Problems With Hybrid SUVs: 6 Typical Issues (Explained)

Hybrid SUVs have seen a surge in popularity. Hybrid vehicles are environmentally friendly and can be cost-effective, making them an appealing option.

With that said, you should be aware of the problems with hybrid SUVs before you purchase a vehicle.

Maintaining the Battery Can Be a Challenge

Inside a hybrid SUV, you’ll find an internal combustion engine (ICE) and an electric motor, which gets power from a battery.

While this set up can help you save money on gas, it also puts a lot of stress on the battery. 

Hybrid SUV batteries wear out more quickly than batteries in standard vehicles.

Most hybrid batteries are guaranteed for around 80,000 to 100,000 miles of driving. However, it’s common for hybrid owners to use the vehicle’s electric motor instead of the ICE to save on fuel. This can cause the battery to deteriorate at a much faster rate.

If the battery fails, the vehicle won’t run until it’s replaced, which means hybrid SUV owners should watch out for signs of a degraded battery.

Signs of a failed battery include:

  • The charge light indicator no longer shows that the battery is fully charged
  • You’re getting fewer miles per gallon
  • The gas engine fires up as soon as the vehicle is started
  • The gas engine suddenly turns on or off
  • There are strange noises coming from your engine

Some Hybrid SUVs are Difficult to Handle

Since hybrid SUV are equipped with multiple engines, they require more machinery than standard cars do. Manufacturers use smaller engines and batteries to keep vehicles at a reasonable weight.

This downsizing means that hybrid SUVs are lacking in power and support for the suspension and body.

No matter what model you choose, a hybrid SUV won’t offer the same snappy handling you could get from a sports car. These issues can be more pronounced in vehicles that have a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Many people report handling issues in SUVs with CVT transmissions, such as lurching or delayed acceleration.

While this is a common problem for hybrid SUVs, it isn’t a universal issue. One of the most popular hybrid SUVs on the market, the Hyundai Tuscon, doesn’t use a CVT transmission.

Hybrid SUVs usually won’t be described as sporty, but you may not encounter many handling issues if you choose the right model.

Catalytic Converters are More Likely to Fail

Any vehicle can have catalytic converter issues, but these issues are more common in hybrid SUVs. In a standard vehicle, a converter has a chance to cool before it heats up again.

In a hybrid vehicle, the part stays hot for longer, which can cause more wear and tear.

To reduce damage, some hybrid SUVs use additional precious metals.

While this helps prevent wear and tear, it also increases the risk of theft. Other vehicles may be equipped with two catalytic converters, which means that both parts could potentially fail.

Catalytic converters are more likely to fail in older vehicles with high mileage. Signs of a failing catalytic converter include reduced acceleration and a decline in vehicle performance.

It’s best to repair catalytic converters quickly to avoid additional damage to the vehicle.

Two Drivetrains Equal Twice the Problems

A hybrid SUV has two drivetrains: an ICE and an electric motor.

Not only does each engine have its own maintenance requirements, but each group of components can have its own problems. This can make repairs significantly more complex.

Some drivers favor one engine over the other. 

If you leave a drivetrain idle for long stretches of time, it could cause the engine’s components to deteriorate.

It can also interfere with the efficiency of the vehicle.

Most electric motors only have two large moving parts:

  • a rotor
  • and a stator.

This simple design helps to reduce the risk of problems.

However, hybrid vehicles are complex, and there are a number of things that could go wrong when you’re driving your car, especially if you rarely use the ICE.

Fuel Efficiency on the Highway Can Be Poor

When you’re driving a hybrid SUV, your battery is charged a bit every time you brake your vehicle.

This process, which is known as regenerative breaking, is able to convert energy from braking into electrical energy that’s transferred to your battery.

If you’re driving for a long stretch of time, it’s likely that you’ll have to switch over to your ICE. Depending on your SUV model, your fuel mileage could be equivalent to or higher than a standard SUV.

One of the biggest advantages of hybrid SUVs is their fuel efficiency, but this benefit doesn’t necessarily apply if you drive long distances at high speeds. 

Before you invest in a hybrid, you should think about your driving habits and how often you brake.

If you do most of your driving on the highway, a hybrid may not be a great fit for your needs.

