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Choosing one of these gas, plug-in or electric vehicles could save you thousands

The numbers are out, and there are some rather frugal new SUVs arriving in 2020.

Keeping the tank topped up on a sport utility vehicle could cost a typical driver anywhere from $1,500 to more than $5,500 a year, depending on the vehicle. Choosing one of the more fuel-efficient SUVs could potentially save you thousands if, like most Canadians, you average 20,000 kilometres behind the wheel a year.

Propelling you and your family in an electric vehicle (EV), a plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) or even a “mild hybrid” vehicle – will lower your fuel bills and carbon footprint even further. With these high-tech vehicles though, you’ve also got to factor in the relatively high sticker price and, in the case of EVs and PHEVs, the need for a place to plug it in overnight.

At the risk of stating the obvious, if you’re looking for the most economical, ecoconscious, cheap-to-run new vehicle out there, an SUV is not the way to go. Sedans and hatchbacks are often much cheaper to buy, and more fuel-efficient. Choosing one of those could potentially save you another few hundred dollars a year over the most efficient SUV.

Natural Resources Canada lists estimated annual fuel and electricity costs for every new vehicle on sale. The ministry doesn’t have ratings yet for all 2020 model-year vehicles, but the listings, which you can find online, are updated regularly.

With those notes out of the way, here are the least expensive new 2020 SUVs to fill up and/or recharge, as rated by Ottawa.

Gas and mild-hybrid SUVs

Ford Escape Hybrid

David McNew/Getty Images

Annual fuel cost: $1,508

Price: $36,549 (Titanium Hybrid)

CO2 emissions: 136 g/km

Fuel type: regular gas

All-wheel drive: optional

The compact Escape was once popular, but lost ground to fresher rivals. Finally, for 2020, Ford has decided to fight back and develop an all-new Escape. It’s impressively frugal, but unfortunately the hybrid model doesn’t come cheaply.

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

David McNew/Getty Images

Annual fuel cost: $1,560

Price: $32,350

CO2 emissions: 139 g/km

Fuel type: regular gas

All-wheel drive: yes

As of October, the RAV4 is the best-selling SUV in Canada, according to GoodCarBadCar data. In the past, the RAV4 looked as unassuming as a tea cozy, but not any more. Its new, angular, aggressive style may be polarizing, but it seems to have found plenty of eager customers.

Lexus NX 300h


Annual fuel cost: $1,950

Price: $46,650

CO2 emissions: 176 g/km

Fuel type: regular gas

All-wheel drive: yes

This is the second-smallest of the six (yes, six) SUVs currently available from Lexus. While the hybrid is more expensive to buy, the difference is so negligible you’ll make it back up in fuel savings in less than three years. Ultimately, the hybrid Lexus NX will end up being cheaper.

Plug-in Hybrids

Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

David McNew/Getty Images

Annual fuel/electricity cost: $1,270

Price: Not announced yet

CO2 emissions: 94 g/km

Fuel type: regular gas, electricity

All-wheel drive: yes

This is Subaru’s first-ever plug-in hybrid. The Crosstrek is an odd duck, taller than a hatchback, but not quite a fully fledged SUV. It’s a good size for the city, eminently capable in snow, and now, finally, fuel efficient too. Electric-only driving range is a modest but useful 27 km.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV


Annual fuel cost: $1,581

Price: $43,998

CO2 emissions: 108 g/km

Fuel type: regular gas, electricity

All-wheel drive: yes

The Outlander is getting a little old, having been introduced in 2014. Updates such as a new, bigger touch screen are nice, but the cabin quality still seems subpar considering the price. Government rebates make it a more attractive proposition, as does the 35-km electric-only driving range.

Volvo XC90 T8

The Associated Press

Annual fuel cost: $1,851

Price: $74,950 (Momentum seven-seat)

CO2 emissions: 120 g/km

Fuel type: premium gas, electricity

All-wheel drive: yes

For 2020, Volvo’s luxurious XC90 has been refreshed with softer suspension, styling tweaks and more electric-only range (estimated at 29 km). The infotainment screen isn’t our favourite, but the cabin is great. Comes at a hefty price, though.


There aren’t many all-electric SUVs yet, but more are coming. Mid-priced electric SUVs, including the BMW iX3 and Volvo XC40 Recharge, will arrive in 2020 to fill the huge price chasm between the Hyundai Kona and the likes of the Audi e-tron and Tesla Model X. We expect the 2020 Kona, which hasn’t yet been rated by Natural Resources Canada, to be the cheapest-to-run SUV in 2020, just as it was in 2019.

Hyundai Kona


Annual electricity cost: $452

Price: $44,999

CO2 emissions: zero (tailpipe)

Fuel type: electricity

All-wheel drive: no

The Kona is a subcompact hatchback masquerading as an SUV. Call it whatever you like; its combination of electric range and purchase price can’t be beaten.

The bigger picture here is that, over the past decade, SUVs have been the second-largest contributor to the rise in global carbon-dioxide emissions. If you still want a new SUV, choosing one of these more energy-efficient models could reduce your carbon footprint and lower your annual fuel bills.

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