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A gray 2019 Mazda CX-5 is shown parked near a cafe.

Five Great Used SUVs for Commuters

If you drive to work every day, you want to make sure that you’re driving something you really like. You’re probably also looking for something that won’t bring you too much pain at the pump. It’s easy to find good fuel economy when looking at used cars for sale, but what if you prefer an SUV? After all, not everyone can afford a second vehicle for the weekend, so you might want something versatile that not only gives your carpool buddies room to stretch out and get comfortable but also lets you spend your days off camping, antiquing, or simply loading up on groceries in bulk. If so, you’ve come to the right place.

In this list, we’re going to take a look at SUVs that don’t just offer efficient powertrains today but have for several years now. Buying a used model is both easy on your wallet and better for the environment since creating a new vehicle uses up so many resources. We’ve rounded up five reliable models that you can count on day in and day out and that are versatile enough to serve you well during weekdays and your precious time off. All of these SUVs have comfortable interiors and a solid array of tech options, so we’ll focus mainly on fuel economy.

To give you a consistent baseline for comparison, we’re going to look at the fuel economy of the 2019 model of each of these vehicles, though we may mention other relevant model years as well. If drivetrain isn’t mentioned, assume that we’re talking about front-wheel drive — all-wheel drive offers better traction but does so at the expense of fuel economy, making it less desirable on a commuter vehicle. Finally, we’ll let you know upfront that the average new 2024 vehicles get 28 MPG, according to the EPA, so any number higher than that, especially on a used vehicle, is good.

#1. The Honda CR-V

Honda has a sterling reputation for making vehicles that are reliable and fuel-efficient, so commuters can count on them to last for many years and save them from pain at the pump. The CR-V is a popular compact SUV that’s been around for several generations, so you should be able to come across one at any used car dealership. The 2019 CR-V meets the 2024 vehicle average of 28 MPG, getting up to 32 MPG on the highway. But if you really want to cut down your fuel costs, you’ll want to look for a hybrid model. The CR-V hybrid has been around since the 2020 model year, debuting with an impressive rating of 38 MPG, despite the fact that it was originally only offered with AWD.

A red 2019 Honda CR-V is shown parked near an ocean.

#2. The Chevrolet Equinox

Chevy is a trusted American automaker that you can count on to deliver a capable vehicle, whether you’re looking for a performance car, a truck, or an SUV. The Equinox is a popular model that delivers great value, especially when you buy one used. Like the CR-V, the Equinox was ahead of its time with a 28 MPG rating for the 2019 model year, if you get the gas-powered engine, that is. You can actually get a 2019 Equinox that’s rated at 32 MPG if you can find a diesel engine.

While diesel has something of a bad rap here in the US, it actually contains a lot more energy per gallon than gasoline, making it a surprisingly fuel-efficient choice when you can find it. Though it has the same tank size as its gas-powered counterpart, the 2019 Equinox with the diesel engine gets an extra 60 miles of range. Unfortunately, this engine was only available for the 2018 and 2019 model years, but the gas engine is still plenty efficient, and the Equinox has a lot to offer commuters, from its comfortable interior to its range of standard tech features.

#3. The Ford Escape

Another popular choice in a popular segment, the Ford Escape is stylish enough to impress your boss as you pull into the office parking lot and drives well enough to let you have some fun on weekend joyrides. The 2019 Escape does have the lowest rating on the list: 26 MPG is below average by modern standards and won’t save you money at the gas station. However, just one model year later, the Escape became available with two different hybrid options. The standard hybrid beats out the 2020 CR-V with a rating of 41 MPG, while the plug-in hybrid gets a whopping 102 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) with a fully-charged battery. If your commute is 18 miles or less one-way, you can even use the Escape PHEV as a purely electric vehicle, thanks to its 37-mile all-electric range.

#4. The Nissan Rogue

The Rogue pairs a rugged exterior with a smooth ride and a sleek interior, making it a well-rounded option for drivers who want to be ready for anything. With a rating of 29 MPG, the 2019 Nissan Rogue is above average by modern standards and a great choice for commuters. Like some other models listed here, the Rogue also has a hybrid version, but the timeline of it is something of an outlier. Instead of having a hybrid from 2020 onward like the Escape or CR-V, the Rogue had a hybrid option from the 2017 to 2019 model years, but it was dropped for the 2020 Rogue and hasn’t been seen again. At the time of writing, Nissan offers several traditional gas-powered vehicles and two fully-electric EVs, but no hybrids. So if you want the hybrid Rogue, which is rated at 34 MPG, then shopping used won’t just save you money — it will be the only way to find what you’re looking for.

One of many used cars for sale, a white 2020 Nissan Rogue, is shown parked near a building.

#5. The Mazda CX-5

Rounding the list out, we have the Mazda CX-5. The 2019 CX-5 is exactly average by today’s standards, at 28 MPG. Like the Equinox, you can also find a diesel powertrain on a 2019 CX-5, but it was a similarly short-run blip on the model’s radar and only raised that figure to 29 MPG anyway. But while this crossover isn’t especially impressive by fuel economy standards, the models used are efficient enough to meet the standards of many commuters, and it offers a lot of unique benefits in other areas.

Although the CX-5 falls into roughly the same category as the other models on the list in terms of price, it looks and feels more like a luxury vehicle, both inside and out. If you have clients you need to impress but don’t want to break the bank on a proper “luxury car,” then this might be just what the doctor ordered. It also offers spirited driving dynamics, so you can have a little fun when you’re not stuck in rush hour traffic.

Elevate Your Daily Drive With a Great Pre-Owned SUV

These are just a few examples of commuter-friendly SUVs you can find used, but it’s a good place to start if you aren’t already brand-loyal to an automaker or exactly sure what you’re looking for. The next step is to see what’s actually in stock at a used car dealer you trust. It’s helpful to be flexible when shopping since you never know what you’re going to find.
Luckily, most dealer websites let you browse online, where you can easily filter the results to narrow them down to what you’re looking for. Some will let you choose a range of fuel economy you’re looking for, or you can browse by fuel type to find a hybrid model or maybe even a diesel engine. From there, it’s up to your personal style, preferences, and budget. Happy hunting!