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I'm looking for a car to haul my skis up to Lake Tahoe. It needs to be All-wheel-drive (AWD) or 4WD to avoid putting on chains on I-80 over Donner Summit and should hold my 78 in. cross country skis with a seat folded down in the back. Good gas mileage is also important.

All Wheel Drive (AWD) cars averaging 24 MPG or greater.
Model MPG1 Price CR2 Lugg.
diag.3
Clear-
ance4
Av
   Tesla Model S (85kWh) 87 91/95/100 $71,000 - $109,000 84 5.2 to 7.35
   Tesla Model X (90kWh) NA 90/92/94 $83,000 - $115,000 72 6.5 to 9.55
    Volvo XC90 T8 Hybrid (2016) 59 $48,700 - $51,700 8.5 - 10.5 5
Toyota Prius (2016) 50 AWD version not in US yet.
    BMW 328d xDrive 35 31/35/43 $32,950 - $62,000 85 5.7
    BMW 535d xDrive 26/30/37 $58,900 - 88 5.5
  Lexus NX Hybrid 29 $34,480 - $41,310 6.9
    Mercedes-Benz CLA250 28 $31,500 - $48,500 81 3.9
   Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid AWD 28 29/31/33 $23,000 - $31,000 78 8.7
    Subaru Impreza Premium 27 28/31/37 $18,195 - $28,000 84 5.7
    Mazda CX-3 27/29/32 $19,960 - $26,240 na 6.1
    Acura TLX (4-cyl.) 27 21/25/31 $31,445 - $44,800 5.8
    Nisan Juke 27 25/27/30 $20,000 - $30,000 70 7.0
Audi A3 Premium (1.8T) 27 $29,900 - $41,100 4.3
Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium 26 26/30/36 $21,695 - $29,595 88 5.9
 Subaru XV Crosstrek AWD 26 26/29/34 $21,595 - $29,295 78 8.7
Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium (autmatic) 26 24/27/32 $22,195 - $33,095 80 8.7
Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium (manual) 22/25/29 $21,695 - $29,595 80 8.7
   BMW 320d xDrive 23/27/35 85
  Lexus RX450h 26 30/29/285 $40,970 - $50,220
    Mercedes-Benz GLA250 26 $38,400 - $71,900 81
    Mercedes-Benz C300 (AWD) 26 $38,400 - $71,900
  Mini Cooper Countryman S 26 $22,750 - $35,350 6.3
  Mini Cooper Paceman S 4.2
Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited 25 28/28/28 $29,665 - $50,240 94 8.0
  Mazda CX-5 25 25/28/31 $21,795 - $29,470 8.5
Subaru Outback 25 24/26/30 $24,895 - $32,995 89 8.7
Audi A4 2.0T 25 $35,500 - $37,600
Audi TT 25 23/26/31 $48,700 - $51,700
Ford Fusion SE AWD 24 22/25/31 $29,300 - $36,630 90 5.8
    Nisan Rogue 24 25/28/32 $22,790 - $29,630 83
Honda CR-V EX 24 26/28/33 $23,445 - $32,895 79 6.7
Toyota RAV4 XLE 24 22/25/29 $23,680 - $29,850 6.3
   Fiat 500X (2016) 21/24/30 $20,000 - $29,000
Diesel
    Mercedes-Benz GLK250 Bluetec 24/28/33 -
Audi A7 3.0 TDI®'s 28 24/29/38 $68,300 - $108,900
Audi A6 TDI®'s 24/29/38 $55.000
    Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTec 30 27/32/42 $51,800 - $103,200 81 5.8
1. Average MPG (Miles per Gallon) is from Consumer Reports test drive.
Others are US DOE/EPA's City/Combined/Highway rating
See MPGe for electric cars below.

Hybrid cars may have higher MPG ratings in stop and go (city) driving because of the regenerative braking system, which captures energy lost in breaking, using it to charge the batteries.

