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The most fuel-efficient SUVs that aren't hybrids or EVs

There are still plenty of fuel-sipping options available for those not looking to go electric just yet.

Don't want to complicate matters with a battery and electric propulsion? There are still plenty of ways to keep your head above the 30-mpg water mark.

Chris Paukert/Roadshow

Electrification is growing in popularity in a hurry, but not everybody is ready to take the plunge. Whether they're looking for something with less mechanical complexity or they flat-out aren't fans of hybrids, passing over electric cars generally means skipping past some of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in a given segment.

That said, there are still ways to sip fuel without bringing electrons into the equation. We've compiled a list of the most fuel-efficient nonelectrified SUVs on the market, which doesn't include hybrids, plug-in hybrids or EVs. It shouldn't come as a surprise that most of them are small, since physical footprint goes a long way in staying efficient, but nevertheless, here's the list, starting with the most efficient.

Read: The best luxury SUVs in 2019  

2019 Nissan Kicks: 33 mpg combined

Nissan's littlest ute -- and its replacement for the funky Juke in the US -- has proven to not only be a great, affordable crossover, but an efficient one, as well. With its single available powertrain, the Kicks is capable of an EPA-estimated 31 miles per gallon city, 36 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined, giving it the top spot on the list.

The Kicks relies on a 1.6-liter four-cylinder gas engine that produces 122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is mandatory, as is a continuously variable transmission. It's mighty affordable, too, with a base Kicks S starting at $18,640 before destination, rising only to $20,970 in its most expensive SR trim.

2019 Lexus UX 200: 33 mpg combined

It might surprise you that a luxury vehicle is next on the list, but the latter half of the 2010s has been all about surprises. In its most efficient layout without a hybrid system, the 2019 Lexus UX 200 squeezes out an impressive 29 mpg city, 37 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined -- 2 mpg lower in the city compared with the Kicks, but a little thriftier on the highway.

The UX 200 has a slightly larger engine than the Kicks; with its 2.0-liter gas engine putting out 169 hp and 151 lb-ft. It, too, relies on a continuously variable transmission. While there is an all-wheel-drive variant available, it eats into efficiency, meaning the front-wheel-drive model is key for keeping those figures high.

2020 Hyundai Venue: 32 mpg combined

Hyundai's newest, smallest SUV also happens to be its most efficient -- surprise, surprise. Slotting beneath the Kona, the 2020 Venue promises an impressive 30 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 32 combined.

If you've noticed a trend of downsized engines providing solid fuel economy, you'd be correct, and the story is the same with the Venue. The sole engine on offer at launch is a 1.6-liter naturally aspirated I4, generating 121 hp and 113 lb-ft. A six-speed manual is available in some markets, as is a torque-converter automatic, but Venues in the US will make do with a CVT for the most efficiency possible.

2019 Chevy Equinox, GMC Terrain: 32 mpg combined

Diesel isn't dead just yet. Thanks to a thrifty diesel four-cylinder, the 2019 Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain -- fraternal twins in GM's lineup -- eke out an impressive 28 mpg city, 39 mpg highway and 32 combined in front-wheel-drive guise.

The story gets even better for winter-weather markets. Usually, adding all-wheel drive confers a pretty decent fuel economy penalty, but not here. Tacking an extra two driven wheels on only reduces highway economy by 1 mpg, while retaining the same city and combined figures as the FWD variants. That's pretty impressive. With 170 hp and 203 lb-ft on tap, the engine is no slouch.

2020 Toyota RAV4: 30 mpg combined

Turn your head in any direction on a major road, and you're likely to spot a Toyota RAV4 of some age. These compact SUVs have proven mighty popular, blending reliability, capability and efficiency. And the latest RAV4 iteration is no exception, achieving 28 mpg city, 35 mpg highway and 30 combined without the use of a hybrid system.

What's most interesting about the RAV4 is that this fuel economy isn't achieved by skimping and purchasing the lowest trim -- that model actually achieves 1 mpg lower in the city. Other trims pick up stop-start technology, which provides that small boost in urban economy. With a starting price around $27,000, those higher trims aren't unaffordable, and they all use the same 203-hp, 2.5-liter I4.

2019 Honda CR-V: 30 mpg combined

Once again, we have a vehicle that only lands on the list in a more expensive guise. While the CR-V Hybrid might be the new hotness, the 2019 variant still earns a commendable 28 mpg city, 34 highway and 30 combined.

You're not going to achieve those numbers with the base CR-V, which packs a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Instead, you'll have to upgrade to the EX trim and its 1.5-liter turbocharged I4, making 190 hp and 179 lb-ft. It's a fair bit more expensive, though, ringing in at $27,350 before destination, compared with the base LX's starting price of $24,450.

2019 Honda HR-V: 30 mpg combined

If the CR-V is too big for you, you're in luck. Honda's smallest SUV, the HR-V, is also capable of 28 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 30 combined, just like its bigger brother.

Whereas the CR-V offers multiple engines, all HR-Vs use the same one -- a 1.8-liter inline-four producing 141 hp and 127 lb-ft. A CVT is standard, and while AWD is available, it will eat into fuel economy a bit. It's also a fair bit less expensive than the CR-V, with a starting price of $20,620 before destination and topping out just shy of $29,000 in its fancy Touring guise.

2020 Hyundai Kona: 30 mpg combined

Honda isn't the only automaker with two vehicles on this list. While the Venue's length is some 5 inches shorter than the Kona, the Hawaiian-named SUV is still plenty efficient, offering 28 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 30 combined.

Like the CR-V, the Kona only achieves these numbers with its more expensive engine and front-wheel drive. The turbocharged 1.6-liter offers 175 hp and 195 lb-ft, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Lower-tier buyers don't have anything to worry about, though, as the less powerful 2.0-liter engine still produces an impressive 27 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 30 combined.

2020 Ford Escape: 30 mpg combined

Hyundai's Venue isn't the only brand-spankin'-new car on this list. Ford's freshest Escape snags the last spot on our list with an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 27 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 30 combined.

The Escape achieves these figures with its base engine, which is a 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-three that puts out about 180 hp and 177 lb-ft. Mated to an eight-speed automatic and front-wheel drive, this Escape is mighty thrifty. AWD is available, but like usual, it confers a penalty to fuel economy.

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