A vehicle is more than just a machine you rely on to get around. It’s a space where you make lasting memories. Think about your last family vacation or cross-country trip. What did you do? Sing together? Play the ABC game? How about I Spy?
Every family has their own unique ways of connecting in the car, what are yours?
Whether you take an annual vacation or simply want to explore new horizons by car, fuel efficiency will help you get further with fewer stops. Let’s dive into the specs to see what makes the best fuel-efficient family cars for long road trips to help you find your automotive match!
1. Toyota Highlander
2020 Toyota Highlander.
The Toyota Highlander is a favorite for family road trips. This 3-row SUV offers enough seats for seven or eight passengers depending on the configuration you choose, which is ideal for large families on-the-go.
If you don’t need all those seats for passengers, though, you can simply fold down the back row. There’s 48.4 cubic feet of cargo volume behind the second row, which is plenty of space for all your luggage.
As for efficiency, you’ll have two powertrain options to choose from:
● Standard 3.5L V6 engine: EPA-estimated 21 city/29 highway MPG1
● Available 2.5L 4-cylinder hybrid powertrain: EPA-estimated 36 city/35 highway MPG2
The hybrid configuration helps you go the extra mile on every drive by greatly cutting down on the number of stops you make at the pump and saving you time on your journey. Plus, with an available all-wheel drive system, you can rely on excellent traction no matter where your family road trip make take you.
2. Nissan Rogue
2014 Nissan Rogue.
In the Nissan Rogue, you will find a 201-horsepower 1.5L VC-Turbo™ I-3 engine that achieves up to an EPA-estimated 30 city and 37 highway MPG.3 Thanks to its long range on the highway, you can cruise to your final destination without thinking about where the next gas station may be.
Inside the cabin, you will find seating for up to five along with 105.4 cubic feet of passenger volume and 36.5 cubic feet of trunk space where you can organize everyone’s belongings. You can also forget playing Jenga to fit everything thanks to the available Divide-N-Hide® cargo system’s six configuration options with secret storage, flexible shelving, and more.
3. Toyota RAV4
2019 Toyota RAV4.
Another fan favorite for adventurous families is the Toyota RAV4, which also comes in two different engine configurations:
- Standard 2.5L 4-cylinder engine: EPA-estimated 27 city/35 highway4
- Available 2.5L 4-cylinder hybrid powertrain: EPA-estimated 41 city/38 highway MPG5
All-Wheel Drive (AWD) gas models come with an advanced Multi-Terrain Select (MTS) system that features MUD & SAND, ROCK & DIRT, SNOW, and NORMAL drive modes to maximize traction across any surface. If wheel slippage occurs, this system automatically adjusts the engine throttle, brakes, and drive-force distribution to keep you in control and your family feeling secure.
The RAV4 hybrid models come with SPORT, Eco, NORMAL, EV, and TRAIL drive modes. With EV mode turned on, you can run on battery power alone at low speeds for short distances to save extra gas.
When it comes to packing the car, the optional foot-activated power liftgate lends a hand. It can detect the Smart Key fob in your pocket or bag and will open automatically when you wave your foot under the rear bumper.
4. Kia Niro
2017 Kia Niro.
The Kira Niro comes in a standard hybrid model and offers a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version. The PHEV differs from the traditional hybrid because it has a larger battery, operates more like an electric vehicle, and can be charged at home or at a public station. Both options offer impressive fuel economy and driving range:
- Standard Hybrid: EPA-estimated 53 city/48 highway MPG6
- Available PHEV: EPA-estimated 105 combined MPGe (miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent) and 560 miles of EPA-estimated total driving range7
With seating for up to five, 100.9 cubic feet of passenger volume, and 19.4 cubic feet of trunk space, these models offer the best of both worlds between efficiency and space.
5. Toyota Corolla Cross
2022 Toyota Corolla Cross.
Under the hood of the Toyota Corolla Cross, you will find a peppy, yet efficient 169-horsepower 2.0L 4-cylinder engine with an EPA-estimated 31 city and 33 highway MPG.8 Its 26.5 cubic feet of cargo room makes it easy to stow your gear.
If you have one backseat passenger on board, you can use the 60/40 split fold-down rear seat to configure the cabin. It keeps your youngster comfortable while making extra room for luggage, gear, and belongings.
Tips to Choose the Right Fuel-Efficient Vehicle for Your Family
Ultimately, there’s no one size fits all when it comes to family cars, and you know your family’s unique needs best. If you still feel undecided about which vehicle you want to buy, schedule a few test drives to get some firsthand experience. That way, you can see how different features work and experience each model’s performance in person.
