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A new study from car research site iSeeCars shows reliability rankings for a wide range of new cars, trucks, and SUVs. Some results are unsurprising, like high scores for Toyota and Honda products, but there are also a few surprises. One surprise is that the most reliable plug-in hybrid SUV is a Mini.

The most reliable plug-in hybrid SUV

Mini isn’t a brand generally known for its reliability. Classic Mini models have all of the baggage that comes with vintage British cars, and while the brand improved after being absorbed by BMW, it still has a spotty record of reliability. Despite that, the most reliable plug-in hybrid SUV, according to iSeeCars, is the PHEV variant of the Mini Countryman.

To recap, the Mini Countryman is the biggest Mini. It’s a subcompact SUV with four doors and is available with the All4 all-wheel drive system. The idea is to blend the Mini character and driving experience with SUV practicality, and the Countryman pulls that off well. The plug-in hybrid version has standard AWD, an all-electric range of 17 miles, and a 29 combined mpg fuel economy rating with a dead battery.

The Mini Countryman PHEV gets a reliability score of 7.2 out of 10. That score is just OK, but it’s good enough to top the list. It just barely beats the PHEV variants of the Subaru Crosstrek, Kia Niro, and Mitsubishi Outlander, which aren’t far behind in their reliability scores.

More reliable hybrid SUVs

Even the most reliable luxury PHEV SUV is more dependable than the Mini. It’s the Porsche Cayenne PHEV, which gets a reliability score of 7.6 out of 10.

Compare these numbers to the most dependable conventional hybrids that don’t plug into the wall. The most reliable hybrid SUV on this list is the Toyota Highlander Hybrid (9.2/10), and the highest-scoring luxury hybrid SUV is the Lexus RX 450h (9.5/10). No surprises there. Toyota (and, by extension, Lexus) is a consistently reliable brand with more than 20 years of experience selling mass-market hybrids.

Part of the reason PHEV SUVs get lower scores than other hybrids is that they haven’t been on the market for very long. The Mini Countryman PHEV has only been around since 2017, and the plug-in version of the Subaru Crosstrek just came out in 2019.

In contrast, conventional hybrid SUVs have been around much longer. The hybrid versions of the Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX came out way back in 2006, so they’ve had more time to build their strong reputations.

The most reliable plug-in hybrid SUV could change in a few years

The two best-selling plug-in hybrid SUVs on the market are both Jeep models. They’re the 4xe variants of the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee. Those are both too new to have long-term reliability data. Maybe in a few years, if those hybrid Jeep SUVs have decent reliability, these rankings will look a bit different.

Would you buy a new plug-in hybrid SUV with lower fuel costs, or would you rather play it safe with a conventional hybrid?


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