At the time I bought it, its highway mileage (26 mpg) was one of the best in the SUV class. I commute about 50 miles a day, mostly highway mileage, and I need the best highway fuel economy possible. I'd like to stay under $30,000.
Your Mariner was a clone of the Ford Escape, and if you want another compact SUV, the redesigned 2013 Escape would be a good choice because it offers highway fuel economy estimates of 28 to 33 mpg, depending on engine and whether it has front- or all-wheel drive.
The four-cylinder Chevrolet Equinox, with EPA highway estimates of 32 mpg for front drive and 29 mpg for all-wheel drive, and the Honda CR-V (30-31 mpg) also would be good choices. All of these are competent vehicles that should serve you well in ways other than gas mileage.
If gas mileage is a priority, this would be a good time to ask yourself if you need another SUV. Unless you feel all-wheel drive is a necessity, several compact hatchbacks with front-wheel drive could provide similar cargo space and give you higher gas mileage. Among compact hatchbacks you could consider are the Ford Focus, Honda Fit, Hyundai Elantra GT, Kia Forte and Mazda3, all of which should go out the door for less than $30,000. All except the Fit are available as a sedan if you choose to go that route.
If all-wheel drive and more cargo space than a sedan are necessities, you might also consider the Subaru Impreza hatchback, which has a base price of $19,165 (including destination) with standard all-wheel drive and EPA ratings of 27/36 mpg city/highway with an automatic transmission.
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