Buying a new SUV: Confused between diesel AT, hybrid & electric

Buying a new SUV: Confused between diesel AT, hybrid & electric


My usage scenario is 50:50 between city and highway, around 10,000 km a year. I plan to hold to whatever car I buy for at least 8 to 10 years.

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Hello BHPians!

I have been in search of a car for quite a long time now and have deferred my purchase decision over and over again when new launches are announced. Now, with the prices of the Strong Hybrid Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder officially out, I am in a dilemma whether it is worth going for the Strong Hybrid with astronomical fuel economy or with a Diesel AT like the Kia Sonet or Kia Seltos or go all in on electric with a Tata Nexon EV or upcoming Mahindra XUV400.

As far as I know, in terms of fuel efficiency, the Diesels would do better on the highway but the Hybrids would be much better in traffic owing to the ability to drive in pure EV mode in traffic and slow speeds. EVs on the other hand would have been a much better choice had it not been for the limited range and lack of charging stations.

I was initially considering a budget of 15 lakhs on the road in Kerala and had finalized on the Kia Sonet HTX Diesel AT, but the launch of the Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder and the expertise of Toyota with hybrids to back it up made me reconsider my decision.

My initial requirements were:

  • Automatic transmission SUV. (AMTs were a strict no however).
  • Initial budget of 15 lakhs, now willing to stretch to 20 lakhs.
  • Frugal, yet powerful enough for the highway.
  • Reasonably spacious to seat 4 adults
  • Long term reliability and good after sales service.

My usage scenario is 50:50 between city and highway, around 10,000 km a year. I plan to hold to whatever car I buy for at least 8 to 10 years.

With the budget increase, a few more options opened up including pure EVs and Hybrids and now I am in a dilemma, on whether to opt for a tried and tested diesel AT or go for a Hybrid or an environmentally friendly EV.

Do let me know your thoughts and all suggestions are welcome.

Here’s what GTO had to say on the matter:

Very tough conundrum, especially because the number of EV & Hybrid models are extremely limited today. This will inevitably improve with time. But we are lucky to be having such discussions on varied powertrains. 10 years back, it was a standard NA petrol vs turbo-diesel choice.

An EV with ~ 250 – 300 km range is enough for 90% of us. Even for highway usage, fast charging options are coming up. If your destination is <300 km away, you can always charge it overnight. If your long 300+ km highway trips are just once in 3 – 6 months, you can rent or borrow an ICE vehicle.

I love Hybrids and think they are “today’s” solution to doubling your fuel economy and reducing your carbon footprint. Toyota, Maruti & Honda have just launched proper hybrids and we can only hope that players like Hyundai, Kia & Tata follow soon. This is India’s best bet for the next 10 years.

Diesel AT is the most practical choice, especially in the 15-lakh and up segments where model choices are plentiful. Specific to your usage & query, I would recommend the Sonet Diesel AT & the Nexon EV. Both are top class automobiles. Am unimpressed with the driving experience of the Toyota Hyryder Hybrid (going by our review).

Here’s what BHPian Shreyans_Jain had to say on the matter:

The pricing of the Hyryder hybrid is fairly competitive and has set the cat amongst pigeons. It will be my pick above the likes of Sonet or Seltos diesel automatics. Pure EVs like Nexon are simply not practical for being your only car or if you have regular highway running. Maybe after 5-7 years, but not now. Great city car, but not enough range and inadequate + unreliable charging infrastructure for long distance use as of now.

Here’s what BHPian ajayc123 had to say on the matter:

Analyse your anxieties:

  • Range Anxiety: No to EV
  • NGT Anxiety: No to Diesel
  • Green Warrior Anxiety: Yes to Hybrid, EV

Jokes apart.

If your highway trips are short, and you have adequate EV charging arrangements, I would say EV.

If you experience tricky traffic situations on highway and require quick overtaking, EV or Diesel.

Your low usage does not justify Hybrid, and you may not even be able to recover the strong hybrid premium over weak Hybrid, while compromising on NHV and torque.

Here’s what BHPian Vid6639 had to say on the matter:

I would like to have an EV but more and more I see the rapid development of EV’s, the more they are like a mobile phone. Use for 2-3 years and they are outdated and throw away.

An EV will have barely any resale with the advancements in tech and cost reduction in batteries. You buy an EV with 250kms range today and after 3 years same one might be 500kms range. Who will buy a used EV with less than 200kms range after the battery degradation.

Anyone buying a used EV knows that 2nd owner will inevitably be the one having to spend for a new battery pack if 1st owner has used it for more than 5 years.

To finally conclude:

Here’s what BHPian CCRider had to say on the matter:

An EV – If you have visibility into your destinations during your long trips and if those destinations have facility to charge.

My reasons:

  • Main highways already have charging stations en route and there are apps that should help you locate reliable charging points.
  • There are full fledged EVs that can do 350 to 400 kms on a full charge and several folks have already completed several highway trips. I believe once you do a trip or two you will get over the range anxiety.
  • Its only going to get better with time and I think it will happen a lot faster than most people think due to the ease of setting up a charging station.
  • Since you plan to keep your car for >5 years, it should age much better than the other two plus the economics will be in your favor.

IMO hybrids time will be short lived as there are already full fledged EVs already available. Speaking as a non-expert , from a systemic complexity point of view, hybrids seem inherently more complex than both ICE and EV as you have components of both systems plus another bunch of components to integrate the two systems. In most cases if a simpler system is available it will end up replacing the complex one.

Between Tata Nexon EV Max and the Mahindra I would go with the Tata as it is proven itself now plus you have a support community.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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