Gas mileage is about 12% lower at 20°F than it would be at 77°F.
An electric car's mileage can drop 59% at 20°F vs 77°F.
See Fuel Economy in Cold Weather | FuelEconomy.gov
and Electric vehicles lose range in cold: AAA - chicagotribune

Consumer Reports "real life" test drive MPG ranges from 1-8 MPG lower than the EPA's combined MPG for hybids.
See Where the Honda Accord, and other hybrids, come up short in MPG fuel economy - Consumer Reports

2. Consumer Reports Check rated (subscription required)

3. Luggage Diagonal - Measurement diagonally across the luggage compartment with the rear seats folded down. Measured to the door post. You could get more space with the front seat moved forward. I'd like it to be 78" or more to hold my cross-country skis.
Note: You can get 6-12" more with the front seats moved all the way forward.

4. Ground Clearance will be less when the car is loaded.
Ground Clearance of less than 5 in may cause problems with scraping curbs and in snow.
See Worried about ground clearance on Mcrcedes CLA.

5. The clearance on the Tesla and Volvo XC90 T8 Hybrid (2016) can be adjusted with their active air suspension.
Clearance will automatically adjust back to normal (6") when you reach 16 MPH.

See also:
AWD and 4WD
Top 10 Most Fuel Efficient AWD Cars and Crossovers | AutoGuide.com News 2012
Why Cargo Specs Can Stretch the Truth | cars.com


