Electric vehicles get all the love. Driving a gas-electric hybrid might have made you the greenest guy on the block a few years ago, but times have changed. Pure plug-in electrics now hold the moral high ground, and manufacturers like GM and Volkswagen are doubling down R&D dollars on them—and leaving hybrids behind.
But the gas-electric engine isn’t dead yet: Take the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, above, a family hauler that competes in the packed midsize SUV segment. These beasts are tasked with devouring miles on the way to soccer games, or Quidditch matches for contrarians. Of the nearly 30 on the market, none sniff the Highlander Hybrid’s 35 mpg with up to 601 miles per tank—all while carrying eight.
That’s a massive 28 percent improvement in fuel economy from the outgoing model, thanks mostly to a 360-pound weight savings. While the Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer thrilling acceleration, its 243 horsepower is just enough for the task at hand. And a family hauler’s other task is to alleviate road trip boredom, so there’s a giant 12.3-inch touchscreen and 1,200-watt stereo, both of which are controllable by voice through Alexa.
Fair warning: Let the kids in back talk to her and you might hear the Frozen II soundtrack on repeat during long drives, but at least it’ll end quickly, considering you won’t be stopping for gas too often.
From $38,200; toyota.com
Fuel Efficiency, Stepped Up
Between commuter cars and three-row haulers is a growing class of hybrid small SUVs and crossovers. Here are two of our favorites.
Ford Escape Hybrid
The new version of this five-seater SUV has better manners and fuel economy: 41 mpg combined.
From $33,550; ford.com
For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!