Which SUV has no carpeting, high ground clearance and good gas mileage?

I'm looking for a four-wheel-drive SUV with good ground clearance, easy to clean dog hair from (no carpeting) and GOOD gas mileage (better than 18 mpg). Is there such a thing?

Karen C., Sacramento, Calif.

There are a few models that meet those requirements, like the 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser, 2010 Subaru Outback and 2010 Honda Element. These are very different vehicles, but we’ll give you the rundown on each and you can pick which style suits your needs.


The FJ is a legit off-roader with almost 10 inches of ground clearance, available off-road package and rubber-coated floors and cargo area. It’s also the least fuel efficient, rated at 17/21 mpg city/highway with optional automatic transmission. Because of its high ground clearance and funky rear doors, it may not be easy to get a dog in and out of an FJ.

The Outback wagon isn’t exactly an SUV, but it does meet your requirements: removable rubber cargo mat, ground clearance of 8.7 inches, standard all-wheel drive and 22/29 mpg with automatic. The Outback’s lower stance will make loading and unloading easier as well.


Honda’s Element has a very specific dog package available aimed to make carrying around your canine easier. It also has the least ground clearance at 6.9 inches on all-wheel-drive LX and EX models; the sporty SC has 6.2 inches. The low ground clearance may not be best suited for your request, but your dog will like the low entry height. Mileage is 19/24 mpg with optional automatic transmission. Some of the dog-specific features include a cargo ramp, zip-up kennel and dog-bone patterned floormats on top of the standard plastic floor.  

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Answered by Joe Bruzek on April 23, 2010 in Honda , Honda Element , Subaru , Subaru Outback , Toyota , What Car Should I Buy? | Permalink

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