24 Most Efficient SUVs for Winter Weather

Editors' pick: Originally published Feb. 9.

SUVs once again rule the road and handle well on those snowy winter roads, but that doesn't mean they're all out there guzzling as much gas as they can.

Through September of last year, automakers sold nearly 555,500 sport utility vehicles in the U.S. However, just 150,000 of those were the gas-chugging truck-based SUVs that drivers remember from the '90s and early 2000s. The rest were car-based crossovers that are not only more efficient, but have sales growing at twice the rate of standard SUVs year-over-year.

While both standard SUVs and crossovers combined have nearly equalled the number of cars sold during the same span (575,000), thanks largely to low gas prices, their efficiency has become somewhat of a concern for folks other than consumers. In June, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a Midterm Evaluation of its goal to raise fleet-wide fuel efficiency to a combined 54.5 miles per gallon (roughly 38 miles per gallon on window stickers) by 2025. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found that cars and light trucks purchased in 2015 got an average of 25.3 miles to the gallon.

That's actually down from 25.4 mpg the year before, and it's made the EPA a little anxious about whether or not automakers can hit that 2025 mileage mark.

The auto industry was on a decent pace to hit that mark for a while. That 25.3 mpg is far better than the 19 miles per gallon that the Department of Transportation measured for the same pool of vehicles in 1995. It's also closing in on double the average mileage of the light-duty vehicles on U.S. roads in 1980. However, when the EPA set its mileage goal in 2012, gas prices were close to $4 a gallon. According to AAA, they're down to an average of $2.22 per gallon and have dropped by nearly 20 cents per gallon within the last year.

As a result, U.S. drivers stopped buying cars -- with sales of cars of every size down 8.2% since this time in 2015, according to MotorIntelligence -- and started buying SUVs, crossovers and vans. Minivan sales are up 19.4% within the last year, but even small and large van sales are up nearly 15% as Ford and General Motors switch to more European styles and fleets modernize.

SUV and crossover sales are up 7.1% year over year, and the EPA notes that their outsized portion of overall vehicle sales isn't helping mileage in the least. The organization says the auto industry is absolutely capable of hitting that 2025 goal -- even without introducing more hybrids and SUVs into the mix -- but that the market shift might make it tougher to do so. That's unfortunate for U.S. automakers, who've invested heavily in SUVs and crossovers while German, Japanese and Korean competitors have achieved a broader mix. That U.S. SUV/crossover imbalance has some analysts believing that automaker pressure will lead to fuel efficiency standards being relaxed, but the EPA is holding firm.

It notes that automated cars will help cut into mileage numbers, and that younger Americans are driving and buying cars in fewer numbers than the generations before. the share of new cars being bought by Americans between 18 and 34 is down 30% in the last five years, according to auto pricing site Edmunds.com. A Pew Research Center study notes that people under 35 bought 12% fewer cars than they did in 2010. The Department of Transportation notes that just 28% of 16-year-olds had driver's licenses in 2010, with just 45% of 17-year-olds claiming the same. That's plummeted from 50% and 66% respectively in 1978. While the number of 16-year-olds with driver's licenses peaked at 1.72 million in 2009, it dropped to 1.08 million by 2014.

So how can a concerned driver who wants SUV space but sedan efficiency help the effort? Well, according to the EPA's fuel economy listings, there are about 24 crossover SUVs that are fighting the good fight. It's just up to fuel-conscious drivers to find them:

24. 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
24. 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Starting price: $44,625

EPA combined city and highway mileage: 27.5

This Camry-based crossover helped kill the lumbering conventional SUV when it was introduced little more than a decade ago and continues to trim the fat, especially in hybrid form. That mileage complements features like a panoramic moonroof, power liftgate, three-zone climate control and backup camera without sacrificing the Highlander's 94 cubic feet of storage space or three rows of seating. The NHTSA and IIHS both give it their highest safety ratings for good reason: this seven-seater is an absolute tank.

