Canada’s Most Fuel Efficient SUVs in 2020

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Updated February 9, 2021

When looking for a fuel efficient vehicle, you might initially think of these fuel-sipping cars.

However, SUV fuel economy has never been better and vehicle emissions are at a record low, so there are also a number of SUV models in Canada that are worth looking into if your goal is to save money and/or reduce your environmental impact.

Unlike for cars, there are no standardized size categories for SUVs – Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the US both categorize SUVs by weight.

To be useful for Canadian buyers and stay consistent with our other comparisons, Cansumer classifies SUVs based on interior volume (passenger space + cargo space) into the following categories:

  • Subcompact: under 3550 litres
  • Small/Compact: 3550 – 3950 litres
  • Mid-size: 3950 – 4550 litres
  • Large: 4550+ litres

The 3 most efficient gas-powered SUVs, and the most efficient hybrid SUV in each of these categories are listed below along with the 3 most efficient plug-in hybrids (PHEV) and battery-powered electric vehicles (BEV) in their own sections at the end.

Most fuel efficient SUVs comparison

  • Fuel economy is quoted in litres per 100km (L/100km) or in the case of PHEV and BEV, (Le/100km).
  • Yearly Fuel Cost is based on an annual driving distance of 20,000 km, and an average fuel price of $1.09 per litre.
  • Federal purchase incentives of $2,500 for PHEV and $5,000 for BEV apply unless otherwise indicated. The incentive is not included in the listed base price. 
SUVTypeSizeBase MSRPCityHwyCombYearly fuel cost ($)
Subaru Crosstrek AWDGasSubcompact$25,795.008.577.92054
Hyundai KonaGasSubcompact$21,249.008.677.92054
Hyundai VenueGasSubcompact$18,399.
Kia Niro LHybridSubcompact$25,495.
Toyota RAV4 LE FWDGasCompact$27,990.,054
Ford EscapeGasCompact$28,549.
Subaru ForesterGasCompact$28,695.0097.28.22132
Ford Escape Titanium HybridHybridCompact$36,649.
Honda CR-VGasMid-size$28,690.008.377.72002
Nissan RogueGasMid-size$27,498.
Subaru OutbackGasMid-size$30,695.0097.18.22132
Toyota Highlander Hybrid AWDHybridMid-size$50,950.
Ford ExplorerGasLarge$45,199.0011.68.710.32678
Subaru AscentGasLarge$36,695.0011.6910.42704
Hyundai PallisadeGasLarge$38,699.0011.98.810.52730
Ford Explorer Limited Hybrid AWDHybridLarge$57,199.0010.199.62496
Kia NiroPHEVSubcompact$35,995.
Mitsubishi OutlanderPHEVCompact$43,998.009.499.21581
Lincoln Aviator Grand TouringPHEVLarge$81,000.0010.99.610.31881
Hyundai KonaBEVSubcompact$44,999.001.82.22452
Tesla Model Y Long Range AWDBEVCompact$74,600.
Tesla Model X Long Range Plus AWDBEVMid-size$118,510.

Subcompact SUVs

2020 Subaru Crosstrek

  • Base MSRP: $25,795
  • City/highway/combined (L/100km): 8.5 / 7.0 / 7.9 
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: $2,054
  • Engine: 2.0L 4 cyl

Usually you have to give-up all-wheel drive if you are wanting fuel efficiency, but the Subaru Crosstrek offers both. You can get the Crosstrek with a 6 speed manual transmission for $23,795, but it is not as efficient (10.5 / 8.1 / 9.4, $2,444). With 8.7 inches of ground-clearance, standard all-wheel drive, and excellent efficiency, the Crosstrek is perfect for that mild off-road or winter adventure. 

2020 Hyundai Kona

  • Base MSRP: $21,249
  • City/highway/combined (L/100km): 8.6 / 7.0 / 7.9
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: $2,054
  • Engine: 2.0L 4 cyl

The Hyundai Kona has been a great success with Canadian buyers. The Kona is all about making daily life easy, with fewer trips to the gas station and a tall seating position that gives great visibility. All-wheel drive is a great option to get for help through Canadian winters, though it is an extra $2,000, and makes the Kona slightly less efficient (9.0 / 8.0 / 8.6, $2,236). 

