Feature article

Best hybrid SUVs of 2023 and 2024

There are now more hybrid SUV options in New Zealand as buyers look to add fuel efficiency to their list of wants.

Last updated: 2 February 2024

There are now more hybrid SUV options in New Zealand as buyers look to add fuel efficiency to their list of wants. SUVs now totally dominate the new vehicle market here in New Zealand, accounting for well over half of all sales. And as they become ever more popular, carmakers are adding more hybrid powertrain options for those looking to reduce their overall emissions profile. 

Hybrid SUVs come in all the usual electrified guises from mild hybrids (something that uses the combustion engine primarily to get by, with a small electric gizmo added to aid efficiency) to self-charging hybrids (usually with an electric motor and battery that can both drive the vehicle and assist the petrol engine). And then there are plug-in hybrids with bigger batteries and electric motors allowing them to run in full EV mode. And these are the types you need to plug-in to maintain a full battery charge.

Hybrids all deliver on their promise of reduced fuel use (and lower overall emissions) but do cost more to purchase. They are however usually better to drive thanks to the extra torque they deliver. Here are some of the best hybrid SUVs to arrive recently in New Zealand.

Nissan Qashqai e-Power

Nissan Qashqai e-Power

The Qashqai e-Power drives more like an EV than most hybrids because its sole drive unit is an electric motor. The hybrid aspect of the e-Power is that it has a small petrol engine powering a generator that provides electricity to a battery pack. The result is a smooth, torquey delivery and lower overall fuel consumption when compared with the regular Qashqai. There is a premium; where the Qashqai Ti-L asks $52,990, the e-Power is $60,990. 

The e-Power is for those who want something different, or have no way to charge a real EV at home. If you can accept the premium, you will enjoy the refinement and the quick power delivery.

Need a hybrid that is a bit bigger? Read about the Nissan X-Trail e-Power on Autocar.

As to fuel use, Nissan states 6.8L/100km for the regular Ti-L, and 5.8L/100km for the e-Power. On test, the e-Power’s urban fuel use was closer to 5.0, whereas when we tested the conventional Ti-L, its consumption registered in the 8-9L/100km region. 

This new Qashqai drives well, the ride quality is a definite strength. It has grown in size and rear seat passengers benefit from additional space, and there’s more room for loot in the boot too. But it’s still a compact SUV with a good turning circle for trouble-free manoeuvres in the car park. 

If you like the sound of the e-Power but don’t need quite as many baubles, it’s also available as a Ti version at $55,990, making it a little more affordable.

Click to read the full Nissan Qashqai e-Power hybrid review on Autocar.

View listings on Trade Me Motors: Nissan Qashqai e-Power for sale

Honda ZR-V Hybrid

Honda ZR-V Hybrid

Honda’s new ZR-V is a family friendly SUV, right sized for urban life. It’s what you’d call a mid-size SUV, with similar dimensions to the CX-5 and RAV4. There are two variants, including the Sport hybrid which is priced at $55,000. 

The ZR-V has a quality cabin with deft touches like the mood lighting and alloy details while the harder plastics are used sparingly. The infotainment is of the no-frills variety but is well sited on the dash top and sat nav is included along with (wired) CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The ZR-V is the first model available here with Honda Connect which gives the ability to control a few aspects via a smartphone app. There’s plenty of territory for those in the back and the flat floor gives equal leg room for three kids, reducing hostilities. 

Need something bigger? Read about the Honda CR-V RS hybrid on Autocar.

This hybrid provides a smooth and torquey delivery. There’s abundant pull from down low, and with 315Nm, it can trouble the traction if you’re in a hurry. Consumption is stated at 5.5L/100km with emissions of 126g/km (WLTP), while we managed 6.3L/100km over our week driving it.

The ZR-V is a practical, well outfitted SUV (in terms of both quality and spec) that’s just easy to live with. The hybrid unit does a good job of balancing power, refinement and frugality.

Read the full review of the Honda ZR-V Sport hybrid on Autocar.

View listings on Trade Me Motors: Honda ZR-V Sport hybrid for sale

Suzuki S-Cross Hybrid

Suzuki S-Cross Hybrid

This one for those that might struggle with the increasingly digital aspect of modern cars. It’s refreshingly simple to operate, while the mild hybrid powertrain eases fuel consumption and aids drivability with a boost to low end torque production. 

The S-Cross uses a 1.4-litre turbo (95kW/235Nm) driving through a six-speed auto and it has a 48v integrated starter generator (ISG) that adds 10kW and 50Nm to the bottom line, giving it a boost off the mark while the turbo ramps up. It performs reasonably well too and will sip fuel at an agreeable rate, our weekend average of 6.1L/100km not far from its quoted average.

The handling is more than adequate but it is the quiet, refined ride that stands out in this vehicle.

The S-Cross was renewed last year, sporting a flasher look than its predecessor, though the interior isn’t quite as fresh, and hard plastics dominate the dash and doors.

As a compact crossover, it is one of the larger ones available and entry and exit is easy, passenger space in the rear good. Luggage capacity is 440L, and with 1320mm of gear space between the rear wheel arches, golfers can fit a bag in crossways.

The JLX S-Cross hybrid comes with keyless entry and start, adaptive cruise control, partial leather trim, seat heating, a nine-inch infotainment screen, wireless phone connectivity, a 360 degree camera, and digital speed readout. Safety items run to lane departure warning and prevention, RCTA, BSM, and seven airbags.

Click to read the full S-Cross review on Autocar.

View listings on Trade Me Motors: Suzuki S-Cross hybrid for sale

Mazda CX-60 PHEV

Mazda CX-60 PHEV

The Mazda CX-60 plug-in hybrid presents a convincing alternative to some premium contenders. This big new crossover uses a 2.5-litre inline four mated with an electric motor (129kW/217Nm) drawing power from a 17.8kWh battery. It has a system total of 241kW and 500Nm. What’s of more interest really though is that the PHEV can do up to 63km running on electric power alone.

Its overall combined fuel use figure is 2.3L/100km. We did an overnight top up (which one should always do with a PHEV to make best use of its zero-emissions technology) and had 50km of range showing. It actually did over 50km before the battery was exhausted. 

The interior is appealing, finished in plush black leather with lots of quality soft touch plastics. In the back it’s also comfy, with heated leather seats and a couple of USB-C connectors for device charging. There’s good all-round room here. Head round the back and a gesture controlled power tailgate gets you into a well shaped stowage area totalling 470-1150L. And it has about every safety item you could think of. As part proof, this has a five-star ANCAP rating. 

With pricing between $79k-$90k, the CX-60 sits in the middle ground of available plug-in SUVs. There are cheaper options like the MG HS for as little as $50k, while the Outlander range spans $63k-$80k. CX-60 is however a more premium offering than those. It undercuts Santa Fe PHEV too while Sorento PHEV is a similar price. Otherwise you need to spend in the region of $110k-$115k for more comparable Euros like the Audi Q5, X3 and GLC.

Read the full Mazda CX-60 hybrid review on Autocar.

View listings on Trade Me Motors: Mazda CX-60 hybrid for sale


Kyle Cassidy
Kyle Cassidy
Editor NZ Autocar magazine - autocar.co.nz

Kyle has been reviewing cars since starting at NZ Autocar magazine in 2003 and has been editor since 2009. In that time he’s become an expert on what makes for a good vehicle while also gaining insights into the local automotive industry.