Today’s SUVs are nothing like their predecessors, and this is a good thing for car shoppers. While the earliest SUVs were based on rugged, body-on-frame truck platforms, most modern choices in this segment use car-based vehicle architectures, allowing them to provide more comfortable driving dynamics than their forebears. They’re also more nicely equipped than their somewhat primitive ancestors, offering all the creature comforts modern drivers need and expect.
The number of hybrid vehicles available to car shoppers has grown in recent years, and the SUV segment is home to many of these gas sippers. Since most SUVs are larger than cars, they tend to have poorer gas mileage, and a hybrid powertrain can lessen this sting by improving fuel economy. Also, with their strong gas mileage, hybrids have a smaller carbon footprint than the typical gas-only vehicle, which makes them great choices for those committed to preserving the environment.
To help you find an SUV that matches your values and your budget, here are our picks for the five best hybrids in this segment priced at less than $40,000. To arrive at our selections, we looked at fuel economy, value, safety, and reliability, among other factors.
Our list includes everything from a rugged off-roader to a polished luxury SUV, and our selections are listed in alphabetical order.
2019 Jeep Wrangler eTorque
Whether it’s the thrill of blasting down rocky paths or the rush that comes with fording remote streams, off-roading offers no shortage of excitement. Hands down, the vehicle best suited for the task is the Jeep Wrangler.
Available in 2-door and 4-door variants, the Wrangler offers up to 10.9 inches of ground clearance, which means it rides tall enough to cruise over fallen branches and rocks. Standard 4-wheel drive further helps to boost this Jeep’s trail-busting prowess. And the Wrangler is available with up-to-date active safety features that aid daily driving, including amenities like adaptive cruise control and a forward collision warning system.
Jeep offers the Wrangler with an available light-electrified eTorque hybrid powertrain that improves fuel economy. According to the EPA, these hybrid Wranglers achieve mileage of up to 24 mpg in combined driving (up to 23/25 mpg for city/highway) while making 270 horsepower.
Pricing for a 2-door Wrangler with the eTorque powertrain option starts at $32,540, including a $1,495 destination charge.
2019 Lexus NX 300h
The Lexus brand’s gift for crafting comfortable, plush luxury transportation is legendary. With the 2019 Lexus NX 300h, the automaker serves up a small SUV that matches premium amenities with a thrifty hybrid powertrain.
Though the NX 300h has a compact footprint, its cabin offers lots of room for passengers, and adults in the back seat will find it adequately spacious. All models come with all-wheel drive (AWD), which makes this Lexus hybrid an able ally in rain and snow. Handling is smooth, and the list of standard features includes appealing amenities like keyless entry and ignition, adaptive cruise control, a forward collision mitigation system, and Wi-Fi connectivity. When you consider the NX 300h’s relatively accessible pricing, it all adds up to great value.
The 194-hp Lexus NX 300h earned a perfect 5 stars for overall crash protection in tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). According to the EPA, it achieves fuel economy of 31 mpg in combined driving (33/30 mpg for city/highway).
Pricing for the 2019 Lexus NX 300h kicks off at $39,730, including a $995 destination charge.
2019 Nissan Rogue Hybrid
Shoppers who appreciate vehicles with smartly packaged utility will probably love what the 2019 Nissan Rogue Hybrid has to offer. The Rogue Hybrid provides a generous 27.3 cu.-ft. of cargo space behind its second row and 61.4 cu.-ft. behind its first. All this is contained within a compact footprint that’s diminutive enough to aid maneuverability in city driving.
The Nissan Rogue Hybrid comes standard with features like automatic headlights, a gesture-controlled tailgate, Bluetooth connectivity, and satellite radio. Front-wheel drive is standard, and AWD is available for those who need more secure footing in rain or snow.
All 2019 Rogue Hybrid SUVs are equipped with active safety features like a blind-spot warning system, a forward collision warning system with pedestrian detection, and rear cross-traffic alert. And, as you’d expect, this 176-hp hybrid SUV delivers big rewards at the gas pump, offering EPA-estimated fuel economy of up to 34 mpg in combined driving (up to 33/35 mpg for city/highway).
Pricing starts at $28,595, including the $995 destination charge.
2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Sometimes shoppers need the versatility provided by a 3-row midsize SUV, and the 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a capable match for many reasons. Offering a compliant ride and seating for up to 8 passengers, the Highlander Hybrid is built to meet the needs of busy families. And since it’s a hybrid, it gets the job done while doing minimal damage at the gas pump.
With its long list of standard active safety features, this Toyota SUV provides lots of value. All 2019 Highlander Hybrid models are equipped with adaptive cruise control, a forward collision mitigation system with pedestrian detection, and an active lane-departure warning system.
According to the EPA, the 306-hp Highlander Hybrid achieves mileage of up to 29 mpg in combined driving (up to 30/28 mpg for city/highway). The 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid also earned a perfect 5 stars from the NHTSA for overall crash protection. Pricing starts at $38,015, including the $1,045 destination fee.
2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Launched more than two decades ago, the Toyota RAV4 played a key role in introducing U.S. audiences to small SUVs. This model and its hybrid variant, the RAV4 Hybrid, have been redesigned for 2019, and the changes keep this longtime favorite fresh and compelling. In addition to exterior and interior upgrades, this Toyota SUV gets an expanded list of standard amenities for the 2019 model year.
All 2019 RAV4 Hybrids come with tech features like Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant capability, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. And the suite of standard active safety features includes adaptive cruise control and a forward collision mitigation system with pedestrian detection.
The EPA’s estimates aren’t in yet, but Toyota expects the 219-hp 2019 RAV4 Hybrid to deliver fuel economy of 41/37 mpg (city/highway). Pricing kicks off at $28,745, including a $1,045 destination fee.
The Bottom Line
The best hybrid SUVs offer great utility, and they tread pretty lightly at the gas pump. The five models discussed above deliver these charms for under 40 grand. They’re great choices for green-minded shoppers who need more cargo and passenger space than is available in a sedan.