A few years ago, you’d never hear the words “fuel efficient” and “SUV” in the same sentence. How times change! Visit some local new car dealerships (find them on the DexKnows site), and you’ll discover a host of SUVs with impressive fuel economy. How good? Well, you can visit the Department of Energy and trawl through the tables, or you can keep reading and learn which SUVs go the farthest on a gallon of gasoline.
First, let’s stretch the definition of an SUV to include modern crossovers. Built like a car rather than on a truck frame, crossovers tend to be lighter and better-riding than the SUVs of yore like the Yukon and Expedition. The crossovers also get significantly better gas mileage.
Second, it should run happily on Regular unleaded (if it takes gas at all). The reasoning? Premium gas is significantly more expensive, so what you save in mpg you can end up spending on gas. That eliminates some great vehicles, such as the BMW X1 (24 City/34 Hwy and 28 combined), the Nissan Juke (27 City/32 Hwy and 29 combined) and the Lexus RX 450h (32 City/28 Hwy, 30 combined), but rules are rules.
And third, it must be available as a new, 2013 model, even though that excludes one of the most fuel-efficient SUVs, the no-longer-in-production Ford Escape Hybrid (34 City/31 Hwy and 32 combined).
The Top Five
What does that leave? Here are the five new SUVs and crossovers that will stretch your gas dollars the furthest:
5. Ford Escape — FWD 1.6L; 23 City/33 Hwy, 26 combined
4. Mitsubishi Outlander Sport — 2WD 2.0L; 24 City/31 Hwy, 27 combined
3. Toyota Highlander Hybrid — 28 City/28 Hwy 28 combined
2. Mazda CX-5 — 26 City/35 Hwy and 30 combined
And in first place, the most fuel-efficient SUV on the market today is one that doesn’t use gas at all…
1. Toyota RAV4 EV — As a pure electric vehicle, this is rated by the EPA at 76MPGe. Unfamiliar with that term? That’s the way the EPA calculates mileage for electric vehicles: It’s how far a vehicle can go on as much energy as is in a gallon of gasoline. As of 2012, the RAV4 EV is only available in California, but watch out for it being rolled out in other states in the near future.
Competition is fierce in the SUV/crossover market and there are a number of vehicles that come very close to those listed above. The Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain both manage 22 City/32 Hwy and 26 mpg combined, while the Honda CR-V is only a whisker behind at 23 City/31 Hwy and 26 combined.
If you thought fuel-efficient cars were all boring little subcompacts, it’s time to think again. The latest SUV/crossovers offer impressive gas mileage without requiring compromises. Use the DexKnows site to find your local car dealerships and check them out for yourself!