Along with that, you may find it helpful to answer a few of the following questions:
- How many seats do I want?
- How much cargo room do I want?
- Do I want a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid car?
- Do I want the best possible highway MPG?
- Do I want towing capability for extra storage?
With this information in hand, you can better determine your top priorities. Let them guide your search, so you can get an informed decision and choose a car your family will look forward to road tripping with well into the future.
Gear Up for Your Next Road Trip with an Efficient, Family Friendly Car
Everyone has a different way of travelling. From heavy to light packers and everything in between, the journey is part of the experience as much as the destination. Whether you want a gas or hybrid model, significant storage capacity, or extra seats, you have options.
To begin, browse online or check out the selection of efficient new and pre-owned family cars at your local dealership. Get ready to discover the world anew as you reimagine your road trips with the help of the best fuel-efficient family car for you.
1 EPA-estimated 21 city/29 highway/24 combined mpg rating for 2022 Highlander L FWD, LE FWD, XLE FWD, XSE FWD, Limited FWD and Platinum FWD; EPA-estimated 20 city/27 highway/23 combined mpg rating for 2022 Highlander L AWD, LE AWD, XLE AWD, Limited AWD and Platinum AWD. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary for many reasons, including your vehicle’s condition and how/where you drive. See www.fueleconomy.gov.
2 EPA-estimated 36 city/35 highway/36 combined mpg rating for 2022 Highlander Hybrid LE FWD, Hybrid XLE FWD, Hybrid Bronze Edition FWD, Hybrid Limited FWD and Hybrid Platinum FWD. EPA-estimated 35 city/35 highway/35 combined mpg rating for 2022 Highlander Hybrid LE AWD, Hybrid XLE AWD, Hybrid Bronze Edition AWD, Hybrid Limited AWD and Hybrid Platinum AWD. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary for many reasons, including your vehicle’s condition and how/where you drive. See www.fueleconomy.gov.
3 2022 EPA Fuel Economy Estimates. 30 City MPG / 37 Highway MPG / 33 Combined for Rogue S and SV FWD, 28 City MPG / 35 Highway MPG / 31 Combined for Rogue S and SV AWD, 29 City MPG / 36 Highway MPG / 32 Combined for Rogue SL and Platinum FWD, 28 City MPG / 34 Highway MPG / 31 Combined for Rogue SL and Platinum AWD. Actual mileage may vary with driving conditions. Use for comparison only.
4 EPA-estimated 27 city/35 highway/30 combined mpg rating for 2022 RAV4 LE FWD, XLE FWD, XLE Premium FWD and Limited FWD; EPA-estimated 27 city/34 highway/30 combined mpg rating for 2022 RAV4 LE AWD; EPA-estimated 27 city/33 highway/29 combined mpg rating for 2022 RAV4 XLE AWD and XLE Premium AWD; EPA-estimated 25 city/33 highway/28 combined mpg rating for 2022 RAV4 Adventure and Limited AWD; EPA-estimated 25 city/32 highway/28 combined mpg rating for 2022 RAV4 TRD Off-Road. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary for many reasons, including your vehicle’s condition and how/where you drive. See www.fueleconomy.gov.
5 EPA-estimated 41 city/38 highway/40 combined mpg rating for 2022 RAV4 Hybrid LE, Hybrid XLE, Hybrid XLE Premium, Hybrid SE, Hybrid XSE and Hybrid Limited. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary for many reasons, including your vehicle’s condition and how/where you drive. See www.fueleconomy.gov.
6 MPG: Based on EPA estimates for the 2022 Niro LXS. Actual mileage will vary with options, driving conditions, driving habits and your vehicle’s condition.
7All Electric Range and 105 MPGe: Based on EPA estimates on a full battery charge. Actual range and fuel economy will vary with options, driving conditions, driving habits, vehicle maintenance, charging practice, battery age, weather, temperature, and your vehicle’s condition. Battery capacity will decrease with time and use. For more information on range, please see www.fueleconomy.gov.
8 EPA-estimated 31 city/33 hwy/32 combined mpg rating for 2022 Corolla Cross L FWD, LE FWD and XLE FWD; EPA-estimated 29 city/32 hwy/30 combined mpg rating for 2022 Corolla Cross L AWD, LE AWD and XLE AWD. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary for many reasons, including your vehicle’s condition and how/where you drive. See www.fueleconomy.gov.