Sport-utility vehicles and crossovers continue to be the hottest automotive segment in America — their versatility makes them an attractive alternative to sedans, minivans and wagons. That said, those who need an SUV or crossover don’t have to forgo good fuel economy. With hybrids, electrics, diesels and even highly-efficient gas engines, the 2017 SUV lineup offers plenty of fuel-efficient choices. Since most SUV buyers are looking for all-wheel drive, let’s review the most fuel-efficient all-wheel-drive sport utes on the market. Note that EPA fuel economy is listed as city / hwy / combined mpg.
Tesla Model X 75D AWD
91 / 95 / 93 mpge
The Model X is currently the only production electric SUV on the market, and this sleek vehicle offers more than just impressive fuel economy. According to Tesla, the 75D has a range of around 257 miles on a full charge and can reach 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds. There’s seating for seven, and access to the rear seats is via unique Falcon Wing doors. Without an internal combustion engine, the Model X actually offers a large front trunk in addition to the rear cargo area. Last year there was a six-month wait to be a Model X owner; now buyers should be able to take delivery within a couple weeks.
Nissan Rogue Hybrid AWD
31 / 34 / 33 mpg
The Nissan Rogue is redesigned for 2017, and for the first time a hybrid version is offered in both front- and all-wheel-drive configurations; it is scheduled to arrive at the end of 2016. The 2017 Rogue is updated inside and out, with a stronger V-Motion grille, new bumpers and taillights. The Rogue Hybrid is powered by a 2.0-liter gasoline engine combined with an electric motor and the Xtronic continuously-variable transmission. The 2.0-liter gasoline engine produces 141 horsepower and 144 lb-ft of torque; the electric motor is rated at 40 horsepower, and the combination creates a net system output estimated at 176 horsepower. The Rogue Hybrid includes an Idle Start/Stop system and an Intelligent Regenerative Braking system. Although EPA data is not available yet, fuel economy is expected to be 33 mpg city / 35 mpg highway / 34 mpg combined in front-drive format, and 31 mpg city / 34 mpg highway / 33 mpg combined for the all-wheel-drive powertrain.
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
34 / 30 / 32 mpg
The RAV4 is one of the best-selling SUVs in America, and for 2016 Toyota added a hybrid version that pencils out as the most fuel-efficient gas-powered SUV on the market, along with the Lexus NX 300h AWD that shares the same powertrain. All RAV4 Hybrids are 4WD — the gas engine combines with an electric motor to drive the front wheels, while an additional electric motor provides power to the rear wheels. The RAV4 was one of the first crossovers when it debuted 20 years ago; the RAV4 Hybrid is the eighth hybrid model from Toyota, and it also happens to be the most powerful and fuel-efficient RAV4 ever.
Lexus NX 300h AWD
34 / 30 / 32 mpg
Lexus joined the growing compact luxury SUV segment with the addition of the all-new NX for 2015. Available with a turbocharged engine or hybrid powertrain, it’s the most fuel-efficient hybrid version we’re highlighting here. The all-wheel-drive NX hybrid features a gas-electric powertrain that combines a 2.5-liter gasoline engine with an electric motor driving the front wheels and an electric motor powering the rear wheels for additional traction. The new NX is designed to provide sporty handling as well as impressive fuel economy.
BMW X3 xDrive28d
27 / 33 / 30 mpg
BMW SUVs have always been more about sport than utility, and in that vein this diesel-powered X3 certainly doesn’t disappoint. The twin-turbo engine delivers 181 horsepower and — more importantly — 280 lb-ft of torque, which means it feels very quick off the line. Equipped with an 8-speed automatic transmission, the X3 xDrive28d is very fuel efficient, claiming 33 mpg on the highway.
Lexus RX 450h AWD
31 / 28 / 30 mpg
One of the first luxury crossovers on the market, the RX is the best-selling Lexus model ever and for 2016 it received a complete makeover. Styling is all new; most noticeable is the brand’s large, bold spindle grille which dominates the front end. Performance for new RX is quite impressive — the 450h hybrid powertrain puts out 308 horsepower while delivering a combined 30 mpg.
