Shoppers looking to save money at the pump don't have to compromise on the styling or capabilities of a new SUV. We've made a list of the most fuel-efficient 4x4s available to show drivers that getting an SUV can still mean 25 miles per gallon or more.
1. MINI Countryman: 30 mpg combined
It's hardly surprising that one of the smallest crossovers available is also the most efficient. In its base-level Cooper Countryman trim level, the Countryman achieves an impressive 28 mpg in city driving and 35 mpg on the highway with its standard 6-speed manual transmission. But even drivers who choose to upgrade to an automatic won't get penalized too heavily at the pump, with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating the crossover's 6-speed auto at 25 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Best of all, the Countryman also includes a reasonable base price of just over $22,000 with shipping.
2. Lexus RX 450h: 30 mpg combined
Since Ford cancelled its 32-mpg Escape Hybrid, Lexus' upscale RX 450h is now the most efficient hybrid SUV available. Featuring a 295-horsepower V6 that can scoot to 60 miles per hour from a standing stop in around 7.5 seconds, the RX 450h avoids the lackluster performance often associated with hybrids. But it still boasts terrific fuel economy, recording a whopping 32-mpg city and 28-mpg highway in 2-wheel drive form. And while the RX 450h can cost over $50,000 with options, shoppers get a long list of features, including keyless access and starting, automatic headlights and dual-zone automatic headlights as standard equipment.
3. Mazda CX-5: 29 mpg combined
The boldly styled Mazda CX-5 doesn't use a hybrid motor to record its impressive fuel economy figure. Instead, it achieves 26 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway thanks to weight-saving SkyActiv technology and an efficient 2.0-liter 4-cylinder powerplant that produces 155 hp. And while some drivers might not find that engine powerful enough, those who don't need quick acceleration will enjoy considerable fuel savings at the pump. They'll also get a hot new compact crossover with a USB port for music, 17-inch alloy wheels, remote keyless entry and steering wheel audio controls for just over $21,000 with destination--a steal among today's SUV choices.
4. Nissan Juke: 29 mpg combined
While the Nissan Juke's shocking lines aren't for everyone, those who like the crossover's styling can take advantage of fuel economy ratings as high as 32 mpg in highway driving. They'll also get a long list of standard equipment that includes a digital media player hookup, 17-in alloy wheels, steering wheel audio controls and remote keyless entry--all for around $20,000 with shipping. To us, that's a great deal considering the Juke also offers a practical 36 cu-ft of cargo space with its seats folded, but we don't blame drivers who think the styling is a little too outlandish.
5. Toyota Highlander Hybrid: 28 mpg combined
The midsize Toyota Highlander offers a great value among the handful of hybrid SUVs on the market. In addition to being the least expensive hybrid SUV, the Highlander is among the most efficient, coming in second behind only the mechanically similar RX 450h from Toyota's Lexus luxury brand. Indeed, the Highlander records 28 mpg in both city and highway driving, and offers a reasonable starting price of around $40,000 with shipping. Like its RX 450h sibling, the Highlander Hybrid also boasts nearly 300 hp, meaning drivers don't need to worry about passing power, as with some compact hybrid cars.
6. BMW X1: 28 mpg combined
BMW's latest crossover is among the most fuel-efficient upscale SUVs on the market. According to the EPA, drivers who choose the rear-wheel drive X1 sDrive28i can get up to 24 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway for a combined total of 28 mpg. Thankfully, the X1 achieves its stellar fuel economy figures without sacrificing power, as the crossover's base-level 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine still produces a healthy 241 hp. And for drivers who need the year-round capability of all-wheel drive, xDrive versions of the compact crossover return up to 22 mpg in the city and 33 mpg in highway driving.
7. Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: 27 mpg combined
Mitsubishi's smallest crossover comes in sixth place among gas-sipping SUVs thanks to EPA fuel economy ratings of 25 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway in 2-wheel drive form. With a base price around $19,500 including destination, the Outlander Sport is also one of the least expensive SUVs available, meaning interested shoppers can save at the dealer and at the pump. We're further impressed with the Outlander Sport's long list of standard safety features, which includes side curtain airbags, hill ascent control, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes and a driver knee airbag.
What it means to you: Shoppers interested in a new SUV that doesn't cost a fortune at the pump will find several great choices in our latest list of fuel-efficient 4x4s and crossovers.