2020 Hyundai Venue

  • Base MSRP: $18,399
  • City/highway/combined (L/100km): 7.8 / 6.9 / 7.4 (predicted)
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: not yet tested
  • Engine: 1.6L 4 cyl

The Venue is so new it has not yet been tested by the NRC, but predictions suggest it is more efficient than any other subcompact SUV.  The 6 speed manual version has a base MSRP of $17,099, and should be almost as efficient as the automatic in the city, and slightly better on the highway (predicted 6.8 L/100km). The Venue is great for saving money on fuel while you dart around city streets and escape to the highway on weekends. 

Hybrid: 2020 Kia Niro

  • Base MSRP: $25,495
  • City/highway/combined (L/100km):  4.6 / 5.1 / 4.8
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: $1,222
  • Engine: 1.6L 4 cyl, hybrid

The Hybrid Niro is 1 of 2 Niros on this list (see below for the PHEV version). The Hybrid Niro is a small SUV that is shaking up the subcompact SUV segment with a yearly fuel cost that is almost half of the most efficient gas-powered subcompacts. If you are very serious about saving money on fuel, but not yet ready to plug-in your car, the Niro is an excellent buy.   

Compact SUVs

2020 Toyota RAV4

  • Base MSRP: $27,990
  • City/highway/combined (L/100km): 8.8 / 6.8 / 7.9
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: $2,054
  • Engine: 2.5L 4 cyl

While many SUVs look like large cars, the RAV4 has moved to a more truck-like appearance while maintaining excellent efficiency. All-wheel drive versions start at $30,690 and are almost as efficient (9.2 / 7.1 / 8.2, $2,132). If you like an easy step-in height and a commanding view of the road with your efficient ride, the RAV4 is the perfect choice.  

2020 Ford Escape

  • Base MSRP: $28.549
  • City/highway/combined (L/100km): 8.6 / 7.1 / 7.9
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: $2,054
  • Engine: 1.5L 3 cyl, turbo

The 1.5L 3 cylinder, turbo-charged engine in the Escape is reliable, responsive, and efficient — exactly the combination you want from an engine. Adding all-wheel drive does sacrifice some efficiency (8.9 / 7.6 / 8.3, $2,158), but Ford offers it as a $1,500 stand-alone option, which is great value for a feature most Canadians want in a small SUV. 

2020 Subaru Forester

  • Base MSRP: $28,695
  • City/highway/combined (L/100km): 9.0 / 7.2 / 8.2
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: $2,132
  • Engine: 2.5L 4 cyl

Canadians have enjoyed owning and driving versions of the Subaru Forester for over 20 years, and for good reason. The Forester is efficient, it offers good cargo space (881 litres behind the 2nd row seats), and all-wheel drive is standard. The Forester is an excellent choice for a small family that wants a Compact SUV that can adapt to every situation with ease.  

Hybrid: 2020 Ford Escape 

  • Base MSRP: $36,649
  • City/highway/combined (L/100km):  5.4 / 6.3 / 5.8
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: $1,508
  • Engine: 2.5L 4 cyl, hybrid

The Ford Escape Titanium Hybrid, like the gas-powered Escape, offers all-wheel drive as a stand alone option for $1,500. Having power to all 4 wheels changes efficiency (5.5 / 6.4 / 5.9, $1,534), but not much ($26 per year over 20,000 km). If you want hybrid efficiency and all-wheel drive in a compact yet spacious SUV, the Escape Titanium Hybrid should be at the top of your list. 

Mid-size SUVs

2020 Honda CR-V

  • Base MSRP: $28,690
  • City/highway/combined (L/100km): 8.3 / 7.0 / 7.7
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: $2,002
  • Engine: 1.5L 4 cyl

The Honda CR-V is a marvel of engineering. By passenger space and cargo space it is a mid-size SUV, but it manages to get better efficiency than any other gas-powered SUV — of any size. All-wheel drive versions start at $31,490, and efficiency remains impressive (8.7 / 7.4 / 8.1, $2,106) for a vehicle with so much interior space.  

2020 Nissan Rogue

  • Base MSRP: $27,498
  • City/highway/combined (L/100km): 9.1 / 7.1 / 8.2
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: $2,132
  • Engine: 2.5L 4 cyl

The Rogue is a top seller for Nissan, offering Canadians great gas mileage and a spacious interior. If you want all-wheel drive, the price starts at $30,698 and you lose a bit of efficiency (9.6 / 7.5 / 8.7, $2,262). Nissan says the totally redesigned 2021 Rogue will be available late in 2020, so keep an eye on your local Nissan dealer. 

