While fuel prices have come down a bit in recent years and technological improvements have been making vehicles more efficient, it’s still costly to keep an SUV fueled up. In addition to saving money, the increasing demand for environmentally friendly options has made miles per gallon an important factor in many buyers’ decisions.
The following are the 12 most efficient SUVs including several hybrids and one that is diesel powered. The first 7 on the list are the best of the best while last 5 are the best that seat 7 or more passengers from our complete list of vehicles.
In 2016, the top fuel-sipping SUV is a Honda HR-V with 28/35 mpg city/highway and the most fuel efficient hybrid was the Toyota RAV4 with 34/31 mpg city/highway.
Complete, Sortable List of SUVs by Gas Mileage
Note: The list below does not include fuel cell or electric vehicles such as: Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell (49/51 MPGe) or Tesla Model X (91/95 MPGe).
|Tesla Model X||$80,000||90/94|
|Tesla Model S||$69,900||88/90|
|Lexus NX Hybrid||$34,965||35/31|
|Toyota RAV4 Hybrid||$28,370||34/31|
|Lexus RX Hybrid||$52,235||31/30|
|Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid||$26,395||30/34|
|Toyota Highlander Hybrid||$47,870||27/28|
|Hyundai Santa Fe||$24,950||18/25|
|Dodge Grand Caravan||$22,095||17/25|
|Chrysler Town & Country||$29,995||17/25|
|Land Rover LR4||$50,400||15/19|
|Lexus LX 570||$88,880||13/18|
|Toyota Land Cruiser||$83,825||13/18|
2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid – 34/31
A significant step up from the base model RAV4, the 2016 RAV4 Hybrid is faster, more controlled, and far more efficient than the gasoline-powered model. Thanks to Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system, which uses both an electric and a gasoline engine to provide power to the tires, the hybrid model RAV4’s engine puts out 194 horsepower instead of the base model inline-4’s 154.
In addition to that, the RAV4 Hybrid comes with AWD as standard, and handles better than the base model thanks to a third electric motor used to control power to the rear tires. This setup is rated to provide an EPA estimated combined 33 mpg, and the RAV4 is an IIHS top safety pick+. The interior of the RAV4 is also a step up from previous years; materials feel solid and lack the “cheap plastic” sensation of other vehicles in its class.
With the 2016 RAV4 Hybrid, Toyota has created an excellent representation of just how great hybrid vehicles can be.
2016 Lexus RX Hybrid – 31/30
A sleek new redesign for Lexus’ RX line, the 2016 Lexus RX Hybrid seamlessly blends luxury and efficiency. Featuring a 308 horsepower V6 hybrid gasoline-electric motor and the same Hybrid Synergy Drive found in the RAV4 Hybrid, the RX has plenty of power and a combined 30 mpg.
It’s also an IIHS top safety pick+, and comes with a wealth of standard and optional safety features including one of the best front-crash prevention monitoring systems in its class. The interior quality is exceptional and can be loaded with nearly every piece of technology available on the market today.
All of this combines to make the Lexus RX one of the most desirable fuel efficient hybrid SUVs on the market.
2016 Honda HR-V – 28/35
Honda’s entry in the small SUV category, the 2016 HR-V, is not only one of the best value-for-money picks on the market today, it’s one of the best small SUV’s on the market period. Its extremely economical inline-4 engine is rated by the EPA at an estimated combined 31 mpg, and provides enough acceleration to be usable in both city and highway environments.
Honda has chosen to prioritize ride quality and comfort over handling in the HR-V, but thanks to its small size the HR-V handles just fine anyway, and still has a significant amount of interior space to brag about to its competitors. It’s well equipped even at the base trim, with rear-view cameras and tire pressure monitors coming as standard.
Coupled with legendary Honda reliability and low cost-of-ownership, the HR-V seeks to be a best-seller in the small to mid-size SUV market in 2016.
2016 Nissan Juke – 28/34
A unique small-size SUV appealing to fans of the much-loved hatchback, the 2016 Nissan Juke is almost in a class all its own. Another competitor in the compact SUV class, the 2016 Juke is smaller than almost any other vehicle in its class on the market today, and it wears this distinction proudly. The Nissan Juke is meant to be a larger, more practical cousin to smaller hot hatches like the new Mini’s or the Ford Focus, and in this respect it succeeds wonderfully.
A small 1.6L turbocharged inline-4 gives plenty of power for the small and lightweight Juke, and while its EPA estimated combined 30 mpg won’t break any fuel efficiency records, it’s still an above-average amount for what is technically an SUV. Where the Juke really shines is in driving performance, and it’s clear Nissan wanted to stick to the Juke’s hot-hatch inspired roots. The Juke is quick and responsive, with plenty of acceleration, particularly when the turbo spools up and launches the vehicle forward.
