As we move into 2023, fuel economy ratings have become more important than ever. SUVs are also more popular than they have ever been. The consequences of both of these trends have automakers scrambling to put out a variety of hybrid SUVs and plug-in hybrid SUVs to satisfy buyers' needs.
Automakers like Toyota, Hyundai, and Kia have a variety from which to choose while others like Mazda, Volkswagen, and Nissan are either behind or offer full EV options to satisfy other demographic groups. Regardless, there are plenty of fuel-efficient SUVs from which to choose in a market becoming obsessed with the best fuel economy possible.
Keep reading to see our list of the most fuel-efficient SUVs that you can buy as we all move into the next year together.
2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime
The Toyota RAV4 is already a versatile and well-rounded crossover SUV, and the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid offers the same great package to buyers while ramping up the fuel economy. The Toyota RAV4 Prime takes the RAV4 Hybrid even one step further, offering better fuel economy, an updated infotainment system for 2023, and an all-electric range of over 40 miles.
Its peppy plug-in hybrid powertrain is composed of two electric motors and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, sending a combined 302 horsepower to all four wheels. That is enough to send it from 0 to 60 miles per hour in under six seconds while helping it achieve 40 MPG in the city, 36 MPG on the highway, and 94 MPGe.
The RAV4 Prime is comfortable and roomy inside, even with the hybrid powertrain intruding a little into the cargo area. Standard safety features include adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, and blind-spot monitoring. Wireless Apple CarPlay, wireless Android Auto, dual-zone automatic climate control, and heated front seats highlight the standard features list.
Browse 2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime listings here.
2023 Hyundai Tucson PHEV
If you are not a Toyota fan, and you want a little more flair out of your compact crossover, you should check out the Hyundai Tucson PHEV. Its futuristic styling is odd or awesome depending on your taste, but it also comes with some practical features like up to 33 miles on all-electric power, ample rear-seat legroom, and 31.9 cubic feet of cargo space.
All-wheel drive is standard as a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, a turbo, an electric motor, and a lithium-ion battery make up its hybrid powertrain. Unlike many other PHEVs and hybrid SUVs that utilize a CVT, a six-speed automatic transmission sends 261 horsepower to the wheels. An EPA-estimated 35 combined MPG in hybrid mode accompanies its impressive power figures.
Even with a starting price of several thousand less than the Toyota RAV4 Prime, you get a comprehensive list of standard features, including safety features like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and a driver drowsiness monitor. With the 2022 model year Tucson earning an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, we expect similar results for 2023.
Browse Hyundai Tucson PHEV listings here.
2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Scaling up to a fuel-efficient midsize SUV with excellent fuel economy ratings can be difficult. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is here to help. Even though the Toyota Venza is more fuel-efficient, it does not offer a third row like the Highlander. Its third row is a little cramped, but it is there if you need it, and you can fold it down for 48.4 cubic feet of cargo space.
The Highlander is one of the most fuel-efficient SUVs you can buy for its size. It earns an EPA-estimated 36 MPG in the city and 35 MPG on the highway if you choose the front-wheel drive layout. Going with all-wheel drive only brings fuel economy down to an even 35 MPG across the board. Its 243-horsepower hybrid powertrain provides ample grunt to get it going.
One downside to the Highlander Hybrid is its high starting price compared to others with which it competes. Even so, it remains a great choice with a standard 8-inch touchscreen, a 7-inch digital gauge cluster, wireless Apple CarPlay, wireless Android Auto, tri-zone automatic climate control, and a newly updated infotainment system for the 2023 model year.
Browse 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid listings here.
2023 Kia Sorento PHEV
Another midsize SUV option you have is the 2023 Kia Sorento PHEV. It draws many similarities to the aforementioned Toyota Highlander Hybrid. It comes with a 261-horsepower hybrid powertrain, EPA ratings of 35 MPG in the city and 33 MPG on the highway, and a cramped third row.
Those similarities end with the Sorento’s ability to drive for up to 32 miles on electricity alone and its 79 MPGe combined rating. Additionally, the Sorento comes standard with all-wheel drive and no FWD option. The same 261-horsepower hybrid powertrain found in the Hyundai Tucson PHEV also powers the Sorento.
Despite Kia’s penchant for value-oriented pricing, the Sorento’s starting price touches a very un-Kia-like $50,000. That is not totally uncommon for some electric vehicles, but it is significant compared to other available PHEVs and hybrid SUVs, including the regular Kia Sorento Hybrid. Fortunately, you still get a huge list of standard technology and safety features.
Browse 2023 Kia Sorento PHEV listings here.
2023 Ford Escape Hybrid
The Ford Escape Hybrid has always been hard to nail down in the small SUV rankings. It has always gotten excellent fuel economy, but its quality has been subpar compared to the competition. Ford seeks to change that with the 2023 model year. The Escape Hybrid has been refreshed with updated styling, the SYNC 4 infotainment system, and a larger standard touchscreen.
