2023 Ford Explorer

15 Hybrid SUVs That Are a Total Waste of Money

In the bustling world of hybrid SUVs, buyers are leaping into a landscape teeming with promise and eco-friendly potential. However, among this sea of options, not all vessels sail smoothly. For those investing their hard-earned money, discerning the best from the rest becomes paramount.

As more individuals opt for hybrid SUVs, the quest for the ideal blend of efficiency, reliability, and satisfaction intensifies. In this pursuit, uncovering the models that fall short of expectations becomes imperative. Here, we dive into the world of hybrid SUVs, highlighting 15 choices that have left buyers wanting more.

These insights aim to equip prospective buyers with crucial knowledge, steering them away from the pitfalls and disappointments encountered by others. After all, investing in a vehicle should promise not just transportation but also contentment. 

2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale Tributo Italiano Special Series (European Spec)
Image Credit: Alfa Romeo.

Starting at $44,995, the 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale falls short of expectations, sharing too many parts with other vehicles and lacking distinctive features. Its predicted reliability score of 2.0 out of 5.0 on Consumer Reports reflects its unreliability, coupled with the absence of a center airbag for occupant safety.

2022 Ford Explorer Hybrid

he sixth-generation Ford Explorer Plug-in Hybrid An optional twin-turbocharged 3.0 L EcoBoost V6 stand on sand by lake at sunny day mood.
Image Credit: North Monaco/Shutterstock.

The 2022 Ford Explorer Platinum Hybrid, starting at $52,060, disappoints consumers with reported problems, leading some to label it as an expensive driveway ornament. Despite an average score of 7.4 out of 10 from Edmunds, its lackluster interior and underwhelming gas mileage contribute to dissatisfaction among owners. RepairPal estimates annual maintenance costs at $732 and anticipates $9,017 in expenses over the first 10 years.

2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid

2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid
Image Credit: Hyundai.

Priced at $34,300, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid disappoints with a 3.0 out of 5.0 owner satisfaction score and only 40% of owners feeling they got their money’s worth. Recalls related to the tow hitch harness, electrical system, and seat belts have marred its reliability, impacting owner expectations. 

Consumer Reports outlines its shortcomings, and RepairPal estimates annual maintenance costs at $515, totaling $8,056 over the first 10 years.

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid
Image Credit: Hyundai.

With a starting price of $29,750, the 2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid disappoints despite expectations for excellence. It scores a 3.0 out of 5.0 in reliability on Consumer Reports, ranking poorly among 2022 SUVs due to issues with in-car electronics, drive system, and numerous owner complaints. 

Notably, concerns include acceleration, engine rattle, transmission noise, and battery problems. J.D. Power gives it a score of 77/100. RepairPal estimates annual maintenance costs at $426 and predicts $7,951 in expenses over the first 10 years.

2021 Audi Q5 Plug-In Hybrid

2021 Audi Q5 Plug-In Hybrid
Image Credit: Audi.

Starting at a used price of $32,894, the 2021 Audi Q5 Plug-In Hybrid receives an average rating of 7.5 out of 10.0 from Edmunds. However, criticisms are levied at its conservative styling and lack of dynamic appeal. Ride comfort falls short, with drivers feeling the impact of road imperfections excessively. 

J.D. Power rates it below average with a score of 65/100 for quality and reliability. CarEdge highlights expensive running costs averaging $12,068 during the first 10 years, along with a 36.25% chance of requiring major repairs.

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid
Image Credit: Honda.

Starting at a used price of $28,688, the 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid excels in safety with a near-perfect score of 9.9 out of 10.0 from J.D. Power. However, it falls short in terms of interior design and performance, rated at 6.6 and 7.6 out of 10.0, respectively. 

The infotainment system also lags behind rivals. J.D. Power gives it a quality and reliability score of 79/100, with CarEdge estimating maintenance costs at $7,155 over 10 years and a 21.05% chance of significant repair needs.

2020 Ford Escape Hybrid

2020 Ford Escape
Image Credit: Ford.

With a starting used price of $21,827, the 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid faces severe reliability issues, as reported by Consumer Reports, resulting in an overall owner satisfaction score of 3.0 out of 5.0. 

Only 61% of owners would repurchase this SUV due to problems with the engine, power equipment, in-car electronics, paint, and trim. Consumer Reports rates it poorly with a reliability score of 1.0 out of 5.0. RepairPal estimates annual maintenance costs at $600 and predicts $8,721 in expenses over the first 10 years.

