Searching for the best 4x4 gas mileage can be a frustrating exercise, as most vehicles that power all four wheels aren't particularly known for their frugality at the fuel pump. That being said, a fresh crop of 4x4 SUVs and trucks that feature more modern - and in many cases, turbodiesel - drivetrains are making waves by offering better than expected mileage while retaining the traction that 4x4 models are known for. Sure, most of these vehicles are suited for only light off-road driving, but given the fact that that's as far as most owners will ever push their SUVs, there's a lot to be said for these less-thirsty rigs. Let's take a quick look at 10 vehicles currently offering the best 4x4 gas mileage.
1) 2015 BMW X3 xDrive28i
The 2015 BMW X3 xDrive28i is a five-passenger compact SUV that derives its gas mileage cred from its turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This 2.0-liter unit has been tuned to provide 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, which is more than enough to get the BMW X3 moving with gusto. Better yet, thanks to its automatic engine start/stop system and its eight-speed automatic transmission, the BMW X3 delivers 21 mpg in city driving and 28 mpg on the highway. Total combined fuel mileage for the compact SUV - which comes with four-wheel drive as standard equipment - is listed at 24 mpg.
2) 2015 Audi Q5 3.0 TDI
The 2015 Audi Q5 3.0 TDI is in the same class as the BMW X3, fighting for the attention of luxury shoppers seeking a small SUV. The biggest difference between the two vehicles is the Audi Q5's turbodiesel drivetrain, which offers up considerably more torque than the engine under the hood of its rival. How much more? The 3.0-liter, six-cylinder unit pushes out 428 lb-ft of twist, along with the same 240 horses delivered by the BMW's smaller motor. Despite this differential, the four-wheel drive Audi Q5 shines with a fuel mileage rating of 24 mpg in city driving and 31 mpg during highway cruising (and 27 mpg combined), and it features an eight-speed automatic gearbox and an engine start/stop system to reduce idling.
3) 2015 Mercedes-Benz ML250 BlueTEC
All new for 2015, the Mercedes-Benz ML250 BlueTEC is another diesel-powered luxury suv, but this one kicks things up a notch in the size department. The Mercedes-Benz ML250 BlueTEC continues to offer five passenger seating but stretches it across a larger, mid-size platform that also feels more stable and composed at highway speeds. The 4MATIC 4x4 system comes free of charge with the BlueTEC model, which is motivated by a 2.1-liter, twin-turbo diesel inline-four engine that generates 200horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed automatic transmission and automatic engine start/stop system combine to help the diesel mill return fuel mileage of 22 mpg around town and 29 mpg on the highway.
4) 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel
The 2015 RAM 1500 EcoDiesel is perhaps the most traditional 4x4 on this list, because it offers the full frame and solid rear axle that most associate with hardcore off-roading. Where the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel diverges from the norm is under the hood, as it boasts a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 in place of the gasoline engines found in most other pickups. This gives the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel a distinct advantage over its competitors from an efficiency perspective, with the truck delivering 20 mpg in stop and go driving and 28 mpg on the highway. 22 mpg combined is also in the cards with the EcoDiesel, which is just as capable as its V-8 rivals thanks to its eight-speed automatic transmission and the 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque produced by its six-cylinder engine.
5) 2015 Toyota Tacoma
The 2015 Toyota Tacoma - in regular cab, four-wheel drive form - offers reasonable fuel efficiency for a 4x4. The Toyota Tacoma doesn’t come close to matching the more impressive figures posted by its diesel competitors, but it's significantly less expensive than many of the other vehicles in this thread - and 18 mpg in city driving and 20 -mpg on the highway aren't bad considering the truck's price point. 19 mpg combined is what most drivers will see from the truck's 159-horsepower, 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine, and the truck's 180 lb-ft of torque can be stirred by either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.
6) 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC bundles the German brand's turbodiesel expertise down into a more compact package. Unlike any other diesel-powered SUV on this 4x4 list, the Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC makes use of a four-cylinder engine, which has been tuned to provide 200 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque from its 2.1 liters. Fuel mileage for the GLK250 BlueTEC is outstanding, showing as 24 mpg city and 33 mpg highway (and 28 mpg combined), with a seven-speed automatic transmission and an engine start/stop feature once again playing a prominent role in the overall efficiency of the SUV.
7) 2015 Audi Q7 TDI
The 2015 Audi Q7 TDI is a three-row mid-size luxury SUV that adopts essentially the same 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 found in the smaller Audi Q5. In Audi Q7 TDI trim, the motor can be counted on to produce 240 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, and despite the not-inconsiderable weight of the SUV, fuel mileage is listed at 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, for a total combined rating of 22 mpg. Quattro four-wheel drive is of course standard with the Audi, and it also comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission to further smooth out its ride and reduce its diesel consumption.
8) 2015 Subaru Forester
The Subaru Forester has long been a favorite amongst “soft-roaders,” those who need 4x4 capability from time to time when trudging down muddy rural roads or across the occasional field. The 2015 Subaru Forester was recently revised, and in addition to its good ground clearance (8.7 inches), it also brings a new continuously-variable automatic transmission to the table. Working together with the Forester's entry-level, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, the autobox helps to deliver 24 mpg around town and 32 mpg on the highway (27 mpg combined), which is quite good considering the SUV's 170 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. It's also possible to get the X-Mode system with the Forester that is designed to provide more control over all-wheel traction and better manage slippery situations.
9) 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel
The 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel benefits from the installation of the same turbodiesel engine offered by the Ram 1500. In fact, it was the Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel that first brought this particular powerplant to North America, along with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Power remains a constant 240 horses and 420 lb-ft of torque, and the Jeep also offers the choice of as many as three different 4x4 systems for hardcore trail-heads. Fuel economy for the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel checks in at 21 mpg city and 28 mpg during highway cruising in four-wheel drive trim (28 mpg combined).
10) 2015 Porsche Cayenne Diesel
The 2015 Porsche Cayenne Diesel is based on a more advanced version of the platform that underpins the Audi Q7 TDI. What this means is that the Porsche Cayenne Diesel is extra athletic through the corners when compared to the Audi, and also boasts a more modern interior, especially when it comes to high-end features. The base model five-passenger Porsche features with the same drivetrain as its Audi sibling - a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 - that produces the same 240 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission handles the shifting duties for the SUV and four-wheel drive is included free of charge. Fuel mileage for the Cayenne Diesel shows as 19 mpg in stop and go driving and 29 mpg on the highway, for a combined total of 23 mpg.