Crossover SUVs have become the new craze in car-buying, with the crossover segment exploding in recent years. It’s not hard to see why; folks love the apparent practicality and chunky looks. But finding a crossover with good gas mileage is also high on most people’s list of priorities.
Fuel prices are only going to go up in the coming years, too, as the world’s reliance on oil seemingly has no end in sight, despite a push toward electrification. And thanks to crossovers appealing to singles, young couples or even empty-nesters, these folks are looking to save every dollar they can.
Rather than buying a gas-guzzling full-size SUV, they’re opting for crossovers to make parking easier, to save on insurance and still have the surety of all-wheel-drive. However, it must be noted that crossovers certainly aren’t the most fuel efficient method of transport.
There are plenty of small hatches on the market that will easily outdo a crossover SUV. That’s thanks to only two driven wheels, the size difference between a crossover and a hatch, and also the weight difference. There are also aerodynamic differences which all add to the fuel use.
Something else to consider is the fuel powering it. In most countries there’s a choice of diesel or petrol (gasoline). For example, the Volvo XC40 with its T5 engine does 30mpg, while the same sized diesel engine does 44mpg.
In some markets you can even get electric SUVs that are powered by hydrogen, which makes working out miles per gallon a little more difficult. And of course, there’s always the Tesla Model X, which doesn’t use a drop of fuel.
So for our purposes, we’re concentrating on petrol-powered crossovers, as it’s the most universal fuel worldwide, and it’s easy to compare figures.
So, let’s kick off with our list of ten crossovers with good gas mileage.
- Lexus NX 300h
- Volvo XC40
- Hyundai Kona 1.6T
- Mazda CX-3
- Audi Q2
- Toyota CH-R
- Buick Encore
- Jeep Renegade
- Fiat 500X
- Suzuki Vitara Turbo
You’re going to hear a lot more about this new Volvo crossover. Our test is yet to come, but based on what we’ve seen so far, the XC40 is set to shake up the compact SUV segment, with a range of fuel efficient engines, segment leading quality and plenty of interior tech. It’s also very, very safe.
Currently, it comes in a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, but there are three-cylinder petrols on the way also. T3 – 47mpg, T4 – 43mpg
Lexus NX 300h
We just had this crossover on test (read our Lexus NX Review here) in front-wheel-drive form, and while it’s not the best handling machine out there, there’s no denying its quality. Lexus knows how to put a vehicle together well, and the NX is evidence of this. But for fuel use, the NX uses its hybrid system to good effect.
Thanks to its battery system, it recharges the energy used when braking, and then uses an electric motor when setting off, which is where most fuel is burned (calling on torque from a standstill isn’t economical). Thus, the NX gets 31mpg. Not great when compared with the rest of our list, but for its size, it’s quite good. 31mpg
Hyundai Kona 1.6T
Hyundai’s smallest crossover comes in two different engine configurations, but it’s the smaller turbocharged unit that really is the star. It’s smooth, quick, and thanks to its turbo, there’s a good amount of torque for such a compact SUV. It also looks funky and has a very interesting colour palette to choose from.
Also remarkable is that it’s very good off-road – obviously in light-duty use – so if you’re wanting to head down that bush track, you don’t have to be too precious about it. Of course, it goes without saying that we’re talking about the AWD model here. Don’t try heading off road with the FWD version. 30mpg (FWD), 27mpg (AWD)
Despite the Mazda CX-3 basically being a lifted Mazda2, there’s no getting around the fact that it’s a well-built, stylish compact SUV. Again, it can be had in both front wheel drive and all wheel drive flavours, but it’s surprising in that it manages good gas mileage without resorting to turbocharging. That’s thanks to Mazda’s SkyActive technology which is said to burn the fuel more efficiently, giving you the economy of a diesel, but the smoothness of a petrol.
Regardless, it seems to work, creating a compact crossover that’s enjoyable to drive and sips when at the bowser. 31mpg (FWD), 29mpg (AWD)
Thanks to a tiny 1.2-litre turbocharged engine, the C-HR should be very frugal, but what seems to be getting most folks over the line is its funky looks. It also drives quite well, too, making it an ideal choice for couples or singles. It’s not the biggest car, so don’t expect to carry a crowd, but you do get Toyota’s famed reliability, which is worth making a few sacrifices. However, it comes in around the higher end of fuel use in this group. 29mpg
Without being horrible, this is our least favourite crossover in this group. But it does well in the sales race, with most people drawn to its compact dimensions, and price. But spend a few extra dollars and there are definitely some better choices out there. 30mpg
Jeep Renegade 1.4T
With its Mini-Me looks and wild colours, the Renegade is at its best (for fuel economy) in 1.4-turbo form. Its compact dimensions and low weight help on the fuel use front, but some question marks remain over FCA’s reliability of late.
Still, in the right guise, you can actually do some bush-bashing in it, so it definitely lives up to the Jeep name. 39mpg
Take a Fiat Bambino and blow it up like a balloon, and what do you get? Well, something approaching the Fiat 500X. It’s different, and has plenty of Italian quirks, but it’s also quite frugal.
While not quite as solidly built as others, its attitude and do-your-own-thing marketing has appealed to quite a few buyers. 41mpg
Suzuki Vitara Turbo
The Vitara is a bit of an underdog and not a lot of people consider it when doing their SUV or crossover shopping. But it holds its own, despite having a slightly dated looking infotainment system.
The engine is punchy, frugal, and though it rides a little firm, it drives and steers very nicely indeed. And thanks to a hardy interior, it will stand up to the rigours of daily life. 39mpg
Look out for our Audi Q2 review soon, but this high quality crossover took a little while to warm to, thanks to its not-in-the-family looks. However, there’s no denying its quality, driveability, and thanks to an impressive turbocharged petrol engine, excellent fuel economy.
It really is the hero for petrol fuel economy, thanks to low weight and direct injection coupled with turbocharging. 1.4TSI – 51mpg
Even if you have a crossover already, you can make it quite economical. Check out John and Helen Taylor’s economy driving methods in the video below.