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A used SUV for sale, a silver 2023 Ford Escape, driving through the city.

Which Commuter-Friendly SUVs Are Worth Considering When Buying Used?

For years, drivers have assumed that size and fuel economy are an automatic compromise, as in, you can absolutely have a vehicle with impressive fuel economy, but it will be very small. And if you need something larger or taller, like an SUV, you’ll have to be quiet and accept the numbers on the gas pump. But as many of the used SUVs for sale will happily demonstrate to you, this isn’t always the case.

In fact, there are many surprises in store for those who are shopping for economical SUVs for their urban commute. You might think you have to choose an electric or hybrid vehicle to get the best possible fuel economy, and it’s too soon to see any of those types of vehicles on used car lots. That statement is actually false, twice. Some traditional gasoline-powered SUVs can get by on less fuel than you might think. Furthermore, any vehicle that has been previously owned can show up on the used lot, and hybrid SUVs date further back than you might imagine. Lastly, you might think the selection is very limited, but the list of vehicles below proves the contrary. Take a look at some of the most economical used urban SUVs that have your city fuel mileage in mind.

The Non-Electric Super Sippers

While it’s true that non-electric vehicles don’t have quite the fuel economy or range of their electric cousins, it is not true that all SUVs are gas guzzlers. The 2023 Ford Escape is one such model. Available with two engine options, the standard 1.5L 3-cylinder engine that came on the Base, Active, and ST-Line trims has gained praise for its overall performance and economy. Paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, the 2023 Escape is tuned for 180 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque.

Both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive options were part of the lineup. Those equipped with front-wheel drive get 27 MPG on the city streets and 34 MPG on the highway, while all-wheel drive models see a slight dip to 26 MPG and 32 MPG, respectively.

The 2022 Nissan Kicks has a less powerful but impressively economical engine. As a subcompact crossover SUV, it is smaller in stature. Available in front-wheel drive only, the 2022 Kicks is equipped with a modest-yet-capable 1.6L inline-4 engine that’s good for 122 horsepower and 114 lb/ft of torque. You won’t be towing anything significant (or anything at all) in this vehicle, but the 31 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway more than make up for it, especially in stop-and-go traffic.

The Toyota Corolla Cross made its debut in 2022 and came out of the gate with some real surprises. Among them were the all-wheel drive model, its impressive multi-link rear suspension, and the overall fuel economy of this small SUV, which shares its engine with its sedan sibling. This engine is a 2.0L inline-4 with 169 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. On front-wheel drive models, it’s good for 31 MPG in the city and 33 MPG on the highway. All-wheel drive models experience a drop in fuel economy to 29 MPG in the city and 32 MPG on the highway.

A white 2023 Kia EV6 plugged into a residential EV charger.

Electric and Hybrid Models

First, it’s important to note that there are different types of vehicles that could fall under this category, but for the purpose of this discussion, we’ll take a look at a fully electric vehicle, a plug-in hybrid, and a standard hybrid.

Our all-electric entry is the Kia EV6. The EV6 has been around for a few years now, which means it’s not at all unusual to find a used one for sale. The EV6 uses zero gasoline, so we don’t have a miles-per-gallon figure for you here. Instead, we can tell you that the power and range of each EV-6 depend on the trim. The 2022 Light trim, for example, is equipped with a 58-kWh battery and offers rear-wheel drive only thanks to a single rear motor. This combination is good for 167 hp and a range of 232 miles.

The Wind and GT-Line trim comes with more power and range, with a 77.4-KWh battery that’s good for a range of 310 miles and a single rear motor that brings 225 hp along for the ride. All-wheel drive models include two motors– one per axle– which increases the horsepower to 320 hp total and offers 274 miles of range.

Kia also gets points for the 2023 Sportage Plug-In hybrid. This model combines a 1.6L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with a battery and motor setup that can provide 34 miles of purely electric power. Combining the engine and motor provides a very comfortable amount of acceleration, giving the Sportage plug-in 261 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. When driven in hybrid mode, drivers can enjoy a combined fuel economy of 35 MPG, which becomes up to 84 MPGe in all-electric mode.

The 2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid has the advantage of standard all-wheel drive, but the addition of a 44.2-kW electric motor not only increases fuel economy but horsepower as well. The all-wheel drive gasoline-only Tucson produced in 2022 is equipped with a 187 horsepower 2.5L inline-4, while the hybrid brings a 1.6L turbocharged 4-cylinder good for 226 horsepower. Then, when you consider that the hybrid has a combined fuel economy of 38 MPG, while the all-wheel drive gasoline-only has a combined fuel economy of just 26 MPG, it may seem like a non-question.

An orange 2019 Chevy Equinox driving on a curving road.

The Standouts

This is by no means a comprehensive list of fuel-sipping SUVs. Furthermore, there may be many other features you’d like to consider in your future SUV than how frequently you’ll have to stop at the gas station on the way to work. In fact, quite a few urban-friendly SUVs make all-around great packages for drivers who are focused on fuel economy but not at all willing to sacrifice comfort.

The 2020 Honda CR-V is one such vehicle. Available in both gas-only and hybrid models, both are extraordinarily economical. The gas-only engine is a 1.5L turbocharged inline-4 that compliments its more-than-decent 190 horsepower with a front-wheel drive model that generates 28 MPG on the city streets and 34 MPG on the highway. The hybrid version is powered by a 2.0L Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder with dual electric motors, providing 212 hp and 38 MPG combined.

The 2019 Chevy Equinox is also notable, especially those equipped with the available 137 hp 1.6L turbocharged inline-4 diesel engine. Though the horsepower is not remarkable, the 240 lb-ft of torque is, along with the 39 MPG highway mileage on front-wheel drive models. This drops only slightly to 38 MPG on all-wheel-drive models.

Make Your Daily Commute an Affordable One

There are a lot of external factors that go into your fuel consumption as well, such as your driving style, the roads you take, the traffic, and even the weather. Therefore, it’s a good idea to take the EPA fuel economy ratings as an average, and not an exact expectation for every drive.

Still, it’s a good idea to look for higher numbers when it comes to fuel economy. This can not only save you at the fuel pump, but can lead to a longer lifetime for the vehicle, as well. Of course, regular maintenance and safe driving are a huge part of that equation, as well. Looking for an SUV? You don’t have to feel doomed to high gas prices forever as long as you know where to look.