When SUVs began their popularity surge in the 1990s, fuel was still relatively affordable, making high fuel consumption an afterthought. But as gasoline and diesel pricing soared in the 2000s, buyers began looking more closely at SUV fuel efficiency. Today, SUVs have hit a comfortable stride in fuel consumption with a wide range of hybrid versions and new turbo technology.
These advancements have made finding SUVs with lower gas consumption relatively simple. For a vehicle that combines comfort and cargo space with reduced fuel costs, check out this list of the most fuel-efficient SUVs in Canada.
In years past, listing the most fuel-efficient SUVs was as simple as running down a list of numbers. Today, SUVs have a range of green powertrain options, including electric, plug-in hybrid, hybrid, and gasoline or diesel.
These new powertrain options muddy up the waters a little when searching for the most fuel-efficient SUV. But in this list, we cover the most fuel-efficient SUVs in all four powertrain classes to clear the waters and help you decide.
Traditional SUVs come with gasoline- or diesel-only powertrains and tend to have the lowest upfront cost. This lower cost and simpler technology come at the expense of fuel consumption, as they use significantly more fuel than their hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric counterparts.
The 2018-2019 Chevrolet Equinox diesel leads the list of most fuel-efficient SUVs without a hybrid powertrain. Its fuel consumption varies slightly between years and with optional all-wheel drive, but it checks in at 8.5 L/100 km city, 6-6.1 L/100 km highway, and 7.4 L/100 km combined.
The 2018-2019 GMC Terrain Diesel is almost identical to the Equinox Diesel mechanically, so its fuel efficiency is the same. NRCan rates it at 8.5 L/100 km city, 6-6.1 L/100 km highway, and 7.4 L/100 km combined.
The 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer is the first non-diesel model on this list of the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid SUVs. Its consumption rates check in at 8 L/100 km city, 7.2 L/100 km highway, and 7.6 L/100 km combined.
The subcompact 2016-2020 Honda HR-V comes up next on our list of the most fuel-efficient SUVs with fuel consumption ratings of 8.3-8.4 L/100 km city, 6.7-7 L/100 km highway, and 7.6-7.8 L/100 km combined. Keep in mind that this is only the front-wheel-drive variant with the continuously variable transmission (CVT). All-wheel-drive variants and those with the manual transmission consume too much fuel to qualify.
The 2020 Honda CR-V with the 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive rounds out our list with consumption ratings of 8.3 L/100 km city, 7 L/100 km highway, and 7.7 L/100 km combined. The all-wheel-drive CR-V consumes too much fuel to qualify for our list.
Hybrid SUVs not only deliver superior fuel efficiency compared to traditional gasoline-only models, but they also eliminate the need to plug them in. You can simply hop in and drive. This convenience comes at the expense of fuel consumption relative to their plug-in hybrid relatives, though.
Because they have no all-electric range, NRCan rates hybrid models' fuel consumption the same way it does traditional gasoline models: litres per 100 km (L/100 km).
The 2020-2021 Ford Escape Hybrid leads the pack as the most fuel-efficient SUV in the hybrid class. In its standard front-wheel-drive setup, the Escape Hybrid delivers 5.4 L/100 km city, 6.3 L/100 km highway, and 5.8 L/100 km combined. Opting for all-wheel drive increases consumption to 5.5 L/100 km city, 6.4 L/100 km highway, and 5.9 L/100 km combined.
The 2019-2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is the second-most fuel-efficient SUV in the hybrid class with its 5.7-5.8 L/100 km city, 6.3 L/100 km highway, and 6 L/100 km combined full consumption ratings. What's more, it delivers this efficiency with standard all-wheel drive.
After a brief hiatus, the Toyota Venza returned in 2021 as a hybrid-only crossover with all-new styling and standard all-wheel drive. This all-new hybrid crossover delivers 5.9 L/100 km city, 6.4 L/100 km highway, and 6.1 L/100 km combined consumption ratings.
