How many miles per gallon does AWD cost you in the real world?
Crossovers are king when it comes to automotive sales these days. That’s because they do pretty much everything. They have a high driving position, they haul families, they can tow (at least small trailers), and they’re efficient. Or are they? All things being equal, all-wheel drive can ding your fuel economy to the tune of about ten to fifteen percent, going by EPA numbers. Take the 2019 GMC Terrain and 2018 Chevrolet Equinox. These two crossovers pack the same powertrain, but one is all-wheel drive, while the other sends drive only to the front wheels.
Up here in Colorado, where some buyers prefer all-wheel drive cars, is the actual gap in real-world testing even more prevalent? That’s what Mike and Nathan set out to discover in today’s MPG challenge.
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Under the hood of both cars is the same 2.0-liter EcoTec four-cylinder turbocharged engine. That means the 2019 GMC Terrain and 2018 Chevrolet Equinox manage 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Each of these crossovers is also mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. However, because the Chevrolet is front-wheel drive, it wins the race for fuel economy, at least on paper.
To find out how efficient these crossovers actually are, we take them out on a 50-mile MPG loop with a mixed set of driving. Along the route, there are short city sections with stop-and-go traffic as well as longer highway stints. To ensure both cars are topped up, we use the “two-click” method at the pump. There, both cars are filled, then we wait thirty seconds for the initial fill-up to settle, then top off again. In the end, the $39,505 front-wheel drive Equinox will come out ahead of the $43,650 all-wheel drive Terrain. The question is by how much?
In the end, both cars actually beat their EPA ratings in our high-altitude MPG challenge. The all-wheel drive 2019 GMC Terrain managed a respectable 29.9 MPG. Even with the extra weight and complexity of the all-wheel drive system, it managed seven MPG better than its 23 MPG combined rating. The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox FWD, on the other hand, scored 32 MPG. Again, that’s seven MPG better than the 25 MPG combined EPA rating.