Dealers to Appeal to SUV Shoppers with Fuel Efficiency

BY Courtney Huckabay
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Consumer Reports spotlights the top most fuel-​efficient SUVs based on the overall fuel economy test results, omitting electric vehicles. "Many SUVs now have fuel economy on par with large sedans," Jeff Bartlett writes. "Not surprisingly, there are hybrids and diesel SUVs leading several key categories, but as you'll see, the most fuel-​efficient SUVs are hybrids and small models with regular gasoline engines."

"For years the RAV4 has consistently been among the top-​ranked small SUVs. The current RAV4 offers a frugal hybrid version. The energetic 2.5‑liter four-​cylinder and smooth six-​speed automatic returned 24 mpg overall in our tests of an AWD version. The hybrid version gets a terrific 31 mpg overall."

It shouldn't be difficult for SUV dealers to sway buyers toward the RAV4 in their marketing, with 16% of SUV Shoppers owning Toyotas currently, according to the latest AudienceSCAN study.

"The Lexus RX has avant-​garde exterior styling and lots of advanced safety features. Its 3.5‑liter V6 is linked to an eight-​speed automatic, delivering ample power and a commendable 22 mpg overall. The fuel-​thrifty 450h hybrid gets an excellent 29 mpg overall."

"The compact Lexus NX 200t’s 2.0‑liter turbocharged four-​cylinder works well and delivers 24 mpg overall. The NX 300h hybrid returns 29 mpg overall, making it one of the most fuel-​efficient SUVs we’ve ever tested, but it feels a bit underpowered."

"Based on the Fit subcompact, the Honda HR‑V gets a versatile, cargo-​friendly rear seat that flips up or folds down flat and low. Power comes from a 141-​hp four-​cylinder driving either the front or all four wheels. The Honda’s trump card is its excellent 29 mpg overall."

Auto dealers can tout that very trump card in advertising. The latest AudienceSCAN survey found 13.3% of SUV Shoppers are driving Hondas right now.

Mazda’s entry in the mini-​utility segment with the CX‑3 delivers agile, fun-​to-​drive handling; a solid and substantial feel; and good fuel economy."

"Essentially a raised hatchback version of the Mercedes-​Benz CLA sedan, the GLA performed better in our tests than its sibling. It got 26 mpg overall from the 2.0‑liter turbo four-cylinder."

"The Subaru Crosstrek is a small quasi-​SUV version of the previous-​generation Impreza hatchback. The 148-​hp, 2.0‑liter four-​cylinder engine occasionally has to work hard, but fuel economy is a gratifying 26 mpg. The costlier Hybrid, which got 28 mpg, has been discontinued for 2017."

Dealers can ramp up their marketing efforts targeted toward SUV Shoppers with these fuel-​efficiency highlights. The most recent AudienceSCAN study found 6% of Americans are shopping for SUVs this year.

"In spring 2017, a new Mini Countryman based on the Clubman will go on sale in Cooper and Cooper S versions. Engine choices are a base 1.5‑liter turbo three-​cylinder and a 2.0‑liter turbo four-​cylinder for the S. Front- and all-​wheel drives are offered. In June an all-​wheel-​drive plug-​in hybrid version follows, with a promised all-​electric range of 24 miles."

"Hitting the sweet spot among small SUVs, the Subaru Forester delivers a spacious interior, and fuel economy is excellent at 26 mpg overall, especially given the standard AWD."

"The Hyundai Tucson base SE version gets a 164-​hp, 2.0‑liter four-​cylinder engine, routing through a six-​speed automatic. More expensive trims get a 1.6‑liter turbo four-​cylinder that uses a seven-​speed automated manual transmission. This more powerful setup returned 26 mpg overall."

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.