While full-size sport utility vehicles have long endured the gas hog label due to poor fuel economy, things have improved substantially in recent years. High gas prices and pressure from Washington, D.C. pushed the auto manufacturers into action. Every entry on our list of 10 full-size 2017 SUVs with the best gas mileage is rated at over 20 miles per gallon combined, with the top of the list dominated by hybrids (along with a solitary turbo diesel). Sadly, the American manufacturers lag the field and eight out of the top 10 entries are imports. While Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler have all marketed hybrid SUVs in the past, none presently do. That said, the Chrysler Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid minivan and the domestic manufacturers’ clean diesel engine options point to the future.
10 Most Fuel Efficient Full-Size SUVs
Photo Credit: Lexus
Lexus RX 450h
The 2017 RX 450h delivers an impressive EPA fuel economy rating of 31 city/28 highway/30 combined miles per gallon and is the flagship of the luxurious Lexus SUV hybrid lineup. A 259-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine is mated with two electric motors in the front-wheel-drive RX 450h and three electric motors in the all-wheel drive model. The AWD version uses an electric motor to drive the rear wheels and provide regenerative braking. The RX 450h delivers a true luxury experience, throughout. The interior is library quiet and the ride is wonderfully smooth. Plush leather upholstery and wood accents make the RX 450h’s cabin a treat for the senses.
Photo Credit: Toyota
Toyota Highlander Hybrid AWD LE Plus
The three-row 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is an excellent choice for families that value fuel efficiency and comfort in a full-size all-wheel drive SUV. The Hybrid Synergy Drive system combines a direct injected 3.5-liter V6 engine with an electric motor to produce a healthy 306 horsepower while delivering and EPA-rated 30 city/28 highway/29 combined miles per gallon. The Highlander Hybrid’s electronic on-demand all-wheel-drive system does not use a transfer case and driveshaft to power the rear wheels, relying instead on the independent electric motor. By comparison, the conventional Toyota Highlander AWD LE is rated at 20 city/27 highway/23 combined miles per gallon.
Photo Credit: BMW
BMW X5 xDrive
BMW offers two highly efficient full-size all-wheel drive SUVs for 2017. The x5 xDrive 35d is powered by a 3.0-liter turbodiesel engine, while the X5 xDrive40e utilizes a plug-in hybrid architecture with a 308-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine. The x5 xDrive 35d is EPA-rated at 23 city/29 highway/25 combined miles per gallon. The X5 xDrive40e plug-in hybrid covers the 0-60 MPH sprint in just 6.5 seconds and is rated at 56 MPG combined on gasoline and electricity, as well as 24 MPG combined while running on gasoline (premium required). With a full charge, the X5 xDrive40e will deliver 14 miles of “emission-free” electric driving range before switching to conventional hybrid mode.
Photo Credit: Volvo
Volvo offers two fuel-efficient all-wheel drive variations of their luxurious XC90 three-row crossover for 2017. The XC90 T8 AWD plug-in hybrid’s drivetrain pairs a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter engine with an electric motor to produce a total of 400 horsepower. The system provides approximately 17 miles of pure electric driving range on a fully charged battery, with a 59 city MPGe rating, and a blistering 0-60 MPH time of 5.3 seconds. The XC90 TC AWD is equipped with the same supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter engine (sans electric motor) and is EPA rated at 22 city/25 highway/23 combined miles per gallon. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the 2017 XC90 a Top Safety Pick+.
Photo Credit: Jaguar Land Rover
Range Rover Sport
The 4-wheel-drive 2017 Range Rover Sport delivers a stunning combination of luxury, off-road competence, and fuel economy. The Range Rover Sport’s 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 engine produces 254 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque, with a very respectable EPA-rating of 22 city/28 highway/24 combined miles per gallon and 7.1-second 0-60 MPH time enabled by the efficient 8-speed automatic transmission. An all-aluminum body shell lowers weight for enhanced efficiency. The 23.5-gallon fuel tank provides a whopping amount of highway driving range. The Range Rover Sport is packed with thoughtful features like automatic access height, which lowers the vehicle by two inches to ease passenger entry and exit.
Photo Credit: General Motors
The GMC Acadia was thoroughly redesigned for the 2017 model year, with gas mileage a prime consideration. The Acadia’s 3.6-liter V6 produces 310 horsepower and delivers respectable fuel economy, with an EPA rating of 21 city/26 highway/23 combined miles per gallon for the front-wheel drive version and 21 city/25 highway/23 combined MPG for the all-wheel drive version. The 2017 Acadia benefits from a 700-pound drop in weight and a 22-horsepower gain over last year’s model. Connectivity is top-shelf. The IntelliLink infotainment system provides Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. GM OnStar telematics with 4G LTE and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot are standard. USB ports are provided in all three rows.
Photo Credit: Ford
The Ford Explorer is the best-selling large SUV in America. A cosmetic refresh in the 2016 model year introduced a redesigned front end and a 280-horsepower 2.3-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine. The front-wheel drive 2017 Explorer 2.3-liter is EPA-rated at 19 city/27 highway/22 combined miles per gallon, while the all-wheel drive Explorer 2.3-liter is rated slightly lower at 18 city/27 highway/21 combined. The top-of-the-line Explorer Platinum is fitted with a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 that delivers a whopping 365 horsepower, along with driver and front passenger bucket seats that provide tri-level heating and ventilation, tri-zone power lumbar support, and massage functions.
Photo Credit: Audi
The 2017 Audi Q7 delivers distinctive style and thrilling performance, with a 333-horsepower supercharged V6 engine that delivers a 0-60 MPH time of just 5.7 seconds. Given that level of performance, the all-wheel-drive Q7’s official EPA fuel economy ratings of 20 city/25 highway/22 combined miles per gallon are quite impressive. The Q7’s cabin is luxurious and high end, although not as spacious as the domestic competition. The available Audi Virtual Cockpit utilizes a stunning 12.30-inch display. The Q7’s third row is significantly tighter than the roomiest full-size SUVs on our list, with just 29.2 inches of leg room and 35.9 inches of head room. While the 22.5-gallon fuel tank provides a significant amount of driving range, high-octane premium fuel is required.
Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
Dodge Durango RWD
While often overlooked, the 2017 Dodge Durango is a splendid 3-row SUV with a well-appointed cabin that provides plenty of room for passengers and cargo. The Durango’s base 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 produces 295 horsepower and the 8-speed transmission enables respectable fuel economy. The rear-wheel drive 2017 Dodge Durango is EPA-rated at 19 city/26 highway/21 combined miles per gallon and the all-wheel drive Durango is rated at 18 city/25 highway/21 combined. We’d like to see Dodge offer the efficient and torquey EcoDiesel engine that’s available in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The spacious third row provides 37.8 inches of headroom, 31.5 inches of legroom, and 50.4 inches of shoulder room. You’ll want to choose the fold/tumble option for the second-row seats for ease of access and interior versatility.
Photo Credit: Infiniti
Infiniti QX60 Hybrid
The luxurious Infiniti QX60 Hybrid is one of the most fuel-efficient large SUVs on the market. The hybrid drivetrain pairs a supercharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and electric motor to produce a total of 250 horsepower. Both the front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive QX60 Hybrid models are EPA-rated at 25 city/27 highway/26 combined miles per gallon. The interior is luxurious and accommodating for large families, with a multi-mode second-row seat that allows easy access to the third row, even while a child seat is installed. The third-row seats recline for passenger comfort. Seat heating is standard in the first row and optional in the second row.