Ultimate hybrid guide: every petrol-electric car and SUV in New Zealand

David Linklater
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Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid.

Electrified vehicles are a hot topic in New Zealand, thanks to rising fuel prices, increasing climate change awareness and the Government's focus on a Clean Car programme that impacts both consumers and the industry. More buyers than ever want to move to electrified vehicles, but where do you start?

DRIVEN Car Guide is here to help, with a complete guide to every electrified vehicle on sale in NZ. Below, we deliver the need-to-know information on every hybrid-powered vehicle currently available, arranged from lowest to highest price.

A hybrid (sometimes called a Hybrid Electrified Vehicle, or HEV) blends a combustion engine with a small battery pack and electric motor. It has the ability to drive on electric power alone, but usually only for very short distances: from a few hundred metres to a couple of kilometres. The rest of the time the battery/motor assists the combustion engine, reducing fuel consumption and boosting performance.

Note that you don't plug in a hybrid/HEV. The battery is recharged by energy recovered from braking and deceleration, or sometimes even from the combustion engine when driving conditions are suitable.

Hybrids were (and theoretically still are) included in the Government's Clean Car Discount rebate programme, but tightening of the CO2 requirements as part of a programme revamp from July 2023 means that most are now excluded - although if they are within the 101-149g/km "neutral zone" they still don't attract a fee. Check with the Government's RightCar website or dealerships for specific model information.

You don't plug in a HEV. The battery is recharged by energy recovered from braking and deceleration, and sometimes by the engine.

Note also that our guide doesn't include "mild hybrid" (or MHEV) vehicles, which have a similar ability to recover and store energy to reduce fuel consumption, but don't generally have the ability to drive on electric power alone. MHEV tech will become standard across much of the automotive industry in the years to come, but we reckon there's an important line to be drawn between that and hybrid/HEV models that have their own electric propulsion.

TOYOTA YARIS HYBRID

Toyota's supermini-sized Yaris made several generational leaps when the latest model was launched in 2020, with a completely new platform lots of new technology and the additional of a hybrid powertrain option for the first time in NZ (although petrol-electric versions of previous models have appeared on the used-import market).

The hybrid matches a three-cylinder petrol engine with a lithium-ion battery pack, resulting in truly outstanding fuel economy figures. Toyota offers the hybrid in both entry GX and more luxurious ZR trims.

Price $28,290-$37,790 Powertrain 1.5-litre petrol three-cylinder engine with hybrid electric system, CVT, FWD Power/torque 85kW (combined)/120Nm Consumption 3.3l/100km

Read DRIVEN's review of the Toyota Yaris hybrid

TOYOTA COROLLA HYBRID

Toyota NZ's Corolla hybrid is now in its second generation. Launched in the previous model in 2016, the petrol-electric powertrain was improved and the model range expanded for the latest version from 2018: a bit less power, but better efficiency.

There's now a three-tier Corolla hybrid lineup, from the GX to the SX to the top-of-the-line ZR (and you can even get extra-fancy with a two-tone model). The hatch remains the core body shape, but you can also have the SX hybrid as a sedan or wagon.

Price $36,290-$42,790 Powertrain 1.8-litre petrol engine with hybrid electric system, CVT, FWD Power/torque 90kW (combined) Consumption 4.2l/100km

HONDA JAZZ E:HEV

Honda's e:HEV technology now dominates the revised range. The ICE-only entry-level Life version has been dropped, leaving the SUV-like Crosstar as the only pure-petrol model. A more powerful hybrid powertrain now features in the flagship Luxe - now called Luxe Sport - and a new model, the RS.

You don't plug e:HEV in, so it's not technically an EV. But nor does the petrol engine drive the wheels like most other hybrids. Instead, it mostly acts as a generator to either feed power to the battery pack and/or drive the electric motor, which then drives the wheels.

