Comfort, cargo, and more time on the move.
If you're shopping for a vehicle with maximum fuel economy for adventures, errands, and everything in between, it's the mpg (miles per gallon) rating that really matters. According to the 2021 EPA Automotive Trends Report, car SUVs (or smaller SUVs) have seen a 22% increase in fuel economy from 2012 to 2020.
For all gas-powered vehicles, there are three mpg figures—city, highway, and combined. For context, it's worth understanding what to look for in fuel economy, since real-world driving tends to be a combination of slow-moving city driving (with plenty of stops and starts) and highway driving that allows you to increase your speed and hit cruise control. Arguably, the combined mpg figure gives the most accurate account since it is the weighted average of city and highway figures—two very different driving conditions.
For passenger space, cargo chops, and pocket-book peace of mind, a fuel-efficient small SUV could be the all-rounder you're looking for. We identified nine of the most popular small SUVs at CarMax and ranked them by their EPA-estimated combined fuel economy.
All vehicles on our list are 2018 models. When we crunched the numbers, this model year came up as the largest sample size in our inventory for the small SUV category. According to the EPA, new small SUVs with the model year 2018 had an average combined MPG of 24.
1. Nissan Rogue Hybrid — 34 MPG
For style, comfort, practicality, and impressive fuel efficiency, it's the Nissan Rogue Hybrid that takes top honors. The 2018 Rogue Hybrid pairs a 2L, four-cylinder gas engine with an onboard electric motor and automatic transmission for a blockbuster EPA-estimated 34 mpg combined.
2. Toyota RAV4 Hybrid — 32 MPG
Taking the number two spot in our fuel-friendly listing is the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. Powered by a 2.5L engine with onboard electric motor technology and AWD capability, you can expect this customer favorite to power you on, and on, and on, with an EPA-estimated 32 mpg combined.
3. Chevrolet Equinox — 32 MPG
The turbodiesel engine of the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox delivers some serious mileage for drivers that use their vehicle for work and recreation. If your daily schedule is full of errands and appointments, the FWD or AWD 1.6L turbo diesel Equinox with automatic transmission delivers an EPA-estimated 32 mpg combined.
4. Honda CR-V — 30 MPG
When friends and family live out of state, planning trips to visit them feels easier when your ride is fuel-efficient. The 2018 Honda CR-V with the turbo 1.5L engine, standard FWD, and automatic transmission returns an EPA-estimated 30 mpg combined.
5. Mazda CX-5 — 29 MPG
For smart styling and more miles from your tank of gas, the 2018 Mazda CX-5 with the 2.2L engine, FWD, and an automatic transmission achieves a truly impressive EPA-estimated 29 mpg combined.
6. Jeep Compass — 25 MPG
The 2018 Jeep Compass can take you further between fill-ups as you navigate daily life. The standard engine for all trims is a 2.4L four-cylinder, and when paired to the six- or nine-speed automatic transmission, you'll benefit from an EPA-estimated 25 mpg combined.
7. Jeep Renegade — 25 MPG
If you regularly take off for the mountains or like to explore your city in detail, the Jeep Renegade has you covered for adventure-filled weekends. The 2018 2.4L FWD Renegade dials in an EPA-estimated 25 mpg combined, a nifty number that provides a balance of fuel efficiency and carefree driving.
8. Ford Escape — 24 MPG
Pick the 2018 Ford Escape, and its three engine options not only provide good fuel economy figures, but you can also find a version that suits your driving style and the roads you regularly navigate, too. The FWD model with the 2.5L engine achieves an EPA-estimated 24 mpg combined.
9. Volkswagen Tiguan — 24 MPG
All trims of the spacious 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan are powered by a turbocharged 2L engine. In its FWD iteration, the Tiguan achieves an EPA-estimated 24 mpg combined.1 Keeping you connected to your online world are standard Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ connectivity. For groups that enjoy traveling together, look for a Tiguan equipped with an optional third row of seating, taking capacity to seven.
If you regularly hit the highway on your daily commute or just want to save on miles as you run around town, one of these high-mpg vehicles could be a good choice. Even the most practical compact SUV can make a great companion for weekend adventures—you get the best of all worlds.
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Who We Are
At CarMax, we've been buying and selling cars since 1993, and we've made it our business to pay close attention to which cars customers like—and buy—the most. As the largest used car auto retailer in the United States, our overall sample size is large and reflective of the variety of years, makes, and models that we sell.
How We Ranked This List
To create this list of CarMax’s most popular small SUVs with the best gas mileage, our analysts looked at CarMax’s vehicle and sales data over a six-month period (March 1, 2022 through August 31, 2022) to determine the 9 top-selling small SUVs. From there, we ranked these results by their EPA-estimated combined MPG. Looking back over a six-month period allows for the highest sample size possible while also providing up-to-date pricing information. Specifically, this list includes only 2018 models, as this was our largest sample size for this category.