As the combustion engine comes to a close, hybrid power is stifling its departure. Popularity in SUVs has started to skyrocket in recent years, propelling lifted hybrids in the used car market and off-the-floor newbies into the limelight. The battery-assisted combustion setup is a supremely watered-down version of the supercar's Holy Trinity, where instead of near-thousand-horsepower performance, the highlights for mass hybrid consumers are improved gas mileage, possible tax credits, and efficient overall performance. Better yet, you can plug in the charger at home and still drive around on gas if the juice runs dry. More than you can say for the full-on EV at the moment.

The question is, is every plug-in hybrid SUV worth it or are there some rejects hiding under the electrified badge? This list measures hybrid SUVs, used or new, as an overall experience, evaluating key metrics like MPG and reliability, as well as core consumer requirements like infotainment and space.

2022 Lexus RX 450h

Exceedingly stylish designs are a common theme with Lexus's fleet. and the '22 generation RX livens up the place, a sentiment that can't be said for its 2023 hybrid SUV counterpart. Particularly with their flagship silver schemes, the sharp lines of the RX's body are accentuated by nature's sun-kissed reflection. It's an undeniably striking car supported by robust Japanese reliability, which means not only will it last a while, the replacement parts are relatively cheap.

The downsides though come in actually driving it. The most important selling point of this car, the hybrid powertrain, delivers a compromising and lackluster experience with an average MPG uncannily close to its combustion cousin. Compared to its competition, the package misses the mark at its lofty near-$50,000 price point.

2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale

Alfa Romeo's history paints a beautiful picture with fading paint, a personification of the cars they build. The brand's restructuring in the mid-2010s coincided with the development of a smaller range of offerings of style, power, and practicality that brought new eyes to the brand. After an initial success period much of Alfa's Stelvio and Giulia sales seemed to dwindle among poor reliability concerns. And while the Tonale hasn't had enough time on the tarmac, it would be a fair bet that adding a new hybrid system to the mix kills its chances in the horse race.

RELATED: The 2023 Ford F-150s Hybrid Powertrain And Everything You Need to Know

2022 Ford Explorer Hybrid

Does the Range Rover Sport owe its sweeping design to the blue-collar Explorer? Who knows, but the Ford arguably does it better. The new design for 2022 has a stern front end that commands the road ahead, beautifying the paths the Explorer chooses to pave. Speaking of, the Explorer hybrid has a fair few features that come standard before options, including off-road Terrain Management systems, and a live axle for supreme engagements with the outdoors.

With all these standard features though, the base price is quite high and while there is an optional 4WD system, the standard drive is exclusive to the rear wheels. An absent front-wheel drive option is curious in a car where the expectation is to be used in all weather conditions. Swapping the RWD layout for a cheaper FWD might be a more practical approach to a rounded SUV experience.

2020 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid

A decade ago, the South Korean brand was barely hanging around the budget-friendly economy segment. Now though Hyundai has started to challenge the titans of Olympus. While the Santa Fe is wrapped in an unassuming sheath, the interior is a quilted, well-defined nirvana of leather, high-quality finishes, and a space that just makes sense. Sounds like a stellar review right? Wrong.

If the Santa Fe was just a sitting area it would be great, but unfortunately, it is a car that needs to be driven. And it's hard to do that when you can't hear yourself think over the unbearable road noise when you can't see a foot behind you because visibility is as easy as looking out the window in solitary confinement and the icing on the cake when the engine falls short on efficiency to competitors in the segment. When equipped with FWD, the base petrol engine delivers an average of 26 MPG, a substantial difference from its competitors which hang around the mid-30s. It's a diamond in the rough that doesn't really want to go anywhere.

2023 Toyota Venza Hybrid

Toyota debuted the current generation of the Venza in 2021 no longer in its crossover cowl. Taking on its premium sister brand, the announcement of a voguish SUV alongside a promising hybrid was a press release for the world to take notice. While the aesthetic has promise, the let-down comes in a sluggish four-cylinder powertrain that needs all the help from its hybrid ally. Efficiency is promising, somehow achieving a higher MPG of 40 in the city than 37 on the highway. It's an auspicious offering at $34,000 but for the few who prefer an SUV with a more energetic pep in its step, the Venza isn't up to the task.

RELATED: Why It's Worth Waiting For The 2024 Toyota 4Runner

2013 Tahoe Hybrid

If you're wondering if it's true that Chevrolet actually thought it made sense to make a hybrid of its guzzling goblin, it is. With no conceivable improvements, the hybrid badge is just a placeholder on a building with wheels. As far as parts and maintenance go, you're better off going for the non-assisted regular Tahoe considering its proneness to breaking down every five miles. It's kind of like a knockoff of the first iPhone, a hail-mary gamble on early technology copied by a company with little direction.

2023 Mitsubishi Outlander Hybrid

The Outlander is outlandish in its new front fascia design but makes up for it with a decorated feature list much like the Explorer above. The cabin is sandwiched with limited storage space, lacking even enough room to yawn your limbs out. Once again the hybrid aspect is a washout and while MPG is adequate the response is lazy, bearing a lot of money for a car that feels stuck on the wrong age.

2016 Mercedes GLE 450 4Matic Hybrid Drive

Granted the GLE is nearing a decade old and assessing hybrid technology with the hindsight of today's fleet isn't fair. What isn't fair either is paying more for a trim that offers nothing over the gas-powered car. The GLE 450 4Matic does have a familiar star brightening the road ahead but apart from its brutish looks, it doesn't have the performance to match.

RELATED: The Real Reason Why No One Ever Plugs In Their Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles

2023 BMW XM

Let's not beat around the bush here, the latest from BMW's M division has churned out something unexpected, hideous, and baffling. The BMW XM was revealed earlier in 2020 to less than positive reviews. Design is generally touted as a strictly subjective affair, but I think it's fair to say this unruly behemoth is objectively migraine-inducing to process. In this case, efficiency does not rank high in BMW's flagship food chain. The hybrid hammer uses an electrified V8 to generate 644 smashing horsepower to try and make you forget how terrifically terrible it is. Which it doesn't even manage to do. The XM is the slowest M car currently make thanks to the unnecessary hybrid powertrain that weighs the already gigantic behemoth down to the road.

2021 Q5 Plug-In Hybrid

The Q5 Hybrid is an unusual package that seems to prioritize performance over day-to-day competence. It accelerates with a peppier attitude than the rest of its siblings, which begs the question – why it isn't prefaced with Audi's 'S' performance nomenclature? This does mean that while it performs with a sportier character, the desire for hybrid efficiency for a car in this segment is sorely missed.

2023-01-28T18:39:04Z dg43tfdfdgfd