Whether it’s for practicality, the most recent technological advancements, or simply going with the trend, there are numerous reasons to buy an SUV.
However, with outrageous gas costs, we’re all feeling the pinch on our wallets as we make that dreaded trip to the gas station.
Some SUV drivers may be afraid they won’t be able to continue riding high when they transition to their next vehicle. But don’t panic; there are plenty of small SUVs with best gas mileage.
Most fuel-efficient small SUVs
Some are more designed for fuel economy at the sacrifice of acceleration power, while others can give plenty of zip and excellent fuel economy. While nearly all of the options on this list are hybrids, there is a spacious non-hybrid crossover SUV earning 32 MPG combined, which we have added at the end of the list.
Here’s the complete list of compact SUVs with the best gas mileage for 2024:
- Kia Niro
- Kia Sportage Hybrid
- Lexus UX 250h
- Ford Escape Hybrid
- RAV4 Hybrid / RAV4 Prime
- Honda CRV Hybrid
- Toyota Venza
- Hyundai Tucson
- Chevrolet Trailblazer
- Chevrolet Equinox Diesel
Kia Niro Hybrid – 53 MPG
Starting MSRP: $26,940
Car Key Points
- Regular hybrid models return between 49 and 53 MPG combined, depending on trim.
- Plug-in hybrid powertrain includes a 1.6-liter gas engine and a 62-kW electric motor (180-hp)
- PHEV returns 48 MPG combined and offers 33 miles of all-electric range
- Standard 8-inch and available 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment touchscreen
- Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Standard advanced driver assistance features
- Available Heated and ventilated front seats
- 10-year/100,000-mile warranty on powertrain and 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty.
With up to 53 MPG combined, the Kia Niro takes the top spot in the list of best gas mileage small SUVs. But before you perceive it as just a no-nonsense frugal runabout, the Niro’s dramatic styling, and reasonably posh interior for a Kia entry-level car, does make it stand out. The Niro is smaller than most other compact hybrid SUVs, but gives up little practicality.
The Niro comes standard with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder and an electric motor, producing 139 horsepower. Acceleration leaves something to be desired, but the Niro makes up for it with useful driving aids, a comfortable ride, and excellent value for your money.
There’s also the snappier plug-in-hybrid model that packs a more potent electric motor, increasing power to 180 horsepower. The Niro Plug-in Hybrid is estimated at 48 MPG combined along with 33 miles of all-electric range.
- Incredibly efficient hybrid
- Roomy interior and ample cargo space
- Surprisingly eager handling
- Could have done with more performance
- Lacks optional all-wheel drive
Kia Sportage Hybrid – 43 MPG
Starting MSRP: $28,290
Car Key Points
- Fifth Sportage generation (introduced for 2023 model year)
- 226-hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder hybrid powertrain
- EPA-estimated Up to 43 MPG combined (regular hybrid models paired with front-wheel drive)
- Plug-in hybrid models get EPA-estimated 36 MPG city and 35 MPG highway
- MPGe for the PHEV models is 84 (34 miles of all-electric range)
- Standard 8-inch and available 12.3-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration
- Standard Advanced driver assistance features
- Available All-wheel drive
With a stunning outward design, plush ride, a roomy interior, and user-friendly technology, the Kia Sportage is already amongst the solid options in the small SUV class. And with the hybrid models, you get access to greater power, brisker acceleration, and better fuel economy without sacrificing storage or drivability.
The hybrid model makes 226 horsepower by combining a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with a single electric motor. With front-wheel drive, it can get up to 42 MPG in the city and 44 MPG on the interstate. Models with all-wheel drive get 38 MPG on the interstate and in town.
A plug-in hybrid with an all-wheel drive is also available. It has a more robust electric motor and a larger battery. EPA estimates that the PHEV model can travel 34 miles on electricity alone.
- Responsive hybrid powertrain
- Plush ride
- Roomy interior with lots of technology
- Dull driving dynamics
- Polarizing exterior design
Lexus UX 250h – 42 MPG
Starting MSRP: $35,540
Car Key Points
- Estimated 42 MPG combined with Front-wheel drive (43 MPG city / 41 MPG highway)
- Estimated 39 MPG combined with All-wheel drive (39 MPG city / 38 MPG highway)
- 181-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder hybrid powertrain
- Optional all-wheel drive
- Standard 8-inch and available 12.3-inch touchscreen unit with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Standard suit of advanced driver aids
- F Sport Handling version adds a sportier suspension among other enhancements
The Lexus UX 250h shares its underpinnings with a Toyota Prius (yes, really!), but if you’re keeping an eye on your budget and still want that luxury feel, it’s definitely worth considering. While affordable to buy or to drive, this small hybrid SUV delivers on the style and amenities you’d typically associate with an entry-level Lexus.
Not to mention the UX’s excellent fuel economy, with EPA-estimated ratings of 43 MPG city and 41 MPG highway with front-wheel drive.
The Lexus UX’s acceleration isn’t very exciting, but it has a good steering feel and a quiet refinement that is attractive enough to compensate for its lack of quickness. An F Sport package amplifies the experience.
