Hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains were once considered the domain of the conservative and boring. No longer. Automakers are discovering that all kinds of benefits outside of lowering emissions can come along with electrification, from improved acceleration to becoming a rolling power source. The landscape in Canada’s most important sales segments is set to change dramatically in 2021. Here’s a look at the top 10 best hybrid SUVs, plug-in hybrid SUVs, and trucks – yes, trucks! – that can be bought in Canada in 2021.
Each combines an internal combustion engine with a battery pack and electric motor to give what should be great mpg, low emissions, and a smooth driving experience. If you'd prefer a more conventional hybrid hatchback or sedan, check out our alternative guide to the Top 10 New Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid Cars for 2021.
Ford F-150 Hybrid
Fuel efficiency is nice and all, but being able to use power tools at a remote work site without dragging a generator along? That practicality is priceless for a tradesperson, which is why the Ford F-150 Hybrid looks poised to make what might be the widest-ranging difference yet in the overall fuel economy of pick-up truck fleets across the country. Of course, the fuel saving is a key benefit, too, with front-wheel-drive trucks averaging 9.3 L/100 km combined according to Natural Resources Canada and off-road ready 4x4 versions averaging 9.8 L/100 km. The Ford F-Series have been the best-selling trucks in Canada for 55 years running and the best-selling vehicle overall for 11 years straight, and the available Pro Power Onboard system that adds on 7.2 kW of exportable power is just one reason why it’s likely to continue to be a hit. Offered exclusively with the SuperCrew cab, F-150 Hybrid pricing starts at $43,839 including delivery fees.
Jeep Wrangler 4xe
While we’re covering converting popular vehicle types into hybrids, we can’t leave out the Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid. It combines Wrangler trail-rated running gear and 4x4 capability with a plug-in hybrid powertrain capable of traveling roughly 40 km on electric power alone. (This figure is based on U.S. EPA estimates; as of this writing, Natural Resources Canada has not released official ratings for the Wrangler 4xe.) Pricing starts at $54,995 before fees, which allows the Jeep Wrangler 4xe to qualify for PHEV rebates offered in Quebec and British Columbia. Full pricing details are yet to be announced.
Kia Niro PHEV
The Kia Niro comes in gas-powered, plug-in hybrid, and full battery electric versions. The plug-in hybrid is notable because it makes PHEV technology affordable in the increasingly popular subcompact crossover body style. Capable of a driving range of 42 km on electric power alone and rated by NRCan at an estimated 2.2 Le/100 km combined (Le stands for litres equivalent, a calculation that measures the total energy used in which 8.9 kWh of energy is equal to one litre of gasoline) the Niro PHEV is a fuel-efficient relative bargain at a starting price of $35,995 ($37,929 with destination fees), which qualifies it for federal and provincial EV rebate programs.
Lexus RX 450h
The Lexus RX mid-size hybrid crossover stands out not only for its comfort and refinement but also for being homegrown: it’s assembled at Toyota’s manufacturing facility in Cambridge, Ontario. In its hybrid form, the 450h, its larger and heavier frame gets going with a little more kick thanks to the instant torque from the electric motor, while it also meets the needs of Canadian drivers through AWD capability and lower-than-average fuel efficiency. In the short wheelbase format, the 450h averages 7.9 L/100 km according to NRCan, while the long-wheelbase RX 450h L with its third row measures up at 8.1 L/100 km on average. Pricing for this luxury hybrid starts at $61,686 for the RX 450h and $78,986 for the RX 450h L.
Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring
The Lincoln Aviator, one of the vehicles to most recently receive Lincoln’s updated styling, is neither the most efficient nor the most affordable vehicle on this list. However, it does put plug-in hybrid technology into a segment where it’s not widely available, thereby serving the needs of the luxury customer very well. In addition to refined styling and pleasing technology features, the Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring travels up to 34 km on electric power alone and averages 4.2 Le/100 km, an impressive figure for its size. Pricing with fees begins at $83,250.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
One of Canada’s best-selling plug-in hybrid vehicles continues into 2021 with some light updates, including a larger battery pack that increases its electric-only running distance to 39 km. It also gets a 31 hp power bump to a total of 221 hp thanks to an upgrade powertrain, which includes a more powerful 2.4-litre internal combustion engine and a 70 kW rear-axle-mounted electric motor. However, the plug-in hybrid version of the Outlander will continue with its current styling, unlike the redesigned gas-only Outlander being released later this year. Pricing on the Outlander PHEV continues to qualify for federal and provincial EV incentives by starting at $44,198 before fees.
Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Toyota fills out the balance of this list, which is unsurprising given the volume of hybrid and plug-in hybrid products the brand offers. The Highlander Hybrid is one of the veteran hybrid vehicles on the market, and today’s version is offered in four different grades, all equipped with standard all-wheel drive. Regardless of the grade, the Highlander Hybrid averages 6.7 L/100 km according to NRCan. Pricing starts at $47,891 including fees for the LE and peaks at a starting price of $58,481 for Highlander Hybrid Platinum.
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
This highly popular compact SUV – also built at Toyota’s manufacturing facility in Cambridge, Ontario – has been in such high demand that wait times have stretched to six months or more. Those who choose to wait get a right-sized SUV that comes with electric all-wheel drive as standard in the hybrid models and feels more energetic than the gas-powered equivalent thanks to the instant torque provided by the electric motor. Four different grades are offered, each averaging 6.0 L/100 km combined according to NRCan ratings. A Hybrid LE starts at $34,981 including fees, while a Hybrid Limited is priced starting from $45,381 with fees included.
Toyota RAV4 Prime
Toyota’s RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid SUV checks a lot of boxes for Canadians. It’s a compact SUV, which is already one of the most popular segments in the country, plus it can go 68 km on electric power alone, which is one of the longer electric ranges around for a PHEV. Add on to that a 2.5 Le/100 km combined average as rated by NRCan and pricing that qualifies for both federal and provincial EV incentives, and it’s no surprise that Toyota Canada can’t get enough of these to meet demand. Unlike the RAV4 Hybrid, the RAV4 Prime is built in and imported from Japan. Pre-delivery pricing starts from $44,990 for the Prime SE model ($47,021 with destination fees).
Sure, a minivan is neither an SUV nor a truck, but hear us out. The next-generation Toyota Sienna, launched for the 2021 model year, is now not only available as a hybrid but is sold exclusively with a hybrid powertrain, and that means it deserves serious consideration from families looking for a vehicle with three rows of seats. The updated version still comes with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, but the addition of the hybrid drive system means that the former averages an estimated 6.5 L/100 km combined and the latter uses 6.7 L/100 km. On top of that, much as the Ford F-150 Hybrid makes use of its battery to deliver power, the Sienna has up to two 110-volt plugs in its interior that can be used for functions such as running a small appliance like a microwave or connecting a video game system to the overhead rear-facing entertainment display. A side effect of the improvements is that the lowest-priced CE grade has been dropped for 2021, meaning that pricing starts with the LE grade at $42,021 including destination fees for the front-wheel-drive version and $44,021 for all-wheel drive. Needless to say, plenty of cargo space comes standard.
Note: Images may show US models.