Price $36,700-$37,000 Powertrain 1.5-litre Atkinson Cycle petrol engine with hybrid electric system, continuously variable transmission, FWD Power/torque 78kW/127Nm (petrol), 90kW/253Nm (electric) Consumption 3.8l/100km

Read DRIVEN's review of the Honda Jazz e:HEV

HAVAL JOLION HEV

The Jolion was the first of a new generation of globally focused models from Haval, Great Wall Motors' SUV brand, when it was launched in 2020. A hybrid powertrain option is a more recent addition, pairing a 1.5-litre petrol engine to a battery and single electric motor combo. The transmission is a dedicated two-speed unit.

The Jolion HEV comes in Lux or flagship Ultra specification. You even get some extra status with a few choice styling changes for the hybrid over the conventional models: slimline lights up front, a diamond-like grille and extra badging.

Price $36,990-$39,990 Powertrain 1.5-litre petrol engine with hybrid electric system, 2-speed automatic, FWD Power/torque 139kW/375Nm Consumption 5.5l/100km

TOYOTA YARIS CROSS HYBRID

Ostensibly, the Yaris Cross hybrid is simply an SUV version of the Yaris hatch, with higher ground clearance. Same basic powertrain and platform.

But you can also think of the Cross as a completely different model: larger, more practical and with bespoke styling to set it apart. The powertrain technology package is the same across the brace of models: entry GX and more highly specified Limited.

Price $37,290-$43,790 Powertrain 1.5-litre petrol three-cylinder engine with hybrid electric system, CVT, FWD Power/torque 85kW (combined)/120Nm Consumption 3.8l/100km

Read DRIVEN's review of the Toyota Yaris Cross hybrid

TOYOTA C-HR HYBRID

The C-HR is a step up in size from the Yaris Cross, but also aimed at a different kind of buyer: it's a more driver-oriented package, with coupe-like styling and less emphasis on rear-seat and luggage space. It also has a number of interior design elements that remain unique to the model.

But C-HR is also all about hybrid technology of course, which is available from an entry-level model through to the more luxurious Limited. There's even a mildly tweaked GR Sport version.

Price $41,290-$46,290 Powertrain 1.8-litre petrol four-cylinder engine with hybrid electric system, CVT, FWD Power/torque 90kW (combined)/142Nm Consumption 4.8l/100km

Read DRIVEN's review of the Toyota C-HR

TOYOTA COROLLA CROSS

It's arguably the biggest conceptual change for the ubiquitous Corolla in its long, long history: the addition of the Cross to the family means the most famous small-car in the world is now available as a crossover-SUV. It fits neatly in-between the C-HR and RAV4.

The Cross comes with a 2.0-litre petrol-electric hybrid powertrain making 135kW combined, with either front drive or Toyota's clever E-Four AWD - albeit only as an option on the flagship Limited. It's already an in-demand model - and like so many electrified Toyotas, sold out until 2024!

Price $41,990-$51,990 Powertrain 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder engine with hybrid electric system, CVT, FWD or AWD Power/torque 135kW (combined)/190Nm Consumption 4.8-4.9l/100km

KIA NIRO HEV

Kia's electrified-only compact SUV comes in BEV, PHEV or hybrid models. The latter makes a strong case in terms of sheer value for money, with prices starting at just over $40k and four different models to choose from: Light, Earth, Water and GT-Line.

As with sister brand Hyundai, the petrol-electric powertrain gets a boost in terms of driver-appeal by employing a six-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Price $44,990-$59,990 Powertrain 1.6-litre petrol engine with hybrid electric system (1.32kWh battery), 6-speed dual-clutch transmission, FWD Power/torque 77kW/144Nm (engine) and 32kW/170Nm (electric) Consumption 4.4l/100km

HAVAL H6 HEV

A larger and slightly newer sibling to the Haval Jolion compact-SUV, the H6 moves the technology and quality game even further on for China's Great Wall Motors. The H6 is aimed right at the medium-SUV heartland of the Kiwi car market.