Other high gas mileage cars (2015):
>
Type Model CR MPG Drive Price
Luxury large Hybrid/EV Tesla Model S P85D NA $104,500 - $104,500
Hatchbacks Hybrids/Ev BMW i3 Giga 139 RWD $42,400 - $46,250
Hatchbacks Hybrids/Ev Mitsubishi i-MiEV 111 RWD $22,995 - $22,995
Hatchbacks Hybrids/Ev Ford Focus Electric 107 FWD $17,170 - $29,170
Hatchbacks Hybrids/Ev Nissan Leaf 106 FWD $29,010 - $35,120
Luxury large Hybrid/EV Tesla Model S (85kWh) 84 AWD $69,900 - $105,000
Luxury large cars Chevrolet Volt 61 FWD $34,345 - $34,345
Hatchbacks Hybrids/Ev Toyota Prius Plug-in Advanced 47 FWD $24,200 - $34,905
Hatchbacks Hybrids/Ev Ford C-MAX Energi (plug-in) 47 FWD $24,170 - $31,770
Hatchbacks Hybrids/Ev Toyota Prius Four 44 FWD1 $24,200 - $34,905
Hatchbacks Hybrids/Ev Toyota Prius C Two 43 FWD1 $19,540 - $24,475
Hatchbacks Hybrids/Ev Toyota Prius V Three 41 FWD1 $26,675 - $30,935
Luxury compact cars Lexus CT 200h 40 FWD $32,200 - $32,200
Midsize Hybrid/EV Honda Accord Hybrid 40 FWD $22,105 - $35,055
Compact cars Honda Civic Hybrid 40 FWD $18,290 - $29,390
Compact cars Ford Fusion SE Hybrid 39 FWD $22,500 - $36,630
Midsize Hybrid/EV Smart ForTwo 39 RWD $13,270 - $28,000
Subcompact automati Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE 38 FWD $22,970 - $31,370
Midsize Hybrid/EV Ford C-MAX Hybrid SE 37 FWD $24,170 - $31,770
Hatchbacks Hybrids/Ev Volkswagen Passat TDI 37 FWD2 $21,340 - $35,995
Midsized cars Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid 37 FWD $16,215 - $31,120
Compact cars Mitsubishi Mirage 37 FWD $12,995 - $15,395
Luxury midsized cars Hybrid/EV Lexus ES 300h 36 FWD $37,700 - $40,580
Luxury midsized cars Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited 36 FWD $32,285 - $41,700
Large cars BMW 328d xDrive 35 AWD $32,950 - $62,000
Luxury compact cars Honda CR-Z EX 35 $20,145 - $24,140
Hatchbacks Hybrids/Ev Ford Fiesta SE (3-cyl.) 35 $14,455 - $21,435
Subcompact cars (Manual transmission) Lincoln MKZ Hybrid 34 $35,190 - $47,495
Luxury midsized cars Hybrid/EV Lincoln MKZ Hybrid 34 $35,190 - $47,495
Luxury midsized cars Fiat 500C Pop 34 $16,845 - $31,800
Subcompact cars (Manual transmission) Volkswagen Jetta TDI 34 $16,215 - $31,120
Compact cars Volkswagen Jetta TDI 34 $16,215 - $31,120
Compact cars Scion iQ 34 $15,665 - $15,665
Subcompact automati Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 33 $26,000 - $29,500
Midsize Hybrid/EV Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 33 $26,000 - $29,500
Midsized cars Mazda3 i Touring (2.0L) 33 $16,945 - $26,595
Compact cars Mazda3 i Touring (2.0L) 33 $16,945 - $26,595
Compact cars Fiat 500 Sport 33 $16,845 - $31,800
Subcompact cars (Manual transmission) Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel 33 $16,170 - $25,660
Compact cars Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel 33 $16,170 - $25,660
Compact cars Honda Fit EX 33 $15,650 - $20,925
Subcompact automati Mazda2 Sport 33 $14,720 - $17,050
Subcompact cars (Manual transmission) Ford Fiesta sedan (4-cyl.) 33 $14,455 - $21,435
Subcompact automati Ford Fiesta sedan (4-cyl.) 33 $14,455 - $21,435
Subcompact cars (Automatic transmission) Mazda6 32 $21,495 - $30,195
Midsized cars Toyota Corolla LE Plus 32 AWD $16,950 - $22,955
Compact cars Mazda3 i Grand Touring (2.0L, MT) 32 $16,945 - $26,595
Compact cars Toyota Yaris LE 32 $14,845 - $17,620
Subcompact automati Hyundai Accent Sport 32 $14,745 - $17,495
Subcompact cars (Manual transmission) Ford Fiesta hatchback (4-cyl.) 32 $14,455 - $21,435
Subcompact cars (Manual transmission) Nissan Versa Sedan SV 32 $11,990 - $16,890
Subcompact automati Nissan Versa Sedan SV 32 $11,990 - $16,890
Subcompact cars (Automatic transmission) Nissan Altima 2.5 S (4-cyl.) 31 $22,300 - $32,350
Midsized cars Mini Cooper (3-cyl.) 31 $20,700 - $36,250
Compact cars Hyundai Veloster Base 31 $18,000 - $23,600
Subcompact cars (Manual transmission) Ford Focus SE SFE 31 $17,170 - $29,170
Compact cars Ford Focus SE SFE 31 $17,170 - $29,170
Compact cars Hyundai Accent GLS 31 $14,745 - $17,495
Subcompact automati Hyundai Accent GLS 31 $14,745 - $17,495
Subcompact cars (Automatic transmission) Nissan Versa Note SV 31 $14,180 - $17,960
Subcompact automati Chevrolet Spark 31 $12,270 - $25,560
Subcompact automati Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTec 30 AWD $51,800 - $103,200
Luxury midsized cars Subaru BRZ 30 RWD $25,695 - $29,490
Sporty cars Scion FR-S 30 RWD $24,900 - $31,090
Sporty cars Honda Accord LX (4-cyl.) 30 $22,105 - $35,055
Midsized cars Chrysler 200 Limited (4-cyl.) 30 $21,995 - $30,825
Midsized cars Mini Cooper S 30 AWD 3 $20,700 - $36,250
Sporty cars Honda Civic EX 30 $18,290 - $29,390
Compact cars Volkswagen Jetta SE (1.8T) 30 $16,215 - $31,120
Compact cars Mazda2 Touring 30 $14,720 - $17,050
