Efficient family haulers: Two large hybrid SUVs set to change the game
Search Driven for Toyota for sale
Larger SUVs delivering hybrid efficiency are shaping up as one of the possible themes for new model launches later this year.
Toyota is expected to follow-up the success of its RAV4 Hybrid with a similar powertrain solution for the next generation Highlander while the new Kia Sorento — which launched globally last month — will feature hybrid models alongside the popular 2.2-litre diesel versions.
The fourth generation Highlander – built at Toyota’s Princeton, Indiana manufacturing plant — is on sale in North America with 3.5-litre V6 petrol and 2.5-litre four-cylinder hybrid powertrains.
Toyota has sold V6 petrol hybrid Highlanders in North America -sharing technology with Lexus RX hybrid models – since 2006.
The new Highlander front-wheel-drive hybrid models have a new dual motor electric drive system packaged with the transaxle and the continuously variable transmission while all-wheel-drive models have a separate rear electric motor.
The Gen-four Highlander has all-new styling and is 60mm longer than the model currently on sale in New Zealand offering increased interior space. The hybrid battery is located under the rear seats.
Kia has a significantly different powertrain solution for the new Sorento hybrid combining its 1.6-litre GDI turbocharged petrol engine with electric drive.
The hybrid model is initially for Europe but Kia New Zealand hopes to bring the Sorento Hybrid to this market. Timing – and whether it will launch at the same time as diesel versions – has yet to be determined and obviously product planning is now impacted by COVID-19 issues.
The turbocharged four-cylinder produces 132kW and 265Nm output figures with a 1.49kWh lithium-ion polymer battery being located under the floor beneath the front passenger seat to have minimal impact of luggage and cabin space.
The electric system has 44.2kW output and 264Nm of torque and Kia claims a combined system output of 169kW and 350Nm. No fuel consumption claims have been confirmed yet.
The fourth generation Kia Sorento is 10mm longer, 10mm wider and 10mm taller than the current model and achieves interior space gains thanks to a 35mm increase in the wheelbase.
A significant change for the diesel engine is a new alloy engine block that achieves a 19kg weight saving over the previous cast iron block.
One difference between diesel and hybrid models is a new eight-speed dual clutch transmission partners the 2.2-litre diesel engine while the hybrid gets a six-speed automatic.
Kia has also confirmed a plug-in hybrid version of the new Sorento is also under development.
It’s not the first time that mainstream brands in New Zealand have offered hybrids in the large SUV category.
Between 2014-16 there were 26 examples of the Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid sold in New Zealand. The Pathfinder Hybrid swapped out the 3.5-litre V6 engine used in conventional models for a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and electric powertrain combination.
In the luxury SUV ranks Lexus has enjoyed significant success with its RX 450h hybrid models.