Unless a hybrid or EV powertrain sits under the hood, most SUVs don't quite make it to 30 mpg combined. But they're getting close. With technologies like direct injection, turbocharging, and CVTs, 2013-model-year SUVs are often nearly as efficient as similarly sized sedans, and our list includes everything from a rear-drive entry-level luxury crossover to an all-wheel-drive compact cute-ute.
The list below includes the top 10 most efficient 2013 SUVs that are not powered by a hybrid or an all-electric powertrain. The rankings are based on the EPA combined rating, with ties broken first by best highway mileage, then city mileage.
10. Nissan Juke AWD, 6A - 27 mpg combined, 25/30 mpg:
The Nissan Juke is one of a few all-wheel-drive SUVs that made the list, and it did so thanks to its small but potent 1.6-liter turbo-four rated at 188 hp and 177 lb-ft. We spent a year with an AWD SL model and most staffers agreed it was a blast to drive. Better yet, its EPA combined rating of 27 mpg is respectable.
9. Mitsubishi Outlander Sport FWD, CVT - 27 mpg combined, 24/31 mpg city/highway:
We recently parted with our long-term 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, though we should note it was an all-wheel-drive model that achieves 26 mpg combined. The front-drive version squeezes out one more mpg. The Outlander isn't the most exciting SUV to drive, but at least its 148-hp 2.0-liter I-4 (mated to a CVT) delivers decent fuel economy.
8. Nissan Juke FWD, 6M - 27 mpg combined, 25/31 mpg:
If you could live without the all-weather versatility of the Juke AWD and don't mind rowing your own gears, consider the FWD model with a six-speed manual. Not only is it cheaper, it's also more efficient on the highway with a rating of 31 mpg.
7. Mazda CX-5 AWD, 6A - 28 mpg combined, 25/31 mpg:
The CX-5 features a number of fuel-saving technologies. In addition to direct injection, the engine features a sky-high compression ratio of 13:1, and an efficient six-speed automatic transmission.
5: Subaru XV Crosstrek AWD, CVT (tied with Encore FWD) - 28 mpg combined, 25/33 mpg:
It may have polarizing looks, but the Impreza-based XV Crosstrek is a fairly efficient crossover with an EPA combined rating of 28 mpg. It achieves this mileage despite its all-wheel drivetrain and raised ride height, making it ideal for those who seeking all-weather capability with decent fuel economy. During a recent test, we found this Subie to be roomy and fairly comfortable.
5: Buick Encore FWD, 6A (tied with XV Crosstrek CVT) - 28 mpg combined, 25/33 mpg:
The Encore is Buick's smallest SUV offering to date, aimed at entry-level buyers who want affordable luxury. Encore drivers will get decent fuel economy if they opt for the two-wheel drive version, which achieves 28 mpg combined.
4. BMW X1 sDrive28 RWD, 8A - 28 mpg combined, 24/34 mpg:
The 2013 X1 sDrive28 is yet another BMW to receive the automaker's new 2.0-liter, turbo-four engine. Here, it's rated at 240 hp and 260 lb-ft and achieves 28 mpg combined. And with an eight-speed automatic, its gearbox has the most cogs in this group of SUVs.
3: Mazda CX-5 FWD, 6A - 29 mpg combined, 26/32 mpg:
For those who would rather leave the shifting duties up to the CX-5, the automatic gearbox sacrifices 3 mpg on the highway when compared to the manual. However, both are EPA-rated at 26 mpg in the city and 29 mpg combined.
2: Nissan Juke FWD, CVT - 29 mpg combined, 27/32 mpg:
The Nissan Juke's combined mileage is actually tied with two variants of the Mazda CX-5 at 29 mpg. While the CVT definitely helps the Juke sip fuel more efficiently, the selectable sport mode is surprisingly good, transforming the pint-sized 'ute into a fun canyon carver.
1: Mazda CX-5 FWD, 6M - 29 mpg combined, 26/35 mpg:
The CX-5 is one of the most fun-to-drive crossovers we've tested in a long time and part of its charm is its six-speed manual. Better yet, this gearbox is more efficient than its automatic counterpart on the highway, thanks to its EPA rating of 35 mpg.
Ford Escape FWD, 6A (turbo 1.6L I-4) - 26 mpg combined, 23/33 mpg
Honda CR-V FWD, 5A - 26 mpg combined, 23/31 mpg
Mitsubishi Outlander Sport FWD, 5M - 26 mpg combined, 24/30 mpg
Subaru Outback AWD, CVT (2.5L I-4) - 26 mpg combined, 24/30 mpg
All at 26 mpg combined, 23/30 mpg - Buick Encore AWD/6A, Jeep Compass/Jeep Patriot FWD/5M (2.0L I-4), and Subaru XV Crosstrek AWD/5M.
BMW X1 xDrive28i, 8A - 26 mpg combined, 22/33 mpg
Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain FWD, 6A (2.4L I-4) - 26 mpg combined, 22/32 mpg