Need a three-row midsize SUV that's still one of the most fuel-efficient SUVs in Canada? The 2020-2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid AWD is a solid option with fuel consumption ratings of 6.6-6.7 L/100 km city, 6.8 L/100 km highway, and 6.8 L/100 km combined.
The last-generation Toyota RAV4 Hybrid AWD, which ran from 2016 through 2018, is still high on the list of most fuel-efficient SUVs. It consumes 6.9 L/100 km city, 7.6-7.8 L/100 km highway, and 7.2-7.2 L/100 km combined.
Buyers who aren't quite ready to leap from gasoline to full electric can use a plug-in hybrid SUV as a bridge vehicle. These models combine an electric motor and gasoline engine to deliver enhanced fuel economy. They also include higher-capacity batteries to deliver all-electric driving.
The all-electric range of plug-in hybrids is significantly shorter than full-electric models, but they switch into hybrid mode for extra range once their batteries deplete. Like electric SUVs, NRCan rates plug-in hybrids in Le/100 km, but this rating combines their fuel consumption in hybrid and electric modes.
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime is the most efficient plug-in hybrid SUV in Canada with its 2.5 Le/100 KM combined rating. This compact SUV delivers a 68-km all-electric range and a 911-km range in hybrid mode.
The 2020 Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid rings in at No. 2 on the plug-in hybrid list with its 2.3 Le/100 km combined rating. With a full battery, the Escape has a 60-km range, and its hybrid mode adds another 790 km.
Some buyers consider the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid AWD a lifted hatchback, while others consider it a crossover SUV. Regardless of its classification, the Crosstrek Hybrid AWD pairs Subaru's legendary off-road prowess with a fuel-efficient powertrain with a 2.6 Le/100 km consumption rate. With a fully charged battery, the 2020 Crosstrek Hybrid can travel up to 27 km on battery alone. Once the battery runs out, hybrid mode adds another 747 km.
The Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring combines fuel-efficient driving with luxury, as it consumes 3 Le/100 km combined. With a full charge, this luxury SUV can travel 45 km on electric power alone, and its hybrid mode adds another 644 km.
The 2018-2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV AWD is the fifth most fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid SUV in Canada with its 3.2 Le/100 km consumption rating. After a full charge, the Outlander PHEV can travel up to 35 km on battery alone. Hybrid mode adds up to another 463 km of range.
If your budget allows it, the most fuel-efficient SUVs in Canada are electric vehicles. Electric SUVs generally start with significantly higher pricing than their hybrid or gasoline-only counterparts, plus they often require buyers to install special charging equipment to reduce charging time.
These vehicles use no gasoline, so Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) uses a formula to convert electrical consumption to an equivalent of litres of gasoline consumed (Le/100 km).
The 2020-2021 Tesla Model Y tops the list at 1.8 Le/100 km city, 2 Le/100 km highway, and 1.9 Le/100 km combined in its Long Range AWD trim. Consumption increases a bit when you move up to the Performance models, which range from 2 to 2.1 Le/100 km combined.
The 2019-2020 Hyundai Kona Electric rings in at No. 2 on the list of most fuel-efficient SUVs at 1.8 Le/100 km city, 2.2 Le/100 km highway, and 2 Le/100 km combined.
Tesla returns at No. 3 on the most fuel-efficient SUV list with the 2016-2021 Model X -- the Model Y's larger sibling. This all-electric small SUV comes in a wide range of trim levels, and its fuel consumption rings in at 2.2-2.9 Le/100 km city, 2.3-3 Le/100 km highway, and 2.2-3 Le/100 km combined.
The 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge is No. 4 in Canada for fuel efficiency in the electric crossover space. It rings in at 2.8 Le/100 km city, 3.3 Le/100 km highway, and 3 Le/100 km combined.
The 2020-2021 Audi e-tron 55 quattro comes in two variants, the standard model and the more sedan-like Sportback model. The standard model's consumption equivalents stand at 3 Le/100 km city, 3 Le/100 km highway, and 3 Le/100 km combined. The Sportback model's consumption is a touch higher at 3.1 Le/100 km city, 3 Le/100 km highway, and 3.1 Le/100 km combined.
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