Total power/torque: 165kW/211Nm
EV range: 54km
Electricity: 14.8kWh/100km
Fuel: 1.9L/100km
CO2: 43g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Ford Escape ST-Line PHEV from $52,940 plus on-road costs

Black Ford Escape PHEV

Delayed (again) until late this year, the Escape plug-in hybrid is claimed to manage 56km on pure electricity, giving the ageing Mitsubishi Outlander, MG HS and Peugeot 3008 PHEVs some real competition.

Under the bonnet is a 2.5-litre engine, electric motor and battery, to deliver a total of 167kW on one hand, and a combined fuel economy figure of 1.5L/100km, making the medium-sized SUV gutsy as well as green. Ford says the driver can choose how to deploy battery power, using the self-explanatory EV Now, EV Later, EV Auto and EV Charge modes.

Speaking of the latter, around six hours is required to replenish the battery pack. Regenerative charging from braking will also help keep it from depleting too quickly, and when it reaches critically low levels, that’s when the petrol engine chimes in.

Being an ST-Line means the Escape’s steering, handling and roadholding capabilities ought to be on the sportier side for a high-riding crossover. It’s worth noting that – unlike the Outlander PHEV – the Ford does not offer all-wheel drive for now.

COVID-related hold-ups and production delays due to quality issues mean we may have to wait a little longer for Ford’s first PHEV.

Ford Escape ST-Line PHEV specifications
Engine: 132kW 2.5L in-line 4 petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: CVT/front
Motor: AC synchronous electric
Battery: 14.4kWh lithium-ion
Total system power: 167kW
EV range: 56km
Electricity: 15.8kWh/100km
Fuel: 1.5L/100km
CO2: 33g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Kia Sorento PHEV from $60,000 (approximately)

Blue Kia Sorento PHEV

Kia’s plug-in hybrid EV SUV push isn’t limited to the Niro.

The recently released, completely redesigned, full-sized, seven-seater Sorento is also going down the same electrification route from about August, with the PHEV version promising some very advanced technology to help boost efficiency and lower emissions. As it should at these prices.

The biggest Kia SUV (for now) features a 132kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine and six-speed auto, combined with an electric motor to produce an impressive 195kW/304Nm in total – as well as offer nearly 60km of pure electric drive.

Initial reports suggest strong performance (0-100km/h needs just 8.4 seconds), with a healthy dose of electric-enhanced power available for instant throttle response, backed up by light steering and surefooted cornering. However, there have been some complaints that the suspension is on the firm side.

Charging at home should take under 5.5 hours, or 3.5 hours with an optional wallbox fitted to your garage. That drops to under two hours using a public charging station.

Besides being a great size for transporting seven people, the latest Sorento is beautifully designed and finished inside, with massive touchscreens, lovely materials and a real eye on details. And all supported by a seven-year warranty.

Kia’s obviously in it to win.

Kia Sorento PHEV specifications
Engine: 77kW/147Nm 1.6L in-line 4 petrol turbo
Transmission/driving wheels: Six-speed auto/AWD
Motor: 67kW/304Nm AC permanent magnet synchronous
Battery: 13.8kWh lithium-ion
Total system power: 195kW/350Nm
EV range: 57km
Electricity: 15.8kWh/100km
Fuel: 1.6L/100km*
CO2: 38g/km*
Safety rating: 5 stars
*Based on overseas data

Mini Countryman SE ALL4 PHEV from $60,900 plus on-road costs

White Mini Countryman PHEV

BMW’s British icon forged fresh pathways in 2019 with the Countryman SE Plug-in EV, combining a 100kW 1.5-litre turbo engine driving the front wheels, backed up by a 70kW electric motor turning the rear wheels.

Late 2020 brought a raft of improvements, including over 60km of electric-only drive, before the engine takes over. Like Toyota’s e-Four set-up, the all-wheel drive system is electric, with no mechanical link to the petrol engine.

In Mini-speak, the ‘S’ in the name signifies performance, meaning the PHEV streaks to 100km/h in 6.8 seconds, beating the normal Cooper S. Similarly responsive steering and kart-like handling feel are also largely maintained. Recharging requires 3.25 hours at home, or an hour faster with an optional wall box.

As with other BMW PHEVs, a ‘Save Battery’ mode redirects braking energy to keep the battery at 90 percent constantly – great for saving EV drive when not needed. The lofty pricing ensures generous standard equipment, the Mini’s playful yet premium cabin presentation is retained, there’s sufficient space for smaller families’ needs and cargo capacity on drops slightly, from 450L to 405L.

