At this time of inexpensive gas, larger vehicles are trending upward, hybrid sales are not doing as well, but how would a hybrid or plug-in hybrid crossover or SUV appeal to you?
If you are one of the people who knows that what goes down – like fuel prices – has been predicted by the federal government to go back up, you may already be open to the idea. Or, if you just like the prospect of wasting less fuel and being easier on the environment, while having more room and potentially all-wheel-drive, that too is what green crossovers and SUVs may offer.
Today there are a relative few hybrid and plug-in hybrid crossovers and SUVs sold in the U.S., including variants from Volvo, Porsche, Lexus, and Audi, as well as from Toyota and Subaru.
Among rumors of more coming is that General Motors may be preparing hybrid versions of its Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain with adaptations from Volt-based hybrid architecture. Another rumor is that Honda may hybridize its revised CR-V, possibly even making a plug-in hybrid to upstage its nemesis the popular RAV4 Hybrid.
Conjecture aside, following are brief highlights along with links to related reading of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles pending on the near horizon:
Nissan Rogue Hybrid
Originally reported to arrive this spring, the Rogue Hybrid may be in dealers this fall. The variant of Nissan’s well-received all-wheel-drive vehicle that comes in five and seven passenger configurations was announced last summer.
The vehicle which Nissan has not divulged much official info on in the U.S. is reportedly spec’d with its 2.0-liter four with CVT transmission.
It could be an alternative to the 2.5-liter RAV4 Hybrid for sales though its success will remain to be seen. Currently Nissan has just the Pathfinder Hybrid in the U.S. market which has sold in very limited quantities.
The automaker has been in and out of the hybrid market, and this model enters a hot segment so eyes will be on Nissan’s crossover due to come in upper SV and SL trim levels priced reportedly from the upper 20s to mid 30s.
Mercedes-Benz GLC Plug-in Hybrid
The GLC 350 e 4MATIC from Mercedes-Benz is part of a relative juggernaut of plug-in variants the German automaker promised by 2017.
Powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine mated with electric drive and seven-speed automatic, the manufacturer has said as much as 21 miles electric range is possible.
Zero to 60 mph performance from 275 horsepower and 443 pounds-feet torque is reportedly in the high-five, low six-second range, and the vehicle will have the amenities and style of a C-Class in crossover form.
Pricing is to be announced, but expect well over $45,000.
Kia Niro Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid
As part of Kia and its Korean sister Hyundai’s plans to introduce several new models by 2020, the Niro “un hybrid” is an all-new compact model focused on being different, and maximizing fuel economy.
Expected first will be the hybrid this year, followed by the plug-in hybrid in 2017. Unclear also is whether an all-wheel-drive version will be made available, and even an all-electric variant.
Powering the hybrid siblings is a 1.6-liter four with 43 horsepower electric motor for system total of 146 horsepower, and 195 pounds-feet of torque.
Fuel economy could be a Prius-like 50 mpg in either version. Unclear is the electric range for the plug-in, but Hyundai and Kia have shown themselves willing to spec larger batteries in other new plug-ins with more than 25 miles.
Acura MDX Hybrid
With an update to the MDX, last month Acura showed its new Sport Hybrid powertrain offering more power and better mpg than the non-hybrid.
Under the hood is a 3.0-liter V6 with electric drive working through a seven-speed automatic in front and two electric motors in back.
Acura estimates 25 miles per gallon city, 26 mpg highway, and 26 mpg combined, for the high-tech hybrid.
Look for it this fall.
Mercedes-Benz GLE550e Plug-in Hybrid
Mercedes-Benz’ large AWD vehicle was shown at the 2015 New York International Auto Show and actually the first of the German automaker’s hybrid SUVs.
The electric portion of the GLE550e includes a 114-horsepower electric module that is built into the seven-speed automatic transmission. Energy is stored in an 8.8-kilowatt hours lithium-ion battery, giving the SUV an all-electric range of 18.6 miles.
Paired with a twin-turbo, direct injection V6, the GLE550e has a total output of 436 horsepower and 354 pounds-feet of torque.
Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid
Last but not least, we are hoping the long-delayed plug-in hybrid version of Mitsubishi’s five-passenger AWD SUV will launch this fall as reported.
The Japanese automaker is in the throes of a scandal in Japan with its mini “kei” cars having mpg stated 10 percent higher than actual, and troubles added to an already ailing company do raise concerns.
As it is, the Outlander has been the best-selling plug-in car in the UK and Europe, may offer range in the 20s under the EPA cycle, and represents another less-than opulent choice in this vehicle segment.