SUVs with Best Gas Mileage


Automotive Editor

Armaan Almeida was an Automotive Editor who produced buying guides and sneak previews, in addition to publishing daily news stories and tracking monthly deals, incentives and pricing trends from Toyota, Nissan and Lexus.

, Automotive Editor - January 26, 2012

This guide to the SUVs with the best gas mileage also covers the models with the lowest fuel emissions, and how to improve SUV gas mileage.

Considering SUVs with the best gas mileage is more important than ever. SUV's are not often at the top of the gas mileage list, but with new hybrids and better designs they are quickly moving up. The SUVs below all have above average fuel efficiency for vehicles of their size.

Ford Escape Hybrid

The Ford Escape Hybrid has topped many lists for both SUV fuel efficiency and its high green factor. The Mazda Tribute Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid are basically the same vehicle mechanically but differ in some options and trim levels. They are offered in a 2-wheel or 4-wheel drive, and all three achieve EPA fuel mileage of 34 city mpg and 31 highway mpg in FWD.

It may seem odd that there is better efficiency in the city, however the Escape has a new type of engine, called the Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter I4. Because of this, stop and start situations don't waste your gas as much as they used to. The Escape is also a hybrid, so it runs on electric power as well. It is advantageous to use the electric motor during city driving, since it can achieve 44 miles per hour while on its battery. The Escape is also a SULEV. SULEV stands for a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle. Many of the Toyota hybrid cars are only ULEV, not SULEV. For an SUV, that is quite impressive. The Escape also allows the battery to be recharged every time you hit the brakes. It also has eco-friendly seats, built from 100 percent post industrial materials. Overall, the Ford Escape is the most efficient SUV, and should cost you around $30,000.

Ford Escape E85 Flex Plug-in Hybrid

Chevrolet HHR

The Chevrolet HRR is technically a light truck but it looks and feels like an SUV. With a 2.2 4-cylinder engine, it is EPA rated at 22 city and 32 highway.


Toyota Highlander Hybrid

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid has a third row, which is nice for those bigger families or long road trips. It has a 3.3-liter V-6 and manages to get an EPA rating of 27 city mpg and 25 highway mpg.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Jeep Compass

The Jeep Compass is a crossover vehicle. It looks a bit like a car but is considered an SUV. It has a choice of two engine types and the base model achieves 23 city mpg and 28 highway mpg.

2011 Jeep Compass

Jeep Patriot

The Jeep Patriot is offered with a 2.4-liter or 2.0-liter four cylinder engine. When combined with a 5 speed manual transmission it gets a rating of 23 city mpg and 28 highway mpg.


Ford Escape

The Ford Escape is so good it made the list twice. The non-hybrid version gets great gas mileage and is a good looking, practical SUV to boot. The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine manages 22 city mpg and 28 highway mpg.

2010 Ford Escape XLT

Toyota RAV 4

The RAV 4 is a great looking little SUV that also has an optional 3rd row. It is offered with a 4-cylinder or V-6. The 4-cylinder version has an EPA rating of 22 city mpg and 28 highway mpg.

Toyota Rav4

Nissan Rogue

Another crossover, the Nissan Rogue, is a unique looking vehicle. The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine produces 170 horsepower, and gets 22 city mpg and 27 highway mpg.


Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V is a roomy and practical vehicle that tops many lists of favorite family vehicles. It is available as a 2wd or 4wd and comes with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that achieves 20 city mpg and 27 highway mpg.

Honda CR-V

What is the SUV with the Lowest Fuel Emissions?

SUVs are typically poor when it comes to emissions. However, that doesn't mean that there are no SUVs out there with low emissions. In fact, car companies are starting to produce more hybrid trucks and SUVs. Hybrid technologies are much cleaner than gasoline technologies. Hybrid SUVs get better fuel economy ratings, as well as lower emissions. It is only a matter of time before an all electric SUV is released, which will be a zero emissions vehicle.

The three best SUVs with low fuel emissions are the Ford Escape hybrid, the Mercury Mariner hybrid and the Lexus RX. The Ford Escape emits about 5.8 tons of carbon dioxide per year. The Lexus is around 6.3 tons of carbon dioxide, and the Mercury Mariner hybrid emits about six tons of carbon dioxide. Some SUVs emit more than 10 or even 15 tons of carbon dioxide per year. Because of this, the best SUV to buy would have to be the Lexus RX series, when all things are considered. They only emit about half a ton more carbon dioxide, but the other features of the car easily outmatch the Ford Escape.

Lexus RX Emissions

Lexus RX

The Lexus RX is one of the most purchased models that Lexus makes. Lexus leads the luxury car market when it comes to clean cars. They produced the first luxury hybrid as well. The RX performs just like a hybrid, and even better than some. The RX is classified as an ULEV II, which means an ultra low emissions vehicle. This rating is only given out to select cars. This goes for both its carbon emissions, as well as its nitrogen oxide emissions.