Overall, then, the polished Countryman PHEV keeps the Mini’s fun charm, but with newfound electrification capability.

Mini Countryman SE ALL4 PHEV specifications
Engine: 100kW/220Nm 1.5L in-line 3 turbo petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: Six-speed auto/AWD
Motor: 70kW/165Nm AC synchronous electric
Battery: 9.6kWh lithium-ion
Total power: 165kW/385Nm
EV range: 61km
Electricity: 13.9kW/h
Fuel: 2.4L/100km
CO2: 54g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Volvo XC40 Recharge PHEV from $64,990 plus on-road costs

White Volvo XC40 PHEV

Swedish carmaker Volvo has launched its electrified range under the Recharge banner, with the XC40 T5 Plug-in Hybrid leading the way.

As with some rival PHEVs, the XC40 combines petrol engine power (a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo) with an electric motor. In this case, the front wheels are driven only, via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Around 45km of battery drive is claimed before the engine takes, ahem, charge. About seven hours of recharging is required using a normal household socket, dropping to one-third of that using a public charger.

With a 0-100km/h dash of only 7.3 seconds, this PHEV doesn’t hang around, yet can still average 2.0L/100km of premium-unleaded consumption when handled gently. Overseas reports suggest the Volvo also steers through turns with agility and control.

Typical Volvo safety obsession means all available driver-assist tech will included, the cabin is beautifully crafted, few seats are as ergonomically sound as Volvo’s, refinement levels are high, while boot capacity isn’t compromised (at 460L) since all the electrification tech is located by the engine under the bonnet, with the batteries running longitudinally in the SUV’s spine. Clever.

The all-electric Recharge EV with 418km range has also joined the XC40 range for 2021.

Volvo XC40 Recharge PHEV specifications
Engine: 132kW/265Nm 1.5L in-line 3 petrol turbo
Transmission/driving wheels: 7-speed DCT/front
Motor: 60kW/160Nm AC synchronous electric
Battery: 10.7kWh lithium-ion
Total power/torque: 132kW/265Nm
EV range: 45km
Electricity: 15.7kWh/100km
Fuel: 2.2L/100km
CO2: 50g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Peugeot 3008 PHEV from $65,000 (approximately)

White Peugeot 3008 PHEV

Like the svelte 508, its boxier yet no less striking 3008 medium SUV sibling is also going PHEV later this year, to bring some European competition to a corner of the market currently dominated by Japan, South Korea and China.

But there are differences. While the 508 PHEV is a front-drive only, electrification finally ushers in an all-wheel drive option for the 3008 in Australia.

A powerful 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine is combined with an eight-speed auto and an electric motor (two in the Hybrid-4 flagship), for nearly 60km of EV range – or, if you’re a lead foot, a 0-100km/h sprint time of a brisk 5.9 seconds, on the way to a 235km/h top speed. That’s fast.

The 3008 PHEV will need an overnight charge using a household socket or as little as two hours at fast-flow accelerated charging stations.

Recently facelifted with fresh styling changes, improved safety and an upgraded multimedia system, the 3008 remains a massively underrated alternative to the Range Rover Evoque or BMW X3.

With such high levels of technology and performance, don’t expect the French PHEV SUV to come cheap, with pricing expected to push past $70,000.

Peugeot 3008 PHEV specifications
Engine: 147kW/300Nm 1.6L in-line 4 turbo petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: 8-speed auto/front-drive or AWD
Motor: 81kWh AC synchronous electric, 83kWh AC synchronous electric (AWD)
Battery: 13.2kWh lithium-ion
Total power/torque: 220kW/520Nm
EV range: 59km
Electricity: 15.4kWh
Fuel: 1.5L/100km
CO2: 34g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

BMW X3 xDrive30e PHEV from $90,000 (approx.) plus on-road costs

BMW X3 xDrive30e

BMW’S third-generation X3 was going plug-in hybrid with the xDrive30e PHEV but 2020 happened and now it’s been delayed. We’re still expecting it this year, but when precisely, remains a mystery.

The petrol-electric midsized SUV adopts much of the tech found in the related 330e sedan, meaning a 135kW 2.0-litre turbo, 80kW electric motor integrated within the eight-speed automatic and 12kWh battery set-up, though in this application all four wheels will be driven.