Honda CR-V AWD
27 / 33 / 29 mpg
The Honda CR-V has been the best-selling SUV in America for the last 20 years, and the redesigned 2017 model starts the fifth generation. The 2017 CR-V offers new exterior styling, a more spacious interior, a premium-quality interior and its first-ever available turbocharged engine. The CR-V EX and higher trim levels are powered by a new direct-injection turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque, delivering 30 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 29 mpg combined with all-wheel drive. The new CR-V offers a wider stance and a longer wheelbase, and the design features a sharper front end featuring a new grille, more aggressive headlights, LED daytime running lights and wider front fenders.
Honda HR-V 4WD
27 / 31 / 29 mpg
A new model for the 2016 model year, the HR-V is the smallest of the Honda crossover lineup. With a surprisingly spacious interior, the HR-V can handle cargo of myriad shape and size with its configurable second-row “Magic Seat.” Power comes from a 138-horse engine teamed with a continuously variable transmission, offering reasonable performance in this very competitive market segment.
Mazda CX-3 AWD
27 / 32 / 29 mpg
Mazda also added a new subcompact crossover for 2016, with the CX-3 joining the lineup as the smallest crossover alongside the compact CX-5 and midsize CX-9. Mazda CX-3 boasts a dynamic design, signature Mazda sporty driving characteristics and an available sophisticated i-ACTIV AWD system. Powered by a SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter engine combined with the SKYACTIV-DRIVE 6-speed automatic transmission, the CX-3 AWD delivers impressive fuel efficiency of 29 mpg combined.
26 / 33 / 29 mpg
Subaru made a brilliant move a few years ago when it took the compact Impreza and with few alterations converted it into the very popular XV Crosstrek, now known simply as Crosstrek. The small crossover is fun to drive, has good space for four as well as a usable cargo area. With 8.7 inches of ground clearance and full-time all-wheel drive, the Crosstrek remains very capable while delivering impressive fuel economy of 29 mpg combined.
Jaguar F-Pace 20d AWD
26 / 33 / 29 mpg
Jaguar leaps on the SUV craze with the all-new 2017 F-Pace midsize crossover, joining other luxury brands already deep into SUVs as sales continue to climb. F-Pace has three different engine choices: a 340-horsepower supercharged 3.0-liter V6, a 380-horsepower supercharged 3.0-liter V6 and the fuel-economy champ, a 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel that produces 180 horsepower, 318 lb-ft of torque and delivers 29 mpg combined. A torque on-demand all-wheel-drive system is standard, with Intelligent Driveline Dynamics that maintains a rear-drive bias but transfers torque to the front wheels as needed.
25 / 32 / 28 mpg
The Subaru Outback was one of the original crossovers, combining SUV utility with the comfort and convenience of a wagon. Completely new for 2015, Subaru has stayed true to that original formula. Although it is larger with added high-tech features, capabilities and a 2.5-liter horizontally-opposed Boxer engine combined with a CVT, Outback’s fuel economy remains impressive — especially for such a large vehicle.
Nissan Rogue AWD
25 / 32 / 28 mpg
Nissan’s Rogue was redesigned just two years ago, but gets another makeover for 2017, including new exterior styling with V-Motion grille, new bumpers, taillights and exterior trim. Inside, the Rogue receives a new D-shaped steering wheel, a new center console design, revised instrument panel trim, new door trim, new seat fabric and a leather boot for the shifter. The new Rogue is powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 170 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque, combined with an advanced Xtronic transmission with standard Sport and Eco modes. Projected fuel economy (EPA data is not yet available) is expected to be 26 / 33 / 29 mpg in front-drive format, and 25 / 32 / 28 mpg for all-wheel-drive variants.
26 / 31 / 28 mpg
The JUKE certainly stands out from the crowd with its sculpted headlights, unique silhouette and overall muscular lines. The small crossover features a sporty-looking interior with a surprising amount of room for rear-seat passengers and cargo. Juke backs up that sporty look with a 188-horsepower direct-injected 4-cylinder engine under the hood.
Toyota Highlander Hybrid 4WD
28 / 28 / 28 mpg
The Highlander Hybrid is one of eight hybrid models offered by Toyota, and it was all new for the 2015 model year. The most fuel-efficient SUV to offer space for seven, the Highlander Hybrid can handle the extra load with a total horsepower rating of 280.
