Sport utility vehicles are prized for offering maximum room and storage capacity as well as for delivering optimum handling in difficult on-road conditions. Some models are also off-road capable, handling anything from light- to trail-duty work. SUVs, however, are not very fuel efficient, but there are a few models that get at least 30 mpg around town or on the highway. Let’s take a look at the five best gas mileage SUVs for the 2013 model year:
1. Lexus RX 450h — Delivering 32 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, the Lexus RX 450h leads among SUVs. This hybrid model delivers an EPA-rated 30 mpg combined, based on the agency’s 55 percent local driving and 45 percent highway driving calculation.
Priced from $45,910, this Lexus hybrid is sold in front- and all-wheel-drive configurations and is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that runs on the efficient Atkinson cycle. Lexus uses a nickel metal hydride battery pack to store electricity derived from its electric motors as well as from regenerative braking. Total system power of 295 horsepower helps move this hybrid with authority while minimizing gas consumption. This vehicle requires premium grade gasoline.
2. Nissan Juke (tie) — One of the smallest SUVs on the market is the Nissan Juke, quite easily one of the most unusual vehicles of its kind too. This model is rated at 27 mpg city, 32 mpg highway for a combined 29 mpg.
Powered by a turbocharged direct injection 1.6-liter engine, Juke is priced from $19,990, the lowest-priced model that made our list. Making 188 horsepower, Juke is paired with a 6-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission. An all-wheel-drive Juke is also available. This vehicle requires premium grade gasoline.
2. Mazda CX-5 (tie) — The newest Mazda model is the CX-5, the replacement for the Tribute model retired after the 2011 model year. This compact SUV is rated at 26 mpg city, 35 mpg highway, delivering a combined 29 mpg. This vehicle runs on regular grade gasoline.
Priced from $20,995, the Mazda CX-5 is powered by a 2.0-liter four cylinder engine that makes 155 horsepower. Top fuel economy is achieved by pairing this engine with a 6-speed manual transmission. All-wheel-drive and an automatic transmission are also available.
4. Toyota Highlander Hybrid (tie) — Toyota’s most efficient SUV is its Highlander hybrid edition. This vehicle is rated at 28 mpg city, 28 mpg highway for a combined 28 mpg. This model runs on regular grade gasoline.
Like the Lexus RX Hybrid, the Highlander Hybrid is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine. Priced from $39,970, net system power of 280 horsepower is realized with this vehicle. The Highlander Hybrid is paired with a continuously variable transmission and features a nickel metal hydride battery pack that stores electricity derived from its electric motors and by regenerative braking.
4. Buick Encore (tie) — The newest SUV on the market is the Buick Encore, making its debut in January 2013. This small SUV is rated at 25 mpg city, 33 mpg highway for a combined 28 mpg. This model runs on regular grade gasoline.
Encore is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter four cylinder engine that is paired with a shiftable 6-speed automatic transmission. Priced from $24,950, Encore comes equipped with Buick’s IntelliLink system, a rear backup camera with a 7-inch LCD screen. Front-wheel-drive is standard; all-wheel-drive is optional.
4. Subaru XV Crosstek (tie) — Subaru’s XV Crosstek is yet another all-wheel-drive model for this niche Japanese brand. Crosstek is rated at 25 mpg city, 31 mpg highway for a combined 28 mpg. This vehicle takes regular grade gasoline.
Priced from $21,995, Crosstek is powered by a 2.0-liter BOXER engine and makes 148 horsepower. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard; a continuously variable transmission that can also be operated as a 6-speed manual is available. Crosstek qualifies as the most fuel efficient AWD SUV sold in the United States.
Priced from $30,650, this SUV is powered by a 2.0-liter twin-turbo four cylinder engine that makes 240 horsepower and is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The X Line is rear-wheel-drive with all-wheel-drive also available.
With seven models that get at last 28 mpg, consumers have many more choices available to them then ever before. Pricing, of course, varies with size range, trim levels and options presenting expanded choices within each model range.
Photos courtesy of the respective car manufacturers.