Skip to main content

SUVs with poor gas mileage are often the most powerful models. Many drivers sacrifice efficiency for power and are content with their choices. Here are three reasons to avoid SUVs with poor gas mileage that could make you reconsider getting a gas guzzler.

1. Hidden costs of poor fuel-efficiency

A person removes the nozel from a pump at a gas station on July 29, 2022 in Arlington, Virginia.
Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Drivers who have SUVs with poor gas mileage can spend hundreds of more dollars on fuel than drivers with efficient SUVs. The cost of ownership of an inefficient SUV is significantly higher than that of an efficient SUV.

Average full tank refueling cost equation
Average price of gas in your state x fuel tank capacity = Average refueling costs

Here’s an example of that equation using the average price of gas in Texas and the tank capacity of a 2023 Ford Expedition.

Average Price of Gas xMake Model (Fuel Tank Capacity)= Average Refueling Costs
$3.021 (Texas, via x2023 Ford Expedition (27.8 Gallons)= $83.98 Per Full Tank

Now, just because an SUV is expensive to refuel doesn’t make it inefficient. Efficiency is judged by city, highway, and combined estimated miles per gallon numbers provided by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Generally, SUVs with under 20 miles per gallon combined tend to be inefficient (depending on the size). Driving range can help you further understand a vehicle’s efficiency.

Combined Gas Mileage xFuel Tank Capacity= Approximate Driving Range
19 MPG Combined (2023 Ford Expedition via FuelEconomy.Gov) x27.8= 528 Miles of Driving Range

So, these two equations have helped us determine that it takes around $83.98 to refuel a 2023 Ford Expedition in the state of Texas at the time of publishing. That $83.98 will get you 528 miles of approximate driving range in a 2023 Expedition. So, this SUV has a high refueling cost, and its driving range isn’t particularly high for a vehicle with such a large gas tank. Furthermore, its fuel economy isn’t horrible since it’s a full-size model. The products of the equations give you a clearer picture of potential refueling costs.

2. Environmental concerns: How inefficient SUVs contribute to carbon emissions

Now that we’ve covered how expensive refueling SUVs with less than stellar gas mileage can be let’s explore the environmental impact of gas guzzlers. Like most important issues in America, the use of fossil fuels is divisive and controversial. That said, the auto industry is making a general readjustment to producing more efficient vehicles. Some of this is prompted by governmental intervention. Some of it is prompted by a desire to increase profits.

Inefficient SUVs burn more fossil fuel and create more carbon emissions than efficient SUVs. So, not only are these vehicles more costly to refuel, but they’re also worse for the environment from the lens of actively producing more carbon emissions. These emissions ultimately harm our environment and contribute to climate change.

3. Resale value: Do inefficient SUVs retain their value?

A blue Toyota 4Runner midsize SUV is parked in a parking lot.
The Toyota 4Runner | Toyota

Nightmare Fuel: 3 New 2023 SUVs with Scary Gas Mileage

The final reason to avoid inefficient SUVs is because they don’t always retain their value well. While some models like the Toyota Land Cruiser and Toyota 4Runner may be incredibly valuable over time, they are the exception, not the rule. Not every gas guzzler has strong resale value. Additionally, since many drivers are looking to save as much money as possible, used SUVs with high refueling costs aren’t as appealing.

How hybrid technology has changed the SUV vehicle class

  • SUVs are more efficient than ever before
  • Even full-size SUVs have hybrid powertrain options
  • Most brands offer hybrid alternatives to their most popular nameplates

You don’t have to get a hybrid SUV if you want an efficient model, but hybrids get incredible gas mileage. Are there any gas-guzzling SUVs on the market that you’d still want to get despite horrible fuel efficiency?