The Green SUVs of 2012

Fuel-efficient doesn’t mean small, thanks to the new SUV hybrids of 2012.

The average price of gas this September was around $4.00/gallon, a figure forecasted to hit $5.00/gallon within the next year. With gas prices steadily rising, a fuel-efficient car could be the most economical for many drivers.

Though the top hybrid cars of 2011 made huge strides in fuel-efficient engine technology last year, the cars of 2012 promise to be even stronger. What’s more, that technology will also influence SUV design in the coming years.

Today, the tops out at 32 miles per gallon, still considerably less than the Nissan Leaf’s 99 mile per gallon rating. However, SUVs continue to reduce the efficiency gap.

– The 2012 Ford Escape Hybrid, the 2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid and the Lexus RX 450h are three SUV hybrids redefining fuel efficiency in larger cars.

The Ford Escape claims the best combined gas mileage at 32 MPG, for those who list efficiency as their highest concern. The Lexus RX 450 takes second with 30 MPG, while the Highlander comes in third with 28 MPG.

For those who list space as a necessity when considering SUVs, the Highlander boasts seating for seven., while the Escape and the RX 450 trail close behind, each with seating for five.

The Escape wins in the most affordable category, coming in at just over $30,000. The Highlander and the RX 450 are significantly more expensive costing over $43,000 and $45,000 respectively.

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