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Consumers appreciate vehicles with good gas mileage that save money at the pump. The Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV are economical crossovers that offer cost-effective savings. But not long ago, SUVs were considered gas guzzlers. Fast-forward to 2021, and some of the most efficient get an impressive 55 mpg.

Below, we compare this year’s Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV to show you why the former is the smarter choice. 

The most fuel-efficient SUVs for 2021

MotorTrend recently examined EPA test data to determine the most fuel-efficient SUVs for 2021. MT ranked the vehicles using a combined mpg or MPGe figure. However, the analysis compares only hybrid, gas, diesel, and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs). Not included are all-electric SUVs available for purchase in the U.S.

The 2021 Ford Escape PHEV took first place on MotorTrend’s list “The Best Gas Mileage SUVs on the Market for 2021,” beating the Toyota RAV4 Prime by eight MPGe. Generating 220 hp, the class-topping Ford crossover gets an astounding 102 MPGe. The hybrid can go 37 miles on one charge before the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine kicks in.

Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid vs. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Both the Subaru Crosstrek and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV landed in the top five most fuel-efficient SUVs for 2021.

Sitting at number three, the Crosstrek Hybrid packs a 2.0-liter flat-four engine paired with an electric motor for a total output of 148 hp, Subaru reports. Its mileage is an excellent 90 MPGe. In fact, it can travel up to 480 miles using its gas-powered engine and electric motor. On a full battery charge, the Crosstrek can go up to 17 miles using only the motor. And its fuel tank can hold 13.2 gallons.

But for now, the Crosstrek Hybrid is available only in zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) states, which regulate greenhouse gas emissions and smog-forming pollutants, according to the California Air Resources Board. They include California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Ranking two spots below the Crosstrek, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV secured the number five spot on MT’s list. According to MotorTrend, the Outlander PHEV is “the best-selling plug-in hybrid in the world.”

New for 2021 is a 2.4-liter inline-four powertrain that includes front- and rear-mounted electric motors. Under certain conditions above 40 mph, the engine connects to the front wheels, allowing the SUV to get a range of 24 miles on a full battery. It can travel up to 320 miles using both its gas-powered engine and electric motor. The 2021 Outlander PHEV is EPA-rated for an impressive 74 MPGe.

However, the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid has the Outlander PHEV beat.

What makes the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid the better buy?

Despite its excellent fuel efficiency, the 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV can’t beat the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, which wins with an additional 16 MPGe and a considerably longer electric range. 

The Crosstrek powertrain works in unison with a two-speed continuously variable transmission that generates decent performance for a hybrid SUV. By comparison, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV uses a single-speed automatic transmission, lowering its performance capabilities.

The Crosstrek also uses an advanced hybrid drivetrain that instantly generates torque, allowing for seamless acceleration. Its responsive handling surpasses the Outlander, hands down.

Lastly, the 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV starts at $36,295, whereas the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid starts at $35,345, offering better overall value. So, if you live in California, go for the Subie. Otherwise, the Outlander PHEV is a solid choice if you don’t live in the Golden State.


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