Lexus RX Fuel Ratings
The RX is above average in its fuel consumption when compared to other SUVs. The RX gets 18 miles per gallon in the city, and 24 miles per gallon on the highway. This produces a 21 miles per gallon combined ratio. Considering that a Hummer gets about eight miles to the gallon, and many other SUVs get only 10 to 11 miles per gallon, the RX is quite the fuel saver. This is directly related to the emissions that the car produces. The better the car can use its fuel, the less it will emit.

ECO Indicators
The Lexus RX has a special feature that not many other cars have, the ECO indicator. This system monitors the way you're driving. It displays a message when you're driving in the most efficient way as possible. The more efficiently you drive, the less fuel your car uses, and the less harmful gases it emits. This message gets displayed right on the dashboard near the odometer, so you can see if you're achieving the optimal level. It's represented as a bar graph and will flash if you're not driving economically.

How to Calculate Hybrid SUV Fuel Mileage

Computing your hybrid SUV fuel mileage is important in determining how much money you will spend on your trips for work and pleasure. With your tank full of fuel and some simple math, you can quickly determine the mileage per gallon of your car.

Determine How Much Fuel Your Tank Can Hold
This can be found in the user's manual of your car. A hybrid SUV can commonly hold up to 17 gallons of gas.

Fill up Your Tank
Fill up your tank with fuel and write down the current mileage on your car's odometer. The current mileage will be the starting point for your computation of your SUVs fuel consumption.

Go to Your Normal Destinations
Go to work, go to your favorite restaurant and go to every place you normally go during the day or during the week until it is time to refill your tank.

Refill Your Tank
Fill your tank to full and take note of the number of gallons you refilled. Also, take note of the miles you traveled. This can be determined by subtracting your current mileage from your starting point.

Do the Math
Divide the miles you traveled by the amount of fuel you refilled. The result is the number of miles you can travel for every gallon.

Determining your MPG is not only useful for saving and forecasting your fuel expenses, but it will also let you know how efficient your hybrid SUV is.

How to Improve SUV Gas Mileage

SUV fuel efficiency, as well as any other car's efficiency can decrease over time. This is attributed to a variety of factors. First, when you receive your car, there are no mechanical problems and the car is practically perfect. Not to mention, the EPA fuel economy ratings are done with perfect cars, under the perfect conditions.

There are some things that you can do to improve your SUV fuel efficiency, and they're easy. Whether it is routine maintenance or using some different driving techniques, you can help your SUV fuel mileage rival that of cars.

Maintain Your Engine

There are several maintenance issues that may cause your SUV to lose mileage. One thing to definitely check is the air filter. A clogged air filter makes the engine's work that much harder, and it could make your SUV lose 20 percent of its gas mileage. Your mechanic should also check your fuel injection system and see if there is a leak. A leak could mean your engine isn't getting enough gas, so it's working harder and will end up using even more gas than it needs to. Another thing is the spark plugs. Dirty or misfiring sparkplugs lower the efficiency of your engine.

Fill or Change Your Tires

Make sure you check your tire pressure every so often. If your tires are not properly inflated, you are losing three to five percent of your fuel economy.

Another option is to buy fuel efficient tires. The top tire companies like Michelin and Goodyear both offer fuel efficient tires. These tires help your fuel consumption in a variety of ways. First, they are built to roll with less resistance. That means less power is needed to keep the car moving at the same speed. When there is less force, the engine is working a little less, causing less gas to be used. These tires also create less heat when they are working. Less heat, equals less friction, so less resistance. This is done by using a different type of rubber that allows the tire to not be deformed while you ride. It was found that cutting down rolling resistance increases fuel efficiency by two percent. These tires decrease that resistance by over 20 percent, meaning that you can be getting improved fuel efficiency ratings of four percent or more.

Refine Your Driving Techniques
A lot of the times, drivers themselves are a big reason as to why they use more gas. Aggressive drivers who like to accelerate use up much more gas than they need to. You can change some of your driving habits to limit your acceleration. Instead of accelerating to a red light or stop sign, you can just coast. If you see a car in front of you, it's pointless to catch up just to slow down, because you're wasting gas and getting nowhere.

One thing that you can do to ensure no acceleration is to use cruise control. Cruise control makes your car go at a constant speed, so no acceleration. If you set it to 55 miles per hour on the highway, you'll have the most efficient car. Remember, aggressive driving burns more gas, and it gets you to your destination only five percent faster. That's only three minutes for every hour of driving.

Pay Attention to the Little Things
There are some little things that you can do or change to decrease your gas usage. You can turn off the air conditioning if you don't need it on. The A/C is a big gas guzzler. Another thing you can do is to stop idling. Idling is when you leave your car on when you're not in motion. Common places are the parking lot, or when you're warming your car up. It's wasting gas, and you're not reaping any benefits from it. Another tip is to remove any excess weight. Your SUV may have a roof rack that's weighing the car down when you don't even use it.

, Automotive Editor

Armaan Almeida was an Automotive Editor who produced buying guides and sneak previews, in addition to publishing daily news stories and tracking monthly deals, incentives and pricing trends from Toyota, Nissan and Lexus.

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