The best SUVs for real-world fuel economy

The best SUVs for real-world fuel economy
The best SUVs for real-world fuel economy

When it comes to choosing our next new car, those of us who aren’t lucky enough to have our own private fuel supply are generally going to be interested in fuel consumption figures.

That’s especially true now that there are so few other differentiators between new cars these days. Five extra miles to the gallon could make all the difference. So we gather up the sales brochures to see which one does best in whatever sector we’re looking at.

Unfortunately, you can’t really rely on the brochure mpg stats. The official tests that currently produce this sort of information aren’t realistic. They guarantee repeatability, but they don’t fully reflect real-world driving in a mix of conditions.

Thankfully, there are some ‘unofficial’ real-world mpg tests that do. We’ve carried them out on a whole load of SUVs and come up with this listing of the most fuel-efficient models we’ve tested so far in this competitive and popular market sector.

In each case we’ll give you the official mpg figure, followed by the mpg actually achieved on the test, and the percentage shortfall between official and actual. Because it is always a shortfall.

10. Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI 150

Official fuel economy: 51.4mpg; Real-world MPG: 45.3mpg; Shortfall: 11.8%

This may be Audi’s most compact and least expensive SUV, but it doesn’t short-change you on that famous Audi quality. It’s a nice drive, too, and although you’d do even better with one of the diesel Q2s, this 1.4-litre petrol version did well to deliver in excess of 45mpg.

9. Vauxhall Mokka X 1.6 CDTi 136

Official fuel economy: 65.7mpg; Real-world MPG: 47.0mpg; Shortfall: 28.4%

You wouldn’t buy the 1.6 diesel version of Vauxhall’s Mokka X for its refinement, comfort or steering finesse, but you might for its fuel economy. You might also appreciate its chunky style and well-equipped cabin. Plenty of UK buyers do.

8. Mazda CX-5 2.2 Skyactiv-D 150

Official fuel economy: 56.5mpg; Real-world MPG: 47.4mpg; Shortfall: 16.1%

The new CX-5 looks better than the old one and is now one of the comfiest big SUVs you can buy, beating even well regarded rivals like the Peugeot 5008 and Skoda Kodiaq. It’s a neat handler too and the real-world mpg is impressive for such a big machine.

7. Suzuki Vitara 1.6

Official fuel economy: 53.3mpg; Real-world MPG: 47.7mpg; Shortfall: 10.5%

Remember the original Suzuki Vitara? That was tiny compared to the current model, which goes up against the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur. With plenty of room inside and a good standard of finish, it’s the most frugal petrol SUV we’ve tested.

6. Kia Niro Hybrid

Official fuel economy: 74.3mpg; Real-world MPG: 50.1mpg; Shortfall: 32.6%

The real-world mpg figure for this hybrid was further away from the ‘official’ average than any other SUV we tested. But it’s easy to ignore that unrealistic 74.3mpg and enjoy the 50+ you actually get, along with the Niro’s good practicality and seven-year warranty.

5. Seat Ateca 1.6 TDI 115

Official fuel economy: 65.7mpg; Real-world MPG: 50.2mpg; Shortfall: 23.6%

The Ateca is a superb all-rounder, especially in turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol form, but the 1.6-litre diesel model will please economically-minded owners too thanks to its over-50mpg real-world average.

4. Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi

Official fuel economy: 61.4mpg; Real-world MPG: 51.4mpg; Shortfall: 16.3%

Not the most fun-filled drive, but when it comes to everyday practicality and the amount of kit you get for your money the Kia Sportage certainly delivers, especially in the ‘2’ trim level.

3. Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi 110

Official fuel economy: 70.6mpg; Real-world MPG: 51.9mpg; Shortfall: 26.6%

You can’t go far wrong with a Qashqai. It’s been around the longest in the small, family-friendly SUV class and it’s still right up there with the best. We rate the 1.5-litre diesel model, and not just for its 51.9mpg average.

2. Renault Kadjar 1.5 dCi 110

Official fuel economy: 74.3mpg; Real-world MPG: 55.2mpg; Shortfall: 25.7%

There’s a lot of shared DNA between the Kadjar and the Qashqai, so it gets off to a flying start. The Nissan has more equipment and a classier cabin, but the Renault comes back with more than 55mpg in normal driving.

1. Suzuki Ignis 1.2 SHVS

Official fuel economy: 65.7mpg; Real-world MPG: 59.6mpg; Shortfall: 9.3%

This two-wheel drive Ignis tops our ‘most efficient SUV’ list by averaging nearly 60mpg with its mild hybrid powertrain, which uses a small electric motor to help the 1.2-litre petrol engine. Even a four-wheel drive Ignis will do 53.3mpg.

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