Subcompact automati Chevrolet Sonic LTZ (1.4T) 30 $14,245 - $21,945
Subcompact cars (Manual transmission) Kia Rio EX sedan 30 $13,990 - $18,290
Subcompact automati Honda Civic Si 29 $18,290 - $29,390
Sporty cars Hyundai Elantra SE (1.8) 29 $17,250 - $22,600
Compact cars Nissan Sentra SV 29 $16,480 - $20,670
Compact cars Ford Fiesta ST 29 $14,455 - $21,435
Sporty cars Kia Rio EX hatchback 29 $13,990 - $18,290
Subcompact automati RX 450 29 AWD $40,970 - $49,020
Audi A7 28 $68,300 - $108,900
Luxury midsized cars BMW 328i 28 $32,950 - $62,000
Luxury compact cars Mercedes-Benz CLA250 28 $31,500 - $48,500
Luxury compact cars Toyota Camry LE (4-cyl.) 28 $22,970 - $31,370
Midsized cars Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid 28 AWD $21,595 - $29,295
Small sport-utility vehicles Volkswagen Passat (1.8T) 28 $21,340 - $35,995
Midsized cars Hyundai Sonata SE (2.4L) 28 $21,150 - $33,525
Midsized cars Volkswagen Golf SE 28 $17,995 - $39,090
Compact cars Ford Focus SE (hatchback) 28 $17,170 - $29,170
Compact cars Ford Focus SE 28 $17,170 - $29,170
Compact cars Fiat 500 Abarth 28 $16,845 - $31,800
Sporty cars Kia Forte LX 28 $15,890 - $21,890
Compact cars Kia Forte LX 28 $15,890 - $21,890
Compact cars Chevrolet Sonic LT (1.8) 28 $14,245 - $21,945
Subcompact cars (Automatic transmission) Acura TLX (4-cyl.) 27 AWD $31,445 - $44,800
Luxury compact cars Audi A3 Premium (1.8T) 27 $29,900 - $41,100
Luxury compact cars Fiat 500L Easy 27 $19,345 - $24,695
Compact cars Scion tC 27 $19,210 - $23,190
Compact cars Subaru Impreza Premium 27 AWD $18,195 - $23,295
Compact cars Hyundai Elantra GT 27 $17,250 - $22,600
Compact cars Dodge Dart (2.4L) 27 $16,495 - $23,795
Compact cars Volkswagen Jetta GLI 27 $16,215 - $31,120
Sporty cars Chevrolet Cruze Eco 27 $16,170 - $25,660
Compact cars Lexus RX 450h 26 $40,970 - $50,220
Luxury SUV Hybrid/EVLexus RX 450h Lexus RX 450h 26 $40,970 - $50,220
Luxury compact sport-utility vehicles Mercedes-Benz C300 (AWD) 26 $38,400 - $71,900
Luxury compact cars Volkswagen CC (2.0T) 26 $32,995 - $43,575
Luxury compact cars Mercedes-Benz GLA250 26 $31,300 - $48,300
Luxury compact sport-utility vehicles Buick LaCrosse (4-cyl., eAssist) 26 $31,065 - $40,500
Large cars Subaru Impreza WRX Premium 26 AWD $26,295 - $38,495
Sporty cars Toyota Camry XLE (V6) 26 $22,970 - $31,370
Midsized cars Mini Cooper Countryman S 26 $22,750 - $35,350
Luxury compact sport-utility vehicles Chevrolet Malibu 1LT (2.5) 26 $22,465 - $30,480
Midsized cars Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium 26 AWD $22,195 - $33,095
Small sport-utility vehicles Honda Accord EX-L (V6) 26 $22,105 - $35,055
Midsized cars Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium 26 AWD $21,695 - $29,595
Midsized cars Subaru XV Crosstrek Premium 26 AWD $21,595 - $29,295
Small sport-utility vehicles Subaru Impreza Sport Premium 26 AWD $18,195 - $23,295
Compact cars Chevrolet Cruze 1LT (1.4T) 26 $16,170 - $25,660
Compact cars Chevrolet Cruze LS (1.8) 26 $16,170 - $25,660
Compact cars Chevrolet Cruze 1LT (1.4T) 26 $16,170 - $25,660
Compact cars Chevrolet Cruze LS (1.8) 26 $16,170 - $25,660
Compact cars Kia Soul Plus 26 $15,190 - $35,700
Compact cars Infiniti Q70 Hybrid 25 $49,850 - $67,050
Luxury midsized cars Hybrid/EV Infiniti Q70 Hybrid 25 $49,850 - $67,050
Luxury midsized cars Lexus ES 350 25 $37,700 - $40,580
Luxury midsized cars Audi A4 2.0T 25 $35,500 - $37,600
Luxury compact cars Volvo S60 T5 Drive-E (2.0T) 25 $33,950 - $47,200
Luxury compact cars Acura TLX (V6) 25 $31,445 - $44,800
Luxury compact cars Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited 25 AWD $29,665 - $50,240
Midsized sport-utility vehicles Chrysler 200 C (V6) 25 $21,995 - $30,825
Midsized cars Mazda CX-5 25 AWD $21,795 - $29,470
Small sport-utility vehicles Kia Optima LX (2.4) 25 $21,690 - $35,500
Midsized cars Mitsubishi Lancer ES 25 $17,395 - $38,995
Compact cars Mitsubishi Lancer ES 25 $17,395 - $38,995
Compact cars Ford Focus ST 25 $17,170 - $29,170
Ford Fusion SE AWD 24 AWD $22,500 - $36,630
Nisan Rogue 24 AWD $22,790 - $29,630
Honda CR-V EX 24 AWD $23,445 - $32,895
Toyota RAV4 XLE 24 AWD $23,680 - $29,850
Luxury compact cars Buick Verano 24 $21,990 - $29,215
Midsized cars Chevrolet Malibu 2LTZ (2.0T) 24 $22,465 - $30,480
Midsized cars Ford Fusion SE (1.5T) 24 $22,500 - $36,630
Midsized cars Nissan Altima 3.5 SL (V6) 24 $22,300 - $32,350
Midsized cars Kia Optima SX (2.0T) 24 $21,690 - $35,500
Luxury compact cars Buick Regal (turbo) 24 $29,990 - $39,810
Luxury compact cars Buick Verano 24 $21,990 - $29,215
Large cars Toyota Avalon Limited (V6) 24 $32,285 - $41,700
1. The 2016 Prius may have AWD.
See 2016 Toyota Prius to Offer AWD, Lithium-Ion Battery - News - Car and Driver | Car and Driver Blog

