It’s remarkable to see how much variety there is among the cadre of the most economical SUVs. While most are either compact or midsize offerings, it’s refreshing to find a number of luxury marques also in the mix. A number of them are quite engaging to drive too. As you’d expect, there’s also a healthy smattering of hybrid and diesel powertrains represented. And actually, the most economical SUV of 2016 is, in fact, a hybrid. So here, for your perusal, are the most economical SUVs for the 2016 model year.
The Most Economical SUVs
Photo Credit: Lexus
2016 Lexus NX 300h — 35 city/31 hwy
The new Lexus compact crossover hybrid SUV is similar in size to the Lexus IS sedans. In addition to its remarkably avant garde interior treatment, standard equipment includes keyless entry and start, dual zone automatic climate control, a 7-inch display screen, Bluetooth, Siri-based voice control, and full iPhone integration. Power comes from a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gasoline-fired engine teamed with a pair of electric motors and a continuously variable transmission. Total system output is 194 horsepower. Pricing starts at $39,720.
2016 Mazda CX-5 — 26 city/35 hwy
Noted for delivering engaging automobiles, Mazda’s CX-5 compact crossover is one of the most fun to drive of the most economical 2016 SUVs. The spacious CX-5 also delivers comfortable seating, outstanding crash test scores, and attractive styling. To get the best fuel economy, you’ll get the CX-5’s 155-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine capable of delivering 150 ft-lbs of torque. For the best fuel economy, you’ll team it with front-wheel drive and Mazda’s 6-speed manual transmission. Pricing starts at $21,795.
Photo Credit: Lexus
2016 Lexus RX 450h — 32 city/28 hwy
The original luxury crossover, the Lexus RX is the benchmark in the category. Its beautiful interior is complemented by one of the longest lists of luxury features out there. Further, reliability is a well-established commodity. While the Lexus does sacrifice third-row seating, the two rows it offers are exceptionally comfort-oriented. And then, there’s the RX’s quiet, smooth, and competent ride quality. Power comes from a 295-horsepower hybrid powertrain combining a 3.5-liter V6 with electric motors and a continuously variable transmission. Pricing starts at $47,620.
Photo Credit: Ryan ZumMallen
2016 Honda CR-V — 27 city/34 hwy
America’s favorite compact crossover among the most economical SUVs, the Honda CR-V got a new 4-cylinder engine from the Accord mated to a continuously variable transmission for the 2015 model year. The CR-V’s styling was refreshed, as well. The 185-horsepower engine displaces 2.4 liters and produces 181 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard. Other standard features include full power accessories, a rearview camera, cruise control, and air conditioning, along with Bluetooth hands-free telephony and audio streaming. Pricing starts at $23,445.
2016 BMW X3 xDrive28d — 27 city/34 hwy
While many of the most economical SUVs forego all-wheel drive to achieve the best fuel economy, the BMW X3 xDrive28d imposes no such compromise. Its road manners are as impeccable as you’d expect, and the nicely understated interior offers a wealth of modern conveniences. Many pundits consider the BMW X3 the best model in its category. We find the argument difficult to defer. Power for the xDrive28d comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel engine with 180 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. Pricing starts at $42,100.
Photo Credit: General Motors
2016 Chevrolet Trax — 26 city/34 hwy
The most economical SUVs don’t get much smaller than Chevrolet’s Trax, which gives it a significant advantage around town, where it’s easy to maneuver and park. What’s more, interior comfort is good for adults. Other standard features include automatic headlights and keyless entry. You’ll also find integrated smartphone applications, a rearview camera, and Bluetooth connectivity for telephony and audio streaming. Power comes from a 138-horsepower, turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. A 6-speed automatic routes power to the front wheels for the best fuel economy. Pricing starts at $20,120.
Photo Credit: Christian Wardlaw
2016 Honda HR-V — 25 city/34 hwy
An early entry for the 2016 model year, Honda’s HR-V is based on the Honda Fit. The HR-V is remarkably spacious for its size, incorporating the Fit’s clever interior flexibility with fold-flat seatbacks and rear seat cushions capable of folding up from the floor. Power comes from a 138-horsepower 1.8-liter inline-4 with 127 lb-ft of torque. A continuously variable transmission is employed to route power to the front wheels. Honda also offers a 6-speed manual with the HR-V. Pricing starts at $19,115.
