Where to Find a High MPG SUV

If there is any one thing that has been consistent about SUVs over the years, it is that they have never been considered either economical or eco-friendly. A large part of that perception has much to do with the media and the public’s desire for large, high-powered, gas-guzzling SUVs. However, for the last 20 years there has been a growing market for smaller, more fuel efficient SUVs.

The first perception we need to break is that all SUVs are huge. That is simply not true. In fact, the Geo/Chevy Tracker that ran from 1989 was a SUV that got high miles per gallon – close to 30 MPG on the highway in its early days, though that dropped to about 22 MPG at the end when the only engine available was a V-6.

Subaru Outback

There is also the still-in-production Subaru Outback that, depending on engine/transmission configuration can pull highway MPG in the high 20s. These are just a couple of the smaller vehicles. There are plenty more such as the Honda CRV, the Jeep Compass, and the Toyota RAV4.

The second perception that needs to be dispelled in order to open up the selection of high MPG SUVs is “bigger is safer”. That may have been true in 1975, but 35 years of engineering and technological advances have made all automotive vehicles safer.

Auto manufacturers have spent a lot of time and money developing light-weight composite materials that are stronger than steel and less prone to failure. Today’s vehicles are engineered with driver and passenger safety in mind. Modern vehicles are designed to collapse at the ends, absorbing impact force before it reaches the passenger compartment – thus protecting the occupants. Lighter equals more MPG, not more dangerous.

Last, but not least, we need to take a look at the newest SUVs on the block, the hybrid. For high MPG SUVs, these are among the best with four models in the last two years reaching or exceeding 30 MPG highway (’09 Mazda Tribute, ’10 Ford Escape, ’10 Mercury Mariner, ’10 Lexus RX 450h).

Don’t be fooled by all hybrids, however. The 2010 models of the Mercedes-Benz ML450, Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade all report highway MPG in the very low 20s.

High MPG SUVs are out there. They are available. They are safe. And they offer a wide range of amenities and sizes, technologies and quality. Test drive one and you just might be surprised.

2 Responses to “Where to Find a High MPG SUV”

  1. […] Where to Find a High MPG SUV | SUV Today […]

  2. […] the list of fuel-efficient 2010 SUV vehicles is the Ford Escape Hybrid. This gas/electric model rivals the mileage capability of some sedans and rules the roost in SUV […]

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