The Only Subcompact SUVs Getting Better than 25 MPG for 2018

What are the advantages of subcompact SUVs compared to popular compact models like Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue?  At a glance, the smaller size of subcompacts might make consumers believe they deliver better fuel economy.

However, real-world testing by Consumer Reports proved the most efficient compact SUVs do as well or better than all but two subcompact crossovers on the market in 2018. Given the slow acceleration and cramped quarters of these utility models, those results could make you scratch your head.

Overall, the smallest crossover segment does not deliver much in the way of fuel economy. Only five 2018 models delivered better than 25 mpg in real-world testing by Consumer Reports, which we list here.

5. Hyundai Kona

2018 Hyundai Kona | Hyundai
  • Real-world fuel economy: 26 mpg

Driving a Hyundai Kona onto the highway, it takes over 10 seconds to hit 60 miles per hour. That’s quite a long time for any vehicle, but it makes sense when you learn this crossover runs on the Accent (Kia Rio) platform. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get the mpg of a Rio or Accent.

In real-world driving (mixing city and highway trips), Consumer Reports tests averaged 26 mpg. That included a mark of just 18 mpg in city driving, which is poor for a vehicle of this size. When Hyundai delivers an electric Kona in 2019, we can be certain it won’t share these economy issues.

4. Nissan Rogue Sport

The 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport is more than an extension of the popular Rogue, which accelerated past the Nissan Altima sedan in calendar year 2016 to become Nissan?s number one selling model. While sharing the Rogue name, platform and numerous advanced safety and security features, Rogue Sport stands on its own as a stylish, nimble, fun-to-drive and affordable compact SUV
Nissan Rogue Sport | Nissan
  • Real-world fuel economy: 26 mpg

The smaller version of Nissan’s compact crossover gets the name “Rogue Sport” to differentiate it. It measures about one foot shorter and takes about one second longer to hit 60 mph than the standard Rogue.

Meanwhile, its fuel economy is nothing that will wow consumers. In Consumer Reports testing, Rogue Sport returned 26 mpg, with 19 mpg in city driving. Honda CR-V, which is a step up in size and performance, delivers 20 mpg in city driving.

3. Mazda CX-3

View of ceramic metallic 2017 Mazda CX-3 parked outside an urban cafe
2018 Mazda CX-3 | Mazda
  • Real-world fuel economy: 28 mpg

With the best compact SUV hitting 28 mpg combined in real-world tests, consumers might expect their smaller, slower counterparts to at least equal that mark. Among the 2018 subcompact crossovers, only a few met the challenge.

One is Mazda CX-3, which hit 20 mpg in city driving and 36 mpg on the highway. Those numbers are respectable for a vehicle of this size — and they sound even better knowing you can accelerate to 60 mph in less than 10 seconds. Mazda crossovers generally get this type of positive feedback.

2.  Subaru Crosstrek

To get the best mpg from a 2018 Subaru Crosstrek, you can’t have the bike racks on top. | Subaru
  • Real-world fuel economy: 29 mpg

With a Subaru crossover, you’re know you’re going to get standard all-wheel drive, a strong safety rating, and solid fuel economy. All three come in a Subaru Crosstrek, which was one of only two subcompact crossovers to win a Top Safety Pick+ award for 2018. (The Kia Niro hybrid was the other.)

Broken down, Consumer Reports tests logged 20 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. Those returns are solid for a vehicle of this size and performance.

1. Honda HR-V

2018 Honda HR-V | Honda
  • Real-world fuel economy: 29 mpg

While the 2019 Honda HR-V boasts improvements in fuel economy and new trims (at a higher price), the 2018 model did the best in the segment on mpg for the current model year. Consumer Reports got 20 mpg in the city and 39 on the highway, giving it a 29 mpg rating overall.

While those figures won’t impress anyone who drives a hybrid or electric car, that’s about the best someone can expect from a crossover running strictly on gas these days. As battery prices drop and automakers start adding more hybrid SUVs to their lineups, that has the potential to change.

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