You’re an SUV owner looking to upgrade your current car, but you’re also getting tired of increasing gas prices and the way those hybrid and electric car owners look at you on the freeway. 

At the same time, you’re not about to downsize to a sub-compact in order to get good gas mileage. What do you do? 

There is an answer: A more fuel-efficient SUV. 

And to help you chose, here’s just five of the highest economy SUVs on the market in 2012. 

2012 Ford Escape Hybrid FWD

  • City: 34
  • Highway: 31
  • Combined: 32
  • Starting Price: $31,395

If fuel economy is your primary concern you can’t get any better than the 2012 Ford Escape Hybrid Compact SUV. 

With a 30.9 cubic feet of luggage space and seating for five, the Ford Escape Hybrid should be a worthy workhorse for family trips, weekends away and the weekly shopping trip. A towing capacity of 1,500 pounds makes the Escape Hybrid an all-rounder. 

It is also available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive configurations -- although the all-wheel drive version is a few mpg less efficient than its front-wheel drive sibling. 

2011 Lexus RX 450h

2011 Lexus RX 450h

2012 Lexus RX 450h FWD

  • City: 32
  • Highway: 28
  • Combined: 30
  • Starting Price: $45,000 (approx.)

Benefiting from sister company Toyota’s 10+ years of hybrid drivetrain development, the 2012 Lexus RX 450h features a six cylinder, 3.5 liter engine married to two electric motors (three in the all-wheel drive version). 

Firmly in the luxury midsize crossover SUV category, the 2012 Lexus RX 450h offers a massive 40 cubic feet of cargo space with all of its five seats filled -- and is based on the same chassis as the 2012 Toyota Highlander (below).

If you want the luxury of a larger Hybrid SUV -- and don’t mind paying a premium you could do a lot worse than the Lexus RX 450h FWD. For All-Wheel drive, expect to pay another few thousand dollars extra, along with a drop in fuel economy of a few mpg. 

Capable of towing up to 3,500 pounds the RX 450h isn’t just a car for going shopping in and can cope with all but the largest of towing duties. 

2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid 4WD

  • City:  28
  • Highway: 28
  • Combined: 28
  • Starting Price: $38,140

The only 7-seat hybrid currently on the market, the 2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a midsize crossover SUV capable of an impressive 28 mpg despite its size and all-wheel drive system. 

Powered by the same 3.5 liter engine and Toyota synergy hybrid drivetrain found in the Lexus RX 450h, the 2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid 4WD is more than capable of towing 3,500 pounds in most conditions. 

With a permanent four-wheel drive system it is also one of the most capable of the high-economy SUVs on the market today. 

Cargo wise, the 2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid 4WD can only hold 10.3 cubic feet of luggage if all seven seats are occupied. However, flatten the rearmost seats and it can hold 42.4 cubic feet of luggage behind five passengers. 

If you need to regularly tow, have more than five people in your family or need to occasionally venture off-road, the 2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid 4WD must be in your list of SUVs to try.

2011 Hyundai Tucson

2011 Hyundai Tucson

2012 Hyundai Tucson 2WD

  • City: 23
  • Highway: 31
  • Combined: 26
  • Starting Price: $19,045

Hyundai’s compact crossover SUV isn’t the largest SUV out there, but it is the cheapest crossover SUV on our list. 

It is also the most fuel efficient non-hybrid SUV on the market today.Powered by a 2 liter engine married to a six-speed automatic gearbox driving the front wheels, it offers drivers who don’t want to make the switch to a more expensive hybrid a way of becoming fuel efficient. 

Cargo room isn’t cavernous, but at 25.7 cubic feet it is larger than most hatchbacks when all five seats are occupied.

For ultimate fuel economy, make sure you chose the 2-liter engine over its 2.4 liter sibling, which drops a few mpg in economy 

2012 Chevrolet Equinox

2012 Chevrolet Equinox

2012 Chevrolet Equinox FWD 

  • City: 22
  • Highway: 32
  • Combined: 26
  • Starting Price: $23,450

Marketed as Chevrolet’s fuel-efficient mid-size crossover SUV, the Equinox is built upon General Motor’s Theta Unibody platform and is essentially the same car as the 2012 GMC Terrain. 

Powered by a 2.4 liter gasoline engine, the 2012 Chevrolet Equinox is capable of operating on E85 bioethanol, gasoline, or a combination of both -- although fuel economy drops when running on E85 due to E85 containing less energy per gallon than gasoline.  

That said, running the 2012 Chevrolet Equinox on E85 fuel dramatically reduces your reliance on fossil fuels, making the 2012 Chevrolet Equinox ideal for anyone wanting to support a move away from gasoline. 

It also makes the 2012 Chevrolet Equinox FWD the most environmentally responsible SUV on the market, provided you run it on responsibly sourced E85. 

As with other SUVs, the AWD version of the Equinox drops a few mpg from the overall efficieny.

What's your favourite?

Do you drive an SUV? Which of these five would you pick? 

Let us know in the Comments below. 


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