- Excellent fuel economy
- Good ride and handling
- Luxurious and comfortable cabin
- Infotainment System
- Poky acceleration
- Small cargo space
Ford Escape Hybrid – 40 MPG
Starting MSRP: $33,340
Car Key Points
- 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid powertrain
- Combined output is 192 hp (Hybrid), and 210 hp (plug-in hybrid) respectively
- PHEV models can run 37 miles on electricity alone, while returns 40 MPG combined when the battery is depleted
- Regular Hybrid models get estimated 39 MPG combined (42 MPG city / 36 MPG highway)
- Available all-wheel drive only on regular hybrid Escape models (No drop in MPG ratings)
- Heated front seats
- 13.2-inch infotainment touchscreen
- Advanced driver assistance features
Ford refreshed the Escape for the 2023 model year with a new front end that has a larger grille with the brand’s ovoid badge. The Escape has an attractive appearance along with a roomy and comfortable cabin for passengers and baggage.
The Escape’s ace up its sleeve is its hybrid powertrains. Two Escape hybrids are available; both include a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. The regular hybrid makes a combined output of 192-hp and earns 39 MPG combined.
On the other hand is a plug-in hybrid model, it makes a total of 210 hp and appropriate for those looking for the most efficient Escape. It has EPA fuel efficiency ratings as high as 42 MPG city, and on a full charge, it can travel up to 37 miles using only electricity.
- Fresh and stylish exterior design
- Efficient hybrid powertrains
- Standard driver assistance features
- Cheap plastic cabin trim
- So-so driving character
Also Read: Simple Ways to Improve your Gas Mileage
RAV4 Hybrid / RAV4 Prime – 40 MPG
Starting MSRP: $31,725
Car Key Points
- Prime offers 38 MPG combined and 42 miles of electric only range
- 2.5-liter inline 4 working with three electric motor-generators (302-hp)
- Standard all-wheel drive
- Regular hybrid makes 219 hp and return 40 MPG combined
- Standard 8-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity
- Standard suite of advanced driver aids
- Sporty SE and XSE trim levels on offer
The Toyota RAV4 is a practical, spacious and sensible choice in the compact car class, but it’s available twin hybrid powertrains add another dimension to this package.
Going by the general hybrid vehicle books, frugality is a given, what comes as a surprise however is the energetic performance. In fact, according to the car and driver, the RAV4 Prime can surpass a four-cylinder Supra in some of the acceleration tests.
The RAV4 Hybrid and Prime (Plug-in Hybrid) both are propelled by a 2.5-liter inline-four hybrid powertrain with standard all-wheel drive. The regular Hybrid model gets a solid 40 MPG combined. On the other hand, the plug-in hybrid gets 38 MPG combined, but additionally offers a 42-mile electric range, which is more than many other plug-in hybrids.
Toyota, unfortunately, hasn’t quite matched the robust powertrain with the athleticism you would hope for.
- Lively yet efficient hybrid powertrains
- Numerous standard features
- Spacious cabin
- Plain driving character
Honda CRV Hybrid – 40 MPG
Starting MSRP: $34,050
Car Key Points
- Sixth generation (introduced for 2023 model year)
- 40 MPG combined (Front-wheel drive)
- 37 MPG combined (All-wheel drive)
- 2.0-liter four-cylinder hybrid powertrain (204 hp, 247 lb-ft)
- Sunroof and Heated front seats
- Standard 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity
Honda totally revamped the CR-V Hybrid for the 2023 model year, ushering in the small SUV’s sixth generation.
Although the Honda CR-V hybrid won’t raise anyone’s pulse rate, its roomy cabin and economical powertrain make it a desirable small SUV. The interior also impresses with an appealing design inspired by the Civic compact car, complemented by more luxurious features.
The CR-V Hybrid is powered by two electric motors that work in tandem with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. With a total of 204 horsepower, it has more than enough power for the majority of driving situations, albeit it gets a bit noisy under hard acceleration.
The front-wheel-drive Sport Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient CR-V, with 43 MPG city and 36 MPG highway.
- Updated design
- Excellent ride and comfort
- Extensive standard safety features
- Efficient hybrid
- Roomy interior outfitted with high-quality materials
- Creates noise under hard acceleration
- All-wheel drive not standard
Toyota Venza – 39 MPG
Starting MSRP: $35,070
Car Key Points
- EPA-estimated 39 MPG combined (40 MPG City/37 MPG Highway)
- 219-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid powertrain
- Standard All-wheel drive
- More refined and upscale than the related RAV4 Hybrid
- Less practical (sloping roofline reduces cargo capacity)
- Standard Hands-free power liftgate
- Standard 8-inch touchscreen unit with Apple Car Play, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa compatibility
- Standard suit of active safety tech
The 2024 Toyota Venza takes its cues from the smaller RAV4 Hybrid, and though it comes with a slightly higher price tag, it’s a justified step up. Drawing on some aggressive styling elements from Lexus, the Venza manages to carve out its distinct identity.
Beyond looks, it is quiet, smooth, extremely economical, and provides a fantastic balance of comfort, performance, and value. There are competitors with larger back passenger space and higher performance, but few provide as much versatility as the new Venza.
