Are you searching for an SUV or crossover that gets excellent gas mileage? You're in luck, because we've made a list of the nine most fuel-efficient SUVs and crossovers available today. That's good news for drivers who want to combine the practicality, ground clearance and storage space of an SUV with the gas mileage of a more efficient, smaller car.
Toyota RAV4 EV: 76 Mpg-e Combined
Thanks to a fully electric drivetrain, the Toyota RAV4 EV is the most fuel-efficient SUV on the road today. While it doesn't use gasoline, the RAV4 EV boasts a 76 combined miles-per-gallon equivalent, which is the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) fuel economy rating system for fully electric cars. More importantly, it offers a healthy 103-mile range and requires about five hours to fully recharge from a depleted state. The only drawback: Don't expect to buy a RAV4 EV if you live outside of California. The crossover, which starts at just over $51,000 with shipping, is only offered in the Golden State, though sales could someday expand to other markets.
Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid: 31 Mpg Combined
The Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid stretches the definition of "crossover," since it's mostly just an Impreza hatchback with extra rough-road capabilities and off-road styling. But thanks to standard all-wheel drive and raised ground clearance, the XV Crosstrek Hybrid can do just about anything that a traditional SUV can. And now, due to a new hybrid model, the XV Crosstrek can do even more. That's because it earned a 31 mpg combined city/highway fuel economy rating, which tops nearly everything else in the crossover class. Better yet, the XV Crosstrek Hybrid includes all-wheel drive and an automatic transmission in its near-$27,000 base price -- two things that many high-mpg rivals can't match.
Lexus RX 450h: 30 Mpg Combined
The Lexus RX 450h was the original premium hybrid crossover, and thanks to a 30 mpg combined fuel economy rating, it's still the most efficient. Starting from around $47,000 with shipping, the RX 450h offers a 3.5-liter hybrid V6 that makes a combined 295 horsepower. It also includes a long list of standard features, ranging from automatic headlights to a power rear lift gate, dual-zone automatic climate control and Bluetooth. The only drawback: There's still no third row. For that, you'll have to choose the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, located a little farther down our list.
MINI Cooper Countryman: 30 Mpg Combined
The MINI Cooper Countryman is a well-rounded crossover, owing to its combination of the standard MINI Cooper's good looks and sharp handling with the practicality and cargo space of an SUV. Pricing is appealing, too: A base-level Countryman starts at around $23,000 with shipping. But most importantly, the Countryman's fuel economy is excellent, as the EPA says base-level MINI Countryman models return up to 30 mpg in combined city and highway driving. Unfortunately, that figure is only good for Countryman models with a manual transmission and front-wheel drive, though shoppers looking to add all-wheel drive and an automatic will still see up to 27 mpg combined.
Mazda CX-5: 29 Mpg Combined
We like many things about the compact Mazda CX-5 crossover, ranging from an enticing base price ($23,000 with shipping) to sharp handling and a long list of standard and available features. But we especially enjoy the CX-5's gas mileage: According to the EPA, a properly-equipped CX-5 will return up to 29 mpg in combined city and highway driving, making it one of the most fuel-efficient SUVs available. Of course, that number is measured with 2-wheel drive, but even an all-wheel-drive CX-5 will still reach 28 mpg in combined driving. That means you don't need to give up much fuel economy for year-round capabilities.
Nissan Juke: 29 Mpg Combined
The Nissan Juke is primarily known for its unusual styling, both inside and out. Indeed, it looks like nothing else on the road thanks to its unique lines, huge wheel arches and oddly placed headlights that seem to sit atop the hood. But beyond its looks, the Juke also has another trick up its sleeve: fuel economy. The small crossover returns 29 mpg combined with an automatic transmission and 2-wheel drive, or 27 mpg combined should you want to switch to all-wheel drive. And the Juke's base price of just over $20,000 with shipping is icing on the cake for drivers interested in a new crossover that stands out from the crowd.
BMW X1: 28 Mpg Combined
BMW calls it a sports activity vehicle. The EPA calls it a car. But if you're interested in a small, luxurious crossover, the BMW X1 should be on your list, especially if you're focused on fuel economy. That's because base-level versions of the X1, which offer rear-wheel drive and a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, return 28 mpg in combined city and highway driving. The X1 also features a long list of standard equipment, including automatic climate control, automatic wipers, automatic headlights and Bluetooth, all for just over $31,500 with shipping.
Buick Encore: 28 Mpg Combined
The Buick Encore may be small, but if you're interested in a high-end crossover that gets great mileage, it's certainly worth a look. One reason is its affordable base price: Despite the upscale Buick brand name, the Encore starts at around $25,000 with shipping. Another reason to check out the Encore is its long list of standard features, which includes Bluetooth, a 7-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera and a USB interface for music. But the Encore's best trait is its gas mileage, as the crossover boasts 28 mpg combined with 2-wheel drive, or 26 mpg with all-wheel drive.
Toyota Highlander Hybrid: 28 Mpg Combined
After soldiering on unchanged since 2008, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is all-new for the 2014 model year. But while it boasts updated styling and new features, the Highlander Hybrid retains many of the same things that keeps shoppers coming back: items like an available third-row seat, all-weather capability, and of course, excellent gas mileage. Thanks to a 280-hp hybrid V6 engine and a smooth continuously variable automatic transmission, the Highlander Hybrid returns 28 mpg in combined city and highway driving. The Highlander Hybrid's only drawback is price, as it starts at around $48,000 with shipping. For that money, we'd rather have the more-efficient Lexus RX 450h, though the gas-sipping Lexus doesn't have a third row.