26 / 32 / 28 mpg
Subaru’s best-selling model in the U.S., the Forester is updated for 2017 with revised exterior styling, new driver assistance technology, added interior comfort and improved fuel economy. Exterior changes include redesigned headlights, a new front bumper for normally-aspirated trims, a new hexagonal grille and rear LED combination lights. Offered with either a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder or a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, powertrain improvements increase fuel economy for the 2.5-liter to 26 / 32 / 28 mpg for the Forester 2.5i with CVT and standard all-wheel drive. For 2016 Forester earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating with Subaru’s innovative EyeSight system, which integrates Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking and Vehicle Lane Departure Warning.
Buick Encore AWD
26 / 31 / 28 mpg
Redesigned for 2017, Encore is Buick’s best-selling vehicle with a revised appearance that includes new front and rear fascias, a new hood, front fenders, headlights, winged grille with Buick tri-color insignia and new taillights with LED lighting. Two engines are offered: a turbocharged Ecotec 1.4-liter producing 138 horsepower, and a turbocharged Ecotec 1.4-liter producing 153 horsepower for the Encore Sport Touring, which is also the most fuel-efficient at 28 mpg combined with all-wheel drive.
Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 4MATIC
23 / 31 / 27 mpg
One of the newest members of the Mercedes-Benz SUV lineup, the GLA seems more carlike than SUV. No matter what you call it, the GLA features a sleeker, more aerodynamic design than the slightly larger GLC (formerly GLK). The GLA’s turbocharged and direct-injected 4-cylinder engine generates more than 200 horsepower — which is more than adequate for a vehicle of its size — but at the same time returns fuel economy on par with the company’s diesel offerings.
Hyundai Tucson Eco
25 / 30 / 27 mpg
The Hyundai Tucson was redesigned for the 2016 model year with a fresh new look, updated interior and a number of new high-tech features. When equipped with the optional Automatic Emergency Braking, the Tucson earns the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ designation. The new Tucson is more spacious inside, and under the hood it now offers a new 1.6-liter turbocharged engine with 175 horsepower combined with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission for improved fuel economy.
Chevrolet Trax AWD
24 / 31 / 27 mpg
For 2017 the Chevrolet Trax receives an exterior refresh with a new dual-port grille, sleek halogen headlights, a new rear fascia and new taillights with signature LED for the LT and Premier trims. Inside, the dual cockpit design has chrome accents, a new instrument cluster with new gauges and a driver information center. The Trax arrived in the U.S. for 2015 and is sold in 66 global markets. Trax seats five, and the split-folding rear seat adds considerable versatility to the small crossover. It also comes standard with GM’s latest tech offering — OnStar with 4G LTE and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot. Power comes from a rather small 1.4-liter turbocharged engine producing 138 horsepower.
24 / 31 / 27 mpg
An all-new model for the 2015, Renegade is the smallest model in the Jeep lineup. But unlike most small crossovers, Renegade boasts the off-road capability one expects from Jeep products. The Renegade also features a disconnecting rear axle that improves fuel economy when 4WD is not needed. The most fuel-efficient combination is the 160-horsepower 1.4-liter turbocharged engine teamed with a 6-speed manual transmission.
Audi Q5 hybrid quattro
24 / 30 / 26 mpg
Fuel-efficient Audis have always employed the company’s miserly diesel technology, but with rising demand for hybrids in America it made sense for Audi to create a hybrid version of the popular Q5. With the current issues facing diesels of the Volkswagen Group (Audi is a division of Volkswagen), the efficient Q5 TDI is not currently being sold. But unlike the many hybrids built with only fuel economy in mind, this one uses the hybrid system for performance as well. With the 2.0-liter engine combined with a powerful electric motor, the Q5 hybrid puts out a total of 245 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque.
Mazda CX-5 4WD
24 / 30 / 26 mpg
Many years have passed since Mazda coined its “Zoom-Zoom” tagline, but it still works for their current lineup — including the CX-5. The CX-5 received updated styling and interior upgrades for the 2016 model year, and still continues to feature the SKYACTIV technology suite, including a 2.0-liter powerplant that offers snappy performance as well as impressive fuel economy.
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