The batch of new pickups and SUVs scheduled for the 2019 car year flirted with record fuel efficiency numbers and — outside of a high-horsepower luxury wagon and a super-performance automaker's sport-utility — posted reliable marks in both gas mileage and electric equivalency categories.
According to fuel mileage figures from the Department of Energy and auto researchers, the top combined city and highway totals for all-new SUVs are 38 mpg for the Lexus UX subcompact hybrid and 33 mpg for the gas-only model. The Toyota RAV4 hybrid touts a combined 32 mpg. Also posting economical fuel totals were the Volvo XC40 crossover at 23 city and 33 highway for a combined 27 mpg, and the Cadillac XT4 compact crossover at an estimated 25 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. Two electric vehicles, the Jaguar i-Pace and Hyundai Kona, tied with the equivalent of 117 mpg-electric.
Estimates for pickups put the re-introduced gas-powered Ford Ranger midsize truck at 30 mpg on the highway. Among trucks sporting an overhaul, the most eco-friendly pickups are the Chevrolet Silverado and twin GMC Sierra, as well as the Ram 1500. They each report 15 mpg in city driving, 22 on the highway for a combined 17 mpg highway.
Among existing SUVs that are entering 2019 without major changes, the most fuel efficient models are the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain at 28 mpg city and 38 mpg highway, according to auto information firm Kelley Blue Book's website kbb.com. The Tesla Model X, one of the few SUV electric vehicles, boasts the equivalent of 91 mpg city, 95 mpg highway.
Including unchanged or tweaked editions for the new model year, the Ram 1500 Quad Cab stands as the fuel economy leader at 21 mpg in city driving and 29 mpg on the highway. Trucks tend to include larger fuel tanks, so the miles driven on a tank of gas tends to be longer. The Ram crew cab also scores high at 20 mpg city and 27 highway.
Sometimes it pays to look at fuel economy from different perspectives. For instance, keeping speeds close to the posted limits as much as possible and avoiding quick starts and stops can extend the fuel gauge by several mpg per trip.
Also, vehicles with massive fuel tanks may post lower mpg figures but can travel a longer distance before filling up. On a list of longest range gas-powered or hybrid cars, the 2018 Cadillac Escalade ESV and Chevrolet Suburban can go 713 miles with a 31 gallon tank and getting 23 mpg highway, Cars.com found. "It's a bit strange to see these giant SUVs up near the top of this list. The 31-gallon tank means you go longer between gas stations, but a fill-up might require you to grab a book to wait for it to finish," Cars.com writer Brian Wong said.
Driving range is an even more critical figure for electric vehicles, since there are comparatively few places to plug in for a fill-up across the country and charges tend to take longer than stopping for gas.
The SUV that can travel the longest on a charge is the $79,500 Tesla Model X at 295 miles but it has challengers. The new Jaguar i-Pace, priced at $69,900, can travel 240 miles on a battery only. And the Hyundai Kona has a rated range of 250 miles.