There’s no getting around it. When you’re talking about the most fuel-efficient used SUVs, you’re looking at hybrids first. After hybrids, there are a slew of almost-there choices, but this is, after all, an article about the most fuel efficient. This also means that the SUVs are compact in size. So, fuel economy leader and bigger don’t go together. Gathering information on the best gas mileage SUVs isn’t that difficult, but it does involve work. We’ve done that for you by going through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) list of most fuel-efficient SUVs for the past several years. Here, then, are the Top 3 Most Fuel Efficient Used SUVs.

  • Ford Escape Hybrid (2008-2009) – In the EPA size class of 2-wheel drive sport utility vehicle, the Ford Escape Hybrid 2009_Ford_Escape_Hybridfront-wheel drive (FWD) with 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and automatic transmission with variable gear ratios earns the top spot in fuel economy at 34 mpg city/31 mpg highway (2009), and 34 mpg city/30 mpg highway (2008). Escape’s hybrid siblings, the Mazda Tribute Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid post the same fuel economy numbers. Edmunds says the “Escape Hybrid is quicker than the regular four-cylinder Escape” and “remains the most fuel-efficient SUV on the market.” Car Gurus opine that “with more power, better gas mileage, an improved suspension and redesigned interior, the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid may be just more of everything we’re looking for.”
  • Saturn Vue Hybrid (2008-2009) – Coming in at number two spot in highest fuel efficiency for an SUV is the Saturn Vue Hybrid at 25 mpg city/32 mpg highway for both 2008 and 2009. This FWD model features a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and automatic transmission. Edmunds hails the Vue Hybrid’s “impressive fuel economy for an SUV, perfect crash-test scores, high-quality, European designed interior,” but pans “No all-wheel drive option, unimpressive cargo capacity.” Boston.com says of the 2009 Saturn Vue Hybrid that it’s “not luxurious, but it is well appointed for its price range. And, as far as hybrid SUVs go, it is the real deal when it comes to fuel economy.”
  • Jeep Compass (2008-2009) – Number three is a non-hybrid SUV, the Jeep Compass, achieving an EPA-estimated 23 mpg city/28 mpg highway for both 2008 and 2009 with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and 5-speed manual transmission. Edmunds says Compass is a “car-based design built for the majority of small-SUV buyers who want a fuel-efficient runabout that’s easy to drive around suburbia and loaded with conveniences.” U.S. News & World Report’s Automotive Reviews and Rankings say “Jeep’s first and only crossover vehicle, Compass, is a smooth-riding, affordable option within the compact SUV class.”

Also worth considering are the non-hybrid versions of the Ford Escape and its siblings, the Mazda Tribute and Mercury Mariner, which get respectable 22 mpg city/28 mpg highway fuel economy. Don’t forget to check out these as well: Jeep Patriot, Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester, all about 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway EPA fuel economy.

Click here for a list of top 10 most fuel efficient SUVs.

By Suzanne Kane

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