Fuel economy ratings remain strong with the Escapes updates. FWD models can return up to 44 MPG in the city and 37 MPG on the highway. AWD is optional and brings fuel economy down a touch. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder and electric motor that powered the 2022 Ford Escape Hybrid is carried over to the 2023 model and still produces 210 combined horsepower.
Even with its updates, the Escape’s interior remains underwhelming compared to rivals. An even more fuel-efficient PHEV option is available for 2023 as well, but it is only available with front-wheel drive, it will be more expensive, and we are not convinced that the additional efficiency outweighs the Escape’s post-refresh shortcomings. For now, we are sticking with the standard Escape Hybrid as the best option.
Browse 2023 Ford Escape Hybrid listings here.
2023 Kia Niro Hybrid
At first glance, the Kia Niro may look like a hatchback rather than a crossover SUV. Indeed, its low starting price is more akin to many midsize sedans than comparably sized non-hybrid SUVs. It comes with a large personality, futuristic styling, and some of the best gas mileage figures on the market.
Kia has redesigned the Niro for 2023. It combines elements of the larger Kia Sportage and its cousin, the Hyundai Kona. It also comes with a roomy interior for its size and attractive interior styling. Adding to its allure is a fuel-efficient 139-horsepower hybrid powertrain that produces fuel economy estimates of 53 MPG in the city and 54 MPG on the highway.
Unfortunately, front-wheel drive is its standard and only drivetrain layout, and cargo space is on the low side for its size. To make up for it, the Niro comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, dual-zone climate control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, driver attention monitor, and rear cross-traffic alert.
Browse 2023 Kia Niro Hybrid listings here.
2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid
The Honda CR-V has been a staple in the compact SUV segment for years. It has been redesigned for 2023 and now looks more grown up. Honda has also retained the CR-V’s class-leading interior space, ride comfort, and fuel economy, especially with the Honda CR-V hybrid. You can stick with its standard front-wheel drive or choose all-wheel drive for a little extra cash.
Its most fuel-efficient layout comes with front-wheel drive. A continuously variable automatic transmission is paired to a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors to put its 204 horsepower to the pavement. EPA estimates of 43 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway, excellent numbers for the segment.
Standard safety features include lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and more. A standard 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Wi-Fi hotspot, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a 7-inch digital gauge cluster keep the CR-V hybrid atop the hybrid SUV rankings.
Browse 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid listings here.
2023 Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV
The Hyundai Santa Fe is similarly sized to the Kia Sorento but without the third row. That leaves more cargo space for those who need it, and the Santa Fe plug-in hybrid offers just over 30 miles of all-electric range. The result is a comfortable midsize SUV with better fuel economy over the hybrid and non-hybrid Santa Fe options.
A 13.8-kWh battery pack assists the 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder, electric motor, and six-speed automatic transmission in putting 261 horsepower to all four wheels. Fuel economy is rated at a combined 33 MPG or 76 MPGe. For around $40,000, the Santa Fe comes with an upscale interior and love-it-or-hate-it styling.
Active safety features like automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitoring accompany tech features like wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and wireless device charging are standard. Even though the base hybrid model is slightly more fuel efficient and less expensive than the PHEV, the electric driving range and standard features offered in the Santa Fe PHEV are sure to win plenty of loyalists.
Browse 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV listings here.
2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe
If you want more off-road capability than what the Toyota Highlander, Kia Sorento, or Hyundai Santa Fe can provide, you may want to look at the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe. Each trim level comes standard with four-wheel drive, a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, and an electric motor that helps it achieve an EPA-estimated 23 combined MPG in hybrid mode and 56 MPGe on battery power.
That may not sound impressive compared to others on the list, but it is a heavy SUV with some added capability that others do not have. Unfortunately, the third row is not available for the 4xe. Instead, you get near-luxury SUV-level interior appointments with quality materials everywhere. The cargo area is spacious with 37.7 cubic feet with which to work.
25 miles of all-electric range is necessary as the starting price of the Grand Cherokee 4xe rises to over $60,000. Still, you are left with a supremely capable midsize SUV that can do things that others cannot. Even though plenty of features come standard on the base trim level, higher trims can exceed $78,000, a high price despite its impressive capability and features.
Browse 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe listings here.
2023 Lexus UX 250h
The Lexus UX 250h used to just be an adequate subcompact SUV for the first entry-level luxury seekers. That is still the case, but Lexus has made some major improvements to make sure it is truly competitive in the hybrid subcompact luxury SUV segment. That starts with Lexus’ move to an exclusively hybrid powertrain across all UX trim levels.
It looks and feels more like a new car than a new SUV, and its cramped second-row seats and cargo area fit that bill. Despite that, the interior is well-appointed thanks to features like power front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
Front-wheel drive models benefit from EPA estimates of 43 MPG in the city and 41 MPG on the highway. All-wheel drive is available with unsurprising drops in fuel economy. A 181-horsepower hybrid powertrain includes two electric motors for FWD models with an additional electric motor powering the rear wheels in AWD examples.
