The Midsize SUVs With the Best Fuel Economy in Real-World Driving

If you’ve ever compared your personal fuel economy to your vehicle’s EPA estimated mpg, you know discrepancies are normal. In some cases, too much city driving will make the overall average (which assumes 45% highway driving) come down.

Another explanation is the way people drive. For example, people who are dissatisfied with the power on tap in a car might tend to overdo it on acceleration. That definitely affects the amount of gas you consume.

A better gauge for overall economy than EPA estimates is the real-world testing Consumer Reports conducts. Using public highways and a private course that mimics suburban and city roads, testers come closer to how a vehicle will perform for buyers.

Here are the midsize SUVs that logged the best fuel economy numbers for 2018.

6. Kia Sorento

View of driver's side of gray Kia Sorento, 2017 model year
Kia Sorento | Kia
  • Overall economy: 21 mpg

The 2018 Kia Sorento is among Consumer Reports’ top-rated SUVs for the year. This model scores well in owner satisfaction, drive experience, and acceleration.

Meanwhile, its 30 mpg on the highway is a standout number for a midsize SUV. Even with its city mileage in a V6 with all-wheel drive (14 mpg) coming in below EPA estimates, Sorento’s stellar highway performance elevated it among the best.

5. Nissan Murano

2017 Nissan Murano | Nissan
  • Overall economy: 21 mpg

In city driving, the V6 Nissan Murano with all-wheel drive achieved 15 mpg in real-world tests. That came in significantly lower than the EPA estimate (21 mpg)

However, Murano outperformed on the highway averaging 65 miles per hour. In those tests, it posted 29 mpg, which put it among the best in a gas-thirsty segment.

4. Ford Edge

2018 Ford Edge | Ford
  • Overall economy: 21 mpg

Running on a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder EcoBoost engine, you might expect Ford’s turbocharged Edge to get better mileage than the V6 competition. That wasn’t the case in Consumer Reports tests.

In city driving, the Edge managed 14 mpg. On the highway (at moderate speeds), it hit the solid mark of 31 mpg.

3. Toyota Highlander

2018 Toyota Highlander
2018 Toyota Highlander | Toyota
  • Overall economy: 22 mpg

In real-world driving, the V6 Toyota Highlander was one of the few vehicles that matched its EPA estimate of 22 mpg overall. However, that included a lower city rating (15 mpg) and better highway performance (31 mpg).

That type of practicality, combined with stellar reliability ratings, have made Highlander one of the cars people hold onto for a decade or longer. Hybrid models, which average better than 25 mpg, are among the most frugal in the segment.

2. Mazda CX-9

2018 Mazda CX-9
2018 Mazda CX-9 | Mazda
  • Overall economy: 22 mpg

If you choose the Mazda CX-9, a vehicle people love to drive, you risk consuming an abundance of fuel pumping the accelerator on the turbo engine. However, even CR testers returned an average of 22 mpg, making it one of the best models in the segment.

In city driving, its 15 mpg doesn’t look like much on paper but is solid for the size of this vehicle. On the highway, you can’t expect much more out of CX-9 than the stellar 32 mpg it clocked.

1. Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport | Hyundai
  • Overall economy: 23 mpg

For the best fuel economy in a midsize SUV, skip the turbo and V6 engines for a standard four-cylinder Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. Unlike the bigger, more powerful Santa Fe, the Sport model does a lot with this base engine, whether with all-wheel or front-wheel drive.

Its best number came in city driving: 17 mpg. That set Santa Fe Sport apart from the pack in CR testing, and the 30 highway mpg made it the segment winner. Its EPA estimates are about right in line with those numbers.