Need New SUV 4WD With Fuel Economy and Mechanical Reliability

Hubby is legally blind so I’m the sole driver in the family. We want to buy a new SUV with 4WD that gets at least 20MPH in city and is considered extremely reliable from a mechanical standpoint. I can’t deal with car problems and really don’t have the time to run to repair shops. I realize nothing is 100% guaranteed, but I know that some vehicles are probably far more reliable than others, so I’m looking for suggestions and thoughts in this forum. We’ll want all the bells and whistles such as a Nav system, etc. I’m hoping this is the right place to post for this on here… Thanks in advance for any input! It’s most welcomed. We just don’t know where to start looking or what manufacturer(s) to look at.

You might go buy the Consumer Reports car buyers’ guide, it’ll give you lots of info. Please let us know your budget, and how big of a vehicle you need. SUVs now range from compact (Honda HRV) to huge (Chevy Suburban). Also, you might correct your MPH typo (MPG).

Your most user-friendly ones would be the Honda CRV and the Toyota RAV4. The 2 with 4 cylinder engines are extremely reliable and easy on gas. Also easy to get into and out of.

All others are less reliable, ranging from quite good to dismal.

Agree. The world is your oystér and there are many options even in just a couple of very reliable brands. Toyota Rav4, Venza and some Highlander hybrid models all get twenty plus mpg but at are different in accessories, ride and features. There are reliable car makers from several sources according to Consumer a Reports and each sells two to three awd models that will meet your needs. It’s now up to you to find one that fits you best.

Thank you, texases - you’re correct, I meant 20MPG. Budget isn’t much of a concern as long as the vehicle gets a minimum of 20 miles to the gallon - I think that pretty much rules out everything that’s pretty large. However, I figure we’ll probably be looking to spend around $40k for a new vehicle once it’s all optioned out with our wants/needs. Thanks Docnick and dagosa for your suggestions as well. Question - does AWD (all wheel drive) also mean 4WD (4 wheel drive)? I wondered about that as I looked at some of the gas mileages when looking at a 4WD comparison chart - some specifically had 4WD listed, but others showed AWD, so I was a bit confused. I couldn’t figure out if Hyundai had what we’re looking for. Also, what are thoughts on the Jeep Cherokee? Have they gotten any better mechanically? Thanks!!

You might look at the Lexus NX 300h SUV. I’m sure it has all the bells and whistles, and is the current combined mileage champ at 33 city/32 combined/30 highway. The Lexus RX450h is not far behind at 30/29/28. Since you want a loaded SUV, I supposed that Lexus Is in your price range.

Now days, AWD = 4WD for what you want. Companies use them interchangeably (and confusingly).

An Acura RDX with navigation stickers right below $40k. For AWD it gets 19/28/22 mpgs, close to what you want.

But you can get your mpgs with a loaded CR-V for $34k, with 26/33/28 mpgs. I bet a Toyota Rav4 would be similar.

I’m not a big Cherokee fan, it’s new, no established reliability, I’d much prefer any of the above.

Use the build your own feature that the manufactures web sites have . If you are buying new you will have warranty . Do you really need All Wheel Drive because that alone will lower MPG . The claimed fuel economy numbers are usually a little optimistic .

From a mechanic’s perspective, I’d say go look at a Hyundai Tucson. They’ve been quite reliable as far as I know and everyone that I’ve spoken to that has one is happy with it.

20mpg city driving and AWD, might be a stretch.

“20mpg city driving and AWD, might be a stretch.”

Not from my experience!

I own a 2011 Subaru Outback with the 3.6 liter six-cylinder engine.
In addition to the vehicle being essentially bullet-proof, I am very satisfied with the gas mileage. During the winter I can usually wring 21 mpg out of it in local driving, and right now–with warmer weather–my typical gas mileage in local driving is 23+.

On highway drives–in any weather–I can count on 27-29 mpg.
The 4-cylinder models deliver even better gas mileage than the 6-cylinder models, although they can’t produce the very satisfying acceleration of the larger engine.

Consumer Reports now rates the Outback as their top mid-sized crossover vehicle, due to its reliability, excellent gas mileage, compliant ride characteristics, decent handling, and interior room. If you are looking for a smaller SUV, the Forester is CR’s top-rated small SUV, and it gets slightly better gas mileage than the Outback.

True @VDCdriver , but I took the OP to mean she was looking for an SUV. For some reason I still don’t think of the Outback as an SUV, it’s a car to me. And there’s such a big swing in city driving numbers, here in the traffic-choked Seattle area the numbered signs on the side of the roads aren’t speed limits, they’re speed goals. Lots of stop and go means crappy mileage.

The Subaru Forester (4 cylinder, no turbo) is a good choice. I get 30-35 MPG on the highway and 20-30 in the city (depending on number of stops/starts). Cost is about $20k, reliability is top rated and visibility is good.


In addition to the Forester, the Mazda CX-5 is high on my list, and good mpgs.

Honestly, the best thing you can do is follow Texases’ advice. Everybody’s needs, wants, and likes are different, and the CR reviews will give you the most comprehensive comparative data available. Test drives, with your hubby along, will take care of the rest.

Each of us has a model we prefer. Myself included. But your and your hubby’s preferences may end up totally different.

The Outback is an SUV in every car mag that rates them. The styling cues, like that of a Venza Ford Flex etc. try to blur the line so you blend in with yup py friends instead of the red neck Forester owners. My wife’s Venza is bigger inside and has better storage then the 4 Runner had. It just looks cutesy with the bigger wheel rims so the crowd at the country club won’t ask you to check your six gun before you enter the parking lot.

No differences…semantics and sales ploys.

@dagosa, you’re a yuppie! Tell me, do you farm in your khakis and Docksiders, or do you save those for cocktails in the evening?

Why did you specify SUV? If your husband, or you for that matter have mobility problems, The Subaru Outback and Legacy vehicles are some of the easiest for handicapped people to get in and out of because they have larger doors and the seats are at 19-20" off the ground, about the same as a wheel chair.

How about a CUV?

No mobility problems at all - looking for a 4WD to be able to do off-roading if we need to, drive in snowstorms sometimes, muddy roads, etc. We like to drive down to Mexico and there’s a lot of dirt roads, can be muddy, etc., or drive up to Payson, AZ and down into canyons on a 1-lane dirt road (washboard-style). Just want to make sure we’re able to go where we need to. Not really looking to be 4-wheeling maniacs though! Did find this article when really helps to clarify the differences between 4WD and AWD: - that helped a lot. So basically, just looking for something to get us around where we need to go, and be mechanically sound and fuel economical. Will definitely start looking at some of the vehicles suggested here! Do those of you with AWD vehicles have good experiences with dirt/sandy roads? Just wondering… Thanks SO MUCH to everyone posting on this - it’s really appreciated!!

@jtsanders. There is a little yuppie and a little redneck in all of us. But, as far as the Outback being an SUV, I would argue these points. First, they don’t make fwd cars upon which the Pilot and Highlander are based with their transverse engines. Nearly every SUV wannabe save a few (. 4 Runner, Jeep Grand, etc, are either full ladder framed or heavily reinforced unibody but all base on rwd chassis. ) having a frame is no longer an arguing point to be an SUV. The Outback is a ligit rwd first vehicle which gives it excellent traction…plus. It now " looks like an SUV, as much as it’s own TriBeCa and as much as the Forester. Lastly, you pick up any road test mag including CR with tests on SUVS and they will include the Outback.
It has duped a few into being a station wagon but gee, isn’t today’s SUV just a more functional replcement for the station wagon of old. Just one opinion from KBB