Hybrid SUV Roundup
Hybrid SUV Roundup
Hybrid MSRP: $29,305
Base MSRP: $20,100
It's not only Ford's Sync hands-free audio system that gives you something to shout about here. The Blue Oval's all-new hybrid Escape gives the best performance figures in it class: near 32 mpg combined city and highway.
It'll give you 459 miles on a single 15-gallon tank. Ford's trusty 4-cylinder, which runs on the fuel-saving Atkinson cycle, is paired with two electrical motors for the rear and front wheels, giving a combined 155 horsepower. The Escape can also be propelled adequately, and very quietly, on battery power alone.
Hybrid MSRP: $25,310
Base MSRP: $19,270
Virtually identical to its Ford Escape brethren, apart from its sportier trim, Mazda's compact HEV (hybrid electric vehicles) drives like a car with limited body roll and surprisingly good handling.
Its 155 horsepower (combined electric and motor) seems to pack more punch courtesy of an automatic continuously variable transmission that is much smoother than most when accelerating in low gears.A 200hp V6 power train is optional, as is 4WD, both neither will greatly impact its 32 mpg efficiency, the Tribute also has good interior space for its class.
Hybrid MSRP: $34,200
Base MSRP: $27,500
Toyota's sure-footed midsize workhorse gets its reins cracked with a sprightly V6 hybrid variant and an all-new exterior shell for 2008. The Highlander packs two electric motors alongside its 3.3-liter engine, one of 123 kilowatts for front-wheel energy recycling and another of 50 kilowatts when the rear wheels come into play.
Impressively, you can zoom seamlessly to a mile a minute in 7.5 seconds. Even more impressively, and with a softer touch from the right foot, it'll reach 29 mpg combined. Only an automatic transmission (CVT) is available.
Hybrid MSRP: $26,955
Base MSRP: $22,075
Saturn's Vue Green Line pledges the highest EPA of any compact SUV: 29 mpg combined city and freeway, and a driving range of up to 585 miles on a single tank. It's almost impossible to track one of these down outside California, and the lucky buyers that do will usually have to pay a hefty dealer's premium.
New Saturn Vue customers will be comforted by a high projected resale value and a deceptively large cabin that boasts all of Saturn's innovation and unusually refined ergonomics for an erstwhile budget car.
Hybrid MSRP (AWD): $42,080
Base MSRP (RX 350 AWD): $37,400
Granddaddy of the hybrid car-based SUV, the Lexus midsize RX 400h crossover series leaps into 2008 with a reworked shell and nifty blue hybrid badges. Its 3.6 liter V6 is mated to a 288-volt nickel metal battery pack, producing 286 hp overall and a 0-60mph time under 8 seconds.
With its increased options and features including 10-way powered leather seats and power liftgate for 2007, this is as close to luxury as you'll get on today's hybrid SUV market. The 400h is classed as a Zero-Evaporative Emissions vehicle in California and will reach 29 mpg combined.
Hybrid MSRP: $29,750
Base MSRP: $22,310
Another Ford variant, the Mercury Mariner will allow you to qualify for a government tax rebate of up to $3,000 for a low-emissions vehicle, alongside the Escape and Mazda Tribute.
Mercury's Mariner boasts utilitarian styling and outstanding fuel consumption at 30 mpg combined (40% better city efficiency than the non-hybrid base model) courtesy of its nickel-medal-hydride batteries stores under its rear floor. Cargo space is still good at 66 cubic feet with the seats folded flat. Its 2008 variant is substantially less noisy than its predecessor at freeway speeds. ItÔøΩs also endorsed by the Sierra Club.
Hybrid MSRP: $50,455
Base MSRP: $35,730
Chevy builds on its full-size, reworked Tahoe with an all-out hybrid variant for 2008. It was named 2008 Green Car of the Year by Green Car Journal, almost unheard of for a 6.0-liter V8. It offers more than a 50% fuel efficiency premium over the base Tahoe, at an estimated 21 mpg combined city and highway.
Backed by a 2-mode power train jointly developed by BMW, DaimlerChrysler and GM, this one packs a 300-volt battery below the rear second row, two electric motors in the transmission and the same in-city mileage as your typical midsize sedan. Much sought after, buyers can expect to pay a hefty dealer's premium in many parts of the country.
Hybrid MSRP: $70,735
Base MSRP: $59,805
Classy looks and luxury will soon come with fuel efficiency thrown in. Cadillac's big dog, scheduled for a fall 2008 release, growls with the Tahoe's innovative hybrid power train unit. The unit maximizes fuel consumption by striking a delicate balance between electric and gas motors at all speeds and acceleration.
It also utilizes braking energy and coasts on battery power, while slipping from eight cylinders to four on highway stretches. You'll also get stylish hybrid electro-green badges on the outside that blend with the large SUV's muscled exterior. Other Escalades, outside the hybrid, are E85 compatible, which means they can run on an 85% Ethanol 15% gasoline mix. The hybrid still offers a premium of 25% combined fuel consumption.
Hybrid MSRP: $44,770
Base MSRP: $34,230
The Aspen now packs a 385 horsepower Hemi-twinned hybrid power train to match its massive footprint. It'll boast some German engineering, too, courtesy of hybrid partners BMW, as will its partner Dodge Durango. The Aspen hybrid is scheduled to hit showrooms in fall 2008; the Durango in early 2009.
City mileage is estimated at 19 mpg or better, or a near 50% increase in economy over the base model. Fit and finish are great in the Aspen, whose interior will include all the bells and whistles for the hybrid, and its light and airy cabin boasts unrivaled cargo capacity when seating seven or with both rows of rear seats folded flat.