23. 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250
23. 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250

Starting price: $32,850

Combined miles per gallon: 28.5

It isn't the only sub-$35,000 luxury SUV on our list, but it's the best that Mercedes offers.

From the chromed-out 18-inch rims to the 43.6 cubic feet of total cargo space, the GLA is a brilliant combination of luxury and utility. The 7-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth audio streaming, five years of mBrace apps, Wi-Fi and streaming audio and automated collision, attention, blind-spot, lane-keeping and cruise-control assistance are all nice little features. However, the more than 200 horsepower and 30 miles per gallon make it a powerful, yet frugal choice.

22. 2017 Infiniti QX30
22. 2017 Infiniti QX30

Starting price: $29,950

Combined miles per gallon: 28.5

We guess it's a crossover. It's just so small. There's a scant 34 cubic feet of total cargo space with the seats down and a body style that nominally resembles an SUV. However, the leather steering wheel, heated power rearview mirror, 208-horsepower four-cylinder engine, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, backup camera and InFiniti InTouch infotainment system with 7-inch touchscreen all seem like lovely features... for a sedan.

21. 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander
21. 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander

Starting price: $23,495

Combined miles per gallon: 28.5

Mitsubishi doesn't sell many cars in the U.S. compared to its competitors -- and, after this year, won't produce any either -- but it sells a whole bunch of this one.

The Outlander Sport is just a step above the base model and comes with dual-zone climate control, a rearview camera with 7-inch screen, keyless entry, push-button start, three rows of seating, 34 cubic feet of storage behind the second row and 63 behind the first. Combined with the multi-information display, heated front seats, HD Radio, Bluetooth and leather steering wheel -- and combined 27 miles per gallon -- the Outlander is Mitsubishi at its best.

20. 2017 Subaru Outback
20. 2017 Subaru Outback

Starting price: $25,119

Combined miles per gallon: 28.5

The newer models look more like larger SUVs than lacrosse wagons, but the standard all-wheel drive that routinely draws fans from wet and snowy locations remains. So does the 73 cubic feet of storage with the seats down. The Outback's combined 29 miles per gallon aren't great compared to other vehicles in the Subaru showroom, but that cargo space and the EyeSight and driver's assistance systems make it a perennial family favorite.

19. 2017 Fiat 500 X
19. 2017 Fiat 500 X

Starting price: $20,000

EPA combined city and highway mileage: 29 mpg

Fiat introduced its crossover here little more than a year ago, and there's a lot to like in this little package. First off, Fiat squeezing almost 51 cubic feet of cargo space into any 500 is nothing short of a miracle. Secondly, getting a turbocharged engine, heated sideview mirrors, with turn signals, the UConnect infotainment system with color touchscreen, available power sunroof, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning and parking assistance is equally incredible at this size and price. However, the EPA advises using premium gas for maximum efficiency, which is going to bite into some of your savings.

18. 2017 Chevrolet Trax
18. 2017 Chevrolet Trax

Starting price: $21,000

EPA combined city and highway mileage: 29 mpg

What's a Chevy Trax, you ask? Don't worry: if this compact SUV isn't exactly familiar, it's because it only arrived during the 2015 model year as the downmarket complement to the Buick Encore -- which is built on the same frame.

It looked like the Chevy Sonic subcompact when it debuted, but just received a superficial overhaul this year that passed Corvette-inspired design cues from the Malibu and Volt down to this ugly little crossover. The facelift includes new halogen projector headlamps, LED daytime running lights, dual tail-lamps and a new grille design. The interior, meanwhile, gets new dashboard and center instrument panel, which is part of a grand effort to sell the Trax with more than just its fuel-sipping 1.4-liter engine.

The OnStar communication system comes standard and turns the Trax into a rolling 4G hotspot, while the Chevrolet MyLink gives drivers access to a host of apps via a 7-inch touchscreen. Combined with Apple's Siri Eyes Free voice texting, Apple Carplay, Google AndroidAudio, an OnStar remote link app for your smartphone, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, rear camera, rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot assist and 48.4 cubic feet of storage with the seats down, all of the above makes the Trax the efficient urban wagon Chevy's been dreaming of. Just know that if you decide to go with the all-wheel-drive version, that mileage drops to less than 25 mpg.