Browse 2023 Lexus UX 250h listings here.
2023 Toyota Sequoia
A large SUV like the 2023 Toyota Sequoia on a list like this may come as a shock to some, but it is the only full-size body-on-frame SUV that you can buy that comes with a hybrid powertrain. The Sequoia is a legitimate three-row SUV that comes with some added off-road chops for those with a family and an adventure-minded soul.
It is still smaller than the likes of the Chevrolet Suburban, Ford Expedition, and GMC Yukon, but the completely redesigned 2023 Toyota Sequoia makes huge strides forward over the outgoing generation. A standard 8-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay, wireless Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi hotspot get everything off on the right foot.
A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster helps the Sequoia feel modern inside. A standard twin-turbo V6 and an electric motor produce 437 horsepower. It achieves 21 MPG in the city and 24 MPG on the highway, but it is also good for over 9,500 pounds of towing when properly equipped. Its comparably small size does not help it compared to other large SUVs but its fuel economy certainly does.
Browse 2023 Toyota Sequoia listings here.
2023 Subaru Crosstrek PHEV
Subaru has decided to forgo the regular hybrid SUV phase and go directly to the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle phase with the Crosstrek. Unlike many other models on our list, Subaru made minimal changes to the 2023 model year Crosstrek, but that is just fine. You still get standard all-wheel drive, 36 MPG in the city, and 35 MPG on the highway.
Unfortunately, the hybrid powertrain intrudes a bit on the Crosstrek’s cargo space. It also does not help inspire confidence when accelerating. 148 horsepower is on tap from a 2.0-liter flat four-cylinder engine and two electric motors. 17 miles of electric range is achievable, compliments of an 8.8-kWh battery pack.
Standard safety features like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking help bolster its allure. Tech features like an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi Hotspot also help. A noisy CVT does not help as the small SUV can struggle to get up to speed on the highway.
Browse 2023 Subaru Crosstrek PHEV listings here.
2023 Nissan Rogue
The 2023 Nissan Rogue is the only non-hybrid SUV on this list but for good reason. In its base front-wheel drive format, buyers will achieve fuel economy estimates of 30 MPG in the city and 37 MPG on the highway. Even if you opt for the least fuel-efficient AWD option, you can expect to hit 28 MPG and 34 MPG in the city and highway respectively.
Those numbers are even more impressive than many smaller subcompact SUVs like the Toyota Corolla Cross, Mazda CX-30, and Honda HR-V. They come courtesy of Nissan’s tiny 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbo which puts out a modest 201 horsepower. You will most likely not notice any lack of performance with standard Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and class-leading cargo space, though.
There will be no trouble seating passengers in the Rogue’s roomy second row. The Nasa-inspired zero gravity seats will help too. A host of standard safety features like blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, and automatic emergency braking will help keep you safe as you drive down the road laughing at those who spent more money on hybrids and PHEVs.
Browse 2023 Nissan Rogue listings here.
2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid
The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid is brand new to the compact SUV scene. An attractive starting price of around $27,500, Kia’s great warranty, excellent fuel economy, class-leading cargo space, and a roomy, stylish interior all help set the Sportage hybrid apart from the competition. It is still fierce, though, and rivals like the Honda CR-V Hybrid and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid put up a good fight.
An 8-inch touchscreen accompanies an easy-to-use infotainment system, a 12.2-inch digital gauge cluster, wireless Apple CarPlay, and wireless Android Auto as standard features on all models. Passengers in both rows can enjoy all these features in comfort as they recline their second-row seats and while the suspension soaks up bumps.
Each Sportage Hybrid model is motivated by a 227-horsepower hybrid powertrain coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission. The base front-wheel drive model enjoys stellar EPA estimates of 42 MPG in the city and 44 MPG on the highway. AWD models drop to 38 MPG across the board. With everything it offers, the choice to purchase a Sportage will likely come down to whether or not buyers like its funky styling.
Browse 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid listings here.
2023 Lexus NX 450h+
Luxury automakers like Audi, BMW, Volvo, and Jaguar are going all in on PHEV and electric vehicles. Lexus is dipping its toe into that pool too, but it is using its existing hybrid lineup to do so. The NX 450h+ was first introduced in 2022 on top of the regular NX Hybrid. Its hybrid powertrain produces a hefty 304 horsepower, a healthy jump from its hybrid sibling.
The NX 450h+ also costs a healthy bit more than its hybrid sibling: Just under $58,000. That is definitely more in line with what other luxury SUVs cost, but you get Lexus’ excellent build quality, stylish design inside and outside, a long list of standard safety features, standard all-wheel drive, and an attractive standard features list.
Its EPA-estimated electric range is quite good at 37 miles. Fuel economy is also impressive with EPA estimates of 38 MPG in the city and 33 MPG on the highway. Even though the NX 450h+ is not really designed for tearing up the streets, you can upgrade to the F Sport trim for some sporty cosmetic touches and a firmer suspension to help fulfill your occasional need to feel like an F1 driver while you save the planet.