The H6 HEV carries over the hybrid powertrain from Jolion, but like its smaller stablemate there's a choice of specification the new entry Lux or the top Ultra. It's extremely frugal and the price premium over the standard petrol H6 is greatly reduced by the time you factor in the government's Clean Car Discount. The HEV is also the fastest H6 you can buy - the only downside being the lack of the petrol model's AWD option.

Price $43,990-$46,990 Powertrain 1.5-litre petrol four-cylinder engine with hybrid electric system, 2-speed automatic, FWD Power/torque 179kW/530Nm (combined) Consumption 5.8l/100km

TOYOTA CAMRY

How times change. Once upon a time, the Camry sedan was the default Toyota family-car choice, but in these days of SUVs it's almost a niche model.

Camry has now evolved into a hybrid-only concern, albeit with a broad choice of specification levels: entry GX, pseudo-sporty SX with sportier suspension/styling and the luxury ZR. It's surprisingly quick with a combined 160kW and has the latest lithium battery technology.

Price $46,290-$54,790 Powertrain 2.5-litre petrol engine with hybrid electric system, CVT, FWD Power/torque 160kW (combined) Consumption 4.2l/100km

Read DRIVEN's review of the Toyota Camry

HYUNDAI IONIQ HYBRID II

Not to be confused with the all-new BEV-only Ioniq 5, the original Ioniq is still offered in three different versions: a BEV (yes, that's confusing, we know), PHEV and the model featured here, the hybrid.

Conceived as a rival to the Toyota Prius, the Ioniq hybrid is notable for offering a six-speed transmission in place of the usual hybrid-CVT, and for achieving outstanding fuel economy for a family-sized vehicle. Naturally, it's also the cheapest of any Ioniq by quite some margin.

Price $46,990 Powertrain 1.6-litre petrol engine with hybrid electric system, 6-speed dual-clutch transmission, FWD Power/torque 77kW/147Nm Consumption 3.4-3.9l/100km (WLTP)

SUBARU CROSSTREK

What used to be the XV is now the Crosstrek. But there's more than just a new badge: this is a proper model change, with freshened styling inside and out - including more aggressive crossover cladding and an 11.6in portrait touch screen.

The e-Boxer powertrain is an undeniably mild application of electrification to Subaru's compact crossover/SUV. But the "motor assist" system makes it a full hybrid nonetheless and while it only offers small fuel-economy gains over the standard Crosstrek (0.7l/100km), we reckon it makes for a better drive.

Price $46,990-$51,990 Powertrain 2.0-litre petrol engine with hybrid electric system, CVT, AWD Power/torque 110kW/196Nm (petrol), 12kW/66Nm (electric) Consumption 6.5l/100km

Read DRIVEN's review of the Subaru Crosstrek

TOYOTA RAV4 HYBRID

The hybrid powertrain has quickly come to dominate RAV4 sales in NZ. Little wonder: not only is it the most frugal by far (under 5l/100km for a medium-sized SUV is impressive), it's also the quickest. The E-Four AWD system is clever, too, with the rear axle powered only by the battery, giving precise control.

In view of the hybrid's popularity, Toyota NZ recently expanded the range to include five separate variants; there's a new dressed-up XSE version to sit underneath the Limited and the off-tarmac-focused Adventure is now also available with hybrid power.

Price $47,290-$58,790 Powertrain 2.5-litre petrol four-cylinder engine with hybrid electric system, CVT, AWD Power/torque 163kW (combined)/221Nm Consumption 4.8l/100km

Read DRIVEN's review of the Toyota RAV4 hybrid

HYUNDAI KONA HYBRID II

Hyundai power has now made it to the popular Hyundai Kona in its facelifted Series II guise, meaning buyers have the choice of petrol, petrol-electric (HEV) and battery electric (BEV) power.

