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Is SUV Fuel Economy An Oxymoron?

Sports Utility Vehicles or SUVs have been known to be fuel guzzlers thus consumers tend to do a double take when considering buying one especially with the present soaring prices of gas.  However, not a few would want to have the comfort of a luxury automobile and the capability for carrying heavy loads in one vehicle.  Such is the attraction of an SUV; amidst the numerous and persisting questions about gas mileage.

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Best MPG SUVs
Big Boxy SUV or Sleek Fuel Sipping CUV?

There is good news for SUV lovers.  Since SUVs come in different sizes, consumers can still have their desired vehicle while still making fuel savings possible.  It should be noted that larger sized vans weigh more and thus consume more fuel which makes the smaller sized SUVs an economical option.  The answer therefore lies in finding a high mileage SUV.

Shift At The Pump

SUVs were not originally meant for better gas mileage, being usually grouped among sports cars.  What it initially offered were performance and speed, but changes in spending styles and environmental restrictions has given way to Fuel Efficient SUVs.  SUVs though have a long way to go as far as meeting the fuel standards of cars because of their considerably heavier weights.

Below is a chart of MPG ratings for several SUVs from a study conducted by ConsumerReports.org:

Make & Model Average MPG City MPG Highway MPG
Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited 27 23 29
Lexus RX 450h 26 22 31
Ford Escape Hybrid 26 22 27
Subaru Forester 2.5X (MT) 24 18 30
Nissan Juke SV 24 18 31
Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE 23 18 28
Toyota RAV4 (base, 4-cyl.) 23 16 29
Mitsubishi Outlander LS (4-cyl.) 22 16 30
Nissan Rogue SL 22 17 27
Hyundai Tucson GLS 22 16 28
Subaru Forester 2.5X Premium 22 16 28
Jeep Patriot Sport 22 16 28
Kia Sportage LX 22 16 30
Jeep Compass Sport 22 16 28
Toyota RAV4 Limited (V6) 22 15 29
BMW X5 xDrive35d 22 15 29
Chevrolet Equinox 1LT (4-cyl.) 21 14 30
Honda CR-V EX 21 15 29
Honda Element EX 21 14 29
Ford Escape XLT (4-cyl.) 21 15 27
Lexus RX350 21 15 27

Here are some figures on hybrid sport utility vehicles, courtesy of Hybrid SUV:

Hybrid Vehicle Gas Mileage Estimates (city/hwy)
(2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012 Hybrid SUV Models)

43/40 mpg:     2012 Lexus CT 200h (CUV)
34/30 mpg:     2010 Mazda Tribute (AWD)
34/31 mpg:     2011 Ford Escape (AWD)
34/31 mpg:     2011 Mercury Mariner (4WD)
30/28 mpg:     2011 Lexus RX 450h (AWD)
28/28 mpg:     2011 Toyota Highlander (AWD)
26/24 mpg:     2011 Volkswagen Touareg (Est.)
26/32 mpg:     2009 Saturn Vue (FWD)
21/24 mpg:     2011 Mercedes-Benz ML450 (AWD)
20/23 mpg:     2011 Chevrolet Tahoe (2WD)
20/23 mpg:     2011 GMC Yukon (4WD)
20/23 mpg:     2011 Cadillac Escalade (AWD)
17/19 mpg:     2011 BMW ActiveHybrid X6

One of the most comprehensive lists can be found at http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/FEG2011.pdf. This government website includes historical data from 2006, 2007, 2008 as well as comparisons done by size (a small SUV mileage comparison for example).
 
Utility Options: From Direct Ingection Engines To Electric Motors

There are at least three varieties of SUVs in the market today.  There is one variety which is built on the passenger car basis such as the Toyota Highlander.  There is another variety which is built on the line of truck chassis such as the Ford Excursion while the third variety is built on the Range Rover type.  Variations are clearly seen between the three varieties in size, weight, utility and most especially, mileage.

SUVs having the best fuel mileage are those of the four-cylinder and two-wheel drive variety such as the Toyota RAV 4 and the Honda CR-V.  Manufacturers have come up with hybrid versions with gas mileage efficiency while avoiding making any sacrifices with the look and feel of a luxury car.

Tied three-way for being the most fuel efficient sports utility vehicles are the Ford Escape Hybrid FWD Automatic, the Mazda Tribute Hybrid 2WD Automatic, and the Mercury Mariner Hybrid FWD Automatic, all with city MPG of 34 and highway MPG of 31.  The Mitsubishi Outlander 2WD Manual follows closely with the same highway MPG but a lower city MPG of 24.  The SUVs considered as the least fuel efficient are the Chevrolet Suburban 2500 4WD Automatic and the GMC Yukon XL 2500 4WD Automatic, both having a city MPG of 10 and a highway MPG 15.  MPG ratings are based on gasoline operated vehicles.

Hybrid Electric SUVs and PHESUVs

The creation of hybrid SUVs have given manufacturers a way out of the existing crisis in fuel cost.  Hybrids have increased fuel efficiency because of their dual- nature power, being also powered by electricity.  The hybrid version practically saved the day for SUVs at a time when people are way over their head in fuel prices.

Crossover To Reduce Your Cost Per Mile (CPM)

To make a sound comparison, vehicles that are to be compared should belong to the same category.  The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) also publishes fuel economy figures for the guidance of consumers.  This agency has required testing for city MPG and highway MPG.  The new breed of SUVs often referred to as the crossover has been steadily attracting potential buyers as sales for traditional SUVs decline mainly due to fuel economy considerations.  Some examples of the crossover are the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano.  Crossovers are said to possess the combined features of a car, a minivan and an SUV.


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