There are lots of considerations when you buy a new SUV, including your new ride’s fuel economy. It might be nice to have a huge vehicle that can hold eight and tow a barge, but it’s expensive to put fuel in a car that large.
Many of today’s SUVs offer surprisingly good fuel economy that can be even better than what you’ll find in some sedans. Particularly if you go the hybrid route, there are plenty of choices that provide the benefits of owning an SUV with fuel economy that won’t have you cringing every time you stop at the pump. These are the most fuel efficient affordable SUVs you can buy.
2016 Chevrolet Trax
The 2016 Chevrolet Trax is our eighth most fuel efficient SUV. It gets 26 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, so it’s painless to fill your tank, even as gas prices creep up.
This fuel efficient SUV has great maneuverability, earned the highest “Good” ratings in the IIHS’s crash tests, and provides user-friendly technology with room for five passengers. It’s a great choice for navigating crowded city streets and parking lots with good handling and a comfortable ride.
The only available engine is a 138-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder that is loud until you reach cruising speed. It’s also underpowered so that highway passing and merging is a challenge.
2016 Mini Cooper Countryman
The 2016 Mini Cooper Countryman makes our list of best mpg SUVs boasting 27 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.
There is seating for five passengers, but they can’t bring a lot of luggage due to the Mini’s small cargo area. Its small size makes it ideal for city dwellers, but confusing controls for the infotainment system can be frustrating to master.
There’s a choice of engines starting with the base four-cylinder, which gets the job done. Take a step up to one of two available turbocharged four-cylinder engines and the Mini delivers a much stronger performance, without suffering a fuel mileage penalty
2016 Nissan Juke
The quirky 2016 Nissan Juke makes our list of fuel efficient SUVs with 28 mph in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. Room for five passengers and sporty handling make this a fun SUV to drive.
The Juke has its own unique look that makes it stand out from the rest of the subcompact pack. It combines those good looks with a sporty driving experience from a 188hp, turbocharged four-cylinder engine (and up to 215hp in the NISMO RS) and three drive mode choices of eco, normal, or sport.
The interior isn’t as appealing as the exterior with a muddled look and low-end materials. Passenger space is tight and cargo space is also at a premium with only 10.5 cubic feet behind the rear seats.
2016 Mazda CX-3
The 2016 Mazda CX-3 makes an impressive showing in its first year on the market. It also makes our best mpg SUV list with 29 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.
The CX-3 has a 146hp four-cylinder engine that, although not powerful, still provides the fun driving experience that the Mazda3 sedan offers. It doesn’t have quite the power needed for confident highway passing but handles well with precise steering and a smooth ride.
There is seating for five passengers although the rear seats are tight on both legroom and headroom. The interior boasts quality materials throughout giving the CX-3 an upscale vibe.
2016 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid
The 2016 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid is the first hybrid on our list of fuel efficient SUVs with 30 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.
Power comes from a four-cylinder engine with an electric motor that delivers ample power in the city and on the highway. It even feels quicker than the non-hybrid version of the car when you’re starting from a complete stop.
The interior has room for five passengers with a simple design and quality materials. The cabin is very quiet, even more so than the non-hybrid version of the Crosstrek. Standard all-wheel drive makes it a great choice for those who live where the weather gets nasty.
2016 RAV4 Hybrid
The 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid makes a strong showing in its first year out with 34 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. It is one of our best mpg SUVs with room for five passengers and good cargo room, too.
The cabin of the RAV4 is spacious and comfortable with lots of back-seat legroom. Engine and road noise intrude slightly, but it is still quieter than previous gasoline-powered versions of this fuel efficient SUV.
It is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors for a combined 194 horsepower. This delivers enough power for most driving situations, but acceleration is not impressive.