It shares almost all its hybrid components with the RAV4 Hybrid, including its 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and three electric motors. That powertrain gives the Venza standard all-wheel drive and fuel economy that outperforms V-6-powered rivals like the Nissan Murano and Honda Passport. In fact, this Venza is expected to get 40 MPG in town and 37 MPG on the interstate.
The Venza’s cabin is also more remarkable than those two, with an optional star-gaze panoramic sunroof.
- Elegant and quiet interior
- Incredibly efficient hybrid powertrain
- Innovative electrochromic panoramic roof
- Strong safety scores
- High-end trims are expensive
- Limited rear passenger and cargo room
- Classmates have more potent engines
Hyundai Tucson Hybrid – 38 MPG
Starting MSRP: $32,575
Car Key Points
- 226-hp 1.6-liter turbocharged hybrid powertrain
- Up to 38 MPG combined (Hybrid)
- 261-hp (Plug-in Hybrid)
- 35 MPG combined and 33 miles of electric-only range (Plug-in Hybrid)
The new Hyundai Tucson is one of the best small SUVs on the market for more reasons than sleek appearance, refined interior, and lengthy feature list or generous warranty – it also comes in a hybrid or plug-in hybrid version with an impressive range.
The plug-in hybrid variant performed 33 miles of electric-only driving in the EPA test, earning ratings of 80 MPGe and 35 MPG combined. The regular hybrid, on the other hand, has fuel economy ratings as high as 38 MPG in the city and 38 MPG on the highway.
The Tucson is hardly a sports vehicle, yet it handles well, steers pretty exquisitely, and rides comfortably. The Tucson is remarkably quiet and elegant when cruising; these characteristics give the SUV a luxury feel uncommon in its class.
- Handsome exterior design
- Feature-loaded cabin
- PHEV available
- Hybrid models are pricey.
- No volume knob
Chevrolet Trailblazer – 31 MPG
Starting MSRP: $23,100
Car Key Points
- EPA-estimated 31 MPG combined
- 155-hp 1.3-liter turbocharged gas engine
- Available all-wheel drive
- Activ trim gives the Trailblazer a more rugged, off-road credential while RS is a racier-appearance alternative
This new Trailblazer is a cool-looking small crossover. The Trailblazer uses the same Camaro-like external style elements as its older sibling, the Chevy Blazer, to achieve a uniquely aggressive look.
Fortunately, unlike competitors, Trailblazer does not sacrifice utility for a flashy design. It has lots of passenger and baggage space, as well as a bevy of standard amenities.
There are two engine options available. The optional 155-hp 1.3-liter turbocharged engine is more powerful and more fuel efficient. While it isn’t a neck-snapping fast machine, it isn’t a slouch either. Furthermore, thanks to its quick steering and good handling, the Trailblazer feels sporty and nimble around town.
Looking for a used model, read our detailed guide on the 2021 Chevy Trailblazer.
- Great starting price
- Attractive styling
- Spacious Interior with a good number of standard features
- Fuel-sipping powertrains
- Activ model brings light off-road capabilities
- Seats are small and lack support for larger drivers
- Firm ride
- Some interior materials feel very cheap
Chevrolet Equinox Diesel – 32 MPG
Car Key Points
- 137 hp 1.6-liter turbodiesel engine
- EPA-estimated 32 MPG (28 MPG City / 38 MPG Highway)
- Offered on 2018 and 2019 model years
- Available All-wheel drive
- All 240 lb-ft of torque is delivered at at a low 2000 rpm
- Six-speed automatic transmission is well matched
- Great predicted reliability ratings
If you want the best gas mileage small SUV but rather put off by the exorbitant starting prices of brand new models, this is an option you wouldn’t want to miss.
General Motors introduced its impressive turbo-diesel 1.6-liter inline-four engine as an option for the revamped 2018 Equinox compact crossover.
And not only the diesel mill gives it usable bottom-end grunt, but also makes it a a genuine fuel sipper.
The 1.6 diesel is a perfect match for the Equinox, especially for long-distance family trips. It achieves an EPA-estimated 38 MPG on the highway, complemented by a spacious interior, comfortable seats, and a range of creature comforts. Plus, it earns high marks for predicted reliability and safety.
Sure, a 137-hp turbo-diesel engine might not scream high-performance, but it delivers enough oomph for any driving scenario you’re likely to encounter in a compact SUV.
Read more about the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox in detail
- Fuel-efficient diesel
- Smooth ride over most road surfaces
- Spacious interior
- Intuitive MyLink touchscreen interface
- Relatively smaller cargo area
- Diesel only available for a limited time
Picking the Right Car For you
Considering that a vehicle’s weight and engine power are crucial determinants of gas consumption, it’s no surprise that small SUVs can yield significant savings at the pump. In addition, choosing a compact SUV over a medium or large vehicle can result in thousands of dollars in fuel savings throughout the vehicle’s life.
But if you are up to something more heavy duty or have a big family to haul around, upgrading to at least a mid-size SUV is a sensible choice. You can go through the used market route to get an affordable deal. If you are confused where to start from, look at our list of best used mid-size SUVs.