Q. Can you suggest any hybrid or diesel SUVs that are comfortable to drive over long distances and return respectable fuel efficiency? I have read about the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV but it’s not yet on the second-hand market.
CG, Grimsby, Lincolnshire
A. You’re right: the Mitsubishi is too new to be widely available second-hand. My suggestion would be to test-drive a used Lexus RX 450h. Like the Mitsubishi, it is a hybrid that uses a petrol engine and electric motors, although, unlike the Mitsubishi, it can’t be plugged in to the mains to recharge. Instead it uses energy from braking and decelerating to keep the battery charged. Its battery pack is small so the range on electric power alone is just 1.6 miles, but on hybrid power it returns up to 44.8mpg combined — impressive for a large SUV.
This is a nicely built car, too, comfortable on long trips and with a generous specification. Prices start at about £30,000 for a 2012 12-registered car with 20,000 miles.
If you’re taken with the hybrid concept, perhaps look at a non-SUV: the hybrid version of the Peugeot 508 RXH. It is an estate car that features four-wheel drive and a 2-litre diesel engine and electric motor. The use of a diesel engine gives it better economy than the Lexus hybrid (up to 68.9mpg) and it is large and comfortable. The car recovers energy to charge the batteries while driving.
The 4×4 system can tackle surfaces with poor grip but perhaps the most compelling reason for buying the RXH is that it is a steal second-hand; a new one costs £34,645 but a 2013 63-plate example with 12,000 miles on the clock costs about £19,000.
To put those hybrids into perspective, also look at the Audi Q5. The diesel-powered 175bhp 2.0 TDI version can return more than 45mpg. It is relaxing to drive, with comfortable seats, and the interior is well made and clearly laid out, making it stress-free to live with. There will also be more choice on the used-car market because it’s a popular SUV.
A 2011 11-plate model that has covered 40,000 miles costs about £22,000, while a 2013 13-plate version with less than 10,000 miles comes in at just under £30,000.
Peugeot 508 RXH Hybrid4
For Second-hand values make this a bargain; comfortable cabin
Against Likely to depreciate more steeply than its rivals
Go to driving.co.uk to search for used Peugeot 508
Lexus RX 450h
For Extremely luxurious; no need to charge the hybrid system’s battery via the mains
Against The 3.5-litre petrol engine can be heavy on fuel if you push it hard
Go to driving.co.uk to search for used Lexus RX
Audi Q5 2.0 TDI
For Wide range of models and prices; high-quality interior
Against Can’t match the Peugeot for fuel efficiency
Go to driving.co.uk to search for used Audi Q5