Even though hybrids are not necessarily made for road-trip purposes, some of them can offer a comfortable, efficient, and practical driving experience. You ought to keep in mind that hybrids usually prosper while traveling at less than 50-60mph, otherwise you won’t be seeing any fuel efficiency improvements.
If you are regularly going on longer journeys, generally you are better off skipping buying a hybrid entirely. However, if you are able to recoup the extra entry costs, and you are usually driving in an urban environment, hybrids can also be used for occasional longer journeys.
Starting off the list is the tried and tested Toyota RAV4 Hybrid as the best affordable road-trip hybrid SUV right now. If you want something a bit more sophisticated and luxurious, the Mercedes GLE550e or the Volvo XC90 T8 are both amazing hybrid SUVs.
If you don’t want an SUV, but you still want something that is spacious and good-looking, be sure to check out the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid or the Honda Accord Hybrid. However, if you want something a bit more special, go ahead and upgrade to the BMW 530e.
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
At under $30k brand spanking new, your comfortable and spacious hybrid SUV options are somewhat limited. Even though the RAV4 Hybrid does cost less than $30k, it still manages to offer comfort and lots of space for you, your passengers, and your cargo.
The RAV4 pretty much invented the hybrid SUV market, and as such, the RAV4 Hybrid is now a great hybrid SUV capable of competing with the likes of a lot more expensive SUVs. Furthermore, the RAV is reliable, safe, and very well equipped considering the price.
Mercedes Benz GLE550e
Mercedes Benz is a brand known for luxury, refinement, and class, but don’t let that fool you that a modern-day Mercedes is not a great family hauler. With ample space, comfortable seats, lots of luxury, safety, and convenience features, the GLE550e is a great road trip SUV.
The engine offered in the GLE550 is strong, confident and predictable, and is also able to return decent fuel efficiency while traveling at constant highway speeds. Even though hybrids are not made for longer journeys, the GLE550e is definitely one of the best ones out there.
Volvo XC90 T8
The Volvo XC90 costs more or less the same as the GLE550e at around $60k+, but these two do differ when it comes to how they perform on longer journeys. The Mercedes might be a bit more serene and isolated, but the Volvo is a more efficient and grown-up feeling SUV.
As such, the Volvo might just edge out the GLE because of all the efficiency benefits, after all, you are looking for the best hybrid for longer journeys. Besides the efficiency and overall feel, the XC90 also offers lots of luxury and comfort features, both of which are key for a relaxing road trip experience.
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
If SUVs are not your thing, be sure to check out the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Even though a Hyundai might not seem like a superior sedan in any case, great value, practicality, and efficiency do make it so. Besides the obvious benefits, the Sonata also offers luxury and comfort.
If you are a taller individual, you’d be surprised to know that the Hyundai Sonata is actually one of the roomiest sedans on the market right now, but such increased passenger space does not come with sacrificed cargo space. The infotainment system is easy to use, the suspension is comfortable enough, and the noise isolation is also great.
It is simply unfair to talk about great road trips cars without mentioning at least a single BMW. Even though BMWs are known for their dynamic and sporty appearance and driving style, they are also great at chucking up the miles without making you tired or stressed.
The 530e is a perfect mixture of classic BMW tank-like feeling and contemporary luxury built for long highway journeys. That being said, BMW says the new 530 is good for up to 30 miles of electric power alone, and the 2.0L in-line 4-cylinder engine is also efficient enough, even without the help of an electric engine.
Are regular combustion engine cars better for road trips than hybrids?
Yes, they are, mostly because some of them offer larger engines to begin with. Such engines are stronger and thus are more efficient at constant low-RPM high-speed driving. Even though some hybrids like the 530e for example do offer decently sized engines, they are still not comparable to something like a 3L 6-cylinder engine.
That being said, if you don’t do longer journeys all that often, buying a hybrid can save you money if you can fully utilize the hybrid platform. It’s all about how you use your car and where do you use it.
What type of engine is best for constant highway speeds?
Larger diesel engines work best at constant highway speeds because they use 15-20% less fuel when compared to a gas engine. These engines usually offer plenty of low-end torque which translates into easy overtaking. More often than not, these engines don’t even need to downshift to overtake briskly, and as such, they are best for longer journeys.
Constant highway speeds are easier on diesel engines because they don’t usually REV all that high. This means that your engine is constantly in its optimum powerband.
Is regenerative braking in a hybrid useful on highway speeds?
Regenerative braking is probably the main reason why a hybrid works best in city-driving environments, but regen-braking is more or less useless on a highway. This is because you don’t use your brakes all that often while traveling at higher speeds.
If you combine that with the fact that a regular hybrid car electric engine is not able to power the car all by itself, a hybrid is way worse in these circumstances. In addition to that, most hybrid cars are gasoline-powered as well, and gas engines are not as good as diesel engines are at higher constant speeds.