For years, SUVs have been the symbol of excess: they guzzle gas, wasting fuel with every mile and sticking drivers with huge bills at the gas station. As gas prices increased to shocking heights in the early 2000s, no one wanted an SUV. No one wanted to spend their entire paycheck on fuel alone.
Yet times have changed. Though it once seemed like SUVs were set to go extinct, the SUV responded magnificently and changed for the better. Today, the SUV is no longer the poster child of wanton consumption.
Now, big cars that are also fuel-efficient are feasible. Instead of stopping production and shying away from SUVs, automakers are making more of these sizeable sporty vehicles. An arms race has broken out between major car manufacturers, all of whom are trying to get the most efficient fuel consumption out of their newest SUV models.
If you want an SUV but don’t want to sacrifice your paycheck or the environment, you need one of the newest models. These redesigned SUVs consume the least gasoline and offer the space and size you love.
Here are 6 of the most fuel-efficient SUVs on the market right now.
1. Nissan Rogue
This front-wheel-drive compact crossover looks like an SUV, but it’s really a compact car with chunky styling and an affordable $26,480 price tag. You get 5 seats and a 170 bhp engine. Though this may not quite measure up to the power of a traditional SUV, the Rogue is fuel efficient and lightweight enough to return 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway in 2-wheel-drive format.
Already one of America’s most popular crossover SUVs, this Nissan crossover is perfect for an urban landscape. Just don’t expect it to handle any real off-roading or towing, as it’s stuck with a 1000lb towing capacity.
2. Honda CR-V
The Honda CR-V is expensive in comparison to other small SUVs at its base price of $26,950. It’s technically a compact, but the CR-V has great fuel economy and offers everything most SUV fans need.
If efficiency is the most important part of the equation, then don’t go for the base 2.4-liter engine; upgrade to the 1.5-liter turbo. That pushes up the price of this compact SUV even more, but it will pay off at the pump. With this engine, you can expect 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. You can also choose between the LX, EX, or EX-L models.
The towing capacity of 1500lb isn’t massive, but it’s respectable in its category. The CR-V has won the hearts and minds of the motoring press in compact SUV group tests.
3. Mazda CX-5
The CX-5 is a seriously elegant car and the 2.5L, 16-cylinder powerplant pumps out a thoroughly respectable 187 bhp and 185 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s more than enough to make this SUV shine in comparison to its competition, especially with 24 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. There are more efficient SUVs, but this is a fully featured car that doesn’t feel like a compromise.
It starts from $24,045 for the base-level Sport, while the Touring, Grand Select, and Grand Touring complete the range and take the price up to near $30,000. The base model can tow up to 2000 lb, which is serious SUV pulling power.
4. Ford Escape
The Ford Escape is a volume seller that’s earned a legendary status as the car Ford got right. With economy figures of 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, the Escape’s price tag of $25,605 makes it a reasonable choice for an SUV. And for a car this size, it’s a cut above in term of economy.
This stylish compact crossover is Ford’s best-selling car behind the F-Series truck and it can tow up to 3500lb, if you opt for the bigger 2-liter engine.
5. Audi Q3
You have to spend big to afford an Audi, but the Q3 is one of the more manageable models at a reasonable $32,900. It’s another crossover rather than a full-blown SUV, and it’s built on the A3 platform. A compact car compared to the others on this list, the Q3 comes with the premium badge that’s enough to sway image-conscious buyers.
Additionally, the 2-liter TFSI engine will return 23 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. There’s also the premium interior, as well as 200 bhp and a relatively huge 207 lb.-ft. of torque to make up for its slightly lower fuel efficiency, and that helps it tow 2,200 lb.
6. Kia Sportage
The base-level Kia Sportage isn’t the most efficient car on this list, but it is a relative SUV bargain at $23,500. You’ll still be saving at the pump, too, with a supremely capable 181 bhp engine with 175 lb.-ft. of torque. However, this vehicle only returns 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.
Kia’s SUV gets outclassed by most cars on this list, but it’s a competent SUV that comes loaded with tech and an astounding 7-year warranty. It can also tow 2000 lb, which gives it an advantage over its competition in terms of ruggedness.
Don’t Sacrifice Savings To Own An SUV
There’s no reason to avoid buying a new SUV with models like these. Incredibly fuel efficient and more environmentally-minded than their predecessors of the last decade, the crossovers and SUVs on this list are the perfect balance of size and fuel saving.