Eight Vehicles with Great Gas Mileage and Cargo Space

by Josh Sadlier
There’s a myth out there that if you want fantastic fuel economy, you’re limited to smaller cars with shoebox-sized trunks. It works the other way, too: if you want a cavernous cargo hold, your fuel bill’s going nowhere but up. 
 
Truth be told, there are plenty of rides these days that let you have it both ways. Here are eight great options for 2013. 

Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTEC

Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTEC
If a starting price above fifty large turns you off, feel free to move on. But if you’re open to it, ask yourself this: Where else am I going to find 28 miles per gallon on the highway, 71 cubic feet of cargo capacity, 7,200 pounds of towing capacity, and a Herculean 455 lb-ft of torque under the hood? Actually, you’ll find roughly the same virtues in the Audi Q7 TDI and Volkswagen Touareg TDI as well, but the diesel Benz is our choice thanks to its quiet, powerful motor and singular presence. 

MPG: 20 city/27 highway
Capacity: 71 cu. ft.
Price: From $50,490
 

Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

Hyundai Santa Fe
The completely redesigned 2013 Santa Fe has stowed its former gas-guzzling ways in the trunk; the front-wheel-drive Santa Fe Sport gets an impressive 22 mpg city/33 mpg highway. Additionally, the affordable Santa Fe somehow has more cargo space than the Mercedes, checking in at 71.5 cubic feet. It doesn’t hurt that Hyundai’s latest looks great, too.

MPG: 22 city/33 highway
Capacity: 71.5 cu. ft.
Price: From $24,450
 

BMW 328i Touring

BMW 3 Series Touring
BMW’s new version of the 3 Series wagon won’t be available stateside until early 2013, but we’re already salivating over what we know. Powered by a swift-yet-stingy turbocharged engine, the 328i Touring should come within shouting distance of the 328i sedan’s 23 mpg city/33 mpg highway rating. It will also more than quadruple the cargo capacity of the sedan’s trunk. Nifty hauling niceties abound, including a power liftgate with a “foot sensor” like Ford offers on the Escape (see below) and a rear window that opens independently.

MPG: 23 city/33 highway (est.)
Capacity: 64.9 cu. ft.
Price: From $40,000 (est.)
 

Mazda CX-5

Mazda CX-5
Employing Mazda’s new “SkyActiv” engine, the CX-5 is incredibly efficient for a crossover, returning 26 mpg city/35 mpg highway. That’s with the manual transmission, though; if you opt for the automatic, highway economy drops to 32 mpg. Still, that’s enough to win our approval, and the CX-5 also brings a healthy 65.4 cubic feet of cargo capacity to the table. The icing on the cake? The CX-5 is genuinely fun to drive, tracking coolly through tight corners like a sporty hatchback on stilts.

MPG: 26 city/35 highway
Capacity: 65.4 cu. ft.
Price: From $20,995
 
 

Ford Escape SE

Ford Escape
With its “EcoBoost” turbocharged engine and front-wheel drive, the Escape SE is rated at a healthy 23 mpg city/33 mpg highway. That makes it marginally thirstier than the rival CX-5 in mixed driving, but the Escape’s spunky 178 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque easily eclipse the Mazda’s output. Cargo capacity, at 67.8 cubic feet is impressive, especially for a compact crossover, and Ford beat BMW to market with its own “foot sensor” system that enables you to open the liftgate by waving your foot under the bumper. Some Escapes even offer a novel adjustable-height load floor.

MPG: 23 city/33 highway
Capacity: 67.8 cu. ft.
Price: From $25,070
 

Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Toyota Highlander Hybrid
If you need three rows of seating, the Highlander Hybrid is our top choice. A fold-flat third-row seat comes standard, as do matching EPA ratings of 28 mpg city/28 mpg highway – so the less time you spend at freeway speeds, the more sense this Toyota makes, even compared to the smaller crossovers on this list. The gaping cargo area is a testament to Toyota’s engineering might, as it’s barely smaller than the non-hybrid Highlander’s hold despite the massive battery pack under the floor. Bring money, though, because the Highlander Hybrid isn’t exactly cheap.

MPG: 28 city/28 highway
Capacity: 94.1 cu. ft.
Price: From $39,970
 

Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI

Volkswagen Jetta TDI SportWagen
The sophisticated SportWagen TDI is rated at 30 mpg city/42 mpg highway (29/39 with the automated manual), and its “TDI” turbodiesel engine gets great real-world fuel economy even if you’ve got a heavy foot. On the hauling front, the SportWagen can pack in an amazing 66.9 cubic feet of stuff, giving it crossover-grade capacity despite its lower profile. As a bonus, the Jetta SportWagen borrows its interior and underpinnings from the more upscale previous-generation Jetta, unlike the current Jetta sedan.

MPG: 30 city/42 highway
Capacity: 66.9 cu. ft.
Price: From $25,540
 

The Toyota Prius Family

Toyota Prius c
 
We know, we know – the Prius lineup comprises three cars. But how could we pick just one? Every Prius is a hatchback with a flat-load floor and flip-down rear seatbacks, so they’re all cargo-hauling champs in their own right. And fuel economy is unparalleled across the board, ranging from 44 mpg city/40 mpg highway in the supersized Prius v to 53 city/46 highway in the teensy-weensy Prius c, with the regular Prius essentially matching its smaller sibling at 51 city/48 highway. Pricing is appealing, too, as these Toyotas are among the cheapest cars on this list.
  
MPG: 44-53 city/40-48 highway
Capacity: Undisclosed
Price: From $18,950
 

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