2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid
Image Credit: Acura.

With a starting used price of $18,735, the 2017 Acura MDX Hybrid impresses with swift acceleration and agile handling. However, its outdated and frustrating infotainment system positions it among the least favorable hybrid SUVs. 

Cars.com highlights recalls for fuel feed hose and brake issues. RepairPal estimates an annual maintenance cost of $597 and a CarEdge projection of $9,820 for the first 10 years.

2013 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid

2013 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid
Image Credit: Cadillac.

Starting at a used price of $15,806, the 2013 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid faces poor reviews from both owners and the NHTSA due to airbag, powertrain, and electrical issues. 

Ranked 6th out of 19 full-size luxury SUVs by RepairPal, this Cadillac averages high annual ownership costs of $1,007 and an estimated $12,933 over 10 years. It also has a 36.55% chance of major repairs within the first decade.

2023 Toyota Venza Hybrid

2023 Toyota Venza Hybrid
Image Credit: Toyota.

Starting at an MSRP of $34,620, the 2023 Toyota Venza disappoints with its noisy engine and limited cargo space. U.S. News rates it as the third-worst hybrid SUV, highlighting its lack of powertrain options. 

CarEdge estimates $5,652 for maintenance costs over 10 years, with a 16.08% chance of major repairs. RepairPal projects an annual maintenance cost of $444.

2013 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid

2013 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid
Image Credit: Chevrolet.

Available at a used price of $11,964, the 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid offers minimal improvements over its gas-only counterpart and is criticized for high maintenance costs and frequent breakdowns. 

Ranked 21st out of 26 midsize SUVs by RepairPal, this Tahoe averages $705 in yearly maintenance costs and $9,302 over a decade. It has a 26.05% chance of major repairs within the first 10 years.

2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

2023 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid wins
Image Credit: Mitsubishi.

Starting at an MSRP of $39,845, the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV features improved cabin quality but still lacks spacious third-row seating and adequate handling. With an annual maintenance cost of $519 according to RepairPal and a $7,173 projection over 10 years by CarEdge, this Outlander PHEV faces subpar efficiency with a 64 MPGe rating.

2017 BMW X5 PHEV

2017 BMW X5 in the underground garage
Image Credit: BMW.

Starting at a used price of $18,728, the 2017 BMW X5 PHEV offers multiple powertrain options, including a plug-in hybrid. However, its reliability remains a significant concern, plagued by issues in various systems. 

Consumer Reports rates it at 1/5 due to multiple problems spanning suspension, drive system, fuel system, and climate system. 

RepairPal also gives it a low reliability rating of 2.0/5.0, with an annual maintenance cost of $1,134 and an estimated $18,389 over 10 years. CarEdge projects a 54.61% chance of major repairs, worse than other SUVs in its class by 15.05%.

2023 Ford Explorer Hybrid

2023 Ford Explorer
Image Credit: Ford.

Starting at an MSRP of $53,005, the 2023 Ford Explorer Hybrid boasts numerous standard features but lacks interior quality, with hard plastics dominating the cabin. Its singular powertrain option also delivers poor fuel economy for a hybrid SUV. 

Ranked last alongside the Outlander PHEV by U.S. News, this Explorer Hybrid receives an overall rating of 7.5/10. RepairPal rates its reliability at 3.5/5.0, placing it 21st out of 32 SUVs. CarEdge projects a 26.60% chance of significant repairs within the first decade, 5.10% worse than its class.

HotCars collected pricing and reliability data from Kelley Blue Book, RepairPal, CarEdge, Consumer Reports, and J.D. Power to compile this list of unreliable hybrid SUVs.

Author: Madison Cates

Title: Managing Editor


Research journalist, Freelance writer, Managing editor

  • Expertise: automotive content, trending topics.
  • Education: LeTourneau University, Bachelors of Science in Business Administration.
  • Over 400 articles and short news pieces published across the web.

Experience: Madison Cates is a journalist located in the great state of Texas. She began writing over eight years ago. Her first major research piece was published by the Journal of Business and Economics in 2018. After growing up in a household of eight brothers and a dad who was always restoring old Camaros, she naturally pivoted her freelance career into the automotive industry. There, she found her passion. Her experience paved the way for her to work with multiple large corporations in automotive news and trending topics. Now, she now finds her home at Wealth of Geeks where she proudly serves as Managing Editor of Autos. Madison is always down to geek out over the latest beautiful cars on the market, and she enjoys providing her readers with tips to make car ownership easier and more enjoyable.

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