Toyota's Prius is something of a figurehead for the green car movement, but despite its many talents, we'll admit it may not be suitable for all drivers.
What if you want economy but don't want to sacrifice the utility and security of something a little bigger? Maybe you're still concerned about getting good mileage, but want the extra traction of all-wheel drive this Winter?
We have just the list for you. Detailed below are the top five 2011 model-year all-wheel drive cars ranked by combined EPA economy, ready for some winter gas-saving.
2011 Lexus RX 450h AWD - 29 MPG combined
Toyota and Lexus have been largely responsible for starting the hybrid craze so it's only right that the RX 450h AWD should top the list of most efficient SUVs. Despite a 3.5-liter V6 under the hood, the hybrid system helps it achieve 30 MPG city and 28 highway, resulting in a combined 29 MPG figure. The Lexus is certainly an impressive mix of performance, economy and luxury, with a dash of winter security. The RX 450h does only drink premium, however.
2011 Ford Escape Hybrid 4WD - 29 MPG combined
At face value the Escape matches the more expensive Lexus on economy, but gets knocked into second for its marginally lower 27 MPG highway rating. Still, it's the most economical home-grown AWD on the market and its reliability rating stands up to scrutiny - New York and San Francisco taxi companies can't be wrong. If you don't like the badge, then the same car is available as the Mazda Tribute and Mercury Mariner hybrids.
2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid 4WD - 28 MPG combined
Locking out another position on the list is another Toyota product. It manages 28 MPG city and 28 highway. With 7 seats it's the perfect option for larger families or those who occasionally need to change between people and cargo, making the Highlander the most practical of our five. At around $7,000 less than the Lexus it's great value, too.
2011 Nissan Juke AWD - 27 MPG combined
If you aren't looking for space in your fuel-efficient AWD but do want some fun, then the Juke could be for you. It has head-turning (some may say stomach-turning) looks and fun handling, with good performance from its 188-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged engine. The Juke manages 25 MPG city and 30 highway for its 27 MPG combined rating on premium gas.
2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport AWD - 26 MPG combined
A worthy rival for the Juke, the Outlander Sport misses out by 1 MPG on each economy figure. Its 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter engine makes for a sporty drive and we do like the aggressive looks, too. Unlike the Juke, the Outlander Sport drinks cheaper, regular gasoline so may be a little cheaper to run.
Big or small, practical or fun, the four-wheel drive vehicles above should help you save just a little more gas this winter and with any luck, help keep you on the road, too.