What Is The Most Fuel Efficient 7 Passenger SUV?

May 2, 2012

With fuel costs still high and the economy recovering at a steady but slow pace, fuel efficiency in a family-sized vehicle is one of the most important factors to consider when you are ready to buy a new automobile. Fortunately, the automotive industry is well aware of the importance of this need.

Many vehicles take optimal fuel efficiency and the environment into account, even in something the size of a 7 passenger SUV. There are many excellent choices available for hybrid and non-hybrid SUV’s, but when it comes to fuel efficiency there are two clear winners: the Kia Sorento EX for non-hybrids, and the Toyota Highlander for hybrids.

Kia Sorento EX

Kia Sorento

The remarkable Kia Sorento EX has a 3.5L, V-6 191 hp engine. Its 4 inline cylinders and direct injection allow the Sorento to get an impressive 22 MPG in the city and 32 MPG on the highway. The fuel tank holds 18 gallons and uses regular unleaded gas. It measures 183.9 inches long, 67.3 inches high and 74.2 inches wide.

Cargo capacity with all seats in the vehicle is 37 cubic feet, and maximum cargo capacity is 72.5 cubic feet. The EX offers an notable array of features including heated/power mirrors, 12V front and rear power outlets, dual zone climate controls, Bluetooth and Sirius satellite radio.

One high point of the Sorrento is its carlike unibody construction, which gives it a smooth, comfortable ride for the driver and passengers alike. Another is the third passenger seat option which allows you to seat up to 7 passengers with an impressive level of comfort. Unlike the RAV4, whose third seat is only for kids, the Sorento’s third seat is also for adults.

The V-6 engine is perfect power for drivers that have a full load of kids, adults or cargo on a regular basis. In fact, other than suspension tuning that is somewhat too firm, there is not much negative to be found about the Sorento. It is a solid ride with superb fuel economy and plenty of features.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Toyota Highlander hybrid

Toyota’s Highlander Hybrid is a definitive automotive achievement. It features a 3.5L V6 hybrid engine with 280 hp. The Highlander Hybrid has a double overhead cam and 24 valves. It gets 28 MPG for both city and highway. It has a 17.2 gallon tank that takes regular unleaded fuel. The SUV measures 188.8 inches long, 69.3 inches high and 75.2 inches wide. Cargo capacity with all the seats in place is 10.3 cubic feet, and the maximum cargo capacity is 94.1 cubic feet.

Standard features include a height-adjustable lumbar support driver’s seat, remote power door locks, audio and cruise controls on the steering wheel, front and rear air conditioning, CD player with MP3 playback, XM satellite radio and USB connection.

The high horsepower of Toyota’s Highlander Hybrid engine makes towing easy and provides extremely good acceleration, two things that most hybrids lack. The cabin is attractive and feels roomy. The Highlander Hybrid’s third row seat is standard in the 2012 model, which is a definite plus: compared to other SUV’s, however, that seat is cramped.

The biggest downsides to the Highlander Hybrid are that the third-row seat only fits young children and that it costs $7,000 more than the non-hybrid model. However, if you really want a 7 passenger hybrid vehicle, the Highlander Hybrid is still a better choice than the Chevy Tahoe or GM Yukon hybrids, both of which are more expensive and not as efficient.

Further Reading:

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Image Source Kia Sorento By U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (safercar.gov) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Image Source Toyota Highlander hybrid By IFCAR (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Category: Most Fuel Efficient SUVs

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