The most fuel-efficient SUVs prove customers don’t have to give up key SUV characteristics to get the best gas mileage. Many used SUV models offer excellent fuel economy and overall value.
The Best of Both Worlds
Let’s face it, anyone who prefers SUVs over other vehicles probably isn’t focused on fuel economy. SUV length, weight and horsepower just aren’t conducive to great mileage.
However, adaptive technologies and an increasing desire among drivers to save money at the pump have inspired automakers to give the car-buying public an SUV that manages to get the best gas mileage without sacrificing size and power.
Here are a few of the SUV market’s top fuel performers (including standard four-cylinder engines as well as hybrids):
After a six-year interlude (model years 2009-2015), the redesigned Toyota Venza returned in 2021 as a super-efficient hybrid capable of getting 39 combined (city and highway) MPG. The new Venza comes standard with all-wheel drive and plenty of interior space (108 cubic feet), but its four-cylinder engine and three electric motors give drivers one of the most efficient powertrains on the SUV market.
Toyota Venza’s fuel efficiency is matched by its excellent array of safety features, including anti-lock brakes, stability controls, parking sensors and a rearview camera. The updated Venza also comes standard with an attractive touch-screen-based audio system.
Popular automaker Kia has scored again with its midsize SUV model, the Sorento (2012-2021). The Kia Sorento’s hybrid version has achieved a combined 37 MPG. It is an excellent example of an SUV redesigned for economy that hasn’t had to compensate by cutting back in other key areas.
The Sorento delivers on fuel economy despite having one of the best acceleration take-offs in the midsize SUV market. The hybrid comes standard with front-wheel drive and three rows of seating, and all trims feature forward collision and pedestrian warning, lane-maintaining assistance, and emergency braking.
Toyota Highlander Hybrid
The Toyota’s Highlander (2014-2021) is a big, powerful SUV designed for excellent fuel efficiency despite its size, acceleration, and horsepower. The standard front-wheel drive Highlander hybrid gets 36 combined MPG, an impressive achievement for a three-row powerhouse with plenty of cargo space.
The Highlander comes with an optional towing package and a host of impressive new features, including a rearview camera, Bluetooth, and a new touch-screen audio system. Top-tier trims offer heated and cooled front seats and leather upholstery.
Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid
Hyundai has adopted a more aggressive stance in the midsize SUV segment in recent years, particularly with its efficient yet powerful four-cylinder/single electric motor powertrain, which generates 226 hp. The three-row Hyundai Santa Fe (2001-2021) offers a series of hybrid trims that have recorded from 32 to 34 combined MPG.
It’s an impressive selection for customers who need ample head and legroom for up to seven passengers. The Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid includes an array of impressive features, including everything from navigation to an enhanced sunroof and heated steering wheel.
The rugged Subaru Outback’s (1995-2021) 29 combined MPG are comparable to a hybrid’s fuel economy. Its five-passenger interior, off-roading power, and all-wheel drive (standard) don’t detract from its fuel efficiency.
The Outback’s four-cylinder engine offers its best overall mileage performance; the turbo-4 provides more power, though a bit less efficiency.
Greater Fuel Efficiency with SUV Size and Pick-Up
A new generation of hybrid vehicles, led by the Toyota Venza, is offering consumers efficient, affordable options that are desirable as used SUVs that don’t disappoint when it comes to size or horsepower. You can have it both: good gas mileage in a used SUV that delivers all the qualities you expect.