Achieving the maximum fuel economy figures you can is pretty important given the current price of gas and the trends that seem likely to push the price higher as we move forward. Fortunately for the new vehicle buyer even though the price of gas makes many vehicle owners dread the next trip to the fuel pump there are an increasing number of very practical SUVs that can get higher MPG figures than a lot of full size cars.
As you know SUVs can be extremely practical vehicles to have in some situations. Drivers who need to pull a boat or trailer on a regular basis or carry a lot of people and cargo commonly turn to popular SUV models to get the job done. Traditionally SUVs have been fairly inefficient and have gained a poor reputation among the fuel economy conscious driving population.
Modern sport utility vehicles are way ahead of their ancestors when it comes to fuel economy. Hopefully this trend continues and we can eventually free the vehicle class from the stigma that it currently carries. If you want to buy a fuel efficient SUV then you can approach the shopping process from a couple different angles given that different automakers focus on different ways of achieving high MPG numbers in a large, heavy vehicle.
The first type of SUV drive system you might see if you are looking into efficient SUVs is the hybrid drive system. Hybrid drive has probably been most popularized by the Toyota Prius but you can actually get this technology on a number of different models including Toyota’s Highlander Hybrid SUV.
The advantage of hybrid drive is also one of its downsides. When using a hybrid model for urban driving a great deal of the power needs can be drawn from the battery pack which is then recharged during the braking process. Once the vehicle is over a specific speed or asked to accelerate at a faster rate the gasoline engine kicks in to help propel the vehicle. As long as you are running on battery power you are not using gas so hybrid vehicles generally get excellent fuel economy during city driving.
The trouble is that once you are cruising on the highway the battery power alone is not enough to propel the vehicle and the gasoline engine runs constantly. Because of this you will usually get about the same MPG figures with a model like the Highlander whether you are in the city or cruising on the freeway.
Diesel and small gasoline powered SUVs tend to do more poorly in city driving but excel during steady state cruising. Some diesel models actually do just as well in urban driving as hybrids but your experience may vary. Diesel power still seems to have a stigma left over from poor quality diesel models produced decades ago but modern diesels are very impressive vehicles and with their turbocharged engines not only return over 30 MPG on the highway in some cases but also often have as much power as gasoline vehicles with larger engines.
Some examples of diesel and small 4 cylinder SUVs worth considering are models like the VW Touraeg TDI and the Honda CRV. You probably only want to choose a small 4 cylinder gas SUV if you like the small size and don’t really plan to use it for towing. If you want a high level of fuel efficiency and the ability to tow a large load you are better off getting a diesel powered model from VW or BMW since they have both good towing power and outstanding fuel economy potential.