The sports utility vehicle (SUV) is an increasingly popular type of car among buyers, and it’s easy to understand why.
The raised driving position gives a great view of the road ahead, and their larger size makes drivers feel a little safer at the wheel.
However, their bloated weight tends to mean that they aren’t normally the most economical of cars. With recent studies suggesting that perhaps diesels aren’t quite what they are cracked up to be, we take a look at some of the most fuel efficient off-roaders money can buy.
Mini Countryman One
The small and stylish Mini range isn’t quite so mini any more, in more ways than one. There is a huge range of choice available, from the regular hatchback, to a convertible or the chunky Paceman, and the Countryman SUV here.
The 97hp 1.6-litre petrol found in the entry level ‘One’ won’t set the world alight in terms of performance – 0-60mph takes an okay-but-not-thrilling 11.9 seconds – but a claimed economy of 47.1mpg isn’t to be sniffed at. With emissions of 139g/km, private buyers will be looking to pay £130 per year for road tax.
Mazda CX-5 2.0
The Mazda CX-5 is popular among road testers, and scores a respectable wowscore of 7.6. The stylish crossover makes use of the Japanese firm’s SkyActiv technology, which aims to produce clean-burning engines and avoid unnecessary, efficiency-sapping weight.
The claimed fuel economy and emissions exactly matches that of the Mini, yet is able to produce 164hp to deliver sprightly performance. It handles nicely too, so this is certainly an SUV for the green, keen driver.
Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI
The Q3 is the smallest of Audi’s three-strong SUV range, and with a small 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine, combines sprightly performance with fuel efficiency.
Delivering a claimed 47.9mpg, the Q3 should allow you to keep away from the petrol pumps for a while, so you can instead spend your time admiring the attractive, beautifully built interior.
Nissan Qashqai 1.2 DiG-T
The Qashqai’s chunky, 4×4-inspired looks have helped Nissan’s family favourite become a huge sales success. The simple front-wheel-drive layout and small, efficient 1.2-litre turbocharged engine helps the Qashqai to 50.4mpg. It’s a great all rounder too: safe, practical and pleasant enough to drive. Its range of qualities was enough to earn it our 2014 car of the year title.
Porsche Cayenne Hybrid
It may come as a surprise to see a Porsche making it to second place on our ‘most economical’ list, but the Cayenne makes use of battery power to achieve a claimed 83.1mpg.
Supplementing the 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol engine is a 96hp electric motor, which under enthusiastic driving combine to offer 410hp and 0-60 in just 5.9 seconds. However, the Cayenne can operate on electric power alone for up to 22 miles, which means on the average commute the petrol engine might not kick in at all. A brilliant blend of performance, luxury, and free road tax!
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Put simply, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the most economical SUV on sale in the UK. It operates in a similar way to the Porsche, where the electric motor can either be charged by a mains socket, or by the 2.0-litre petrol motor while you’re driving along.
If you regularly do journeys under 32.5 miles, then you’ll be able to manage on electric power only. Then you can come home and charge it up for pennies. On longer journeys, you can even save the electric power for when you enter a town, where the power can be put to best use contributing to a claimed 148mpg.
We can’t help but think this is the way the majority of cars will operate in the future, and that’s something to be excited about.
Not too fussed about economy?
Browse our 2014 best SUV shortlist to see what’s on offer when you’re not picky about your engine choice.