You no longer have to hold your nose while filling up your SUV at the fuel pump, as there's a whole new generation of people movers that have been tuned to get the best possible MPG without sacrificing the practicality that buyers expect from an SUV. This fresh breed of high MPG SUVs make use of a variety of technologies - turbodiesel engines, hybrid drivetrains, continuously-variable automatic transmissions - in order to improve fuel efficiency in the face of the size and weight of these useful machines.
Let's take a quick look at the 10 best MPG SUVs for 2014.
10 Best MPG SUVs 2014 - 01 - 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid - 31-MPG Combined
The 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid is the best mpg suv on our list, and it's also the first gasoline/electric vehicle to have been produced by the Japanese automaker. One of the most impressive aspects of the Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid's 31-mpg in combined driving is the fact that it features standard all-wheel drive, which traditionally has promised lower efficiency due to its additional weight and complexity. The XV Crosstrek Hybrid is motivated by a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that works together with a single electric motor in order to produce 160 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque.
10 Best MPG SUVs 2014 - 02 - 2014 Lexus RX 450h - 30-MPG Combined
The 2014 Lexus RX 450h is also a hybrid, in keeping with the Lexus tradition of offering battery-assisted versions of almost all of its vehicles. In fact, the Lexus RX 450h happens to be one of the most popular hybrids on the market, thanks in no small part to the fact that the standard RX is the best-selling vehicle in the Lexus lineup. The front-wheel drive edition of the RX 450h provides 30-mpg in combined driving, and it features not one, but two electric motors matched with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine. Taken together, the design produces 295 horsepower, which is prodigious output for a daily driver that's more focused on being green than green-light shenanigans.
10 Best MPG SUVs 2014 - 03 - 2014 Mazda CX-5 - 29-MPG Combined
The 2014 Mazda CX-5 doesn't have any hybrid wizardry going on under its hood, but what it does bring to the table is Mazda's Skyactiv engine technology. The Mazda CX-5's base 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine generates 155 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque, matched with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration might be a bit pokey with the small unit, but fuel economy shows as an impressive 29-mpg combined, and the Mazda CX-5 also throws in handling that is a cut above most other options in the compact SUV segment.
10 Best MPG SUVs 2014 - 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid - 28-MPG Combined
The 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is one of the largest SUVs in our best MPG roundup, but despite its considerable heft (and seven-passenger seating) it offers buyers excellent fuel efficiency as well as standard all-wheel drive. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is actually more powerful than its gas-only Highlander sibling thanks to the trio of battery-powered electric motors that complement its 3.5-liter V-6 engine. In concert the setup is good for 280 horsepower, with one of the electric motors reserved exclusively to motivate the rear axle in the event the front wheels lose traction. 28-mpg combined makes the Highlander the second-most frugal mid-size SUV on the market.
10 Best MPG SUVs 2014 - 05 - 04 - 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC 4MATIC - 28-MPG Combined
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC 4MATIC is the first turbodiesel-powered vehicle to crack the top 10 best MPG SUVs, but it won't be the last. Adding an efficient diesel motor to what was already a potent compact luxury SUV package was a smart idea from Mercedes-Benz, and the GLK250 BlueTEC 4MATIC also manages to offer respectable performance thanks to the 200 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque produced by its 2.1-liter, four-cylinder turbodiesel mill. A seven-speed automatic transmission handles the shifting duties for the vehicle, and all-wheel drive is included free of charge.
10 Best MPG SUVs 2014 - 06 - 2014 Nissan Rogue - 28-MPG Combined
The 2014 Nissan Rogue is an all-new compact SUV that combines more striking styling (in the vein of the larger Pathfinder) with a new three-row seating option, a larger interior (up to 70 cubic feet of total storage space), and an efficiency-oriented design. The Nissan Rogue maintains last year's 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, which provides 170 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque, but installs a new continuously-variable automatic transmission as standard equipment. The result of this redeveloped CVT is a measurable improvement in fuel mileage, with front-wheel drive editions of the Rogue posting 28-mpg in combined driving.
10 Best MPG SUVs 2014 - 07 - 2014 Buick Encore - 28-MPG Combined
The 2014 Buick Encore is one of the very few subcompact luxury SUVs money can buy, and its uniqueness on the market is matched by its slow-sipping habits at the fuel pump. The Buick Encore's small size gives it a weight advantage over many of its competitors, which allows it to make do with a modest, 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that offers up 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of twist. The upside of such a diminutive motor is fuel economy that checks in at 28-mpg combined for front-wheel drive Encore models, even when shifted via a six-speed automatic transmission.
10 Best MPG SUVs 2014 - 08 - 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek - 28-MPG Combined
Yes, you read that right - the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek is appearing twice on our list. This time, however, the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek isn't in hybrid guise, but rather its standard, gas-powered all-wheel drive self. How was Subaru able to squeeze 28-mpg out of a compact SUV that features all-wheel drive as part of its basic equipment? Like the Rogue, the answer lies in its continuously-variable automatic transmission, which is able to keep the Subaru's 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine at the most effective rpm regardless of vehicle speed. Output for the XV Crosstrek is limited to 148 horses and 145 lb-ft of torque.
10 Best MPG SUVs 2014 - 09 - 2014 Audi Q5 3.0 TDI - 27-MPG Combined
The 2014 Audi Q5 3.0 TDI takes the automaker's compact premium SUV and ups its efficiency by way of a turbodiesel drivetrain. The Audi Q5 3.0 TDI's 3.0-liter, turbodiesel V-6 is a torque monster, producing 428 lb-ft of twist to go with its 240 horsepower. Able to reach 60-mph in just 6.5 seconds, and featuring standard quattro all-wheel drive (and an automatic engine start/stop system), the Q5 3.0 TDI still posts combined fuel mileage of 27-mpg. The Audi also delivers substantial luxury in the form of a quiet and well-appointed cabin, as well as the availability of the brand's MMI vehicle interface.
10 Best MPG SUVs 2014 - 10 - 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander / Mitsubishi Outlander Sport - 27-MPG Combined
The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander, and its smaller platform-mate, the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, tie for the tenth and final spot on our list of the 10 best MPG SUVs. Although often maligned for offering average performance and features availability, there's no denying that each of these SUVs - one mid-size, the other compact - are leading lights when it comes to fuel efficiency. The Outlander's 2.4-liter, 166 horsepower four-cylinder engine and the Outlander Sport's 2.0-liter, 148 horsepower four-cylinder engine each take advantage of an available continuously-variable automatic transmission to post an EPA rating of 27-mpg in combined driving (for front-wheel drive models). It's up to you to determine whether you need the available third row of seating in the larger Outlander or not when trying to decide between these two Mitsubishi offerings.