Vehicles with seating for six to seven people, 25 mpg
Q. Which vehicles seat six to seven people, get at least 25 mpg and do not have the traditional SUV or van look?
A. Finding a people hauler rated at 25 mpg on the highway isn't impossible. The four-cylinder 2011 Toyota Highlander is one of the larger examples, and it's rated at 20/25 mpg city/highway. For 2011, the Highlander has room for seven occupants on all trim levels.
A more efficient hybrid Highlander ups the mileage to 28/28 mpg and is rated higher than many smaller SUVs that can haul the same number of people. Take a few steps up the pricing ladder, and a diesel version of the 2011 BMW X5 will do the trick as well, rated at 19/26 mpg with an optional third row.
Some smaller vehicles easily best 25 mpg and can carry six to seven people, but you'd have to let go of passenger and cargo room compared with the Highlander. The new 2012 Mazda5 seats six standard and is rated at 21/28 mpg with automatic and manual transmissions.
Front-wheel-drive versions of the 2011 Kia Sorento are rated up to 21/29 mpg with an automatic transmission. An optional third row increases seating from five to seven; it costs $700 and is available in LX trim levels and higher. The Sorento's third row is surprisingly accommodating for adults, something not usually found in this class of vehicles.
Ford's upcoming C-Max is another small van-like hauler with room for seven. Mileage ratings haven't been announced yet, but keep tabs on the C-Max at KickingTires because it competes with the Mazda5 and smaller seven-passenger cars.