General Question

sunyata_rakshasa's avatar

What are some recommended Electric and/or Hybrid SUVs?

Asked by sunyata_rakshasa (350points) May 27th, 2013

Specifications include Full-size, and 4wd.

Thank you all in advance for your suggestions.

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11 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

GMC Yukon Denali Hybrid 4WD at about $64,000. EPA rated at 20 city / 23highway / 21combined.

sunyata_rakshasa's avatar

Duly noted. Thanks.

jerv's avatar

If you want cheaper, you are going to take a serious hit in battery capacity. Much of the cost of a hybrid/EV is the battery, and having enough battery to give a vehicle, especially a huge, honking 4WD SUV, any sort of range or performance isn’t cheap. There is a reason most EVs and hybrids are mid-sized or smaller. To give you an idea on cost, for converting a normal car to an EV with a 60-mile range (or about as much battery as a hybrid full-size SUV would use to get 20 MPG), expect to pay $25–30k, much of that for a battery and the suspension mods required to handle the weight. I think that shows why factory-built hybrids/EVs are so pricey.

GM seems to be the only one that offers them (and not for long). If you want an EV/hybrid that is even close to the price of a gasser, you are going to have to go smaller. The Highlander hybrid starts closer to $41k, but is only a mid-sized.

There used to be a hybrid version of the Ford Escape (probably too small for your tastes) closer to $30k, but the simple fact is that those who are interested in the MPG savings of a hybrid/EV generally drive vehicles that aren’t huge. It’s inexpensive and easy to take a 2500 pound vehicle and make it go on batteries, but doing the same to a 6000 pound vehicle is more than twice as hard…. and anybody who builds one for you will charge you both for the difficulty, and for the fact that they won’t sell enough of them to make it up on volume.

XOIIO's avatar

If you are rich get something like a tesla roadster, man those are sexy. I’ve actually seen one in person but it was just driving by.

jerv's avatar

@XOIIO I think the OP would rather have something with more seating; the Tesla Model S has 5+2 seating, so you can bring the whole family along.

sunyata_rakshasa's avatar

That is a lot of fantastic information. I’m searching for the car on behalf of my girlfriend, and believe me I am slowly coxing her to a smaller car. The 4wd on the other hand is a must however. Again thanks, I’ll take all this into my search.

jerv's avatar

I have my own opinions on 4WD based on spending over 30 years living in New England and doing plenty of winter driving. Suffice it to say that I found 4WD more dangerous and uncontrollable in wintry conditions, and only actually useful rarely that I view 4WD with suspicion. At best, most of the vehicles I saw losing it in corners and sliding into ditches were 4WD. Thus, I hope that insistence isn’t due to snow/ice as 4WD is false security under those conditions.

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

If you’re not buying right away, and you have plenty of money, the Tesla Model X is a new all-electric SUV coming out next year. The 4WD is optional, but will have better traction-control than any gas-powered vehicle.

As @jerv points out, 4WD can be problematic. Conventional 4WD is useless to the untrained driver, because they won’t know to shift into 4WD until they are already stuck. (It’s too late at that point.) Modern full-time 4WD / AWD is better, but does add weight and affect vehicle dynamics. In theory a properly implemented 4WD system should be transparent to the user, but in practice none of the many, many 4WD / AWD vehicles I’ve driven were quite there.
If any vehicle should achieve this ideal, I expect it will be an electric one, because of the way AC induction motors work. Tesla’s system has already been shown to give very fine-grained control over torque allocation.

jerv's avatar

@rexacoracofalipitorius “Affects vehicle dynamics”? Like the first 4WD I had that often left me with the rough choice between either my front end slowing down faster than my rear, or my rear speeding up faster than my front at the slightest hint of the sort of spins I barely even notice in a 2WD?

Just a heads-up; AWD and 4WD are totally different things. Of course, you still have to do a lot of unlearning in an AWD since trying to drive them the same as you would a 2WD will end in tears or disaster. And knowing how to drive one 4WD/AWD means nothing if you change makes/models; the ‘94 Legacy, ‘07 Forester, ‘91 Civic Wagovan, and ‘87 Tacoma are six (6) different vehicles in that regard.

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

@jerv Yeah, kind of like that :^) When I was 14 I used to drive the farm rig around, a lowered, chopped hot-rodded International Scout. Turns out you can get a lot of torque steer with >300 ft-lb underfoot, which is extra fun with a >10ft wheelbase…

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