With large SUVs being some of the biggest gas guzzlers on the market, fuel efficiency becomes a major factor in choosing the right model.
Large SUVs normally equal high fuel consumption, the following cars show this is not always the case. Buyers desire large vehicles for numerous reasons, practicality, presence, and perceived safety being just some of them. SUVs with a third row are primarily designed to cater to larger families and in some ways, they are the modern replacement for the traditional minivan. Given the ongoing rise in SUV popularity, it is no surprise manufactures are diversifying their lineups to include these 7 and even 8 seat vehicles.
Using the data obtained from fueleconomy.gov, which is the official U.S. government source for fuel economy figures, this article will compare the most fuel-efficient new gas-powered three-row SUVs on the market. For easy comparison purposes, the average MPG rating will be used. Environmentally focused buyers or those looking to save on their fuel bills may wish to explore the options on this list.
Related: SUVs With The Worst Fuel Economy
The Chevrolet Traverse appeals to a wide market with a range of trim options, and there is a lot to love. The entry-level LS starts at $33,700 and the range includes choices up to the top-spec, $51,200, High Count. There is one engine option available, a 310-hp, 3.6-liter V6 in combination with a 9-speed automatic transmission. It also achieves a fuel economy rating of 21, demonstrating that performance and economy are not mutually exclusive.
As standard, a good amount of safety features is provided on all trim levels. The provision includes: automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, forward collision alert, IntelliBeam, and following distance indicator.
The BMW X7 is definitely a premium offering on this list, consequently, it comes with a premium price tag. The most efficient offering is the 3.0-liter, six-cylinder, twin-turbo xDrive40i, which starts at just under $75,000. Fuel economy is a respectable 21 mpg and performance is great with a 0-60 time of just 5.8 seconds.
This is not a shy SUV, as the mammoth kidney grills and general imposing stature make this a car to take notice of. Related: Here's What We Know So Far About The 2022 BMW X7
Another premium contender on this list, the Audi Q7 offers great fuel economy. The most efficient engine is the entry-level 2.0-liter four-cylinder that returns 22 mpg. Another great option is the 3.0-liter six-cylinder. In the latter option, the economy drops to 20 mpg, but power is increased to 335 hp, which is considerably more than the four-pot's 248 hp. We would probably go for the V6 as a result.
Compared to the previous version, this model is significantly lighter. As a consequence, not only is the economy increased but the whole driving experience and handling are improved for the better.
The Kia Telluride is a great option for those buyers hoping to minimize expenses after purchase. This SUV has a very fresh intriguing look. As we have come to expect with Kia, they offer a best-in-class warranty including a 10 year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage. The brand is also rated number one in J.D. Power's vehicle dependability study amongst mass-market brands. Similarly, the single-engine choice, a 291-hp naturally aspirated V6 returns a decent 23 mpg.
The car has an excellent infotainment offering that is based around a 10.3-inch touchscreen and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Volkswagen Atlas is a large seven-seat SUV designed and launched primarily to appeal to the North American Market. The most efficient engine in the range, a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder unit, returns a combined average of 23 MPG.
This good fuel economy is combined with a 20.6 cubic feet cargo capacity that can be increased to 96.8 with all rows folded flat.
The Mercedes-Benz GLE is undeniably a very luxurious SUV. Features such as color-changing LED strip lights in the cabin allow for a good level of personalization. Drivers can also choose between 54 colors depending on their mood and desire.
The most efficient powertrain is the 6 cylinder, 3.0-liter GLE 450, this returns 23 mpg and beats the smaller 2.0-liter offering which returns 22 mpg combined. Related: Brabus Modifies The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 Into The World's Fastest SUV
The Ford Explorer hybrid consists of a 3.3-liter, 400-hp, twin-turbo V6 mated to a 10-speed automatic gearbox. The combination results in great fuel economy with the car returning a combined mpg of 27.
For those looking for an efficient towing vehicle, the Explorer is a great match with a 5000-pound towing capacity.
The Highlander is available as both a front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive version. The hybrid powertrain comprises a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder petrol engine combined with two electric motors to produce 243 hp. The car is propelled from 0-60 in 8.3 seconds. The efficient hybrid is the only powertrain option in the UK.
The EPA puts the Highlander's combined mpg at 36 mpg when selected as a front-wheel-drive only option.
Swedish manufacturer Volvo has produced a very fuel-efficient vehicle in the form of the XC90 T8. This hybrid SUV returns 55 mpg on the combined cycle from its 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbo, and supercharged engine. This powertrain is not only efficient, but it is also incredibly fast, 0-60 is achieved in 5.4 seconds and 455 hp is produced.
The interior of the XC90 is truly breathtaking, well-crafted premium materials blend perfectly with the modern infotainment system. There is a real sense of Scandinavian chic.
The Santa Fe is available as either a plug-in (PHEV) or a regular hybrid. It is the PHEV that offers the lowest fuel consumption of the two returning an exceptional 76 mpg. One consideration, as with any PHEV, is that the true mpg achieved is greatly influenced by the usage pattern and charging behavior.
A buyer completing many shorter, urban-based journeys but with an available charging point is going to achieve much higher mpg than another who may complete longer journeys that deplete the car's batteries. This is because the shorter urban journeys can be completed on electricity alone. Once home, the battery is then replenished, the higher mileage user in comparison, will require much more assistance from the gasoline engine and consequently use more fuel.
The PHEV produces 261 hp from a 1.6-liter petrol engine combined with electric motors. The Santa Fe is another good, practical option for those looking to tow, as it has trailer sway control. This system works with the ESC and the car automatically reduces the throttle and applies the brakes to regain vehicle control and stability.
These everyday cars prove costly to own and maintain in the long run.
Benjamin has always had an interest in all things automotive. He is a keen follower of Formula One, and is particularly enjoying watching the rise of George Russell and Lando Norris. He is most knowledgeable about modern cars, but is learning more and more about classics. Currently based just North of London.