2020 Subaru Outback

  • Base MSRP: $30,695
  • City/highway/combined (L/100km): 9.0 / 7.1 / 8.2
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: $2,132
  • Engine: 2.5L 4 cyl

The Outback is very similar to the Forester, though they land in separate categories. The Forester is taller, but the Outback is wider and longer, giving it more interior space. There are 2 main differences: the Outback can tow more (1,225 kg instead of 680 kg), and the Outback’s longer wheelbase creates better ride quality. If your future includes highway cruises to the lake, maybe with a boat in tow, get the Outback.

Hybrid: Toyota Highlander

  • Base MSRP: $50,950
  • City/highway/combined (L/100km): 6.7 / 6.8 / 6.7
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: $1,742
  • Engine: 2.5L 4 cyl, hybrid

The Toyota Highlander is an excellent mid-size SUV with a smooth ride and a roomy cabin, and the Hybrid version is no exception. For Canadian buyers, all-wheel drive is standard, as are 8 seats. If you want 7 seats, the base MSRP is $57,260, and adds ventilated front seats, 2nd row captain’s chairs, and bright LED fog lamps. 

Large SUVs

2020 Ford Explorer

  • Base MSRP: $45,199
  • City/highway/combined (L/100km): 11.6 / 8.7 / 10.3
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: $2,678
  • Engine: 2.3L 4 cyl, turbo

The large and efficient Ford Explorer comes standard with 7 seats and four-wheel drive. It is built on a rear-wheel drive platform, which helps with towing (tow-rating of 2,404 kg). With the high driving position and four-wheel drive system, the Explorer is for you if you want an SUV that feels and behaves more like a truck.   

2020 Subaru Ascent

  • Base MSRP: $36,695
  • City/highway/combined (L/100km): 11.6 / 9.0 / 10.4
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: $2,704
  • Engine: 2.4L 4 cyl, twin-turbo

Excellent gas mileage, standard all-wheel drive, seating for 8 (7 seat versions start at $42,195), and 19 cup holders combine to make the Ascent a great family hauler. It can even tow 2,268 kg, so the family that likes to get away for the summer can bring along a small trailer. All of this and the lowest base MSRP among large, efficient SUVs — the Ascent is a great choice. 

2020 Hyundai Palisade

  • Base MSRP: $38,699
  • City/highway/combined (L/100km): 11.9 / 8.8 / 10.5
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: $2,730
  • Engine: 3.8L 6 cyl

Bold styling, a comfortable ride, and 8 seats are standard on every Palisade, as is an efficient and smooth 3.8L 6 cylinder engine. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option, which reduces fuel efficiency slightly (12.3 / 9.6 / 11.1, $2,886). 7 seat versions start at $50,899. If you want something new and a little bit different, the Palisade is for you. 

Hybrid: 2020 Ford Explorer

  • Base MSRP: $57,199
  • City/highway/combined (L/100km): 10.1 / 9.0 / 9.6
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: $2,496
  • Engine: 3.3L 6 cyl, hybrid

All Explorers come standard with four-wheel drive and 3rd row seats, including the Explorer Limited Hybrid. This large SUV can tow a small boat or camping trailer easily (tow-rating of 2,268 kg) and cruises smoothly on the highway, but the biggest advantage of this hybrid is efficiency in the city. If most of your driving is in the city and you want a large SUV, the Ford Explorer Limited Hybrid is perfect for you. 

Plug-in hybrid SUVs

Subcompact: 2020 Kia Niro

  • Base MSRP: $35,995
  • City/highway/combined (L/100km): 4.9 / 5.3 / 5.1
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: $884
  • Engine: 1.6L 4 cyl, hybrid

The Kia Niro PHEV is a desirable small SUV, with an available federal incentive of $2,500. As a plug-in hybrid, it can go 42 km on electric power, using the gasoline engine only for longer trips or in certain conditions. On longer trips, if you start with a fully charged battery, you can drive a whopping 853 km, making the Niro an excellent small SUV for daily city driving and for long road trips. 

