Consumers who need the kind of passenger- and cargo-carrying space, towing capabilities and good fuel economy are on the lookout for the Best Large MPG SUVs. Outside of hybrids, the fuel economy leaders tend to cluster in the 15 to 16 mpg city/ 21 to 22 mpg highway range. Then, there are a significant number in the 12 to 14 mpg city/18 to 21 mpg highway range. But, you get what you pay for. Generally speaking, large luxury SUVs get less fuel economy than the more affordable ones. That stands to reason, since every additional amenity you tack on increases weight, which contributes (usually) to decreased fuel economy. But not always, as you’ll see in one of our top three picks for Best Large MPG SUVs.
- Mazda CX-9 – Leading the pack of non-hybrid large SUVs in terms of overall fuel economy with 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway in its 273-hp 3.7-liter V6 engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control is the 7-passenger 2010 crossover. Edmunds says CX-9 offers the best in a “family-friendly crossover that doesn’t compromise on driving excitement.” Editors also like its tasteful styling, excellent build quality, easy-access to third row, and numerous amenities. Storage is a bit “stingy” and there are some “cheap interior bits.” U.S. News and World Report comments some may be put off by its limited towing capacity and stiff ride, but hails CX-9’s “large seating and cargo capacity, sporty exterior design and lots of standard safety features.” Consumer Guide gives it a Best Buy rating, saying “this crossover merits our approval because it does many things well.”
- Chevrolet Tahoe – If you need three-row seating for up to nine passengers, towing capability and fuel economy, look no further than the 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe. In 2WD form, Tahoe 1500 delivers an EPA-estimated 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway with the 320-hp 5.3-liter V8 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission (the FFV variant gets the same mileage on gas, but 11 mpg city/16 mpg highway on E85). Kelley Blue Book says the 2010 “continues to be one of the best full-size SUV values on the market.” Edmunds notes that despite ”less-than-sharp handling and unwieldy third-row seats, the 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe still shines as a top pick for a full-size SUV, thanks to its attractive cabin and unstoppable towing capability.” Tahoe is also a Consumer Guide Best Buy for 2010 (as it has been for several years).
- Cadillac Escalade – Looking for a luxurious, fully-capable large SUV that gets good gas mileage? Check out the 2010 , which Edmunds says is “ultimately…one of the better large, luxury sport-utility vehicles out there.” With its 403-hp 6.2-liter V8 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission, fuel economy gets a bit better in 2010, thanks to “new [standard] cylinder deactivation technology that seamlessly shuts down and restarts half the engine’s cylinders to save fuel.” EPA estimates are 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway. Downside is third-row seat lacks legroom and must be removed for maximum cargo space. U.S. News and World Report ranks Escalade #1 in Luxury Large SUVs. Escalade is also a Consumer Guide Recommended Pick.