2016 Nissan Rogue — 26 city/33 hwy
As the most economical SUVs go, Nissan’s Rogue offers versatility, a premium interior treatment, 3-row seating, and a smooth ride. What’s more, the Nissan features handsome exterior styling and remarkable cargo capacity. On rough roads, the Nissan rides smoothly, and at highway speeds, wind noise and tire roar are properly muted. The Nissan Rogue is fitted with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine good for 170 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. This is fed to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission. Pricing starts at $23,040.
Photo Credit: General Motors
2016 Buick Encore — 25 city/33 hwy
The tidy size of Buick’s Encore will surprise you the first time you see it in person. Standard equipment includes a touchscreen, smartphone app integration, Bluetooth, and a rearview camera. The top model brings rain-sensing wipers, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and front and rear parking sensor arrays. Power comes from a 138-horsepower, 1.4-liter turbocharged four rated at 148 ft-lbs of torque. A s6-speed automatic feeds either the front wheels for the best fuel economy. Pricing starts at $24,160.
2016 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC — 24 city/33 hwy
The rugged-looking Mercedes-Benz GLK delivers agile handling and a comfortable ride to go with its solid build quality and relatively affordable price point. One of but two models on this list offering diesel power, the engine is a 2.1-liter twin turbocharged diesel four, with 200 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Standard equipment includes Bluetooth telephony, the MBZ COMAND electronics interface monitored by way of a 5.8-inch video display, and dual zone automatic climate control. Pricing for the GLK starts at $39,400.
Photo Credit: Mitsubishi
2016 Mitsubishi Outlander — 25 city/31 hwy
With more than 100 improvements, the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander is now smoother, better looking, and less costly. Driven back to back with the 2015 model, the 2016 Outlander is considerably quieter, feels quicker with the 4-cylinder engine, is more composed, handles better, and is more user-friendly. To qualify yours as one of the most economical SUVs, you’ll go with front-drive and the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with 166 horsepower and 162 ft-lbs of torque. A continuously variable transmission is paired with this engine. Pricing starts at $22,995.
Photo Credit: Jeep
2016 Jeep Renegade — 24 city/31 hwy
Taking the phrase “cute ute” to new heights, the eye-catching Jeep Renegade is quite possibly the coolest-looking compact crossover currently on offer. The Renegade also has the advantage of strong off-road capability (when properly equipped). To top the fuel economy rankings, go with the turbocharged 1.4-liter four. The engine is good for 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission and front drive are standard. A 9-speed automatic and all-wheel drive are optional. Pricing starts at $17,995.
Photo Credit: Megan Green
2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid — 34 city/31 hwy
The RAV4 Hybrid is an all-new addition to Toyota’s RAV4 lineup of compact crossovers. This year, RAV4 shoppers get the option of gasoline-electric efficiency, featuring best-in-class city fuel economy along with all the functionality of the traditional RAV4. 194 horsepower is on tap from the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and two electric motors, paired with a continuously variable transmission. Pricing for the new, more efficient Toyota RAV4 starts at $28,370.
2016 Volvo XC60 — 24 city/31 hwy
Sleek, secure, and enjoyable to drive, the Volvo XC60 offers both luxury and a strong reputation for safety. While three engine choices are offered, the most economical powertrain consists of the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, good for 240 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed transmission and front-drive complete the system. Even while numbering among the most economical 2016 SUVs, the XC60 still manages good performance. Pricing starts at $36,400.
Photo Credit: Toyota
2016 Toyota RAV4 — 24 city/31 hwy
Seriously stretching the compact crossover classification, over the last few generations Toyota’s RAV4 has steadily grown larger. This also means the RAV4 is also more spacious. In addition to being one of the most economical SUVs, the RAV4 boasts a very generous standard equipment list. Power comes from a 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder engine with 176 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission is the only choice. You’ll go with front-wheel drive to get the best fuel economy. Pricing starts at $23,680.