Time can move quite quickly in the world of automotive technology. Take electrification, for example. Not too many years ago you'd need to order a sedan if you wanted an electric vehicle, even though the rest of the industry was moving away from this type of design, in favour of the crossover or SUV.
Today, however, manufacturers have a lot more scope for innovation and do not have to rely as much on the aerodynamic qualities of a typical family car. Consequently, you'll find several alternative powertrains on your showroom floor in crossover and SUV form.
With this in mind, what are the best hybrid SUV models available in the marketplace today?
Toyota's hybrid SUV is one of the biggest yet most efficient in the category. It's packed with plenty of core technology and sports some attractive, black alloy wheels to match the two-tone roof. Choose between the plug-in hybrid and the conventional alternative, with the former the better choice if you're looking for pure efficiency.
The RAV4 hybrid is also available in four-wheel-drive, and this is your best option if you need to tow a caravan or trailer. The suspension performs well, but these variants may not handle as nicely as the original models due to the extra weight, layout and configuration.
Surprisingly for such a technologically savvy manufacturer, Toyota's infotainment and connections are disappointing, but as you'd expect from such a big vehicle, there's plenty of interior space.
Toyota reckons that you can get a combined 282 mpg, and prices start at £36,170.
BMW X5 xDrive45e
BMW has certainly taken advantage of those rapid improvements in EV technology. Consequently, the latest X5 plug-in hybrid now has a much more efficient battery. This development has allowed the German manufacturer to increase the engine's size and still improve overall efficiency.
Now, you can expect up to 390 hp in combination from this premium five-seater. You will also get up to 54 miles of purely electric range on a full charge, and that might be enough for the average daily commute.
BMW has also done a great job managing the extra battery weight, and the hybrid X5 handles very well on the open road. As you'd expect, the interior is very attractive, with good connections and excellent infotainment.
Interestingly, this vehicle has an intelligent power management system linked to the satnav. It will automatically choose between petrol engine or electric motor based on GPS positioning and the switch between either is barely noticeable.
The xDrive 45e is undoubtedly one of the best hybrid models in the UK today, with its top speed of 145 miles an hour. It costs £65,000.
Volvo XC40 Recharge T5 Plug-In Hybrid
Volvo has been at the forefront of the electrification push in recent years, and this particular version is front-wheel drive. The company has placed it in the small SUV category except for the price, that is, which comes in at a tad under £40,000.
On a full charge, you can travel around 27 miles before the petrol engine needs to take over, while the ride sensation is predictable and surefooted.
Within, the Recharge takes a lot of its design cues from other, top of the range models and there's plenty of room for passengers, front and rear. It may also be worth looking at this vehicle if you want a company car, as it falls into a favourable "benefit in kind" bracket as well.
Ford Kuga Plug-In Hybrid SUV
Ford joins the party with the plug-in hybrid Kuga. It has a 2.5 L petrol engine and electric powertrain that can carry you up to 35 miles on a full charge. However, the company has fitted a relatively small battery so you may struggle if you want to top things up quickly. You can charge the battery using the petrol engine, but it's not the most efficient approach.
Under the bonnet, choose between two petrol or three diesel engines and, when combined with the electric motor, you can expect respectable acceleration figures and good overall performance.
Ford has various trim specifications, and suspension modifications all the way up to the sporty ST-Line. Still, for a large and heavy battery-equipped SUV, Kuga does handle well anyway.
You may not be too impressed with some of the interior design and configuration if you choose the entry-level trim, but you are unlikely to run out of space inside for passengers or luggage.
Recommended retail prices begin at £29,555.
Honda CR-V Hybrid
This self-charging hybrid is the only model left in what used to be an extensive array of CR-V options from Honda. Expect a 2 L petrol engine married to an electric motor, pushing up to 190 hp through a six-speed manual or CVT gearbox. You can pick four-wheel-drive to help propel that extra weight, but you may still struggle to tow a caravan or car trailer behind with any conviction.
Nevertheless, Honda has configured the suspension well for a comfortable ride, but the road and wind noise may spoil the journey to an extent.
Onboard, the infotainment system may suffer from visibility issues, and there's not really a lot of sparkle to the interior. The five-seat version of this hybrid SUV offers plenty of room for the larger party, with adequate boot space.
Prices range from £29,000 up to £38,000.
Porsche Cayenne E - Hybrid
Engineers at Porsche have been busy refining the Cayenne range, and you can now get the E-Hybrid and Turbo S E-Hybrid models with enhanced range, bigger batteries and better fuel economy. They've improved the electric-only capacity by about 20% as well, to deliver up to 30 miles.
If you choose the more expensive option, you'll get a twin-turbo 4 L V8 which, when mated to the electric motor, can produce 680 bhp. As you'd expect from a manufacturer with such pedigree, these vehicles handle well and feature plenty of gadgetry as standard.
E-Hybrid costs £70,000, but the Turbo-S variant chimes in at no less than £127,000