A CVT transmission is offered, but most buyers taking a serious look at this car will opt for the 6-speed manual instead; clearly the right choice for what is obviously an SUV meant to be driven. The only drawback to this all-out focus on fun is in the ride quality, which suffers greatly and feels bumpy and nowhere close to smooth.
Still, Nissan clearly knew what it was doing when it made the Juke, and anyone taking a long, hard look at the Juke isn’t likely to mind the stiff ride while they edge through the corners of a windy mountain road.
2016 BMW X3 Diesel – 27/34
The second smallest BMW SUV available on the American market, the X3 punches well above its weight class by providing great fuel efficiency, BMW quality and all the little extras BMW has come to be known for. It’s not meant to be a performance vehicle per say, but that doesn’t mean much to the engineers at BMW, who have stuck a 240 horsepower turbocharged diesel inline-4 under the hood of the 2016 X3.
This souped up little diesel engine is rated by the EPA to provide an estimated combined 30 mpg. As usual in vehicles produced by BMW, the ride is immaculate and can be configured to its driver’s needs, and the handling is superb. The interior is spacious, comfortable and functional, with an excess of cargo space for those looking to fit a little more in their crossover SUV. A wealth of technology is thrown in as standard, and of course expensive optional extras abound in the X3.
The X3 is smartly positioned to attract both new and old BMW customers seeking the best in the midsize SUV market.
2016 Mazda CX-5 – 26/35
The Mazda CX-5 is a direct competitor to the above listed Honda HR-V, and it showcases beautifully how two different paths can be taken to achieve the same goals. Mazda tends to put its time and resources into vehicles that focus on driving performance and handling, and they’ve done an excellent job of this with the CX-5.
While the CX-5 is equipped with small inline-4 engines in all trims that produce less than 200 horsepower, they’ve been fine-tuned to squeeze out every ounce of performance possible. These smaller engines have the distinct advantage of being more fuel efficient than other offerings in its class, and the EPA has rated the CX-5’s base model at an estimated combined 29 mpg.
The CX-5 feels quick and handles in a way that would make some sport coupes feel jealous, with almost no roll when cornering and a very smooth ride. There’s plenty of interior space as well, both for passengers and cargo. The 2016 CX-5 is a direct contrast to Honda’s HR-V in many ways, but it doesn’t lose any ground for choosing to focus on driving enjoyment instead of function.
2016 Hyundai Tucson – 26/33
Choosing to produce a reliable and comfortable commuter SUV, Hyundai has traded performance for style and function in its 2016 Tuscon. The Tuscon has plenty of interior space and a remarkably comfortable ride, and comes well-equipped even at the base trim. A small 175 horsepower turbocharged inline-4 powers the Eco model, which ironically feels less powerful and slower to respond than the less powerful offering on the base model. The trade-off comes in fuel efficiency, and this Eco engine provides an EPA estimated gas mileage of 29 combined mpg. While the interior can feel cheap at times, it’s still comfortable and the ride isn’t at all uncomfortable. The 2016 Tuscon is a spacious, inexpensive, and incredibly efficient mid-size SUV that will appeal to buyers looking for a practical entry in the crossover SUV market.
Top 5 That Seat 7+ Passengers
2016 Nissan Rogue – 26/33
Best Fuel Efficiency
The 2016 Nissan Rogue is the most fuel efficient gasoline powered SUV that seats at least 7. Nissan has become skilled at producing modern, economical and stylish vehicles in recent years, and the 2016 Rogue is a credit to their ability to produce desirable and fuel efficient vehicles. Its 170 horsepower 2.5L inline-4 is rated at a combined 28 mpg by the EPA. It won’t break any speed records, but thanks to the Rogue’s light weight this small SUV doesn’t feel sluggish on the road.
Despite its small size, Nissan has given the option of adding a third-row, and, while it suffers from the same long-term comfort drawbacks of other mid-size crossovers, there’s enough room for small children to sit comfortably on most trips. Nissan also includes some nice standard equipment usually provided as optional extras from other manufacturers, such as a rear-view camera and standard curtain airbags. Other technology extras are of course offered as well as an array of safety options and driver monitoring systems.
The interior itself is comfortable without being too flashy, and most drivers will find its technological touches to be user-friendly and useful. The 2016 is an IIHS top safety pick, but its front crash prevention was only given a “basic” rating.
