The small but heavy 2012 Suzuki SX4 is rated fairly low in fuel efficiency by the EPA, with just 22 to 25 mpg in its city ratings and 29 to 33 mpg on the highway. Not surprisingly, the base front-wheel drive sedan does the best, at 25 mpg city, 32 mpg highway with the continuously variable transmission (CVT) or 23 city, 33 highway with the six-speed manual transmission.
The worst figures are posted by the all-wheel drive five-door hatchback, with a six-speed manual, at just 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. Oddly, the CVT-equipped all-wheel drive model does 1 mpg better in the city but actually 1 mpg worse on the highway cycle--the reverse of the pattern for the front-wheel drive sedan.
By contrast, the all-new 2012 Subaru Impreza five-door compact hatchback--which comes standard with all-wheel drive--is rated as high as 27 mpg city, and 36 mpg highway when fitted with its own CVT. That blows away the less sophisticated Suzuki SX4.
Weight is the culprit here, with the top-of-the-line models tipping the scales at almost 3,000 pounds. That's a lot for a vehicle that's on the small size for a compact, at just 163 inches long.