For solid fuel efficiency, strong cargo space, and a reasonable price tag, this list of the best small hybrid SUVs for less than $30,000 has you covered.
If you’re looking to stretch a gallon of gas and not break the bank, may we direct you to one of the best small hybrid SUVs under $30,000 listed below? As the SUV segment has exploded and electric vehicles have gained traction, hybrid SUVs – both traditional (HEV) and plug-in (PHEV) – are the logical in-betweener.
Not too expensive and not too different from a regular gas-powered SUV, this niche is the Goldilocks special of just-right options for most anyone. With a budget of $30,000, you can find a wide variety of lightly used – 1-2 years old – small hybrid SUVs and even some brand-new options. If your interests lean toward cars, this list of best hybrids under $15,000 is worth looking at.
The ever-popular Toyota RAV4 is even more enticing in hybrid form thanks to an EPA-estimated 41 mpg in city driving and 38 on the highway. There are plenty of used fifth-gen models to choose from on CarsForSale.com, though the PHEV variant, or Prime, is too pricey. RAV4 hybrids are powered by a 2.5L inline-4 that produces 219 hp and AWD is standard.
Cargo space tops out at 70 cubic feet with 38 cubes behind the rear seat and standard driver aids include adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, and a lane-keeping system. All models also come with a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.
Perennial nemesis of the RAV4 as we compare here, Honda’s CR-V offered a hybrid powertrain starting in 2020. The all-new 2023 CR-V is too expensive for this list, but there is no shortage of used 2022 and 2021 models out there. Fuel efficiency from the 212-horse 2.0L inline-4 rings in at 40/35 mpg in city/highway driving and, like the RAV4, AWD is standard.
Base CR-V hybrids are nicely equipped with 18-inch alloys, a sunroof, heated front seats, and smartphone mirroring via a 7-inch touchscreen. Find an EX-L model for leather upholstery or a top-spec Touring that brings navigation, a hands-free liftgate, and a wireless charging pad.
Another long-time competitor in this arena, the Ford Escape hybrid has been in fourth-gen form since 2020 and boasts around-town fuel efficiency of 44 mpg plus 37 on the highway. Relatively low on power with 165 ponies from a 2.5L four-cylinder, the Escape comes with forward collision mitigation, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-keeping assist plus dual-zone automatic climate control.
With a maximum cargo volume of 61 cubic feet, the Escape is far behind the RAV4 and CR-V, which both manage about 70 cubes. The Escape PHEV is within reach of a $30,000 budget. Going that route brings essentially the same features but a more powerful engine with 221 horsepower and a 37-mile electric-only range which is relatively high. Check out our in-depth review of the 2022 Escape for more details on this SUV.
Mitsubishi bypasses the HEV strategy in favor of a gas-powered or plug-in hybrid Outlander. An all-new model debuted this year, but it starts at $40,000. Fortunately, a lightly used 2022 model falls within our budget and offers 24 miles of all-electric range to go with standard AWD.
The 2.4L inline-4 is rated for a healthy 221 horsepower, but fuel efficiency is only so-so with figures of 26 mpg for both city and highway driving. However, the Outlander PHEV does come with heated front seats, an 8-inch touchscreen, and dual-zone automatic climate control. Step up to a GT model for a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, and a surround-view monitor.
Hyundai offers the Tucson in both HEV and PHEV format but only the traditional hybrid stays under our $30,000 cap. There are plenty of used 1-year-old models available on CarsForSale.com and they bring the all-new fourth-gen upgrades. That means forward collision mitigation and lane-keep assist are standard as are LED headlights, wireless smartphone mirroring, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.
A turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder that is rated for 227 horsepower is good for 38 mpg in city/highway driving and AWD is standard. The Tucson bests every other small hybrid SUV on this list – except mechanical-twin Kia Sportage – by offering 73 cubic feet of cargo room, while Limited models bring such niceties as a panoramic moonroof, 10-inch touchscreen, and heated rear seats.
Cousin to the Hyundai Tucson, the Kia Sportage hybrid brings the fuel-sipping powertrain to the Sportage lineup for the first time this year. As well, the Sportage is brand-new for 2023 and a base model starts at about $28,000, well under our budget. For that money, you get the same turbocharged 1.6L four-pot found in the Tucson, but the Kia manages to stretch fuel even further with ratings of 42/44 mpg in city/highway driving.
Granted, that is for the FWD LX model, but it still comes with forward collision mitigation, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, and 40 cubic feet of room behind the second row of seats. Creature comforts include dual-zone automatic climate control, a fully-digital gauge cluster, and an 8-infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto baked in.
Stretching six inches longer than the Tucson is the Hyundai Santa Fe hybrid. In fourth-generation production since 2018, Santa Fe added a hybrid model in 2021 that can be found within our price range. The PHEV variant, however, is out of reach. A familiar turbocharged 1.6L hybrid inline-4 provides 227 hp to the AWD-only driveline.
Due to the larger size, fuel efficiency is less impressive than the Tucson at 36 mpg around town and 31 on the highway. And even though the Santa Fe is longer, its overall cargo volume is actually one cubic foot less than the Tucson. However, standard features include adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, blind-spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, heated front seats, and a wireless charger.
Easily landing on this list of the best small hybrid SUVs is the Kia Niro hybrid, the automaker’s smallest model that slots below the Sportage. An all-new second-gen model debuted for 2023 that comes in at about $28,000 for a base LX or just over $30,000 for an EX.
Either model brings impressive fuel efficiency of 53/54 mpg in city/highway driving along with 64 cubic feet of cargo space, forward collision mitigation, lane-keep assist, and smartphone mirroring through an 8-inch touchscreen. There is also a Niro PHEV, but you’ll have to go to the used market to stay under $30,000. These models are largely similar to the HEV model, but bring an all-electric range of 26 miles.
Also new for 2023 is the wee Toyota Corolla Cross hybrid. Part of the new Toyota tiny crossover lineup that arrived in 2022, the hybrid model – like the Niro – can be had brand-new for about $30,000 or less in both S and SE trims. An AWD-only SUV, the Corolla Cross hybrid manages 45 mpg around town and 38 on the highway.
Notable standard features include LED headlights, wireless Apple and Android smartphone integration, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision mitigation. Maximum cargo space measures an impressive 62 cubic feet and if you can land an SE model, it brings a wireless charging pad, blind-spot monitoring, and rear-cross traffic alert.