These 15 SUVs combine a high driving position with low fuel costs. Our guide covers SUVs of every fuel type
With a taller stance and bigger bodywork than a hatchback, SUVs are almost always a bit less efficient. But, if you need the high ride height and space that an SUV offers, you don’t need to blow the budget on fuel. With modern tech and innovation, some SUVs are surprisingly economical.
We’ve compiled this list using carmakers’ quoted figures. It’s worth noting that these were achieved in test conditions, which might not match your driving habits – such as where and how you drive. That’s especially true of plug-in hybrids, which have astounding fuel economy figures that are only achievable if you mostly drive on battery power.
Best MPG SUVs
|Hyundai Bayon: 53.3mpg
|Peugeot 2008: 73.6mpg
|Kia Niro: 64.2mpg
|Mazda MX-30: 282.5mpg
|Hyundai Kona Electric: 4.8mi/kWh
|Citroen C5 Aircross: 49.5mpg
|Skoda Karoq: 59.4mpg
|Renault Austral: 60.1mpg
|Ford Kuga: 282.5mpg
|Renault Megane E-Tech: 4.6mi/kWh
|Peugeot 5008: 46.4mpg
|Mazda CX-60: 56.5mpg
|Hyundai Santa Fe: 44.1mpg
|Mercedes GLE: 353.1mpg
|Mercedes EQS SUV: 3.4mi/kWh
Small SUVs with the best MPG
Petrol: Hyundai Bayon
Fuel economy: 53.3mpg
Hyundai’s smallest SUV is based on the i20 supermini, so you get bold styling, a surprisingly high-tech and premium-feeling interior, and a mild-hybrid petrol engine that’s capable of returning over 53mpg. The Bayon is easy to drive and has comfortable seats, and its relaxed driving style will help you eke the most miles out of a tank.
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Diesel: Peugeot 2008
Fuel economy: 73.6mpg
Most small SUVs don’t offer diesel engines anymore and, since it was facelifted, that includes the Peugeot 2008. But, find a used example with the 100hp 1.5-litre BlueHDi engine, and you’ll achieve over 70mpg when driven carefully. The 2008 is our favourite small SUV, not only for its fuel economy, but for its striking looks, high-end interior, impressive practicality and even fun handling.
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Hybrid: Kia Niro
Fuel economy: 64.2mpg
A mere 0.1mpg separates the Kia Niro HEV and the Toyota Yaris Cross, and these are two clever small SUVs that maximise bang for your buck. These don’t need to be plugged in but they can run on electric power around town. The Niro takes Kia’s latest infotainment and powertrain tech, and squeezes it into a strikingly styled crossover body with more room than the old Niro. You’ll need the entry-level ‘2’ trim to get the most miles per gallon, but even this version gets LED headlights, adaptive cruise control and a reversing camera.
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Plug-in hybrid: Mazda MX-30
Fuel economy: 282.5mpg
The Mazda MX-30 isn’t a usual car by any benchmark. It has backwards-opening rear doors, cork interior trim and a deliberately small battery to keep it cheap and light. But not many buyers feel its 100-mile real-world range is enough, so you don’t see many fully electric MX-30s on the road. But the addition of a rotary petrol engine – which works in a completely different way to other engines – transforms the MX-30 into a capable, yet still unusual, plug-in hybrid. The engine acts as a generator to power the motor and battery. You can drive up to 53 miles on electric power alone and, together, the two power sources give you a range of about 400 miles.
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Electric: Hyundai Kona Electric
Efficiency: 4.8 miles per kWh
Hyundai’s other small SUV – the Kona – is also one of the most efficient compact cars you can buy. In electric guise, you get two battery choices: 38kWh and 64kWh. It’s the smaller battery that’s the miles-per-kWh champion, and its 189-mile range is perfectly decent. Big-battery cars manage almost 300 miles to a charge, and you can easily achieve close to that figure, too.
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Midsize SUVs with the best MPG
Petrol: Citroen C5 Aircross
Fuel economy: 49.5mpg
Good value, interesting to look at and very practical, the Citroen C5 Aircross is a family SUV that doesn’t elbow its way to the top of your shopping list – it asks very politely instead. The 1.2-litre petrol engine might sound weedy but it’s more than potent enough for town and motorway use. And, if you back off the throttle and make the most of the C5’s relaxing feel, you’ll be rewarded with nearly 50mpg. Many diesel SUVs can’t match that.
