Most economical 4x4 cars of 2022
Most of us want an SUV, but equally most of us want to be environmentally sensitive (and save money at the pumps). The best compromise, then, is the plug-in hybrid SUV. These can usually run for around 30 miles on electricity alone before their combustion engines kick in. But bear in mind you’ll have to plug-in and charge-up a lot if you really want to maximise your fuel efficiency…
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In terms of on-paper figures, it’s the Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid that wins this, hands down, with a claimed 282.4mpg. You’ll only get that kind of economy if you’re religious about plugging it in and charging up the battery, though. For long-haul drivers, the standard RAV4 Hybrid claims between 47mpg and 50mpg, which is about as good as you’ll get with a petrol engined 4x4 - even if it is one that’s assisted by an electric motor and battery.
Again, the PHEV models reign supreme here — Mercedes’ GLE 350de being pretty much the only one. Again again, you’re going to struggle to get anything like it’s claimed 353mpg in the real world, unless you’re scrupulous about plugging in and charging up. For non-hybrids, you’re probably best-off with a diesel Mazda CX-5, which quotes up to 51mpg (and which pretty easily does that in real-world conditions).
The Mercedes GLE 350de reigns supreme here, but once again only if you’re looking at the official figures. Its claimed 353mpg looks spectacular on paper, but as ever with plug-in hybrids you’ll have to maximise its electric-only running to get the best from it. The Toyota RAV4 once again looks like a solid bet here for real-world economy, with the four-wheel drive version claiming 48mpg and you should get close to that if you’re careful. The Hyundai Tucson T-GDI hybrid is slightly more economical, at 49mpg, but is front-wheel drive only, so not an actual 4x4.
There are a few tips that will improve the economy of any car, not just a 4x4, such as making sure your tyre pressures are correct, taking excess weight out of the car, and making sure that your own driving style is as gentle as possible. 4x4s tend to be tall vehicles, of course, so slowing down on longer journeys will save you a bundle, as a car’s aerodynamic drag increases massively the faster you go. Avoiding unnecessary bodywork add-ons such as nudge-bars, side-steps, winches, spotlights, roof bars, and roof boxes will also help here. If your car has switchable four-wheel drive, then keeping it in two-wheel drive mode will help save fuel.
For more advice on how to improve your fuel efficiency, check out our guide on ways to get better MPG.