Combined system power and torque are rated at 215kW and 420Nm respectively, for a 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.1 seconds, though most owners may be more interested in petrol consumption of just 2.4L/100km. Being a PHEV, there’s also a claimed 55km of pure-battery driving, at a top speed of 135km/h, before the engine starts up to help extend the combined range to 1800km. Replenishing the battery pack takes around six hours using a regular home socket, or nearly half that with an optional wall box.

One benefit of using a roomy high-riding crossover for PHEV tech is the extra space available – cargo capacity remains the same as all other X3s at 450 litres. In this regard, there’s minimal packaging compromise with the German hybrid SUV.

BMW X3 xDrive30e PHEV specifications
Engine: 135kW/300Nm 2.0L in-line 4 turbo petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: 8-speed auto/AWD
Motor: 83kWh AC synchronous electric
Battery: 12kWh lithium-ion
Total power/torque: 215kW/420Nm
EV range: 55km*
Electricity: 17.1kW/h/100km*
Fuel: 2.4L/100km*
CO2: 54g/km*
Safety rating: 5 stars
*Based on overseas data

Mercedes-Benz GLC 300e 4Matic from $90,200 plus on-road costs

Silver Mercedes-Benz GLC

Massively popular, the GLC went plug-in electric hybrid in 2020 with the 300e 4Matic PHEV.

Like its closely-related C300e sibling, the stylish medium-sized SUV brings together a 155kW 2.0-litre turbo engine, but with the nine-speed auto driving all four wheels this time.

Boosted by an electric motor and battery, the outcome is considerable acceleration and stirring performance (0-100km/h is over in 5.7 seconds), or up to 43km of petrol-free electric driving if you’re feeling green. When that runs out, you’ll need over seven hours to recharge that, or two if you spring for the (not cheap) wall box. The Benz also steers and handles with confidence-inspiring ease.

Buyers love the GLC because its interior is smooth and stylish, though the striking single-screen multimedia interface of the newer A-Class isn’t fitted, betraying this generation SUV’s advancing years. There’s space galore both up front and in the back, but the disappointing 395L cargo capacity is down 155L due to the battery gubbins underneath.

At least a full suite of driver-assist safety is included, along with air suspension that cures the regular GLC’s punishingly hard ride.

A welcome addition to the GLC range, the plug-in hybrid represents relatively good value given its eco credentials.

Mercedes-Benz GLC 300e 4Matic PHEV specifications
Engine: 155kW/350Nm 2.0L in-line 4 turbo petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: 9-speed auto/rear
Motor: 90kW/440Nm AC synchronous electric
Battery: 13.5kWh lithium-ion
Total power/torque: 235kW/700Nm
EV range: 43km
Electricity: 17.8kWh/100km
Fuel: 2.6L/100km
CO2: 59g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Volvo XC60 T8 PHEV Polestar AWD from $100,690 plus on-road costs

White Volvo XC60

The XC60 T8 Twin Engine PHEV plug-in hybrid offers a remarkable blend of design, performance, economy, safety and luxury. It’s also Volvo’s first Chinese-made import.

Motivated by the same 246kW 2.0-litre turbo and supercharged powertrain as the S/V60 T8s, it is mated to an eight-speed auto transmission, and assisted by a 65kW electric motor in the back axle.

Result? If eco minded, the battery-only driving range is a claimed 44km before the petrol engine erupts, while charging at home requires around four hours. If the devil takes over you, 100km/h in 5.2 second is possible. Seriously speedy, the T8 Polestar is like Jekyll and Hyde. Phenomenal all-weather grip and easy manoeuvrability are further dynamic highlights, backed up by a comfy ride from the air suspension.

Outstanding thrust, efficiency and dynamics are only part of the T8 Polestar’s story, however, because there is world-class active and passive safety. Vision out is excellent, the cabin presentation is beautifully elegant, high quality materials abound, and the seating is superb. Cargo capacity is only slightly down on regular models too, at 468 litres.

The XC60 T8 Polestar is a rousing performer, short-commute electric wonder and luxury SUV rolled into one.

Volvo XC60 T8 PHEV Polestar AWD specifications
Engine: 246kW/430Nm 2.0L in-line 4 turbo/supercharged petrol
Transmission/driving wheels: 8-speed auto/AWD
Motor: 65kW/240Nm AC synchronous electric
Battery: 11.6kWh lithium-ion
Total power/torque: 300kW/670Nm
EV range: >44km
Electricity: 16.6kWh
Fuel: 2.2L/100km
CO2: 50g/km
Safety rating: 5 stars

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Last updated: May 2021