The Kona hybrid hardware is familiar from the Ioniq series, with a 1.6-litre petrol engine and 1.56kWh lithium battery pack. And as with the Ioniq hybrid, a standout feature for keen drivers will be the dual-clutch transmission, a departure from the CVT usually employed in hybrid vehicles.

Price $47,990-$51,990 Powertrain 1.6-litre petrol four-cylinder engine with hybrid electric system, 6-speed automated dual clutch transmission, FWD Power/torque 104kW/265Nm (combined) Consumption 4.4l/100km

FORD ESCAPE FHEV

Ford New Zealand is applying electrification everywhere it can across its model ranges. Following the Escape plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), comes a conventional hybrid version of its medium-sized SUV - which the company unusually calls an FHEV, meaning "full hybrid" - a way of distinguishing this tech from the growing number of mild hybrid (MHEV) models it offers.

The Escape hybrid is focused on higher-end ST-Line specification, with both FWD and X AWD versions offered (the Escape PHEV is FWD only). Both are powered by the familiar 2.5-litre petrol engine, paired with a lithium battery and electric motor(s).

Price $51,990-$59,990 Powertrain 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder engine with hybrid electric system, CVT, FWD or AWD Power/torque 140kW (combined) Consumption 5.3-5.6l/100km

SUBARU FORESTER e-BOXER

The Forester e-Boxer employs the same hybrid powertrain as the smaller XV, with a 2.0-litre petrol engine and modest electric motor. That means a bit of step down from the standard Forester models in terms of engine capacity (they are 2.5 litres) and performance, for a modest nine per cent gain in overall fuel economy. Bu the hybrid tech makes more of an impact in urban driving, with a 19 per cent fuel economy improvement.

Subaru has spread the e-Boxer powertrain over two models: an entry version called Sport and the top Premium, which comes fully loaded in line with the rest of the Forester range.

Price $52,490-$57,490 Powertrain 2.0-litre petrol engine with hybrid electric system, CVT, AWD Power/torque 110kW/196Nm (petrol), 12kW/66Nm (electric) Consumption 6.7l/100km

Read DRIVEN's review of the Subaru Forester e-Boxer

HONDA ZR-V SPORT

Honda's new hybrid SUV fits neatly in between the HR-V and CR-V and borrows much of its powertrain technology from the Jazz e:HEV - but with a larger-capacity 2.0-litre petrol engine providing the power for the (mostly) electric drive.

The Sport e:HEV is the flagship of a range that also includes the Turbo ICE model. Expect to see the 2.0-litre e:HEV powertrain in an all-new CR-V in 2023, and potentially the Civic some time next year.

Price $55,000 Powertrain 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder engine with hybrid electric system, e-CVT, FWD Power/torque 134kW/315Nm (combined) Consumption 5.5l/100km

HYUNDAI TUCSON HYBRID

Hyundai has added hybrid power to the Tucson medium-SUV in comprehensive fashion, spanning standard and Elite specification levels, each with FWD or AWD. All four models have the same 1.6-litre petrol engine, lithium battery pack and combined power output, but with a single electric motor for the FWD and dual motors for the AWD.

Over the standard model, the Elite specification adds garnish like full leather upholstery, wireless phone charging, a larger infotainment screen and LED lights.

Price $56,990-$61,990 Powertrain 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine with hybrid electric system, 6-speed automatic, FWD or AWD Power/torque 169kW/350Nm (combined) Consumption 4.9-5.6l/100km

ALFA ROMEO TONALE

Alfa Romeo calls its new Tonale a "mild hybrid" and yes, the battery is tiny: 0.8kW. But it does indeed have a small electric motor that can can propel the vehicle for short distances when the petrol engine is off, so we're going to call it a hybrid and be be happy with that.

Tonale is a compact SUV that boasts what Alfa says is "diesel-like" fuel economy. It certainly looks the part and comes in two models, the Ti and Veloce. It represents a whole new generation of electrified models from the Italian brand, including a PHEV to come for NZ.

