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8 Hybrid SUV's Available for 2012

8/10/2012
There are eight hybrid SUVs on sale in the U.S. market for 2012, all of them qualifying as "full hybrid" vehicles because they can operate at low speeds on nothing more than the electricity supplied by their rechargeable nickel-metal hydride battery packs.

Each of these hybrid SUVs employs regenerative braking to recharge the batteries, as well as automatic stop/start technology that shuts the gasoline engine off when the vehicle comes to a stop. Most feature Atkinson-cycle engine design, which increases efficiency. Accelerate with a light foot on the throttle and all of these SUVs can achieve a minimum velocity of 25 mph before the gas engine kicks in.

Below, you will find each of the eight hybrid SUVs available for the 2012 model year, listed in alphabetical order, and accompanied by details about their powertrains and fuel-economy estimates.

Cadillac Escalade Hybrid
Equipped with a "two-mode" hybrid system co-developed with BMW and Chrysler, the Escalade Hybrid pairs a 6.0-liter V-8 engine with an electric motor and an electrically variable transmission. Total system output is 332 horsepower, and regardless of whether you select the 2WD or 4WD model, it is rated to get 20 mpg city/23 mpg highway.

Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid
The Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid features the same powertrain as the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid, as well as its fuel-economy ratings, and is a less-expensive alternative.

Ford Escape Hybrid
The Ford Escape Hybrid combines a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with an electric motor and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The combined horsepower rating is 177, and the Escape Hybrid is rated to get 34 mpg city/31 mpg highway with FWD, and 30 mpg city/27 mpg highway with AWD.

GMC Yukon Hybrid
Like the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, the GMC Yukon Hybrid is equipped with the same fuel-saving hardware package as the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid.

Lexus RX 450h
Lexus extracts a combined 295 horsepower from its hybrid powertrain, which employs a 3.5-liter V-6 engine, CVT, and up to three electric motors, depending on whether the SUV is equipped with front- or all-wheel drive (FWD or AWD). Fuel-economy ratings are 32 mpg city/28 mpg highway with FWD, and 30 mpg city/28 mpg highway with AWD.

Porsche Cayenne Hybrid
Porsche calls the Cayenne Hybrid a "full parallel hybrid" because it can be operated using just the electric motor (at speeds up to 40 mph), just the gasoline engine, or a combination of the two. A supercharged, 3.0-liter V-6 engine is included, total system output measures 380 horsepower, and fuel-economy ratings are 20 mpg city/24 mpg highway.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid
The Highlander Hybrid's powertrain is the same as the Lexus RX 450h's. However, the Toyota's total system horsepower measures 280 compared to 295, the Highlander comes standard with AWD and three electric motors, and fuel economy measures 28 mpg city/28 mpg highway.

Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid
Equipped with the same "full parallel hybrid" system as the Porsche Cayenne Hybrid, the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid's maximum horsepower and fuel-economy numbers are identical to the Porsche.

Learn about the history of hybrid cars.

Learn about the advantages of hybrid cars.