Best Gas Mileage SUVs for 2012

When you think of high gas mileage, you probably don’t think of sports utility vehicles (SUVs). Sure, these bad boys may be convenient – and some are actually capable of going off road, believe it or not – but high gas mileage isn’t typically a selling point.

That is slowly but steadily changing. These days, in today’s market, SUVs are steadily becoming more fuel efficient (although none of them are anywhere close to the most fuel efficient cars on the road). You don’t even have to resort to an obscure model that runs off refined peanut oil or something exotic like that; plenty of mainstream manufacturers have models with significantly-improved fuel efficiency.

Here, we’ll take a look at this year’s most fuel-efficient SUVs on the market today. This list includes gasoline-only vehicles as well as hybrids and alternative-fuel SUVs.

(All MPG reported is combined MPG instead of city and highway. All base prices are without tax incentives, rebates, or credits.)

Ford Escape Hybrid – 32 MPG
Base price: $21,440

The Ford Escape Hybrid is a fuel-efficient version of Ford’s best-selling SUV. This vehicle has a parallel-track hybrid engine, meaning it operates in electric mode up to a certain speed (44 mph) and uses gasoline when going faster. It also comes with regenerative braking, which helps improve fuel economy. Front wheel drive (FWD) models have better gas mileage. The Ford Escape Hybrid puts out 177 net horsepower.

Lexus RX 450h – 30 MPG
Base price: $45,910

With the RX 450h, Lexus has produced the most fuel-efficient SUV for the luxury market. It is twice the cost of the Ford Escape Hybrid and delivers less mileage per gallon, but it does so without being a hybrid. Plus, the performance far outstrips the Escape; its V6 engine delivers an impressive 295 horsepower.

Mazda CX-5 – 30 MPG
Base price: $20,695

The CX-5 isn’t a true SUV; it is technically a crossover, which means it combines features of an SUV with a car. Nevertheless, it delivers a very fuel-efficient performance even if its output (155 horsepower) is on the car side of the equation.

Nissan Juke – 29 MPG
Base price: $19,990

The Nissan juke is another crossover vehicle that tries to deliver the fuel efficiencies of a car with the space and relative performance of an SUV. The turbocharged four-cylinder Juke offers a nice amount of power (188 horsepower) and an affordable price with good mileage.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid – 28 MPG
Base price: $38,715

There aren’t many hybrids and alt-fuel SUVs on the market; the Highlander is only one of two mainstream hybrids (the other being the Escape). The Highlander’s MPG isn’t nearly as good as the Escape, and the price is significantly higher, but its V6 engine with its 280 horsepower packs more of a punch. The Highlander is bigger too boot.

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport – 27 MPG
Base price: $22,695

The Outlander is Mitsubishi’s main SUV model that delivers a decent amount of mileage for a manufacturer that doesn’t market itself as a leader in fuel efficiency. It’s a pretty roomy SUV with 168 horsepower from its four-cylinder, 2.4L engine, but those looking for maximum value and gas mileage have better options.

Honda CR-V – 26 MPG
Base price: $22,495

The Honda CR-V is easily one of the most popular SUVs in the United States. Over the past four years, Honda has averaged roughly 200,000 vehicles sold a year and has grown its sales each year since 2003. The CR-V is a relatively-small SUV that gets a good amount of horsepower (185 hp) from its relatively-small four-cylinder, 2.4L engine.

Chevrolet Equinox – 26 MPG
Base price: $25,505

The Equinox is marketed as a fuel-efficient SUV, and while its fuel efficiency is noticeably lower than others on this list, but compared to its main competition – other mid-size SUVs like the Dodge Journey, Ford Explorer, and Jeep Grand Cherokee – its gas mileage is markedly superior. The Equinox delivers 182 horsepower from the standard 2.4L, four-cylinder engine. There is some controversy regarding the official mileage reported from the EPA (26 mpg) and tests from third-party reviewers; some critics allege that the Equinox inflates its mileage, although other third-party reviewers have reported similar findings to the official numbers.

Currently, there is no mainstream, mass-produced electric SUV on the market. The closest is the Toyota RAV4 EV, which gets 81 mpg equivalent. That model is sold in limited numbers only in California at the moment, and while it would make history as the first mainstream electric SUV on the market, there’s no indication that Toyota plans to expand it at the moment (the manufacturer is dedicated to hybrid technology at the moment).]

Before I finish, I’d just like to say a special thanks to freemoneyfinance for including me in the recent carnival.

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