Best hybrid SUVs for 2022 from the Kia Sportage to the BMW X5

Electric cars are certainly the future, but they still have some drawbacks.

Which is why hybrid cars can be a great option, especially if you’re looking for an larger, off-road model.

So to give you an idea of what’s on the market, we test drove four stand-out plug-ins with off-road capability and tons of technology.

Here’s what we thought of them.

Best for off-road ability and design: Land Rover Defender 110

Powertrain: 398bhp 2.0 turbo hybrid
Electric-only range: 27 miles
0-60mph: 5.4 secs
Price: £65,915

The purists – mostly bearded real ale enthusiasts – still lament the demise of the ‘real’ Defender, and I count myself among them.

However, while it’s about £20k too expensive and too nice to take anywhere near a working farm, the new Defender is a fabulous piece of design inside and out.

What’s more, it combines best-in-class off-road capabilities with the kind of on-road manners that would blow the mind of the Series 1’s inventor, Maurice Wilks.
Two-and-a-half tonnes and three rows of seats – and it feels like a Golf.

The P400e PHEV blends performance, fuel economy and flexibility.

Spec it with steel wheels, exhaust snorkel, roof tent and winch and go the full Bear Grylls.

Best for value: Kia Sportage

Powertrain: 261bhp 1.6 turbo hybrid
Electric-only range: 43 miles
0-60mph: 8.2 secs
Price: £38,395

The fifth generation of the Sportage has grown in space (it has a 591-litre boot), tech (it’s now a plug-in hybrid) and gravitas.

The cheese-grater grille looks like it could swallow a Ford Puma whole and the angular design is confident if not graceful.

Nothing at this more modest end of the high-sided hybrid market can compete in terms of quality and equipment.

It boasts dual LED adaptive headlights, twin 12.3in panoramic touch screens, Apple CarPlay and Kia’s excellent ADAS Level 2 autonomous safety features.

The small capacity engine is a little whiny if you stress it but at lower revs and in EV mode it is serene and takes corners very well for a two-tonne car.

Best for fuel economy: BMW X5

Powertrain: 389bhp 3.0 turbo hybrid
Electric-only range: 50 miles
0-60mph: 5.3 secs
Price: £67,810

Badged the xDrive45e, the plug-in X5 might have a complicated name but it’s just so easy to drive.

The performance is plentiful (with the 110bhp electric motor giving instant boost), the seating and space comfortable, the ergonomics perfect, and it feels like a BMW – solid, smooth and intuitive.

It sounds the part, too, with the straight-six providing a pleasing baritone when pushed.

Best of all, I achieved in excess of 50mpg on long journeys involving city driving, motorways and country lanes, thanks to the car’s computer working with the sat nav to cleverly juggle the petrol and electric motors for maximum efficiency.

The only downside is that, while being a handsome bit of kit, the fourth-gen X5’s exterior styling has become generic compared with the more memorable early editions.

Best for comfort: Bentley Bentayga

Powertrain: 443bhp 3.0 turbo hybrid
Electric-only range: 25 miles
0-60mph: 5.2 secs
Price: £155,000

The hybrid version of Bentley’s Bentayga is the most comfortable car in the world, with every surface luxuriously tactile.

Yet what makes this SUV a cut above the Rolls-Royce Cullinan and Aston Martin DBX is the battery electric motor.

The car automatically starts in EV mode. At low speed, it emits a faint hum so as to alert pedestrians of its presence but the car’s sound-deadening means no one inside can hear a thing.

Its e-motor contributes 126bhp to the party, and power is drawn from a 13kWh, 210kg battery.

Ask the car doctor: Automotive writer Freda Lewis-Stempel

Do electric cars use oil?

Even the least tech-savvy among us probably realise that oil is essential for a petrol or diesel car to stop all those metal bits in the engine scraping together and eventually grinding to a halt.

But what about electric cars?

Well, most don’t need oil because they don’t have internal combustion engines with moving parts.

That’s one less thing for you to worry about and it can even mean lower servicing costs.

So does that mean your electric car is maintenance-free? Well, no.

Some have gearboxes that occasionally need oil changes and most have fairly traditional power steering and braking systems that need to have their fluids checked and topped up regularly.

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