You Can Only Buy 1 Proper Hybrid SUV (That Isn’t a Plug-In)
If you want to buy a new hybrid vehicle, you have many options to choose from. But almost all of the larger ones are crossovers, and not technically SUVs. Of the precious few hybrid SUVs, the majority are plug-in hybrids or mild hybrids. In fact, the only true hybrid SUV you can buy today is the 2023 Toyota Sequoia.
What is the difference between a crossover and an SUV?
A sport utility vehicles (SUV) features full-frame construction. This means that all of its drivetrain and suspension components are first attached to a “ladder” frame. Then its body is set on top of this frame. It often shares its chassis with a truck from the same manufacturer. A crossover has more in common with a car.
Crossover vehicles feature a reinforced body shell called a “unibody” instead of this frame. This construction method makes them lighter, nimbler, and more efficient.
Once upon a time, full-frame construction was the only way to build a vehicle capable of towing, hauling, and handling punishing off-road trails. Today, advances in engineering and manufacturing have led to very capable crossover vehicles. Even the offroad-ready Grand Cherokee and Land Rover’s lineup are technically crossovers.
The 2023 Toyota Sequoia is the only traditional hybrid SUV that’s not a plug-in
The Sequoia shares its frame and drivetrain with the Tundra, making it one of the last true SUVs. Toyota shocked the automotive world when it announced that every redesigned 2023 Sequoia SUV would feature the 2022 Tundra’s premium hybrid engine: the i-FORCE MAX. This also makes the 2023 Sequoia the only hybrid SUV you can buy that’s not a plug-in.
The i-FORCE MAX includes a 3.44-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that has been powering Lexus sports cars for several years. Paired with an electric motor/generator it makes 437 horsepower and 583 lb-ft of torque. That’s an even higher output than the Ford PowerBoost hybrid drivetrain.
The third generation of the Sequoia is a unique mix of cutting edge technology and tradition. Toyota is pushing to consolidate its many vehicles into just a few platforms. All its full-frame vehicles will soon share a single chassis. Therefore, both the Sequoia and Tundra feature rear coil springs–preferred in off-roaders such as the Land Cruiser–instead of the older leaf spring setup. In contrast, the 2023 Sequoia is tossing the second-generation Sequoia’s independent rear suspension to return to a solid rear axle, which may make it more stable while towing.
Jeep builds both plug-in and mild hybrid SUVs
Jeep manufacturers both the Wrangler midsize SUV and the Wagoneer full-size SUV with body-on-frame construction. The Wrangler 4xe is a plug-in hybrid version of the iconic off-roader. Like the Sequoia, it features an electric motor sandwiched between a turbocharged engine and automatic transmission. In addition, it has a larger battery pack that you can plug in to charge fully, giving you 20+ miles of all-electric range.
The new Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer offer mild-hybrid technology from Ram trucks branded as eTorque. This is a combined starter/alternator unit attached to its V8 engine by the serpentine belt. It helps smooth out the engine start/stop function. It is also capable of some limited regenerative braking. But the amount of torque it can introduce to the powertrain is limited by the fact that it is belt-driven.
Next, find out which hybrid crossovers and SUVs have a third row of seats or watch the 2023 Sequoia reviewed in the video below: