In the market for a new hybrid SUV

John Paul, AAA Northeast's Car Doctor, answers a question from a reader considering purchasing a new hybrid SUV.

The Volvo XC60 Recharge. Volvo

Q. I’m considering buying a 2023 hybrid SUV. What vehicles do you recommend? Is the Honda Pilot, which I have now, going to have a hybrid engine available?

A. Honda has been slower to expand its hybrid offerings, even though Honda was the first automaker to offer a hybrid (Insight) in the U.S. Based on what I have read, I don’t believe we will see a Pilot hybrid in the next few years. Still, you have many choices. Many manufacturers offer both traditional hybrids and plug-in hybrids (PHEV). Some of the PHEVS are the Toyota RAV4 Prime, Kia Sorento, and Hyundai Santa Fe, all of which offer some pure electric range and the added fuel economy of a hybrid. For a conventional hybrid, the Toyota Highlander would be a good choice as would the slightly smaller Honda CR-V hybrid. Going upscale, the Lexus RX and Volvo XC60 Recharge would be worth looking at.


Q. I tuned into your radio program and didn’t find the Car Doctor. Where did you go and how can I get my Car Doctor fix? I’m a long-time listener who has won several cool prizes including a AAA membership. 

A. The last station I was on, WBOQ, was sold to a large broadcaster. Every week when I finished the program I would take the entire program and turn it into a podcast. I’m still continuing to add podcasts each week. Like the radio program these will include interesting guests, car reviews, and listener-submitted questions. You can find the podcast at or other popular podcast directories. Just search for Car Doctor Radio. 

Q. We’re considering taking our new Hyundai IONIQ 5 to Florida this coming January, and I know we have to consider the location and availability of EV chargers along the way. Any suggestions? 

A. Last year I drove back and forth to Florida and spotted many electric vehicles that were hundreds of miles from home, so it is certainly possible. Most electric vehicles with navigation systems allow for easy searching of EV charging. I would also download all of the popular apps such as EVgo, ChargePoint, AAA, PlugShare and Electrify America. Tesla also has stated that they will open up their Superstation to non-Tesla vehicles by year’s end, which will certainly help. 


Q. I have a 2012 Chrysler 300C with 24,000 miles on it. The malfunction indicator light recently came on. According to the manual if it is not blinking it may reset after a few cycles of driving. It did not. A mechanic identified bad/dirty oil and a misfire on cylinder seven. He said the first thing he would do is change the oil, which was due anyway. I picked the car up and within a few miles the light came back on. I took it right back and he said the cylinder seven is still coming up as a misfire. According to him, four out of the eight cylinders shut down when the eco light comes on, but cylinder seven does not. He wants to check the car out and change the solenoid which he said would cost about $500. What do you think? 

A. This is certainly a plausible answer. Also, these engines are very fussy when it comes to oil type. It is important to use only 5W-20 weight and change it often. I have seen the valve train stick due to old or wrong grade oil and have misfire codes. If the engine is running normally but the light comes on, perhaps drive it for a bit, then change the oil again. 


Q. My 2011 Hyundai Accent has recently started to randomly buck and make a banging noise. This happens when trying to move from a stop or trying to go faster in first gear. It’s been happening more often recently. I took it to the garage and drove it with them, but of course the car didn’t act up. They said they can’t fix it if they don’t see it happen. When the car starts to buck, I have to play with the clutch and very slowly ease the car faster – not great when cars are coming at you. I’m hoping the car doesn’t finally conk out at an intersection. Any thoughts? 

A. Engine bucking is usually related to an engine misfire. This could be due to faulty sparkplugs or a faulty ignition coil. The other possibility is a worn or broken engine or transmission mount. When mounts are worn and you accelerate, the engine can bounce and bang under the hood. 

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE-certified master technician. E-mail your car question to [email protected]. Listen to the Car Doctor podcast at


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