There was a time “fuel efficient” and “SUV” couldn’t be used in the same sentence without a qualifier — such as “not very.” But advancements in design, engineering, and technology mean modern crossovers and SUVs can achieve car-like gas mileage and still retain the tall driving position and flexible interior accommodations people love.
Better still, exploiting these advances doesn’t require a king’s ransom. This guide highlights the five most fuel-efficient SUVs priced under $40,000. The base prices we list include manufacturer destination fees, which average about $900, but not options. And the fuel-economy numbers reflect the EPA’s combined city/highway rating with all-wheel drive. Indeed, most SUVs are purchased with AWD, a vital advantage in snowy climates.
The average combined city/highway fuel-economy rating for an SUV today is 21 mpg. Those on our list average 28 mpg. Interestingly, just two are hybrids; the others are laudable examples of highly efficient conventional engineering. And the only one with a base price over $31,000 is the Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid SV. None qualifies for the premium class, though. If you’re after great fuel economy in a more upscale package, check out CarPreview’s 2014 Best Mileage Luxury SUVs.
Here are our top Five Top Fuel-Efficient SUVs Under $40,000
Subaru XV Crosstrek and XV Crosstrek Hybrid
Base-price range: $23,820-$30,120
Fuel-economy ratings span: 28-31 mpg city/highway combined