17. 2017 Subaru Forester
17. 2017 Subaru Forester

Starting price: $22,395

EPA combined city and highway mileage: 29 mpg

This is not the wagon it once was, but certain features never change

The newer models look more like larger SUVs than lacrosse wagons, but the standard all-wheel drive that routinely draws fans from wet and snowy locations remains. The Outback's combined 28 miles per gallon aren't great, but aren't terrible, while its more than 35 cubic feet of total cargo space gets the job done. Subaru's added Bluetooth connectivity to all its models and beefed up the options on its pricier trims, which means rearview cameras, power liftgate, voice-activated GPS and X-Mode engine control that provides additional traction on inclines and wet roads.

16. 2017 Hyundai Tuscon Eco
16. 2017 Hyundai Tuscon Eco

Starting price: $25,550

EPA combined city and highway mileage: 29.5 mpg

Hyundai knows its way around lightweight aluminum and has made a name for itself by offering cars with incredible mileage at minimal cost. However, this four-cylinder turbocharged engine manages 175 horsepower while minimizing fuel intake.

As a result, the all-wheel-drive version of the Tuscon Eco gets the same 27 miles per gallon as the premium front-wheel-drive versions. Yet that efficiency still comes with the same 61.9 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats down, side-mirror turn signals, fog lights, LED daytime running lights and 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty as some of the more expensive, less efficient options.

15. 2017 Jaguar F-Pace
15. 2017 Jaguar F-Pace

Starting price: $40,990

EPA combined city and highway mileage: 29.5 mpg

Jaguar has five vehicles in its lineup for the first time ever in 2016, primarily because its competitors are pushing it to do so.

With Tata Motors stablemate Land Rover giving it a foundation to build on, Jaguar gave the F-Pace a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine with at least 380 horsepower that goes right after the Porsche SUVs with a sporty, aggressive look. However, it's the 33.5 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up -- and, yes, this Jaguar's seats actually fold down for additional space -- that stands out as a fairly useful feature in a brand that doesn't seem to particularly prize utility.

14. 2016 Nissan Murano Hybrid
14. 2016 Nissan Murano Hybrid

Starting price: $40,130

EPA combined city and highway mileage: 30 mpg

It's nice to have the Bluetooth and streaming audio, 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 engine and dual zone climate control standard. It's fantastic to have nearly 70 cubic feet of maximum storage. it would be nicer if families didn't have to pay $8,000 more for the SL and then $2,260 more for a technology package to get safety features including intelligent cruise control, emergency braking, driver attention alerts, moving object detection, rear traffic alerts, Nissan Connect emergency services/navigation, the Around View camera and collision warning. Oh, and the hybrid is more than $10,000 more expensive than the base model, which explains why it didn't return for 2017.

13. 2017 Volvo V60
13. 2017 Volvo V60

Starting price: $36,150

EPA combined city and highway mileage: 31 mpg

It looks like a wagon, but the EPA still gives it a nod as an SUV

We'll note that the 2-liter, 4-cylinder engine for the front-wheel drive model is the only one that gets anything close to this kind of mileage. The five-cylinder all-wheel-drive upgrade cuts combined mileage to less than 25 miles per gallon, but the base still gets you 43.8 cubic feet of cargo space, 3,500 pounds of towing capacity power driver's and front-passengers' seats, power moonroof and an audio and communications system with a 7-inch touchscreen.

12. 2016 BMW X3 xDrive28d
12. 2016 BMW X3 xDrive28d

Starting price: $42,100

EPA combined city and highway mileage: 31 mpg

When you can call your crossover a Sport Activity Vehicle because you know it'll never move an apartment's worth of belongings or carry a kid's equipment from practice, you know you've made it.

