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The most fuel-efficient SUV you can find isn’t always the best option for capability, versatility, quality, and family driving. For the most part, SUVs with the best gas mileage tend to be smaller, meaning they can’t deliver on other qualities. Let’s explore.

What are the most fuel-efficient SUVs that aren’t EVs

Blue 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid - This is the most fuel-efficient SUV that isn't an EV
2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid | Kia

For this conversation, we’ll leave the EVs out of the mix. To find out which SUVs offer the best gas mileage, we turn to U.S. News & World Report. The list of highly efficient SUVs is:

  • Kia Sportage Hybrid – 42 mpg
  • Lexus UX – 42 mpg
  • Ford Escape Hybrid – 41 mpg
  • Honda CR-V Hybrid – 40 mpg
  • Toyota RAV4 Hybrid – 40 mpg
  • Lexus NX Hybrid – 39 mpg
  • Toyota Venza – 39 mpg
  • Hyundai Tucson Hybrid – 38 mpg
  • Kia Sorento Hybrid – 37 mpg
  • Toyota Highlander Hybrid – 36 mpg
  • Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid – 34 mpg
  • Nissan Kicks – 33 mpg

The only non-hybrid SUV on this list is the Nissan Kicks. The Kicks is a low-powered subcompact SUV, but if you don’t want to pay more for a hybrid SUV, it could have what you’re looking for in an SUV.

What are the benefits of these hybrid SUVs?

Traditionally, when a vehicle offers a regular gas-only version and a hybrid or PHEV version, the hybrid models start at higher trim levels. This means you’ll find more features and qualities at the base trim levels than with a gas-only model.

As you can see from the list of the most fuel-efficient SUVs, you’ll have several options for seating, style, and capability with a hybrid SUV. The 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is lauded as one of the most efficient three-row SUVs in the market. Most of the list is comprised of compact SUVs, but not all of them are as small as the Nissan Kicks.

Currently, most hybrid SUVs are more affordable than electric vehicles. This may change as EV batteries become more plentiful and cheaper to build, but hybrids offer excellent fuel savings and won’t cause the dreaded sticker shock when you head to the dealership.

What are the disadvantages of the most fuel-efficient hybrid SUVs?

Blue 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV Driving on a Country Road
2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid | Toyota

The most significant disadvantage is affordability. Hybrid SUVs aren’t traditionally as affordable as gas-only models. These SUVs start at higher trims which mean higher initial costs, but adding the hybrid powertrain further increases the price. Using the Toyota Highlander as an example, The regular, gas-only model starts at $38,577, while the Highlander hybrid begins at $42,370.

Is fuel efficiency all it’s cracked up to be?

Considering our list, what’s the common thread? Most of these SUVs fit in the compact crossover SUV range. Sure, there are a couple of midsize models, and one stands out with three rows of seats, but most are on the small side.

Although these are the most fuel-efficient SUVs of 2023, most offer small cargo areas, no more than five seats, lack towing power, and some don’t offer AWD. SUV stands for Sport Utility Vehicle, and most of the qualities mentioned tell us that SUVs with fuel economy as a priority leave out the utilitarian part of the equation. It would be nearly impossible to pull a trailer or carry a family of seven to the lake in a Honda CR-V Hybrid.

Do you want the most fuel-efficient SUV?

With all things considered, if the most important item on your list is fuel efficiency, this is the list for you. It’s easy to find an efficient, relatively affordable, compact SUV among the models U.S. News gives us. If fuel economy isn’t the highlight of your driving needs, you’ll want to stay clear of most SUVs on this list.

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