Style and comfort but not at the expense of fuel economy.
Toyota all but created the hybrid market with the Prius, but now hybrids are everywhere. Hybrid systems have been slower to get into premium and luxury cars, though. Partly because adding a battery makes a heavy car heavier, and partly because people buying premium and luxury cars are less price-sensitive when it comes to buying gas. Another factor was that hybrids suffered from an image problem, and shoppers of big expensive vehicles didn't want to buy into the whole liberal eco-warrior stereotype.
Times have changed, though. Now that batteries have gotten lighter, a hybrid system can bring more benefits than just added fuel economy, and gas is generally always rising in price. That triple-threat of benefits as well as the technology continually improving means we're now seeing more and more premium and luxury hybrids. These are the best ones available for 2020.
At no point has Porsche looked at hybrid technology and thought about using it to improve fuel economy. Instead, the German performance car maker has concentrated on the benefits of hybrid tech to add even more performance to its vehicles. One of the results of that approach is the fastest Cayenne model yet, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid. Paired to its 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 producing 541 horsepower and 567 lb-ft is an electric motor adding another 134 hp and 295 lb-ft. Ultimately, the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid generates a total of 670 hp and 663 lb-ft to push all four wheels. It sets a 0-60 mph time of 3.6 seconds, and that matches up to the more expensive Lamborghini Urus.
If you like your driving experience to be a little more sedate and a lot more pampered, Mercedes has a hybrid version of the S-Class it would like you to buy. At a glance, you can't tell it's a hybrid, as it carries all style and stately presence of the gas engine only S-Class, but, under the hood, a 3.0-liter V6 bi-turbo engine works together with a 121-hp electric motor to produce a combined 469 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. The S-Class Hybrid will clear 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds, should one choose to be so uncouth. However, the beauty is in the effortless acceleration that the hybrid power matched to the invisible 9G-Tronic automatic transmission brings to everyday chauffeured driving.
The premium segment for midsize SUVs is a packed one, and the Lexus RX sticks its elbows out against the opposition by providing a hybrid option. The hybrid drivetrain is comprised of a 3.5-liter V6 engine and three electric motors powered by a 37-kWh sealed nickel-metal hydride battery. Combined, the RX makes use of 308 hp but only has a 0-60 mph time of around eight seconds. However, the significant benefit comes when towing and the RX Hybrid can comfortably pull 3,500 lbs behind it. Without the heavy load, you can expect to get a fuel economy of around 31 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the freeway.
Volvo is carving out its own corner in the premium market, and the S90 is a welcome relief in the sea of German sedans across corporate America. It features Volvo's unique four-cylinder 2.0-liter engine that's turbocharged and supercharged at the same time to make 313 hp. Added to the gas engine is an 87-hp electric motor, boosting the drivetrain to a combined output of 400 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque. The difference is night and day, and the S90 Hybrid is a big, fast sedan ready to whisk its occupants from A to B in refined Swedish style.
Improving on the Range Rover plug-in hybrid, Land Rover has brought us the Range Rover Hybrid. It's a potent luxury SUV with the chops to pull a horsebox or tackle the harshest of off-roading conditions. A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is mated with an electric motor making 141 hp and utilizes a 13.1-kWh battery. The total output of 398 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque improves on the six-cylinder gas-only power figures, and the EPA estimated 42 MPGe in parallel hybrid mode is an improvement over the 24 mpg of the six-cylinder engine models. The only word of caution comes with the estimated 19-mile electric-only range, which is optimistic compared with many real-world reports.
For everyone, the Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid brings with it an almost crazy level of acceleration. For some, it also comes with a tax break. The base level for the Panamera Hybrid is a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 that produces 330 hp and 327 lb-ft of torque, which is then supplemented by an electric motor delivering an extra 134 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Combined, that's a thrilling 457 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque in a four-door car that handles like a dream. However, there's also the option for a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 with 550 hp and 567 lb-ft of torque mated to the same electric motor for a spine-tingling combined output of 677 hp and 626 lb-ft of torque.
While we're not thrilled with some of the interior materials used or the awkward entertainment system, the MDX in hybrid form brings a lot to the table. It has sharp and fun handling dynamics for a midsize luxury SUV and the hybrid drivetrain is above par for the segment. That drivetrain is made up of a 3.0-liter naturally-aspirated V6 engine and a single electric motor at the front and two rear electric motors supplementing the rear wheels. Combined, the hybrid drivetrain delivers 321 hp and 289 lb-ft of torque with 0-60 mph coming in under six seconds in real-world testing.
The BMW 745e practices the art of the luxury executive sedan using leading-edge technology, high-end material, and Germany's most exceptional engineering skills. But, because it's a BMW, attention has been paid to the chassis dynamics so it can entertain and thrill the driver. Augmenting the 3.0-liter turbo straight-six engine is an eDrive, that, combined with the 12 kWh lithium-ion battery, delivers a combined 389 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. BMW's straight-six engines are renowned for being smooth, but combined with electric power and a silky eight-speed automatic transmission, the drivetrain enters a whole new level of buttery smoothness.
If you want your achingly beautiful grand touring sports car to provide a thrilling V8 roar and compelling power, forget the LC Hybrid and buy the LC500. If your style of driving is more about cruising, looking good, and enjoying the drive at a more leisurely pace, the LC500h hybrid version could be for you. A 3.5-liter V6 engine is paired with an electric-drive motor to create a combined 354 hp and enable a still healthy sprint to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. Adding to the recipe is the fact you'll be hard-pressed to find something that looks as good, shifts so fast, and returns 27/35/30 mpg city/highway/combined.