Fuel efficiency was once a feature reserved mostly for small sedans or subcompact SUVs. Luckily, times have changed and now you can find fuel-efficient SUVs across various size segments and brands. This means you're no longer forced to compromise on space or comfort to save at the pump. You'll find there are hybrid and gas-powered SUVs on the market offering the space, capability, and efficiency you're looking for from a daily driver. These are the top 3 small (subcompact and compact) and top 3 midsize SUVs that will help you keep your fuel costs at bay.
1. 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid
Despite its compact outward appearance, the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid gives you excellent space, comfort, and utility as an everyday vehicle. Drivers will find well-made materials in the cabin with comfortable seats that offer plentiful support and cushioning. There is also no shortage of cargo space in the Crosstrek with 22.3 cubic feet of space with the seats in place and 51.9 cubic feet with the second row folded flat.
For 2019, Subaru debuted its first plug-in hybrid Crosstrek to add fuel efficiency to the model's list of practical daily driver features. In addition to better MPG, the two electric motors give the Crosstrek Hybrid improved performance including a 0-60 that is a second faster than the gas-powered Crosstrek. The hybrid can also go 65 miles an hour on electric-only power and gets up to 90 MPGe with a total range of 480 miles.
Fuel Economy: 35 mpg combined (90 miles per gallon equivalent)
Starting MSRP: $33,325
2. 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Mitsubishi may not be the first brand you think of when looking for a capable and fuel-efficient SUV, but that all changes with the introduction of the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. The new 2019 Outlander PHEV balances utility, efficiency and some driving fun to top it off. The cabin has generous space for passengers in both rows and the leather-clad seats add comfort and style to the otherwise basic interior. The cargo space is easy to use thanks to the flat floor and the PHEV gains more cargo space over the gas-powered model for a total of 66.6 cubes with the second row folded flat.
The Outlander PHEV has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and 2 electric motors which offer the choice of driving it in one of three modes: 'Hybrid' which uses the gas engine when needed, 'EV' which is pure electric with a 22-mile range and 'Charge' (100% gas engine that charges the battery). The Outlander gets standard DC Fast Charging, which can charge the battery to 80% capacity in about 25 minutes. In addition to its efficient powertrain, the Outlander is also practical from a capability standpoint with all-season driving confidence thanks to the AWD and a towing capacity of 1,500 pounds.
Fuel Economy: 25 mpg combined (74 mpge)
Starting MSRP: $36,790
3. 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Toyota gave its popular RAV4 crossover a major overhaul for 2019. The RAV4 Hybrid emerges as a winner in fuel economy and performance among this compact crossover's trim offerings. The cabin will easily fit four adults in its two rows and the second-row passengers won't feel shortchanged on space which is a common problem in small SUVs. Cargo space is not only large (69.8 cubic feet behind the first row) but also easy to use thanks to a low loading height and a wide opening.
The RAV4's hybrid system features two electric motors and a 176-horsepower 2.5-liter inline-four for a total horsepower output of 219 horsepower. Despite weighing more than the gas-powered RAV4, the hybrid model gets a quicker 0-60 and increased torque. The improved performance is complemented by excellent fuel efficiency: 41 city/38 highway/40 mpg combined.
Fuel economy: 40 mpg combined (41 city/38 highway)
Starting MSRP: $28,795
4. 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
If you're looking for more space than a compact SUV can offer, but without making a major sacrifice in fuel efficiency, a midsize SUV like the 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid strikes a good balance. The Highlander Hybrid offers three rows for a large family, a quiet and comfortable ride, and impressive fuel economy numbers. The front and second rows offer ample elbow and leg-room. The third row, although tight, will easily accommodate the kids. Even though the cargo space behind the 3rd row is somewhat stingy at 14 cubic feet, there is a generous 84 cubic feet of space without the seats in the way.
The Toyota Highlander Hybrid leads the midsize SUV segment for fuel efficiency with an EPA rating of 30 city/28 highway. The Highlander Hybrid is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine and three electric motors for a combined 306 horsepower. Despite its large size, the midsize SUV has great acceleration and a smooth, comfortable ride. Its powertrain is up to the task of towing 3,500 pounds, proving that efficiency and capability can live side-by-side.
Fuel Economy: 29 mpg combined (30 city/28 highway)
Starting MSRP: $38,265
5. 2019 Mazda CX-9
The 2019 Mazda CX-9 is one of our favorite midsize SUVs because it strikes a perfect balance of driving experience, comfort, and style. The ride is comfortable and smooth, yet still gives you a noticeable connection to the road. The cabin offers excellent front seats, a comfortable second row, and a third row that is tight but convenient if you need additional seating. Cargo space caps out at 71 cubic feet with both rows folded for those times when you need to haul more gear than passengers.
The Mazda CX-9 is the first non-hybrid SUV on this list and its punchy turbocharged gas engine ensures you don't sacrifice driving experience in the name of fuel efficiency. The CX-9's turbo gives you a 0-60 time of 7 seconds which is respectable for a vehicle of its size. It's hard to believe such a large and powerful crossover is also fuel-efficient with a combined EPA rating of 24 mpg.
Fuel Economy: 24 mpg combined (22 city/28 highway)
Starting MSRP: $33,325
6. 2019 Subaru Ascent
The newest Subie on the block is the 2019 Subaru Ascent. Although fresh to the lineup, the Ascent is already getting praised for its family-centric features including generous seating in all three rows. Unlike some SUVs that require flexibility to climb into the last row, the Ascent has an easy to access third row that will even fit full-grown adults. The cargo space is just as accommodating as the passenger space with a maximum of 86.5 cubic feet behind the front row.
Despite being the largest Subaru, the Ascent is also the best driving. The ride is responsive, comfortable, and steering is precise. The icing on the cake is that the Ascent also makes the list of the top 3 fuel-efficient midsize SUVs. The 2.4-liter turbocharged engine gives the Ascent 260 horsepower, nimble acceleration, and solid EPA ratings of 23 mpg combined (21 city/27 highway).
Fuel economy: 23 mpg combined (21 city/27 highway)
Starting MSRP: $32,970