You may want to check our article about common problems with Honda SUVs

It Isn’t Always Easy to Replace Parts

Supply chain issues have made it harder to source replacement parts for vehicles that need repairs. Unfortunately, this can be a big problem for hybrid SUVs.

In fact, some reports show that supply chain issues are twice as likely to occur with hybrid vehicles.

A hybrid SUV isn’t necessarily more expensive to repair, but it could take longer to get the parts you need. Repairs can be complicated and can take a long time to complete. This makes regular maintenance even more important.

Since sourcing parts can be challenging, you’ll need to make sure that your SUV gets regular inspections and maintenance.

Checking fluids, replacing filters, and other basic maintenance tasks could help you avoid costly repairs later on.

Pros and Cons of Hybrid SUVs

While hybrid SUVs have some drawbacks, they also offer many advantages and typically have high owner satisfaction ratings.

Not only do hybrids have environmental benefits, but they also offer financial bonuses. 

You’ll want to weigh both the pros and the cons when deciding if a hybrid SUV is right for you.

Pros of Hybrid SUVs:

Reduced emissions: 

While hybrids still produce some emissions, you can rely on your electric motor for short trips. This means you’ll produce fewer emissions and minimize harm to the environment.

Lower fuel costs: 

A hybrid SUV gives you two sources of power, which means you’ll use less fuel overall. Your battery will even charge when you brake!

No idling engine:

An idling engine can use gas and release emissions into the air. When you stop a hybrid vehicle, the gas engine shuts down, which means your engine will almost never idle.

They accelerate quickly:

Gas engines need time to rev up, but that’s not the case for electric motors. This allows you to accelerate and reach your maximum torque rating right away.

Tax incentives can help you save:

Buying a new hybrid SUV could qualify you for federal income tax credits up to $7,500.

Some states offer additional tax incentives.

High resale value:

The demand for hybrids is high, and because of this, many hybrid SUV models have a higher-than-average resale value.

Cons of Hybrid SUVs:

  • Maintaining the battery can be a challenge
  • Some hybrid SUVs are difficult to handle
  • Catalytic converters are more likely to fail
  • Two drive trains equals twice the problems
  • Fuel efficiency on the highway can be poor

What Do Reviews Say?

Despite some known issues, hybrid SUVs consistently receive positive reviews.

The Hyundai Tuscon Hybrid, which is one of the top-selling hybrid SUVs on the market, has been showered with praise by most outlets.

U.S. News & World Report says that “With a peppy powertrain, a comfortable ride, and a level of interior quality that rivals some luxury SUVs, the Tucson Hybrid delivers on all fronts.”

source: usnews.com

Other leading hybrid SUVs, like the Kia Sorrento Hybrid, have also received great feedback. Kelley Blue Book says that “The Kia Sorento Hybrid is engineered in a way that strikes an arguably perfect balance of performance and efficiency.”

source: kbb.com

Resale Prices

Many Hybrid SUVs have a slower rate of depreciation than standard SUVs.

While it’s typical for a vehicle to lose around half its value over 5 years, there are some hybrid SUVs that maintain more value over time.

Below, you’ll find the fair market range prices for some of the top hybrid SUVs on the market.

Vehicle Year Mileage Price
Hyundai Tucson Hybrid SEL Convenience 2022 15,441 $29,022-$33,661
Toyota Highlander Hybrid LE Sport Utility 2022 14,533 $38,017-$42,453
Ford Escape SE Hybrid Sport Utility 2021 31,062 $23,902-$28,558
Kia Sorento Hybrid S Sport Utility 2021 28,185 $30,097-$33,208
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid LE Sport Utility 2021 28,058 $33,319-$34,842
Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid Sport Utility 2021 31,062 $29,404-$32,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Thoughts

For many drivers, the benefits of hybrid SUVs will outweigh the drawbacks.

Hybrids offer exceptional fuel efficiency for city and low-speed driving, leading to savings over time.

However, if most of your driving is on the highway, you may find that a standard SUV is a better match for your needs.

Sources

Sources: https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/hyundai/tucson-hybridhttps://www.kbb.com/kia/sorento-hybrid/

All resale prices were sourced from Kelley Blue Book

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