Price $59,990-$66,990 Powertrain 1.5-litre petrol four-cylinder engine with hybrid electric system, 7-speed automated dual clutch transmission, FWD Power/torque 118kW/240Nm (combined) Consumption 5.6l/100km

NISSAN X-TRAIL E-POWER E-4ORCE

Conventional petrol powertrains continue in the mainstream fourth-generation X-Trail, but for the range-topping models e-Power technology takes over.

There’s a small-capacity petrol engine under the bonnet, but it never drives the wheels; instead, it generates power to charge the battery, which then drives the wheels via electric motors. The e-Power system is not new to Nissan, but the related e-4orce AWD is. Because it’s fully electric, it reacts 10,000 faster than mechanical AWD and allows precise control of each wheel.

Price $62,990-$66,990 Powertrain 1.5-litre turbo-petrol three-cylinder generator with hybrid electric system and dual electric motors, single speed, AWD Power 157kW (electric motors combined) Consumption 6.1l/100km

Read DRIVEN's review of the Nissan X-Trail e-Power e-4orce

KIA SORENTO HYBRID

Kia's seven-seat Sorento is somewhat unique in the mainstream market by offering nearly every powertrain under the sun: petrol, diesel, PHEV and this petrol-electric hybrid, in either 2WD or AWD configurations.

The battery tech is right up there (lithium-ion) and the AWD models even retain good off-tarmac ability, with Terrain Mode Select and a 50/50 lock for slippery surfaces.

Price $65,890-$84,890 Powertrain 1.6-litre petrol engine with hybrid electric system, 6-speed dual-clutch transmission, FWD Power/torque 169kW/350Nm (combined) Consumption 5.4-6.2l/100km

LEXUS UX 250h

The UX compact SUV has just been launched with BEV power, but the mainstay models to date have been the 2.0-litre petrol-electric hybrids, which continue in the current range.

There's no shortage of choice: you can have your UX with FWD or AWD, in entry, luxury Limited or slightly edgier-looking F Sport trim.

Price $64,400-$77,500 Powertrain 2.0-litre petrol engine with hybrid electric system, CVT, FWD or AWD Power/torque 135kW (combined) Consumption 4.3-4.6l/100km 0-100kmh 8.4-8.6 seconds

TOYOTA HIGHLANDER HYBRID

The Highlander seven-seat SUV has long been a family and fleet favourite in NZ, but it's taken until the latest generation (launched 2021) for a hybrid powertrain to become available to new-vehicle buyers.

But it's been achieved in fine style, with essentially the same powertrain as the smaller RAV4 giving the Highlander an excellent blend of performance (it has 20kW more than the RAV4) and economy. And the E-Four AWD is standard on all models.

Price $66,290-$78,290 Powertrain 2.5-litre petrol engine with hybrid electric system, CVT, AWD Power/torque 184kW(combined)/242Nm Consumption 5.6l/100km

Read DRIVEN's review of the Toyota Highlander

LEXUS IS 300h

The Lexus has always been the Japanese maker's take on the traditional European compact-executive sedan: three-box design, rear-drive chassis, rather driver-centric.

While the brand still offers four and six-cylinder powertrains, the hybrid models have come to the fore in recent years. There's a broad range on offer, from entry-level to luxury Limited to F Sport (which also has a sportier chassis), but all with the same basic powertrain and performance.

Price $78,000-$90,400 Powertrain 2.5-litre petrol four-cylinder engine with hybrid electric system, CVT, RWD Power/torque 164kW (combined)/221Nm Consumption 5.7l/100km 0-100km/h 8.5 seconds

Read DRIVEN's review of the Lexus IS 300h

LEXUS ES 300h

The ES luxury sedan has come a long way from the "Camry with a cellphone" jibes of two decades ago; although it still owes a lot to its mainstream Toyota sibling, being based on a similar front-drive architecture. It no longer comes with a wired-in cellphone though!

