Think of a luxury SUV – a Cadillac Escalade or Range Rover – and conspicuous consumption may come to mind. But an increasing number of luxury shoppers look to crossovers and SUVs that deliver prestige and style — but with fewer stops at the gas pump. Here’s your guide to the five most fuel-efficient premium SUVs on sale today. All are crossovers; no old-school body-on-frame truck-type wagons here. And all have base prices over $40,000 (excluding options but including the manufacturer destination fee, which average about $900).
The EPA rates most luxury crossovers and SUVs between 17 and 21 mpg city/highway combined. Our five average just under 26 mpg combined, and all have all-wheel drive. That’s how most crossovers and SUVs are equipped. And since our focus is on true luxury brands, you won’t see such vehicles as the Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel or Toyota Highlander Hybrid on the list, even though both have $47,000-plus base prices and rate 24 and 28 mpg combined, respectively
To make our list, some luxury rides rely on a gas/electric hybrid drivetrain, others depend on a diesel engine, some have a sixth-sense for efficiency and use a small turbocharged four-cylinder engine that can shut down at a stop and restart with the release of the brake pedal. Finally, if your ideal SUV is inconspicuous and shuns overconsumption, check out CarPreview’s 2014 Best Mileage SUVs under $40,000.
Here are our Five Top Fuel-Efficient SUVs Over $40,000
Base price: $49,755
Fuel-economy rating: 29 mpg city/highway combined
Toyota’s upscale division pioneered the gas/electric hybrid luxury SUV when it launched the RX 400h for the 2006 model year. Today, the midsize-class Lexus RX 450h remains the most fuel-efficient premium SUV and one of the most frugal crossovers of any stripe. For the 2015 model year, the five-passenger RX hybrid gets a new “Display Audio” system with 7-inch color screen, 12 speakers, and a standard rearview camera. Power comes from a 3.5-liter gasoline V-6 engine and a battery-powered electric motor that combine for 295 horsepower. Like all Toyota and Lexus hybrids, the RX 450h can use one or both of its power sources to balance acceleration and fuel economy. In addition to its stellar fuel-economy rating, you are treated to one of the most serene driving experiences of any SUV. The cabin is appropriately high-end, with pleasing textured plastics and genuine maple trim. The optional Mark Levinson-brand audio system is a worthwhile upgrade, even if you’re not an audiophile. If you’re looking for something to entertain you on curvy roads, the RX 450h isn’t going to be your first choice. While Lexus’ Enform infotainment suite is feature rich, navigating it with the included joystick-like controller can be frustrating. There is no redundant touchscreen control, either. These drawbacks shouldn’t prevent you from stopping at your Lexus dealer if you’re in the market for an efficient, luxurious crossover.