With the 4-cylinder, 180-horsepower diesel engine cutting down on consumption and 27.6 cubic feet of shopping-bag space folding out to 63.3 cubic feet of lacrosse-gear storage, the X3 gives the appearance a person chef's grocery getter. However, the leather interior, a panoramic moonroof, automatic front climate control with separate left and right temperature settings, power tailgate, front and rear parking distance sensors, rearview camera, HD radio, Sirius-XM satellite radio, Bluetooth with Mobile Office functions and BMW TeleService, the X3 is as packed with perks as one would expect from BMW. However, given Volkswagen's trouble with diesels of late, we're aren't surprised this is the only diesel that made the list... or that turbodiesel isn't offered in the 2017 model.

11. 2017 Buick Encore
11. 2017 Buick Encore

Buick is really big on providing just enough luxury at a sub-premium price. The Encore is nearly a foot shorter than the Honda CR-V, but you can fold both the rear seats and front passenger seat flat for hauling cargo in its 48 cubic feet of space.

Did Buick leave room for some perks? Absolutely. The Encore's list of features includes available 4G LTE Wi-Fi, available dual climate control, power moon roof, rain sensing wipers, heated side mirrors, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera, split-folding rear seats, OnStar telematics and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, a USB/iPod interface, an auxiliary audio jack and Buick's IntelliLink control interface with a 7-inch touchscreen and integrated smartphone apps. Granted, it's a lot of additional costs for a car that built its reputation on affordable luxury, but considering the cost of cars on the rest of this list, it might be worth it just for the efficiency.

10. 2017 Lexus RX 450h
10. 2017 Lexus RX 450h

Starting price: $52,235

EPA combined city and highway mileage: 30 mpg

This is an absolute behemoth of a vehicle for this mileage. Despite a 3.5-liter V6 engine that generates a whopping 295 horsepower, this still, somehow, manages to get 32 miles per gallon in the city.

It's 11 miles per gallon more efficient than a base, gas-only RX 350, it puts out 20 horsepower more and its has the same 80.3 cubic inches of cargo space with the seats folded. Yes, it's roughly $7,500 more, but the mileage and features including a power rear door, parking sensors, rear camera, heated seats, rear entertainment system and Lexus Enform app system more than make up for it.

9. 2017 Honda HR-V
9. 2017 Honda HR-V

Starting price: $19,365

EPA combined city and highway mileage: 31 mpg

This small crossover comes with LED brake lights, heated side mirrors, the HondaLink app suite, a 7-inch touchscreen entertainment and communications center, voice texting, wheel-mounted controls, multi-angle rearview camera and options including a power moonroof, heated seats and automatic climate control. It isn't the biggest wagon out there, but with 56 cubic feet of maximum cargo space, it's a nice middle ground between the CR-V and the subcompact Fit.

8. 2016 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid
8. 2016 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

Starting price: $26,395

EPA combined city and highway mileage: 32 mpg

Subaru's first stab at a hybrid was incredibly effective, especially considering that every car it makes comes in all-wheel drive.

This mini-crossover is a throwback to the Subaru Outback's earliest days as a wagon, but with 40 inches of driver headroom, the 43 inches of legroom and combined 52 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats down. The standard multi-function display, Starlink touchscreen communications and entertainment package and rearview camera are all fine perks for Subaru's smallest crossover. But are they worth an extra $4,500 for mileage that's only two miles per gallon better than the all-gas version?The results are mixed, especially since they didn't carry it over to the 2017 version.

7. 2017 Lexus NX 300h
7. 2017 Lexus NX 300h

Starting price: $39,720

EPA combined city and highway mileage: 33 mpg

A luxurious, hybrid version of the Toyota RAV4 seemed like a great idea at the time. Almost 18 cubic feet of cargo space, 36 inches of legroom in the back, a smartphone charger, LED lighting a remote touchpad to control your information and entertainment options also sounded fairly pleasant. However the NX 300h is fairly fortunate that its mileage leads the class right now, since naysayers have noticed that there isn't a lot of hybrid competition for it in the luxury sector.