In look and feel, the ES aims to give a little taste of the super-luxury ambience of the larger LS. The hybrid powertrain (there are no conventional petrol models offered) is the same no matter whether you choose the standard, Limited or F Sport model.

Price $80,500-$96,700 Powertrain 2.5-litre petrol four-cylinder engine with hybrid electric system, CVT, FWD Power/torque 160kW (combined)/221Nm Consumption 5.3l/100km 0-100km/h 8.9 seconds

HYUNDAI SANTA FE HYBRID

Long a leader in the Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) arena, Hyundai NZ is expanding into a number of petrol-electric hybrid models.

The Santa Fe hybrid matches a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with a hybrid system that makes a combined 169kW/350Nm, putting it in between the  petrol V6 and four-cylinder diesel models in terms of performance. The hybrid is offered in both entry and Elite specifications, both with AWD.

Price $79,990 Powertrain 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine with hybrid electric system, 6-speed automated dual-clutch transmission, AWD Power/torque 169kW/120Nm (combined) Consumption 6.3l/100km

LEXUS NX 350h

There's an all-new NX in town and it won't surprise you to learn to every version is electrified. The two core models featured here are petrol-electric hybrids with lithium-ion batteries, but there's also a flagship model with PHEV power.

The hybrids feature a clever E-Four AWD system (also used for the Toyota RAV4 and larger Lexus RX) that leaves the rear axle powered solely by an electric motor, giving very precise control in open-road or low-traction conditions.

Price $95,400-$104,900 Powertrain 2.5-litre petrol engine with hybrid electric system, CVT, AWD Power/torque 179kW (combined)/239Nm Consumption 4.3-4.6l/100km 0-100km/h 7.7 seconds

Read DRIVEN's review of the Lexus NX 350h

LEXUS RX

The RX was Lexus's original hybrid SUV, and a pioneering "performance hybrid" in its own right in the late-1990s. Five generations later, it's still available with conventional petrol power, but hybrid technology is very much at the forefront of the range.

The all-new RX hybrid has moved to four-cylinder engine, but there's a distinct step up from the 350h to the flagship 500h F Sport Performance, which has a lot more power from a turbo engine (a first for a Toyota/Lexus hybrid) and eschews the CVT gearbox for a more driver-focused six-speed automatic.

Price range $120,900-$142,900 Powertrain 2.5-litre or 2.4-litre turbo engine with hybrid electric system, CVT or 6-speed automatic, AWD Power 184kW or 273kW (combined) Consumption 6.0-7.2l/100km

LEXUS LC 500h

Lexus has gone to town on its GT-style coupe, the LC. It's been around for a while now, since 2017, but has lost little of its impact. It's available with both traditional V8 (coupe and convertible) and hybrid (coupe only) powertrains.

The LC's hybrid setup is worth a special mention. The "multi-stage" transmission is unique to LC and combines the usual CVT with a separate four-stage automatic transmission on the rear axle. The powertrain mixes and matches the two depending on the driving requirements, giving the car a very different feel to other Lexus petrol-electric models.

Price $226,100 Powertrain 3.5-litre petrol V6 engine with hybrid electric system, CVT, RWD Power/torque 264kW (combined)/348Nm Consumption 7.5l/100km CO2 169g/km (3P-WLTP) 0-100km/h 5.0 seconds

LEXUS LS 500h

It was the super-luxury LS sedan that started Lexus off back in the 1980s, as a rival and wake-up call to the likes of the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The latest model still aims to be a showcase of quality and technology.

The hybrid model (there's also still a conventional petrol version) matches a 3.5-litre petrol V6 to a hybrid electric system, rear-drive with air suspension. It's certainly hard to beat the refinement of a hybrid powertrain in a super-luxury sedan.

Price $239,300 Powertrain 3.5-litre petrol V6 engine with hybrid electric system, CVT, AWD Power/torque 264kW (combined)/350Nm Consumption 7.3l/100km CO2 167g/km 0-100km/h 5.4 seconds

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