Compact: 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander

  • Base MSRP: $43,998
  • City/highway/combined (L/100km): 9.4 / 9.0 / 9.2
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: $1,581
  • Engine: 2.0L 4 cyl, hybrid and 2 electric motors (60 kW combined)

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV offers great value for your money. It qualifies for a $2,500 federal incentive, it comes standard with ports for all types of chargers, and every Outlander comes with a 10 year warranty. All Outlander PHEVs are also all-wheel drive, using a gasoline engine and 2 electric motors to send power to all 4 wheels to keep you moving through Canadian winters. 

Mid-size/Large: 2020 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring 

  • Base MSRP: $81,000
  • City/highway/combined (L/100km): 10.9 / 9.6 / 10.3
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: $1,881
  • Engine: 3.0L V6, twin-turbo and 74 kW electric motor

The largest PHEV in SUV form is the 2020 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring, which sits right at the divide between mid-size and large SUVs. The Aviator is comfortable and spacious (7 seats are standard), and it is easily the quickest plug-in SUV. So if you want luxury, size, and strong acceleration that you can plug-in, the Aviator is for you. 

Electric SUVs

Subcompact: 2020 Hyundai Kona

  • Base MSRP: $44,999
  • City/highway/combined (Le/100km): 1.8 / 2.2 / 2.0
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: $452
  • Engine: 150 kW electric motor

The quick, easy acceleration and the SUV shape make the Hyundai Kona electric a functional SUV around town and on the highway. The range of 415 km is above average when compared to all BEVs, cars or SUVs. Another benefit of the Kona electric is that it qualifies for a $5,000 federal incentive. If you dream of a subcompact, zippy SUV, and of leaving gas stations in your past, this Kona will fit those dreams well. 

Compact: 2020 Tesla Model Y

  • Base MSRP: $74,600
  • City/highway/combined (Le/100km): 1.9 / 2.1 / 1.9
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: $450
  • Engine: 2 electric motors (358 kW combined)

The Model Y Long Range AWD is the first Tesla to heat its interior with a heat-pump, so less range is lost when interior heat is needed. This is a great feature for life in Canada, as Canadians need interior heat often. Very fast, very efficient, stylish, and now both warm and Long Range, it may be time for you to try a Tesla. 

Tesla does not release numbers for passenger volume, but the amount of cargo space behind the 2nd row seats and in the front trunk (1919 litres total) place it in the Compact SUV category. 

Mid-size/Large: 2020 Tesla Model X 

  • Base MSRP: $118,510
  • City/highway/combined (Le/100km): 2.2 / 2.3 / 2.2
  • Yearly Fuel Cost: $520
  • Engine: 2 electric motors (398 kW combined)

The Model X Long Range Plus AWD is known for its rear Falcon Wing Doors that set it apart from all other SUVs. Also standard are 2 electric motors that offer all-wheel drive and extremely fast acceleration. With a range of 565 km, the Model X is another bold, fast, and functional BEV from Tesla. 

Tesla does not release numbers for passenger volume, but the amount of cargo space behind the 2nd row seats and in the front trunk (2492 litres total) place it near or just into the Large SUV category. 7 seats are available ($4,600), and there is even a 6 seat option ($8,500).  

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Over to you

We’re interested to know – is fuel economy an important factor for you when buying an SUV? What size class of SUV are you looking for? How many L per 100km does your vehicle get? Let us know in the comments below!

About the author

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Morgan Gregory
Morgan Gregory has loved cars since unwrapping his first Hot Wheels, and he has loved driving since the day he earned his driver’s licence. He has owned hatchbacks, small SUVs, trucks, sedans, sports cars, and even a motorcycle. Currently, he resides in Manitoba, writing about cars, teaching high school, and enjoying road trips, especially when he can get to the winding highways in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia. He has a Master of Education (M.Ed.) from the University of Manitoba. Read more

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  1. We just traded our 2011 Outback on purchase of … a 2020 Outback! Why? It’s not the most exciting drive (4 cyl acceleration is… slow) in the world, but it has the room we need, is more car like in handling, the AWD is amazing, and you really can’t beat the gas mileage. With more than 200,000 km on the old Outback, we still routinely get 7-7.4 l/100km on the highway even with snows. And it handles cottage roads and snow so well. Price is also reasonable with the LTD offering nice features.