We like how SUVs and crossovers offer height to see ahead, and offering plenty of space for when you need to haul those 3-5 extra people. But, more and more, we hate the way the swill gasoline in the process. But you have to pay at the pumps to play, right? Wrong. Here are ten two-row crossovers that continue to offer all their advantages, but with the fuel economy not to drain your wallet at the pump. Much.
10. 2012 Jeep Patriot. 23 mpg city/29 mpg highway/25 mpg combined. Base price: $15,995
The Jeep Patriot, like chassis-mate Jeep Compass, is one of the few crossovers in this segment capable of actually going off road. Otherwise, frankly, there’s little to recommend with the Patriot. The crossover makes this list on fuel economy alone. It has at best a barely passing grade for its dated interior design and quality, and an average driving experience. Chrysler plans to replace the Jeep Patriot sometime in the near future with a new Fiat-derived crossover, but for now, hey, fuel economy.
9. 2012 Jeep Compass. 23 mpg city/29 mpg highway/25 mpg combined. Base price: $19,295
The Jeep Compass is one of the few crossovers in this segment capable of going off road, and it has the added benefit of receiving a rather fetching exterior redesign last year. Otherwise, it’s middling among crossovers outside of its fuel economy: Compass’ interior design and materials look dated and the driving experience is only so-so. Like the Patriot, Chrysler plans to replace the Jeep Compass sometime in the near future with a new Fiat-derived crossover.
8. 2012 Kia Sportage. 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway/25 mpg combined. Base price: $18,500
The Kia Sportage, like most Hyundai and Kia vehicles, offers a lot of bang for the buck in standard features. The Sportage, especially, is practically a steal at this price point, especially when against segment leaders Honda CR-V and Ford Escape. The Sportage interior space and cargo capacity is smaller than expected, though, especially a crossover of this size. With a noticeably stiff suspension and sharp steering, the 2012 Kia Sportage is (almost) fun to drive.
7. 2012 GMC Terrain. 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway/26 mpg combined. Base price: $25,560
We’re polarized about the 2012 GMC Terrain, with an equal number of us finding either attracted to its more truck-look looks or against it. Same can be said for the interior, which we found only adequate: this is a $25k crossover? We found the 2012 GMC Terrain driving very similarly to chassis-mate (and less expensive) Chevrolet Equinox.
6. 2012 Chevrolet Equinox. 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway/26 mpg combined. Base price: $23,530
The 2012 Chevy Equinox is surprising, offering great fuel economy even though it’s one of the largest vehicles on this list. The Equinox interior is quiet, and materials quality is high, especially for this segment. The driving experience isn’t particularly engaging, but it’s not offensive, either, and we doubt most drivers will mind.
5. 2012 Hyundai Tucson. 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway/26 mpg combined. Base price: $20,145.
The Hyundai Tucson, like most Hyundai and Kia vehicles, offers an exceptionally high stuff-for-the-dollar quotient, especially when you compare it against segment leaders like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV-4. The Hyundai Tucson—like its kissing-cousin, the Kia Sportage above—offers up a funnish-to-drive package, with a suspension and steering setup that’s sharper than many of its competitors. However, interior space and cargo capacity was smaller than expected, though, especially a crossover of this size.
4. 2012 Honda CR-V. 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway/26 mpg combined. Base price: $22,295.
All-new for 2012, the Honda CR-V sports a more contemporary design, higher quality interior, more cargo space, and improved fuel economy. Honda continues to offer a four-cylinder engine mated to an almost archaic five-speed automatic transmission in the CR-V, even though most of its competition has moved up to six speeds. It would be interesting to see how the 2012 Honda CR-V’s already excellent fuel economy would change with that extra gear, don’t you think?
3. 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. 25 mpg city/31 mpg highway/27 mpg combined. Base price: $19,795.
You would think the 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport would be the “Evo” equivalent to the larger Mitsubishi Outlander crossover, right? The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport does say “Sport” in its name, right? Unfortunately, the Mitsubishi Outlander is simply outclassed by more true fun-to-drive crossovers, like the Nissan Juke, and is only middle-of-the-pack cargo space-wise compared to the larger Chevrolet Equinox. Value is quite high–the 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is among the top three in sheer fuel economy–but other vehicles simply offer more in either driving experience or simple utility.
2. 2012 Nissan Juke. 27 mpg city/32 mpg highway/29 mpg combined. Base price: $19,990.
Once you get past the 2012 Nissan Juke’s polarizing looks, you discover a fun-to-drive crossover that packs a lot of features in its diminutive form. Yes, the Juke can carry up to four passengers and a driver but it works best as a two-seater with the back row for hauling cargo. Drivers will love the Nissan Juke for its sharp handling and road feel, all the while getting one of the highest mpg figures outside of hybrid vehicles.
1. 2012 Ford Escape Hybrid. 34 mpg city/31 mpg highway/32 mpg combined. Base price: $30,750.
The outgoing 2012 Ford Escape Hybrid is almost a hairy throwback compared to its sleek and modern competitors, resembling the once boxy SUVs so prevalent just a scant decade or so ago. (The 2012 GMC Terrain, as one can infer by seeing chassis-mate 2012 Chevrolet Equinox, was deliberately designed to look more truck-like.) The Escape Hybrid’s interior is dated with drive and ride comfort only adequate. The Ford Escape Hybrid also is expensive; many of the other vehicles are better picks, value-wise, in comparison. The Ford Escape Hybrid had them all beat in sheer fuel economy, offering range comparable to most compact cars but with the space of a compact SUV. Thus we’re scratching our heads when Ford announced it would not be offering a hybrid version of the 2013 model.