Nissan aimed to make the Rogue a significant contender in the crossover SUV market when it was reintroduced in 2014, and they’ve succeeded masterfully with its 2016 model year.
2016 Kia Sorento – 21/29
Undergoing a number of changes for the 2016 model year, the 2016 Kia Sorento looks to entice consumers with its larger size, excellent fuel efficiency and smooth ride. The standard base model’s 2.4L 185 horsepower inline-4 engine is unchanged from last year, but Kia now offers a new 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder motor reported to provide 240 horsepower. Both engines give excellent fuel efficiency, with the former being rated by the EPA for a combined 24 mpg, while the later is rated at 23.
The interior has been completely redesigned for 2016, with the vehicle’s larger size allowing Kia to offer a third-row seating option for seating up to seven. The second and third-rows won’t shatter any expectations for mid-size crossover seating, but they are appropriate for short trips or small children. Besides being more spacious than previous years, the interior is also much nicer to be in, though plastic is still the standard here in terms of quality. That’s to be expected in an affordable commuter SUV, however, and Kia more than makes up for this in function and form. Kia’s 6-speed automatic transmission performs admirably in all trims, and the ride is not only quiet but comfortable for driver and passengers alike.
Kia has clearly listened to the feedback received in previous years, and aims to make the 2016 Sorento an attractive option in the crossover market.
2016 Infiniti QX60 – 21/27
The 2016 Infiniti QX60 is a crossover SUV with a significant amount of size and power. The QX60 is large for a mid-size SUV and features third-row seating that is actually usable. This is a rarity in SUVs of this size and Infiniti has gone the extra-mile by not only making the third-row standard in all trims, but by making the third-row easily accessible and comfortable to be in.
The 2016 QX60 is powered by a 265 horsepower V6 that gets an EPA estimated combined 23 mpg; not just a respectable amount for an SUV of its size, but a respectable amount for any SUV in its class. The interior quality is on par with other offerings from Infiniti, with well-made trimmings and finely upholstered, comfortable seats.
The suspension has been modified for 2016, and while the goal was to improve driveability and handling, the QX60 ultimately suffers for this change; ride quality has been reduced from previous years and the handling itself doesn’t feel improved over last year.
The QX60 is loaded with a variety of standard features and is well-equipped even at the base trim, with plenty of extras available to add on afterwards. Its also an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, and has one of the highest rated front crash prevention monitoring systems in its class.
Infinity has always blended quality with function in a sophisticated and stylish package, and they continue to do so for the 2016 QX60.
2016 Acura MDX – 20/27
Acura has always focused on giving its customers a blend of quality and performance. The MDX has always personified this focus, and the 2016 MDX continues this trend in splendid fashion. Not only is the MDX a joy to be in, it’s a thrill to drive and functional to boot.
The MDX is equipped with a direct-injected 290 horsepower V6 coupled with a 9-speed automatic transmission that provides plenty of acceleration for this luxury SUV. Sophisticated handling systems allow the driver to choose between more or less responsive steering control based on preference and use, and in both modes the ride is smooth and comfortable. The large V6 is EPA rated at a combined gas mileage of 23 mpg, and the 2016 MDX is an IIHS top safety pick+.
Like in previous years, the MDX comes with third-row seating, but its best reserved for young children and not suitable for most adults. Acura continues to deliver on its promise of luxury and performance with the 2016 MDX.
2016 Nissan Pathfinder – 20/27
The Nissan Pathfinder has been an admirable competitor in the off-road SUV market for several years. Recently Nissan has transitioned their large crossover SUV from a rugged off-road utility vehicle into a refined people carrier, and most of this off-road functionality has been lost. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, and many will find the 2016 Pathfinder better fits their needs as a commuter vehicle.
The 2016 Pathfinder is a quiet and spacious people carrier that is rated by the EPA to get an above-average gas mileage: combined 23 mpg.
The interior of the Pathfinder is functional, but don’t expect a lot of flair or attention to detail. A third-row of seating is provided in the back, and while it’s not as cramped as some of its competitor’s offerings it’s still not an option for most adults. Fortunately the ride in the Pathfinder is pleasant, quiet and comfortable, thanks to its reworked suspension and modified CVT transmission.
- Complete, Sortable List of 7+ Passenger Vehicles
- Best 6 Passenger SUVs
- Best 7 Passenger SUVs
- Best 8 Passenger SUVs
- 10 Most Expensive SUVs Money Can Buy
Over to You
Thinking of buying a one of these fuel efficient SUVs? Already own one? Leave a comment and let us know what you think!