Although the country is currently under Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, we can’t help but look forward to the summer and exploring New Zealand once again if the alert levels allow.

Road trips can be a bit of a mixed bag. One minute, you’re stuck in gridlock weekend traffic, the next you’re cruising along country roads nearing your destination.

Over the last few years, there has been a shift in interest towards electrified options and, ultimately, more fuel efficient vehicles. There are now quite a few competent contenders on the market that will not only save you money at the pump but also reduce your carbon footprint.

We’ve put together a list of some efficient SUV options that AA Motoring has had the opportunity to review.

Hyundai Kona Electric Elite Series II 64kWh from $87,990 (+ORC)

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Hyundai Kona Electric

  • Efficiency 14.7kWh/100km, 0g/km
  • Power 150kW, 395Nm
  • Safety 5 Star ANCAP

The Hyundai Kona Series II offers the choice of two battery capacities – 39.2 kWh and 64 kWh - with a WLTP claimed range of 305km and 484km respectively. In terms of road trip practicality, we would choose the top-end Elite model. The long range puts it towards the top end of what other new BEVs currently offer.

Compared to the first Kona Electric (which had a 449km range), the Series II received small tweaks to make it go that little bit further than before. The Michelin Primacy4 tyres, for instance, contribute to the 7.8 per cent increase in maximum achievable driving distance on a full charge (it was 449km on the original model).

The top-spec Elite model now includes heating to the rear seats, a Harmon Kardon audio system, ambient lighting and a wireless charging pad, which all equate to a relaxing driving experience. The cabin remains very quiet, and there’s still incredible torque on tap when you need it, along with fantastic road holding due to the heavy batteries slung low down in the car.

If you don’t need the additional range, the Hyundai Kona Electric Series II range starts from a competitive $69,990 (+ORC), meaning it’s eligible for the Clean Car Discount.

Kia Sorento PHEV AWD EX from $74,990 (+ORC)

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Kia Sorento PHEV

  • Efficiency 1.6L/100km (Combined), 36g/km
  • Power 195kW, 350Nm
  • Safety 5 Star ANCAP

Another vehicle that falls under the current $80,000 threshold for the Clean Car Discount is the Kia Sorento PHEV. If you’re in need of something with a bit more room for your road trip, then this could well be the model for you.

The Sorento PHEV has the flexibility of a seven-seat arrangement and uses a high-capacity 13.8kWh lithium-ion polymer battery; it has an all-electric range of 57km for shorter commutes and the powertrain combines electric and combustion engine power for longer trips at the weekend.

The Sorento PHEV comes with all the trimmings, such as sumptuous leather seats and a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Split Screen Function, which incorporates Satellite Navigation and Live Traffic Updates.

The family can also stay charged and connected with an impressive seven USB ports peppered around the cabin and, if that wasn’t enough, there’s also wireless charging for your compatible devices in the centre console.

The Sorento PHEV has been thoughtfully designed and this has enabled the battery pack, fuel tank, engine and electric motor to be integrated within the vehicle’s structure to save cabin space. With the third row folded you get 604 litres of cargo capacity. If you are traveling with all the seats deployed there is still 175 litres of space to play with. If you need even more capacity, the Sorento PHEV has a towing rating of 750kg (unbraked), and 1,350kg (braked).

Toyota RAV4 GX Hybrid from $44,990 (TDP*)

RAV4 Front

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

  • Efficiency 4.8L/100km (combined), CO2 112g/km
  • Power 163kW, 221Nm
  • Safety 5 Star ANCAP

We get many calls from AA Members regarding the entry-level Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. It’s become a popular model on our roads due to it being an efficient all-rounder for the more budget conscious buyer.

It’s refreshing to see the Toyota Safety Sense package is standard across the range, which includes a host of advanced safety assist features like Lane Tracing Assist with Lane Departure Alert function (LTA with LDA), steering assist, and lane centring function. It also provides all-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) and Road Sign Assist (RSA) to name just a few.

Another ace up the RAV4’s sleeve is the ability to tow, with a 1500kg maximum braked capacity – equal with the non-hybrid 2.5-litre models. This means you get all the efficiency benefits of the hybrid powertrain, plus the ability to tow a camping trailer, tinnie or even a light caravan. The RAV4 isn’t short on interior space either, with a 542 litre capacity with all the seats in place.

The SUV also has an E-Four system which offers greater control when ascending steeper hills, or if your road trip should take you onto rougher terrain.

Take advantage of the Clean Car Discount

This is just a small sample of what economical SUVs are available in NZ today. There’s now even more choice for new car buyers and, of course, the added incentive of the Clean Car Discount will only further boost the appeal of choosing these greener options.

*TDP = Toyota Driveaway Price

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