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5 AWD Hybrid Vehicles That Will Give You Traction in 2021

Hybrid vehicles were once considered a “light” version of a car. An all-wheel-drive (AWD) hybrid almost seems as if it would be an oxymoron.

A hybrid with AWD is genuinely the best of both worlds. You get a vehicle that saves in gas and helps the environment, all while handling nearly any road condition.

Here are five AWD hybrids worth getting into for 2021. Our picks are based on thorough analysis by Kelley Blue Book (KBB) experts and are considered highly rated by consumers.


2021 Toyota Prius AWD-e

You may have thought a hybrid AWD vehicle must be an SUV – but you can get AWD benefits in a hybrid compact car as well. 

The Toyota Prius hybrid uses the Synergy Drive system and does not require plugging in or recharging your battery. The two AWD options for 2021 are the LE AWD-e and the XLE AWD-e. They both have a 7-inch touchscreen, automatic emergency brakes, lane-assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and parking sensors. The XLE adds in faux-leather upholstery, power driver’s seat, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, and 17″ alloy wheels.

The AWD feature of the Prius is permanently employed at speeds up to 6mph. When the vehicle is going faster, it engages when it senses the need.

  • 2021 Starting MSRP: $27,135
  • 1.8 liter, 4-cylinder
  • Average Fuel Economy: 51 City / 47 Highway
  • Android Auto, Apple CarPlay & Amazon Alexa
  • Toyota Safety Sense 2.0
    • Forward-collision alert
    • Automatic emergency braking
    • Lane-keeping assist
    • Radar cruise control
    • Pedestrian detection
    • Road-sign recognition
  • 4.6 KBB consumer rating


Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD

While they discontinued this model for 2021, it may be worth trying to get your hands on a 2020 (or earlier). The starting price is a bit costlier than other luxury hybrid models but has more features without adding options.

SH-AWD stands for “super handling all-wheel drive” – and according to KBB, it’s not just a marketing ploy. The sedan boasts three electric motors, two of which are at each rear wheel, allowing for a more powerful hybrid experience.

  • 2020 Starting MSRP: $61,900
  • 3.5-liter, V6
  • Average Fuel Economy: 28 City / 29 Highway
  • Surround-view camera
  • Krell audio system
  • Heated & ventilated 12-way power front seats & heated rear seats
  • Navigation
  • AcuraWatch
    • Forward-collision mitigation
    • Automatic emergency braking
    • Adaptive cruise control
    • Lane-departure warning / Lane assist
  • 5.0 KBB consumer rating


Lexus RX 450h AWD

The first Lexus RX debuted in 1998, so with 23 years under its belt, this particular vehicle model is no newcomer to the evolving car world. 

For 2021, you can expect the same luxurious interior and substantial resale value combined with a ride so smooth; you’ll wonder if you’re even in a car. The interior boasts upscale materials with comfortable seating, plenty of headroom and legroom, and a sophisticated appearance. A 12.3-inch split-screen is part of the optional navigation package.

For the Lexus RX 450h, AWD is standard, but unlike lower models, it also includes Vehicle Dynamic Integration Management, EV drive mode, and a concealed exhaust.

The RX 450h F Sport adds on sport-styling enhancements, 20-inch alloy wheels, and sport suspension. The RX 450hL also adds in power-folding 3rd-row seating and rear-seat climate controls.

  • 2021 Starting MSRP: $49,000 (anticipated)
  • 3.5-liter, V6 + 123-kW electric motor
  • Average Fuel Economy: 31 City / 28 Highway
  • LED headlights
  • Power tailgate
  • Lexus Safety System+ 2.0
    • Automatic emergency braking
    • Adaptive cruise control
    • Blind-spot monitoring
    • Rear cross-traffic alert
    • Auto high-beams
    • Lane departure warning
  • 4.1 KBB consumer rating


Toyota Highlander Hybrid AWD

This midsize SUV has an impressively smooth drive. The hybrid with AWD is an option of the LE, XLE, Limited, and Platinum trims. In the lower trims, the AWD system sends up to 50 percent of power to the rear wheels when necessary. In the higher trims, a more sophisticated system splits the power between the rear wheels. 

The LE, which is the lowest trim of the Highlander Hybrids, offers blind-spot monitoring, an 8″ touchscreen, HD radio, power tailgate, LED fog lights, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. 

The XLE upgrades the interior from cloth to simulated leather upholstery, adds a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, power moonroof, and 2nd-row captain’s chairs.

The Limited trim has leather upholstery, a hands-free tailgate, JBL premium audio, heated & ventilated front seats, and 20-inch alloy wheels.

The Platinum, which could almost pass for a luxury vehicle, adds in a 12.3″ touchscreen, 360-degree camera system, digital rearview mirror, head-up display, and a panoramic moonroof.

  • 2021 Starting MSRP: $39,585
  • 2.5-liter inline-4 + two electric motors
  • Average Fuel Economy: 35 City / 35 Highway
  • Android Auto, Apple CarPlay & Amazon Alexa
  • Toyota Safety Sense 2.5
    • Forward-collision warning
    • Pedestrian detection & automatic braking
    • Full-speed adaptive cruise control
    • Lane departure warning
    • Lane-tracing assist
    • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • 5.0 KBB consumer rating


Ford Escape SE Sport Hybrid AWD

Ford helped to pioneer hybrid SUVs with the introduction of the Escape Hybrid in 2005 – and years later, they reintroduced a hybrid option of the Escape for 2020. The hybrid’s continuously variable transmission (CVT) has better performance than some, with smooth, instant power and less noise.

While AWD is only available in the regular hybrid version of the escape and not the plug-in version, it offers an improved grip from all four tires. Even in the FWD, the vehicle offers different driving modes like slippery, snow, and sand to tailor the ride to your specific grasping needs.

The 2020 Ford Escape was rated #8 in Best Compact SUVs for 2020 by Kelley Blue Book editors, which is why we recommend this as a viable option for your 2021 vehicle needs (though we suspect the 2021 list may include it again!)

  • 2020 Starting MSRP: $29,765
  • 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle inline-4 hybrid engine
  • Average Fuel Economy: 43 City / 37 Highway
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • 8-inch touch screen with Sync 3, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto capabilities
  • Heated front seats with 10-way power adjustments on driver’s seat
  • Black mirror caps & grille accents
  • 4.7 KBB consumer rating

Overall, hybrid vehicles are becoming more and more popular as the understanding of their positive environmental effects and their cost savings becomes more apparent. Adding on the benefit of AWD makes the hybrid seem much less like settling than it did before.

The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of hybrid market volume is expected to be nearly 9% between now and 2025. This forecast means that between 2018 and 2025, the volume is projected to be almost doubled.

With this explosive growth comes more and more suppliers for parts and labor for your hybrid vehicles and the struggle with knowing which to trust. 

With years of experience prior, Exclusively Hybrid began in 2013 as your trusted source for replacement hybrid batteries for your Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Connect with us today!

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