You can save money at the pump and minimize your carbon footprint without sacrificing utility

Crossover and SUVs are the vehicles of choice among a growing number of new-car buyers and it’s easy to see why. Their tall and upright designs typically afford added passenger room and cargo space, with a higher driving position and easier access than small cars, as well as the added foul-weather security of all-wheel drive. But while their utility is undeniable, they’re far from being the most fuel-efficient rides on the road.

According to the EPA’s ratings for the 2018 model year, the best non-electrified SUVs in this regard can be found within the burgeoning subcompact and compact crossover segments. We found 10 fuel-sipping SUVs rated as high as 29/34 miles per gallon (city/highway), which is for the class-leading Mazda CX-3. That’s a far cry from the lofty ratings attached to some non-hybrid or EV passenger cars like the Mitsubishi Mirage at 37/43 mpg or the diesel-powered version of the Chevrolet Cruze at 31/47 mph. Why the discrepancy? It’s partially due to vehicle aerodynamics; despite become curvier over the years, a typical “two box” SUV still pushes more air than does a lower and more sleekly designed passenger car, which tends to especially affect its highway mileage.

Weight is also an issue. While the subcompact Honda HR-V crossover SUV tips the scales at 2,902 pounds and is EPA rated at 28/34 mpg, the Honda Fit hatchback the upon which it’s based weighs in at a more svelte 2,544 pounds and is estimated to achieve a more frugal 33/40 mpg (both with the optional CVT transmission). What’s more, fuel economy ratings are typically one or two mpg lower for all-wheel-drive (AWD) models versus those with standard front-drive (FWD), again because of the added weight.

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