6. 2017 Toyota RAV4
6. 2017 Toyota RAV4

Starting price: $27,910

EPA combined city and highway mileage: 33 mpg

A longtime favorite of the grocery-getting and soccer-shuttling classes, the RAV4 finally got a facelift to make it look less like its competitors. That exterior should be the least of a driver's concerns, though.

There are 38 cubic feet of cargo space - 73 with the rear seats folded flat - that's now accessible through a power liftgate that replaces the RAV4's longtime, swingout side-hinged cargo door. Heated, front seats, LED headlights, back-up camera, blind-spot warning system, dual-zone climate control, power moonroof, Apple Siri Eyes Free and reclining rear seats make an already popular crossover an even more formidable opponent. It's up to you to determine whether the $3,000 premium is worth it.

5. 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e
5. 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e

Starting price: $66,475

EPA combined city and highway mileage: 43 mpg

The M-Class basically invented the luxury SUV back in 1998, and this redesigned version with 80 cubic feet of cargo space is that line's heir for a new generation.

From anti-collision features to a Bang & Olufsen premium sound system, the GLE 550e comes with all of the comforts you'd expect from an SUV of this price. However, with 436 horsepower and enough electric capacity for a decent commute, this SUV just caught up to a luxury SUV segment that's since passed it by.

4. 2017 Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid
4. 2017 Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid

Starting price: $78,700

EPA combined city and highway mileage: 47 mpg

Its electric motor alone churns our 333 horsepower. It gets a total of 416 horsepower and is capable of 151 miles per hour. Its Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system runs audio, communication and navigation through a 7-inch touchscreen.

Its phone module, Wi-Fi access, Burmester or Bose surround sound systems, suite of apps and dual entertainment screens for the rear seats with wireless Bluetooth headsets all just round out the perks of this high-end hybrid. The Cayenne took the lead as Porsche's top seller years ago, but all of the above amenities -- and the fact that it gets better mileage than any gas-powered crossover on the road -- makes it very clear how it became the preferred Porsche.

3. 2017 Volvo XC90 PHEV
3. 2017 Volvo XC90 PHEV

Starting price: $68,100

EPA combined city and highway mileage: 54 mpg

This is yet another plug-in hybrid that's putting all of its energy toward performance. With 400 horsepower, you'll be tempted to let the 360 camera, pilot assist, road sign information, lane departure warning and electronic stability control work their magic and get you there safely.

However, with the voice-activated, Bluetooth connected Sensus information and entertainment system pushing your music through a subwoofer built into the the car's frame and a speaker system modeled after the acoustics of the Gothenburg Concert Hall, you and up to six passengers might want to take your time getting from Point A to Point B.

2. 2017 BMW X5 xDrive40e
2. 2017 BMW X5 xDrive40e

Starting price: $62,100

EPA combined city and highway mileage: 56 mpg

BMW announced this plug-in hybrid last year, but this Sports Activity Vehicle (they know their audience) with a 2.0-liter twin-turbo four-cylinder engine is just now making its presence felt.

With a range of just 13 miles pure electricity, it isn't much of an electric car for any but the shortest trips. However, the gasoline engine and electric motor put out 308 horsepower and push the X5 from zero to 60 mpg in just 6.5 seconds. Combined with all-wheel drive, all those features make this a zippy luxury ride for a buyer who still has to worry about getting the whole family and their gear up to the slopes alive every winter.

1. 2016 Tesla Model X 60D
1. 2016 Tesla Model X 60D

Starting price: $83,000

EPA combined city and highway mileage: 93 mpge

The Falcon-winged Tesla sport utility's base model doesn't have the 257-mile range of the 90D upgrade, but it still has camera, radar and sonar systems surrounding it to help avoid collisions. It also has an air filtration system that can provide cabin pressure and a hermetically sealed environment in case of a bioweapon attack, a panoramic windshield with solar tinting, seating for seven, navigation and free charges on the supercharger network. Oh, and it's miles ahead of the efficiency of any other luxury SUV on the road.

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