With the cost of gasoline a constantly-fluctuating concern, consumers are right to pay attention to the best small mpg SUVs. Although there are 30 or so compact SUVs in the market, only a few rate in the 22 to 45 miles per gallon (mpg) fuel economy range. Subtract hybrids from the equation, and that leaves even fewer.

Here, then, are our top three picks for Best Small MPG SUVs. They are all 4-door, 5-passenger models.

  • Chevrolet EquinoxFor a non-hybrid compact SUV, the completely-redesigned 2010 Chevrolet Equinox crossover in front-wheel drive (FWD) with a 182-hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic transmission posts some impressive fuel economy numbers: 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway. Range is 602 miles on the highway and 414 in the city. Edmunds considers Equinox “one of the best compact crossover SUVs on the market,” and hails its styling, quietness, storage bins, roominess and high-tech features, while commenting it lacks some of the cargo space of competitors. U.S. News and World Report ranks Equinox #3 in Affordable Compact SUVs, hailing its class-leading highway fuel economy, spacious cabin with versatile, sliding rear seats – but no third-row seat.
  • GMC TerrainPlatform-mate to the Chevrolet Equinox, the GMC Terrain is ranked #2 in Affordable Compact SUVs by U.S. News and World Report. Terrain is an all-new entry for 2010, which impresses reviewers for its class-leading highway fuel economy (along with Equinox), standard rearview camera across all trims, and unique, bold styling, but no manual transmission is offered. In SLE-1 trim, Terrain gets an estimated 516 miles highway driving range and 396 miles on the highway – slightly less than Equinox. Edmunds says “Terrain and its Equinox sibling look set to shake up the small-to-midsize crossover SUV segment that Honda and Toyota have long dominated.”
  • Jeep PatriotOther than good fuel economy (23 mpg city/28 mpg highway) in the FWD Sport trim, the compact Jeep Patriot is one of the least expensive vehicles in its class. U.S. News and World Report ranks it #20 in Affordable Compact SUVs. Edmunds says while Patriot’s available Trail-Rated Off-Road package makes it “worth a look for avid bushwhackers,” buyers should “otherwise steer clear of this car-based Jeep wagon.”

Other Best Small MPG SUVs to consider include Ford Escape XLS (22 mpg city/28 mpg highway), Honda CR-V LX (21 mpg city/28 mpg highway), Hyundai Tucson GLS (22 mpg city/30 mpg highway) and Jeep Compass Sport (23 mpg city/28 mpg highway).

See a list of the top 10 SUVs with best MPG

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