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Diesel: Skoda Karoq
Fuel economy: 59.4mpg
A VW Tiguan for less – the Skoda Karoq is one of our favourite midsize SUVs. The Karoq’s diesel engines aren’t the most exciting, but they’ll provide stellar fuel economy for long-distance drivers. Don’t let Skoda’s positioning as a value brand fool you – the Karoq is impressively comfortable on a long motorway journey, and its easy-to-use interior will leave you unstressed.
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Hybrid: Renault Austral
Fuel economy: 60.1mpg
Replacing the Renault Kadjar, the new Austral steps up to bat with much more tech and bolder styling than its predecessor. Matching its new styling is a futuristic hybrid engine that’s more economical than any direct rival. The Austral’s interior impresses, with a new Google-based infotainment system and a comfortable ride.
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Plug-in hybrid: Ford Kuga PHEV
Fuel economy: 282.5mpg
The Ford Kuga’s near-40-mile electric range is very impressive and, even if you only manage 30 miles from the battery, that’s 30 miles on cheap electric power rather than petrol. Make the most of the Kuga Plug-in Hybrid’s 14kWh battery and you’ll rarely have to fill up. A full charge takes around six hours from a normal household socket, so you don’t even have to fork out for a wallbox if you don’t want to. Elsewhere, the Kuga PHEV still impresses with an easy, spacious interior and fun handling.
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Electric: Renault Megane E-Tech
Efficiency: 4.6 miles per kWh
It’s all change for the Renault Megane, as the latest one is now an electric SUV rather than a fuel-powered hatch. And now the Megane is one of the class-leading EV crossovers, with a stunning interior, strong looks and fantastic efficiency. If we compared it exactly to a petrol car, the Megane E-Tech would achieve around 200mpg, and a full charge (280 miles) would cost under £20.
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Large SUVs with the best MPG
Petrol: Peugeot 5008
Fuel economy: 46.4mpg
The larger the car, the less economical it’s going to be. So it’s a bit surprising that the seven-seat Peugeot 5008, hauled along by a 1.2-litre petrol engine, is able to return over 45mpg. Although, load the car up with people and your fuel economy will understandably drop a bit. Three individual middle seats and an easy-folding third row make the 5008 a seriously practical thing that doesn’t miss out on stylish looks.
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Diesel: Mazda CX-60
Fuel economy: 56.5mpg
The Mazda CX-60 is another example of Mazda going its own way and not following convention. While rivals are fitting smaller engines or dropping diesel completely, the CX-60 still offers a 3.3-litre six-cylinder diesel engine capable of over 55mpg. Many large SUVs can’t get within 10mpg of that. Mazda’s newest diesel engine is smooth and unstressed, which helps its great fuel economy.
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Hybrid: Hyundai Santa Fe
Fuel economy: 44.1mpg
Hyundai’s largest SUV boasts bold styling – especially as you don’t see the Santa Fe very often – plus a cabin that feels like you could be at the helm of a space cruiser. You sit high and the bank of buttons makes you feel important. But you can bring your crew along for the ride, as every Santa Fe is a seven-seater. The hybrid is a great alternative to the diesel engine, regardless of whether you do long journeys or not.
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Plug-in hybrid: Mercedes GLE 350de
Fuel economy: 353.1mpg
The thing with plug-in hybrids is that, if you fit a bigger battery, you’re going to get a sky-high MPG figure. So you might not get 350mpg from the Mercedes GLE, but its 31.2kWh battery could enable you to cover 54 miles on a charge. And then, you’ve got a diesel engine as backup – if you regularly do a mix of long journeys and city driving, the GLE is ideal. Well, ideal if you’ve got deep pockets.
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Electric: Mercedes EQS SUV
Efficiency: 3.4 miles per kWh
Even deeper pockets will get you behind the opulently trimmed wheel of the EQS SUV, Merc’s flagship EV. Its smooth – if slightly featureless – face helps aerodynamic efficiency, and its monstrous 108kWh battery returns a 362-mile range. Batteries aren’t light, though, and the EQS SUV tips the scales at the wrong side of 3.3 tonnes.
Which SUV has the best MPG?
On paper, the Mercedes GLE 350de’s 353mpg is the best you’ll find. But that requires a very specific driving style to achieve – you basically need to drive on electric power for nearly all the time. Don’t want to plug in? Get yourself a diesel Peugeot 2008, which promises up to 73mpg. You won’t get anywhere super quickly, but you won’t use much fuel doing so.