In 2005, hybrid SUV models first came onto the scene with the Ford Escape Hybrid and Lexus RX 350h. While there was a lot of fanfare about the arrival of hybrid engines to the SUV segment, hybrid models haven’t caught fire they way one might have anticipated over the past decade. Ford has since stopped offering the Escape Hybrid.
While there are still no exclusively hybrid SUV models for 2015, there are eight models to choose from that have a hybrid offering ranging from subcompact models to mid-size models to luxury SUVs. Here’s a rundown of automakers’ 2015 hybrid SUV lineup.
Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid
The XV Crosstrek is the only compact/subcompact SUV model to offer a hybrid for 2015. It’s the most affordable new hybrid SUV on the market. The model offers a 2.0-liter engine paired to an electric motor that produced 160 horsepower. It’s fuel economy is 29-mpg city and 33-mpg, compared to 23/30 in the standard 148 horsepower gas motor. The hybrid version has a $4,000 price premium with a base price of about $27,000.
Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid
The Pathfinder’s hybrid The QX60 hybrid pairs a 2.5-liter supercharged four-cylinder engine with the electric motor to produce 250 horsepower. It’s fuel economy is rated at 25-mpg city and 28-mpg highway. The Pathfinder has a starting price of about $45,000.
Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Toyota does hybrids best and the Highland Hybrid returns for it’s 11th model year. The Highland was the first three-row SUV to offer a hybrid when introduced. The 2015 Highlander offers a 2015 3.5-liter V6 engine paired to an electric motor that gets a combined 280 horsepower and fuel economy of 28-mpg city and 28-mpg highway. The Highland Hybrid has a lofty base price of about $48,500.
Audi Q5 Hybrid
Audi offers a dizzying array of engine choices in their Q5 model with turbocharged engines, supercharged engines, a diesel engine and a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a hybrid that produces a combined 245 horsepower. The hybrid Q5 has a fuel economy rating of 24-mpg city and 30-mpg highway with an MSRP of nearly $52,000.
Lexus RX 450h
The RX 450h is the most fuel-efficient midsize luxury crossover with a rating of 30-mpg city and 28-mpg highway. The model’s 3.5-liter V6 engine paired to an electric motor produces 295 horsepower. The hybrid RX is about $7,000 more than the normally aspirated RX and gets 12-mpg better fuel economy in combined driving.
Lexus NX 300h
The NX, an all-new model for 2015, is based off the Toyota RAV4 and is the brands’ first compact crossover. The NX 300h uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired to an electric motor to produce 195 horsepower. The anticipated fuel economy for the NX 300h is 35-mpg city and 31-mpg highway, making it the most fuel-efficient SUV on the market.
Infiniti offers four 2015 SUV models but QX60 is the sole model to offer a hybrid. The QX60 Hybrid shares the same motor seen in the Nissan Pathfinder. The QX60, which is more spacious than the Q5, has a fuel economy rating of 26-mpg and 28-mpg highway and a base price of about $47,000 with all-wheel drive.
The Touareg’s Hybrid goes more for performance than fuel economy. The model has received a major refresh for 2015 and the hybrid version pairs a 3.0-liter supercharged engine with an electric motor to produce 380 horsepower with a just as whopping price tag starting at over $65,000.
Takeaways for the 2015 Model Year
If you want a new hybrid SUV but you want to keep the price tag under $30,000, the XV Crosstrek is the clear choice. For the best hybrid SUV fuel economy, go with the Lexus NX Hybrid. For the most passenger and cargo room, go with the Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid as it is more spacious than the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. And if luxury and performance are your priorities, go with the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid.
The State of the Hybrid SUV Segment
Why there are only a half dozen models to choose from? The growth of fuel-efficient turbocharged engines has certainly cut into the fuel savings and getting enough fuel savings to offset the premium price of hybrid SUV models has been a challenge.
The SUV segment has seen more of a growth in diesel engine offerings than hybrids. For example, the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class has a 2.1-liter twin-turbo-charged diesel engine that is rated at 24-mpg city and 33-mpg highway.
All-electric models are already on the market with the Toyota RAV4 RV which has a fuel economy rated of 103-mpg city/76-mpg highway with a starting price over $50,000. Tesla’s all-new Model X al-electric SUV is slated to arrive in early 2015 as a 2016 model.
But this doesn’t mean the amount of hybrid SUV models on the marketing is waning. BMW is expected to launch hybrid engines into its crossover lineup and as fuel economy becomes increasingly important, expect the hybrid lineup to expand in the coming years.