When snow is in the forecast and you have people or gear to haul, it's time for an SUV, and not just any SUV. You need one with either four-wheel or all-wheel drive (AWD). These systems maximize traction in inclement weather and slippery conditions. A bigger vehicle can be costly to fuel, so a bonus would be finding a midsize or large SUV that delivers good fuel economy.
Consider it done. Here are 10 midsize and large AWD and four-wheel-drive SUVs that are tops in their segments for fuel efficiency, based on EPA fuel economy ratings. [We missed the 2016 BMW X5 xDrive35d in an earlier version of this list. Apologies for the oversight]
What makes "great" fuel economy? We looked at the combined city and highway fuel-efficiency ratings of 85 SUVs and decided that anything that delivered at least 15 percent more than its segment average met the criteria. With the calculations finished, midsize vehicles had to get 23 mpg or better to be included here. For large SUVs, 20 mpg was the minimum mark. We've listed them from highest combined mpg to lowest.
Because hybrid and plug-in electric powertrains typically do much better than those 20 and 23 mpg benchmarks and would monopolize the spaces on the list, we didn't include them in the list of nine SUVs below. If you are shopping for an alternative to a standard internal combustion engine in the large or midsize SUV segments, here are seven to consider: the 2016 Tesla Model X AWD 90D (92 MPGe combined) and P90D (89 MPGe), with estimated delivery in late 2016; 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e (56 MPGe); 2016 Volvo XC90 T8 AWD (53 MPGe); 2016 Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid (47 MPGe); Infiniti QX60 Hybrid (26 mpg); 2016 Lexus RX 450h AWD (30 mpg); and 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid 4WD (28 mpg).
To help get the best price possible on whatever you chose, be sure to visit our Incentives and Rebates page to learn about current incentive and rebate offers before you buy. You might also find the vehicle you're interested in offered through Edmunds.com's Price Promise® program.
26 mpg combined. The diesel version of BMW's popular X5 is one of our favorite midsizer SUVs, beloved both for its stellar performance and its luxury interior. Its 3.0-liter turbodiesel and eight-speed automatic transmission earn EPA ratings of 23 mpg city and 30 mpg highway and the top spot in our rankings.
25 mpg combined. The 2016 Land Rover Range Rover is the pinnacle of large SUV luxury, and the TDV6's efficient 3.0-liter turbodiesel engine adds tremendous low-end power and noteworthy fuel economy, at 22 city/29 highway.
25 mpg combined. Stylish, athletic and luxurious, with an optional third-row seat and efficient diesel powertrain to boot, the 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is a well-rounded premium midsize SUV. It shares its 3.0-liter turbodiesel and eight-speed automatic with the larger Range Rover SUV and gets 22 city/29 highway.
24 mpg combined. The 350d's little brother, the GLE 300d shares the great road manners and comfortable cabin of its GLE-Class stablemates. But while it has a smaller 2.1-liter turbodiesel engine, the 300d's seven-speed transmission isn't as efficient as the 350d's nine-speed, and its fuel economy suffers as a result. The 300d gets 22 city/29 highway.
24 mpg combined. This is a midsize SUV that does a little of everything. The 2016 Jeep Cherokee's well-trimmed cabin provides comfortable seating, and it masters both off-road trails and daily commutes with ease. Powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and nine-speed automatic transmission, this Jeep gets 21 city/28 highway.
24 mpg combined. The 2016 Nissan Murano is a pleasant and versatile five-passenger midsize crossover with ample room for all passengers. It is a smart choice if you want an upscale, V6-powered crossover without having to pay a premium for a luxury brand. Its 3.5-liter engine and CVT (continuously variable transmission) return 21 city/28 highway.
22 mpg combined. The Edmunds "B"-rated 2016 XC90 has new styling, improved interior space and the latest in safety features. Overall, the three-row XC90 has been reborn into a pretty desirable luxury crossover SUV. A surprisingly potent 2.0-liter engine, which is both turbo- and supercharged, combines with an eight-speed automatic to deliver 20 city/25 highway.
23 mpg combined. The Kia Sorento also gets a "B" rating from Edmunds. This midsize SUV is larger, more sophisticated and better to drive for 2016, making it an appealing alternative to five- and seven-passenger SUVs that were previously a class above it. It's definitely worth a long look. It gets its EPA rating of 21 city/26 highway via a 2.4-liter four-cylinder and six-speed automatic transmission.
23 mpg combined. With carlike road manners, generous feature content and a spacious, well-trimmed interior, the 2016 Ford Edge is a strong choice for a five-passenger midsize crossover SUV. The 2.0-liter turbo, six-speed automatic Edge gets 20 city/28 highway.
22 mpg combined. The 2016 Mercedes GL350 Bluetec is roomy, powerful, solidly built and like other members of the GL-Class family, one of the best large, three-row crossover SUVs you can buy. Under the hood is a 3.0-liter turbodiesel, paired to a seven-speed automatic, that gets 19 city/26 highway.