AA Buyer's Guide: Eco-friendly SUVs for summer
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The country is currently under Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, but we’re looking forward to the summer and exploring New Zealand once again (if the alert levels allow). Road trips can be a bit of a mixed bag. One minute you’re stuck in gridlock weekend traffic, the next you’re cruising along country roads.
Over the last few years, there has been a shift in interest towards electrified family car options – especially SUVs. There are now quite a few competent contenders on the market that will save you money at the pump and reduce your carbon footprint.
Hyundai Kona Electric Elite Series II 64kWh (from $87,990, 14.7kWh/100km, 0g/km, 150kW/395Nm)
The Hyundai Kona Series II offers the choice of two battery capacities – 39.2kWh and 64kWh - with WLTP ranges of 305km/484km. In terms of road trip practicality, we would choose the top-end Elite model; the long range puts it towards the top end of what new BEVs currently offer.
Compared with the first Kona Electric (which had a 449km range), the Series II has received small tweaks that make it go a bit further. The Michelin Primacy4 tyres contribute to the 7.8 per cent increase in maximum achievable driving distance on a full charge.
The top-spec Elite model now includes heating to the rear seats, a Harmon Kardon audio system, ambient lighting and a wireless charging pad. The cabin remains very quiet and there’s still incredible torque on tap when you need it.
If you don’t need the additional range, the Kona Electric range starts from $69,990, meaning it’s eligible for the Clean Car Discount.
Kia Sorento PHEV AWD EX (from $74,990, 1.6/100km, 36g/km, 195kW/350Nm)
Another vehicle that falls under the current $80,000 threshold for the Clean Car Discount is the Kia Sorento PHEV. If you’re in need of something with a bit more room for your road trip, then this could be the model for you.
The Sorento PHEV has the flexibility of a seven-seat cabin and uses a 13.8kWh battery; it has an all-electric range of 57km for commutes and the powertrain combines electric and combustion engine power for longer trips at the weekend.
The Sorento PHEV comes with all the trimmings, such as sumptuous leather seats and a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with split screen, which includes satellite navigation and live traffic updates.
The family can also stay charged and connected with an impressive seven USB ports peppered around the cabin. There’s also wireless charging for your compatible devices in the centre console.
The battery pack, fuel tank, engine and electric motor are integrated within the vehicle’s structure to save cabin space. With the third row folded you get 604 litres of cargo capacity. If you are traveling with all the seats deployed there is still 175 litres of space to play with.
If you need even more capacity, the Sorento PHEV has a towing rating of 750kg (unbraked), and 1350kg (braked).
Toyota RAV4 GX Hybrid (from $44,990, 4.8l/100km, 112g/km, 163kW (combined)/221Nm)
We get many calls from AA members regarding the entry-level Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. It’s become a popular model, as an efficient all-rounder for the more budget conscious buyer.
The Toyota Safety Sense package is standard across the range, which includes a host of features like Lane Tracing Assist with Lane Departure Alert function (LTA/LDA), steering assist, and lane centring function. It also provides all-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) and Road Sign Assist (RSA).
Another ace up the RAV4’s sleeve is the ability to tow, with a 1500kg maximum braked capacity – equal with the non-hybrid 2.5-litre models. This means you get all the efficiency benefits of the hybrid powertrain, plus the ability to tow a camping trailer, tinnie or even a light caravan. The RAV4 isn’t short on interior space either, with a 542 litre capacity with all the seats in place.
The SUV has an E-Four AWD system which offers greater traction when ascending steep hills, or if your road trip should take you onto rougher terrain.
The RAV4 hybrid is not a plug-in so it doesn’t qualify for the Clean Car Discount, but take delivery after April 2022 (remembering there’s a substantial waiting list for this model) and you’ll get a low-emissions rebate.