SUVs don’t have a great reputation for decent fuel economy. They’re heavy, bulky, and built for hauling cargo and people, not for gas mileage. But since the turn of the century, manufacturers have been working to squeeze more miles out of every tank. Some SUVs on the road today match or exceed the 40 mpg benchmark by which cars are measured.
Below, we’ve chosen the five most promising SUVs from CarGurus‘ “The Best Gas Mileage SUVs of 2021.” Some are stylish, some are built for off-roading, but all have one thing in common: They’re hybrids. That’s right — gas-electric technology isn’t just for the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic anymore.
Ford Escape Hybrid and Ford Escape PHEV: 41 mpg and 100 MPGe
The Ford Escape stands atop the list. Both the hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) versions achieve 41 mpg using only gas. When regularly charged, the Escape PHEV can break 100 MPGe depending on the average trip distance.
It’s safe to say Ford SUVs getting 40 mpg wasn’t on anyone’s radar at the turn of the century. The EPA estimates an annual fuel cost of around $700 for the Ford Escape Hybrid and PHEV. Priced from $32,650, the Escape is affordable if perhaps on the high end of entry-level SUVs.
Lexus UX Hybrid SUV: 41 mpg
Unsurprisingly, Lexus has produced a luxury subcompact crossover that looks good and drives well. Also, unsurprisingly, it’s the second-most expensive car on this list. Starting at just over $35,000, the Lexus UX Hybrid also manages 41 mpg in the city but falls to 38 on the highway for a combined 39 mpg. The downgrade on the highway puts the Lexus UX Hybrid at around $800 in annual fuel costs.
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid: 40 mpg
The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid barely breaks the 40-mpg barrier at 41 mpg highway/38 mpg city. Also costing around $800 a year in fuel, this model is the first crossover on the list with a tilt toward affordability. Prices start at only $28,650, and the 2021 RAV4 Prime is also available, but at a higher cost. The PHEV features plug-in technology to stretch gas mileage significantly further.
Honda CR-V Hybrid: 38 mpg
Doing what Honda does, the CR-V Hybrid is a solid, reliable vehicle at a slightly inflated price. 38 mpg combined (40 mpg on the highway and 35 mpg in the city) isn’t bad at an MSRP of $30,560.
Unlike some of the other models on this list, Honda didn’t release the CR-V Hybrid until the 2020 model year. Given how long the automaker has been in the hybrid game (the Honda Insight debuted in 1999), it’s surprising it took this long.
But Honda has done it right, and the CR-V Hybrid has more power than the gas-only CR-V. Like SUVs with similar gas mileage, the CR-V Hybrid is estimated to cost $850 per year to fuel.
Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid: 35 mpg
The Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid marks a significant jump in price from the previous models, costing nearly $37,000. The vehicle manages around 35 mpg on gas alone and offers a plug-in option that bumps its fuel economy up to 90 MPGe.
If you’re in the market for a new all-wheel-drive SUV, the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid isn’t a bad choice. But it costs more than the equivalent Lexus. Fuel cost per year: $850.
Other SUVs with great gas mileage
In addition to the five models listed above, a few other SUVs won’t break your fuel budget. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid might give you sticker shock at $38,510, but it gets 36 mpg combined and costs $900 a year in fuel costs.
The Lexus UX 200 is the smallest SUV in the brand’s lineup, offering only 32 mpg combined and costing $950 a year to fuel. But the purchase price is on the low side for a Lexus, at only $32,900.
But the Nissan Kicks starts at just $19,500 and offers 33 mpg combined for $950 in annual fuel costs.
However, the absolute cheapest SUV on the list is the Hyundai Venue, at only $18,750. Getting 32 mpg combined, it costs $1,000 per year in fuel costs.
As the above roundup demonstrates, hybrid SUVs are entering the mainstream, and there’s one for nearly every budget.