Article and photos by Justin Pritchard

The cold snap, er, Polar Vortex, reared its ugly head across most of Ontario this past winter, plunging your writer and his weekly test vehicle into a frigid hell with plenty of snow, ice, slush and sleet. Mother Nature has been cranky this winter, and the highway maintenance guys haven’t been too incredibly on the ball with their work either.

So, over the past few months, I’ve spent a few thousand kilometres in a wide range of new models travelling, mostly, through all of the above – measuring their fuel consumption every step of the way. Interestingly, I’ve hit a number of popular crossover models in the process – namely the CR-V, Outlander, Durango, Outback and new Jeep Cherokee.

Here’s a look at some of the actual, measured-by-hand mileage figures I recorded by dividing litres consumed by clicks travelled. I also included the mileage suggested by the driver computer in each vehicle, for any readers who find that more trustworthy.

Remember: these figures include plenty of idling, remote start use, a filming day full of full-throttle stop-and-go driving, and plenty of highway cruising. These figures represent mileage achieved while operating each model where and how your writer drives. Your figures will likely vary, but a comparison is interesting nonetheless.

Honda CR-V
Subaru Outback
Dodge Durango
Hyundai Santa Fe
Honda CR-V, Subaru Outback, Dodge Durango, Hyundai Santa Fe. Click image to enlarge

Vehicle: 2014 Honda CR-V AWD Touring
Observed Overall: 10.6 L/100 km
Computer Says: 10.2 L/100 km
Notes: The five-speed automatic Honda’s using in the CR-V might be ‘so 2007’, but I still managed amongst the best mileage figures I recorded in a compact crossover all year. This tester rolled on winter tires and didn’t spend much time in its driver-selectable ECON mode, which could have cut the figure back further.

Vehicle: 2014 Subaru Outback 2.5 (CVT)
Observed Overall: 11.2 L/100 km
Computer Says: 10.4 L/100 km
Notes: This low-mileage tester wasn’t broken in yet, and was driven through the coldest part of this year’s Polar – though it remains the thirstiest figure I recorded amongst all four-cylinder CUV models in this highlight. It’s not a landslide more fuel than a CR-V or RAV4, though with the CVT transmission, more slippery all-season rubber and relatively modest power output, I was expecting better.

Vehicle: 2014 Dodge Durango HEMI Citadel AWD
Observed Overall: 14.2 L/100 km
Computer Says: 14.3 L/100 km
Notes: It packs a great big HEMI V8, all-wheel drive and room for three rows of passengers—though the Durango’s new eight-speed automatic and cylinder deactivation work well to help keep fuel consumption in check. In extreme cold with excessive use of the remote start and my lead foot, mileage occasionally crept past 18 L/100 km – though a highway cruising average of just 10.5 L/100 km helped turn in a respectable overall test average of 14.2 L/100 km. Interestingly, in highway driving with the speed locked in a little north of 100 km/h, Durango put away as much fuel as the Subaru Outback. Take that as you will.

Vehicle: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe 2.0T
Observed Overall: 12 L/100 km
Computer Says: N/A
Notes: Two litres of turbocharged Korean fury propelled this four-wheel drive Santa Fe through some of the worst conditions of the year. The mileage figure is relatively thirsty – but a 300 km highway drive with the wheel-wells literally packed with ice didn’t help. So, the figure is a bit inconsequential, but should reference the Santa Fe’s promise of big power and decent consumption. Even rolling winter tires, its mileage proved only a touch thirstier than the Outback, despite packing 85 more horsepower. Or, if you’re willing to spend about 2 L/100 km more in fuel, you could go with the much-larger, much more powerful Durango Hemi.

For comparison’s sake, the V6-powered Santa Fe XL logged a test average of 11.7 L/100 km on my watch during an earlier summertime test.

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