First of all, SUVs are heavy. They outweigh almost every other type of vehicle on the road and that extra weight causes the SUV to use more fuel. The other issue is their design.
SUVs are not structurally designed to be aerodynamic. Their boxy hoods require the vehicle to force its way through the air as opposed to cleanly slicing through it. The result is more air drag equals more gas usage.
In terms of the nuts and bolts of SUVs, there are some less than fuel efficient features here too. If the SUV is equipped with a large V6 or V8 motor, gas mileage is going to severely decreased. Those more powerful engines just require more fuel to perform.
Choosing an SUV with a four-cylinder motor can help in this department. On the down side, if you want to do a lot of off road driving, particularly driving many hills or mountains, a larger engine is almost a necessity. So that choice comes down to what you intend the vehicle to be used for.
Another mechanical feature to keep in mind when choosing a SUV is whether or not it is two or four wheel drive. Four-wheel drive models tend to use more in gas. Weather conditions in your neck of the woods may make a four wheel drive necessary. If not, consider a two-wheel drive. In some cases the manufacturer only produces certain SUVs in the four-wheel drive option.
An SUV may not do much to save you money at the pump,however, if you have your little heart set on one, certain models are better in the fuel efficiency department than others.
In the 2005 models, the Ford Escape Hybrid won in the gas mileage contest among the SUVs. It has a highway MPG of 31 and in the city ranked 36. Those numbers aren’t too bad.
Another good option on the SUV front was the Toyota RAV4. If gas prices are a huge concern for you, then you may want to avoid models like the Land Rover Range Rover. It takes 12 MPG in city driving and 16 in highway. The Toyota Land Cruiser doesn’t rank any better. The land cruiser has a MPG of 13 in the city and 17 on the highway.
Overall SUVs may not be the most fuel effective vehicles available, but with certain choices, models, and features, they don’t have to be any worse than a car. Do your homework and make the right choice for you and your wallet.