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You must compromise if you’re avoiding hybrid, PHEV, and all-electric SUVs in favor of traditional models with internal combustion engines. This is especially true if you want to drive one of the best gas-mileage SUV models that use only an ICE powertrain. Here are some drawbacks to gas-only SUVs with the best gas mileage.

The best gas mileage you’ll find in ICE SUV come in only compact and subcompact models

Orange 2023 Nissan Kicks SUV - This is the best gas-mileage ICE SUV
2023 Nissan Kicks | Nissan

Although advanced engine technology is part of our modern driving experience, traditional SUVs with the best gas mileage occupy the smallest part of this market. According to MotorTrend, these SUVs are:

  • Hyundai Venue – 31 mpg
  • Ford Escape Active FWD – 31 mpg
  • Chevrolet Trailblazer – 31 mpg
  • Volkswagen Taos – 32 mpg
  • Toyota Corolla Cross – 32 mpg
  • Kia Soul – 32 mpg
  • Kia Seltos – 32 mpg
  • Hyundai Kona – 32 mpg
  • Nissan Rogue – 33 mpg
  • Nissan Kicks – 33 mpg

All mpg figures are combined between city and highway driving.

When you see this list, do you see an SUV you want to drive? Most of these models require compromise and might be good for your daily commute, but not much else.

The most fuel-efficient ICE SUVs don’t offer impressive fuel economy results

Silver 2023 Lexus UX SUV - This hybrid luxury SUV offers the best mpg figures in the class
2023 Lexus UX | Lexus

You don’t have to make too many compromises when you want better fuel mileage numbers and more size, Some traditional hybrid SUVs allow you to drive larger SUVs and receive better overall fuel economy figures. For example:

  • Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid – 34 mpg
  • Kia Sorento Hybrid – 35 mpg
  • Toyota Highlander Hybrid – 36 mpg
  • Lexus RX 350h – 36 mpg
  • Hyundai Tucson Hybrid – 38 mpg
  • Toyota Venza – 39 mpg
  • Lexus NX 350h – 39 mpg
  • Toyota RAV4 Hybrid – 40 mpg
  • Lexus UX – 42 mpg
  • Kia Sportage Hybrid – 43 mpg

With this list of hybrid models, you receive better fuel mileage figures and larger vehicles. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is one of the best gas mileage SUV models offered, and it brings you three rows of seats, something you don’t find in the first list.

The best mpg SUVs seriously lack cargo space

2023 Hyundai Venue Cargo Area luggage test
2023 Hyundai Venue Cargo Area | Hyundai

You can’t add extra cargo room to smaller vehicles. These small SUVs have small spaces behind the rear seats. Folding the rear seats opens more room, but some are still very small. Here are the measurements for our list of the best gas-mileage ICE SUVs:

  • Hyundai Venue – 19/32 cu-ft
  • Ford Escape Active FWD – 38/65 cu-ft
  • Chevrolet Trailblazer – 24/54 cu-ft
  • Volkswagen Taos – 28/66 cu-ft
  • Toyota Corolla Cross- 27/88 cu-ft
  • Kia Soul – 24/62 cu-ft
  • Kia Seltos – 27/63 cu-ft
  • Hyundai Kona – 19/46 cu-ft
  • Nissan Rogue – 32/74 cu-ft
  • Nissan Kicks – 25/32 cu-ft

As you can see, the Ford Escape Active FWD, Toyota Corolla Cross, and Nissan Rogue are outliers with more cargo room than expected.

Some of the most fuel-efficient SUVs don’t offer AWD and only have FWD

Continuing with the same theme, here’s the list and what each offer.

  • Hyundai Venue – FWD only
  • Ford Escape Active FWD – FWD only
  • Chevrolet Trailblazer – FWD and AWD
  • Volkswagen Taos – AWD and FWD
  • Toyota Corolla Cross – AWD and FWD
  • Kia Soul – FWD only
  • Kia Seltos – FWD and AWD
  • Hyundai Kona – FWD and AWD
  • Nissan Rogue – FWD and AWD
  • Nissan Kicks – FWD only

Something to remember: if you choose an AWD version, the fuel economy numbers decrease.

The best gas-mileage SUVs don’t offer much power

Most of these small SUVs don’t require much power. That said, this lack of power in the most efficient SUVs means towing and acceleration are either lacking or completely nonexistent. Here are the power numbers for our list:

  • Hyundai Venue – 121 horsepower, 113 lb-ft of torque
  • Ford Escape Active FWD – 181 horsepower, 190 lb-ft of torque
  • Chevrolet Trailblazer – 137 horsepower, 162 lb-ft of torque
  • 158 horsepower, 184 lb-ft of torque
  • Toyota Corolla Cross – 169 horsepower, 150 lb-ft of torque
  • Kia Soul – 147 horsepower, 132 lb-ft of torque
  • Kia Seltos – 146 horsepower, 132 lb-ft of torque
  • Hyundai Kona – 147 horsepower, 132 lb-ft of torque
  • Nissan Rogue – 201 horsepower, 255 lb-ft of torque
  • Nissan Kicks – 122 horsepower, 114 lb-ft of torque

As you can see, the only model to crack 200 horsepower is the Nissan Rogue.

How can you get the best gas mileage in an SUV without compromising?

Based on this information, if you want an SUV that’s larger than these models, has more power, offers additional space for passengers and cargo, but still gives you good fuel mileage numbers, go for the hybrid SUVs. Most of the hybrids listed check off all of these boxes for you.

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