2. In 2016 VW introduced the Passat Alltrack. It is not available in the US.
See VW Debuts New Passat Alltrack Wagon, in Europe | Car and Driver Blog

See also Greenest cars at GreenerCars.com


How do they determine MPG for electric cars?
The fuel economy window sticker on the 2014 Ford Focus Electric proclaims 105 "miles per gallon equivalent" (MPGe)
They calculate energy used to get this number.
1 gallon of gas will produce 115,000 BTUs (British thermal units) of energy. To create the same amount of heat, you would need 33.7 kilowatt-hours (kWh)of electricity. So if the 2014 Ford Focus EV could travel 100 miles on 33.7 kWh of electricity (the energy equivalent of 1 gallon of gasoline), it would receive an mpg equivalency of 100 MPGe.

Note: Hybrid cars may have higher MPG ratings in stop and go (city) driving because of the regenerative braking system, which captures energy lost in breaking, using it to charge the batteries.

See:
Understanding Electric Car MPG on Edmunds.com
Gasoline gallon equivalent - Wikipedia

Links:
Downsizing: The 12 most useful cars per mpg | Consumer Reports
Best Mileage 2014 AWD & 4WD Vehicles
Top 10 Most Fuel Efficient AWD Cars and Crossovers | AutoGuide.com News 2012
Best MPG Cars for City & Highway Commutes - Consumer Reports
Most Fuel Efficient Coupes of 2015 - Kelley Blue Book
Greener Cars
Find and Compare Cars | US DOE

last updated 15 Oct 2015