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Friday, June 10, 2011
The Top 10 Most Fuel-Efficient 2011 SUVs
For those of us who want a sport utility vehicle—to haul the kids, groceries and make it up that steep gravel driveway—but don't want the high monthly bills from the gas station, this is the list for you. Here are the top 10 most fuel efficient 2011 SUVs.
The Tradeoff: Toyota's ever-popular RAV4 made it into last place on this top-ten list by just barely beating out its old nemesis, the Honda CR-V. Needless to say, the upcoming all-electric version may hold quite a different position next time.
2011 Subaru Outback Wagon 4WD
Base Price: $23,195
The Numbers (MPG): 29 hwy, 22 city, 24 overall
The Tradeoff: When we reviewed the Outback last year, we were impressed enough to name it our Most Versatile Car. While not a tall, truck-based SUV like some of its competition, it still handled itself quite capably on rough terrain, thanks in part to Subaru's extensive experience with all-wheel-drive tech.
2011 Kia Sportage 2WD
Base Price: $18,295
The Numbers (MPG): 31 hwy, 22 city, 25 overall
The Tradeoff: During our recent test of the 2011 Sportage, we found that Kia has managed to improve every aspect of its small SUV, and while it was not exactly luxurious, we were pleased with the lighter, more responsive chassis, along with a boost in power and more available options. It represents a competent package for a competitive price, exactly as Kia intended.
2011 Jeep Patriot 2WD
Base Price: $15,995
The Numbers (MPG): 29 hwy, 23 city, 25 overall
The Tradeoff: Identical in fuel economy to the Jeep Compass, the four-door Jeep looks and plays the part of a proper Jeep well enough, although its more comfortable platform (shared with the Dodge Caliber) isn't quite as rugged as Jeep's other offerings.
2011 Chevrolet Equinox FWD (GMC Terrain)
Base Price: $22,745 ($24,250)
The Numbers (MPG): 32 hwy, 22 city, 26 overall
The Tradeoff: Last year we had a chance to sample the Equinox, and we came away fairly unimpressed with the overall driving experience, particularly with the relative ease that the four-cylinder engine had in getting the fairly heavy vehicle up to speed. And it's a substantially improved vehicle over its previous version.
2011 Hyundai Tucson 2WD
Base Price: $18,745
The Numbers (MPG): 31 hwy, 23 city, 26 overall
The Tradeoff: Hyundai vehicles are improving rapidly and substantially. The Tucson fits right in the current stable of small SUVs—it has no fatal flaws and is a comfortable, well-made vehicle.
2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2WD
Base Price: $18,495
The Numbers (MPG): 31 hwy, 25 city, 27 overall
The Tradeoff: The Outlander Sport is the most economical nonhybrid SUV here (its big brother the Outlander isn't far off, either), and we found it to offer good value and a surprisingly decent ride, although there was no hiding the lack of power compared to its competition.
2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid 4WD
Base Price: $37,290
The Numbers (MPG): 28 hwy, 28 city, 28 overall
The Tradeoff: As would be expected, the top three fuel misers are all hybrids, starting with the Toyota Highlander. Interestingly, the 2011 Highlander Hybrid achieves the very same 28 mpg in the city as when cruising down the highway. We had a Highlander Hybrid as a long-term tester a few years back and were sad to see it go; it was as trouble-free as we could've hoped.
2011 Lexus RX 450h
Base Price: $43,235
The Numbers (MPG): 32 hwy, 28 city, 30 overall
The Tradeoff: The only true luxury vehicle on the list, the Lexus RX 450h offers great gas mileage and a smooth, quiet ride. When we last reviewed it, we immediately appreciated the understated appearance and lack of bling appeal, especially considering the seemingly endless list of features on this vehicle.
2011 Ford Escape Hybrid FWD
Base Price: $29,935
The Numbers (MPG): 34 hwy, 31 city, 32 overall
The Tradeoff: The Ford Escape Hybrid (along with corporate cousins the Mazda Tribute and the soon-to-die Mercury Mariner), takes top honors for SUV fuel economy. In front-wheel-drive trim, it serves up well over 30 mpg in all situations, as well as plenty of style and substance.