Few segments have grown as quickly over the last decade than these SUV-like cars that offer greater utility without the efficiency sacrifices of a larger vehicle.
Gas mileage is improving all the time too, allowing the average compact crossover to use less fuel than regular compact cars were returning only a few years ago.
Which are most efficient? We've picked the ten best fuel-sippers in the compact crossover class. There are a few surprises here and the omission of a few--like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V--that you may have expected to do better.
1. 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid
31 mpg combined (29 mpg city, 33 mpg highway)
Kudos to Subaru here--when we last looked at fuel-efficient crossovers, its XV Crosstrek made an appearance but didn't quite reach the top. With the addition of a hybrid drivetrain it's now made that leap, and as far as both city and combined mileage go it's the best here.
Power comes from the combined efforts of Subaru's traditional flat-four gasoline engine, and a small 10 kW (13 horsepower) electric motor. It's largely a 'mild hybrid' in that its EV mode only cuts in under very, very gentle driving. You're better viewing it as an XV with improved gas mileage than a proper hybrid vehicle.
2. 2015 BMW X3 xDrive28d
30 mpg combined (27 mpg city, 34 mpg highway)
While the Subaru above uses hybrid technology to return good gas mileage, BMW has opted for diesel. 34 mpg highway is not bad at all for a vehicle of the X3's bulk, and the 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel engine offers strong performance.
You get an eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive and 180 horsepower at your disposal--which should make the BMW one of the punchiest cars here despite its economy potential.
3. 2014 Nissan Juke
29 mpg combined (27 mpg city, 32 mpg highway)
A little smaller than the rest, the Juke nevertheless returns good gas mileage. What it lacks in size it makes up for in striking styling, and the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine sends its power through an automatic transmission.
We struggled to hit the Juke's mileage figures when testing one a few years ago, but the Juke has at least enjoyed a minor facelift and equipment tally bump since then, so it's a little better to live with on a daily basis.
4. 2015 Mazda CX-5 2WD manual
29 mpg combined (26 mpg city, 35 mpg highway)
Mazda has made a big deal of its Skyactiv engine and transmission technology, and with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder the CX-5 is one of the most economical compact crossovers on the market. With a manual transmission and two-wheel drive--and no fancy tricks--it achieves up to 35 mpg on the highway, while combined mileage is a respectable 29 mpg.
That drops to 28 combined if you opt for all-wheel drive--a small price to pay for those in less clement climates. It's a little sportier to drive than most, too.
5. 2014 Nissan Rogue
28 mpg combined (26 mpg city, 33 mpg highway)
Of more usable size than the Juke, the latest Rogue still has respectable economy ratings. That's at least in part down to Nissan's persistence with continuously-variable transmissions to boost economy--the Rogue matches the frugality of several other vehicles here despite using a 2.5-liter gasoline engine.
It isn't the most exciting vehicle you'll ever drive, but there's an option for seven seats, it's spacious, comfortable, and with prices starting at $22,790, it's competitively priced too.
6. 2014 Buick Encore
28 mpg combined (25 mpg city, 33 mpg highway)
A 1.4-liter engine? In a crossover? Actually, things aren't so bad--in the 2014 Encore you'll find the 1.4-liter turbocharged unit more familiar from cars like the Chevy Cruze and Sonic. The downsized unit is pretty efficient too, with the automatic transmission--up to 28 mpg combined.
In terms of utility the Encore sits between the Nissan Juke and some of the other crossovers here--like the Juke, it sits on a subcompact platform but interior volume is greater than the average subcompact.
7. 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek AWD
28 mpg combined (25 mpg city, 33 mpg highway)
We were a little disappointed when we drove the Subaru XV Crosstrek a while back, but our disappointment doesn't stop it being one of the more efficient compact crossovers on the market. At 35 mpg highway, its four-cylinder boxer engine matches that of the Mazda CX-5's best efforts, though drops 1 mpg in the city and overall.
You do get standard AWD into the bargain though, and an automatic gearbox that may be preferable for some drivers. If you can't stretch to the hybrid, the regular version is at least fairly close behind.
8. 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 Bluetec 4matic
28 mpg combined (24 mpg city, 33 mpg highway)
Another German entrant you'd not normally find in "most efficient" lists, though perhaps this one should be a little further up--it is a diesel, after all. Edged out by its rival from BMW, the 2.1-liter diesel and seven-speed automatic combo make the GLK an easy car to cruise around in, and we expect real-world mileage to be a little better--we returned almost 35 mpg when testing it in 2013.
Performance from the 200-horse, 369 pounds-feet diesel is strong, and the price is hefty too--starting at $38,980. As such, the Mercedes is more a purchase for existing prestige car customers looking to reduce their bills, than a buying wanting to save from the word go.
9. 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2WD
28 mpg combined (25 mpg city, 32 mpg highway)
You might have forgotten the Outlander Sport still existed--the smaller Mirage has taken more of the fuel economy headlines recently. But the compact crossover is actually respectably economical in two-wheel drive format.
Power comes from a 2.0-liter gasoline engine and there's a continuously-variable transmission directing power to the wheels. It looks and drives sporty, equipment levels are high and at $20,670 for models with CVT, it's less expensive than most here too.
10. 2014 Subaru Forester AWD
27 mpg combined (24 mpg city, 32 mpg highway)
Subaru should be commended for getting a third entry on this list. The Forester can't quite match the XV Crosstrek for economy but that's to be expected--it's a larger, bluff-fronted vehicle.
Reasonable highway economy of 32 mpg pulls combined economy to 27 mpg, one mile per gallon below that of the regular gasoline XV. All-wheel drive is again standard, as is a boxer layout to the four-cylinder engine.