Kelley Blue Book: 10 compact SUVs with the best gas mileage

United States

Driving an SUV no longer means accepting poor fuel economy. These days, many sport-utility vehicles offer fuel economy on par with comparable compact or midsize sedans. Here’s a look at the most efficient trims, based on EPA ratings, of each of the mainstream compact SUVs offered for the 2021 model year.

Note: This list does not include SUVs on dedicated EV platforms.

10. 2021 Jeep Cherokee

EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy: 22/31/25 mpg

The compact Jeep Cherokee is offered in a few rugged trims, but as you could maybe guess, its most fuel-efficient model also happens to be the least capable. To get the most efficient Cherokee, look for one with front-wheel drive and the base four-cylinder engine. 

9. 2021 Kia Sportage

EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy: 23/30/26 mpg

Kia’s 000270, -2.64% Sportage is a competitive compact SUV, but it’s about due for a redesign. Its most efficient trim is the base front-wheel-drive model, which packs a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. 

See: Looking for a people mover? Here are 10 of the most affordable 3-row vehicles

8. 2021 GMC Terrain

EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy: 25/28/26 mpg

Though it’s almost identical to the Chevrolet Equinox, the GMC Terrain takes a small fuel economy penalty, likely due to its boxier shape. In both cases, these SUVs offer the best fuel economy when equipped with front-wheel drive and a 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder engine. 

7. 2021 Mazda CX-5

EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy: 25/31/28 mpg

The Mazda MZDAY, +2.98% CX-5 is one of our perennial favorites. It has gone a few years without a redesign, but its premium design and great driving dynamics continue to set it apart. With its basic non-turbocharged engine and front-wheel drive, the CX-5 achieves fuel economy as good as 31 mpg on the highway. 

Related: The 25 most fuel-efficient SUVs of 2021

6. 2021 Chevrolet Equinox

EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy: 26/31/28 mpg

The Equinox is another safe bet in the compact SUV segment. With its simplest powertrain — a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and front-wheel drive — the Equinox achieves 26 mpg city, 31 highway, and 28 combined. 

5. 2021 Subaru Forester

EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy: 26/33/29 mpg

Subaru’s FUJHY, +0.50% Forester comes with standard all-wheel drive and a basic 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Its 29 mpg fuel economy is quite good, considering that most competitors don’t exceed these figures in front-wheel-drive form. 

4. 2021 Nissan Rogue

EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy: 27/35/30 mpg

The Rogue, Nissan’s NSANY, +2.54% bestselling vehicle, gets a much-needed redesign for 2021. There’s no PHEV or hybrid powertrain available; the Rogue uses one engine across its lineup. It is available with either front- or all-wheel drive. Naturally, the FWD model is the most efficient. 

More: These midsize trucks get the best mileage

3. 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid

EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy: 40/35/38 mpg

Last year, the Honda HMC, +0.76% CR-V introduced a new hybrid powertrain, which immediately became the most fuel-efficient model in the CR-V lineup. It comes with standard all-wheel drive, just like top SUV on this list. Even the non-hybrid CR-V is efficient, netting 28 mpg in the city, 34 highway, and 30 combined. 

2. 2021 Ford Escape Hybrid

EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy: 28/34/30 mpg

Last year, Ford F, -0.52% introduced a hybrid version of the redesigned Escape. While a plug-in hybrid is expected to arrive this spring, the Ford Escape Hybrid is still a very efficient choice. The Escape Hybrid returns 44 mpg combined with front-wheel drive or 43 combined with all-wheel drive. In its base FWD gas trim, the EPA rates the Escape at 27 city/33 highway/30 combined. 

1. 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

MPGe: 94 combined
EPA combined fuel economy: 38 mpg

Toyota’s TM, +0.03% plug-in hybrid version of the RAV4, dubbed the Prime, is easily the most impressive vehicle on this list. It comes standard with all-wheel drive, packs 302 combined horsepower, and goes from 0-60 in 5.8 seconds. On top of that, it can travel 42 miles on a full charge and returns 38 mpg after the battery’s been depleted. And RAV4 Prime buyers are eligible for a $ 7,500 federal tax credit. The RAV4 Hybrid is rated at 41 city, 38 highway, and 40 combined. The base gas RAV4 clocks in at 27/35/30. As far as gas-powered compact SUVs go, this is about as good as it gets.

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