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Smaller, fuel-efficient SUVs leading the way

July 13, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Up until recently, if you wanted a family-sized vehicle from Infiniti, you only had one option: The big, truck-based QX56.

It's got lots of room inside, sure. But with a big V8 under the hood, the fuel economy isn't great.

With more and more buyers looking at those mpg numbers these days, Infiniti's newest large ride is leaner and more efficient.

The all-new Infiniti JX35 has plenty of interior room with three rows of seats, but trimmer outside. The fuel mileage is much better too.

The government says that the JX averages 21 mpg overall, while the bigger QX is rated at 15. Those figures are for two-wheel drive models, and fuel savings over the course of a year could be up to $1,000. The svelter JX also gets a better pollution score.

If smaller is better, then Ford's all new Escape is hitting the sweet spot. Completely redesigned for the first time in 12 years, it ditches the hybrid option but gets a new array of four cylinder engines, including two using Ford's ecoboost turbo system. It's fuel efficiency combined with power.

It's a competitive segment. The Honda CRV is the sales leader, with a recent redesign of its own. Another strong contender is the Kia Sportage, also a fairly new design.

A curvy new shape brings the Escape into the modern era to help it compete with the others, and features galore help it keep pace with larger models.

Other gizmos are on the Escape's option sheet too. From convenience things to safety features, the little SUV raises the bar in terms of what you can get it with.

So whether it's going a little smaller on the upper end, or putting upper end features on the smaller ones, fuel efficiency and carrying space can go hand-in-hand in today's breed of SUVs.


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