Most economical SUVs, 4x4s and crossovers 2020
These fuel-efficient SUVs and crossovers will squeeze every last mile out of their tanks, making your money go further
The bigger a car is, the less fuel-efficient it’s likely to be. Those are just the laws of physics, and it means many buyers torn between a family hatchback or an SUV have to balance practicality against higher running costs.
Thankfully, the latest, cutting-edge engines (as well as the introduction of hybrid technology) mean that the financial hit might not be as bad as you think. The SUV and crossover markets are booming right now, with many targeting low bills in order to cater for cash-conscious customers.
And along with legislation compelling manufacturers to lower their CO2 output, the focus on efficiency has never been great.
That means there are a great number of ultra-economical SUVs to choose from, ranging from cheap-as-chips runabouts to premium, luxury machines.
Given that most people are looking for a certain fuel type, our list of the most economical SUVs, 4x4s and crossovers is divided into three categories: petrols, diesels and hybrids. So whichever of the three best suits your needs, there’s something for you below…
Top five most economical petrol SUVs
- Peugeot 2008 1.2 PureTech 100 – 52.0mpg
- Citroen C4 Cactus 1.2 PureTech 110 – 49.8mpg
- Skoda Kamiq 1.0 TSI 95PS – 49.6mpg
- Ford Puma 1.0 EcoBoost 125PS – 48.7mpg
- SEAT Arona 1.0 TSI 95PS – 48.7mpg
1. Peugeot 2008 1.2 PureTech 100
The Peugeot 2008 is one of our favourite crossovers, offering great value for money with a generous mix of equipment, style and practicality. Better still is that it boasts low running costs that no other rival in this class can match, returning up to 52.0mpg when fitted with PSA’s 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine.
2. Citroen C4 Cactus 1.2 PureTech 110
Second place also goes to a PureTech-engined car: the Citroen C4 Cactus offers as much as 49.8mpg from this slightly more powerful version of PSA’s three-cylinder unit. 0-62mph takes 9.3 seconds, so it’s a stronger performer than many of the other frugal petrols in this list. The C4 Cactus also boasts a comfortable ride and funky design.
3. Skoda Kamiq 1.0 TSI 95PS
The Skoda Kamiq is one of the best small SUVs on sale, thanks in no small part to its efficient line-up of powertrains. The most frugal of the bunch is the three-cylinder, 1.0-litre petrol that delivers up to 49.6mpg in its least powerful form. Buyers looking for a practical car with a decent kit list will be served well by the Kamiq, although the interior isn’t as plush as some of its competitors.
= 4. Ford Puma 1.0L EcoBoost 125PS
Ford has certainly made a splash with the new Ford Puma. It’s basically a Fiesta-based SUV, which means it drives well, is refined and – with Ford’s 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine under the bonnet – very efficient too. The Puma maxes out at 48.7mpg, although there are mild-hybrid versions that will push that figure even higher.
= 4. SEAT Arona 1.0 TSI 95PS
Using the same engine as the Skoda Kamiq above, the SEAT Arona achieves an impressive 48.7mpg on the now industry-standard WLTP test. Although it’s not quite as efficient, you’ll barely notice the difference in the real world, and those that plump for the SEAT will be rewarded with a car that exudes a little more flair.
Top five most economical diesel SUVs
- Peugeot 2008 1.5 BlueHDi 100 – 62.7mpg
- DS 3 Crossback BlueHDi 100 – 62.7mpg
- Vauxhall Crossland X 1.5 Turbo D – 61.4mpg
- SEAT Arona 1.6 TDI 95PS – 58.9mpg
- Renault Captur dCi 95 manual & dCi 115 auto/manual – 58.9mpg
= 1. Peugeot 2008 1.5 BlueHDi 100
If it wasn’t enough to already off the most economical petrol SUV, the Peugeot 2008 also achieves the best fuel efficiency in the class with a diesel engine as well. The 1.5-litre, four-cylinder diesel isn’t quite as sprightly as the 1.2-litre PureTech above, but with up to 62.7mpg this is definitely the better bet for racking up the miles on the motorway.
= 1. DS 3 Crossback BlueHDi 100
If you want an SUV with a more premium feel, then the DS 3 Crossback ticks that box. The styling is more upmarket and the materials used inside are a bit nicer, even if the build quality isn’t quite where we’d like it to be. Equipped with the same 1.5-litre diesel as the Peugeot 2008, it too will muster up to 62.7mpg.
3. Vauxhall Crossland X 1.5 Turbo D
Those who aren’t keen on the glitz and glamour of the DS 3 Crossback will prefer the no-nonsense Vauxhall Crossland X instead. Alright, it’s not much fun to drive, but it sits at the affordable end of the spectrum and delivers on the essentials: a practical cabin, lots of kit and excellent fuel economy. The 1.5-litre diesel isn’t quite as refined as the petrol options on the Crossland X, but who’s complaining when it’ll hit 61.4mpg?
= 4. SEAT Arona 1.6 TDI 95PS
The SEAT Arona is another car that makes it onto both the petrol and diesel lists. The 1.6-litre unit manages 94bhp and 0-62mph in 11.9 seconds, so while it won’t be setting any speed records, fuel economy of up to 58.9mpg is a worthy effort. Something else to note is that the diesel Arona is heavier than the petrol one, and so feels a little less agile through corners.
=4. Renault Captur dCi 95 manual & dCi 115 auto/manual
There’s a new Renault Captur for 2020, and it’s an enormous improvement on the outgoing car with more style, a better interior and a more comfortable ride than before. It’s unique on this list too in that two engine variants – the 94bhp diesel and the 113bhp alternative – achieve the same 58.9mpg on paper. As there’s no cost to efficiency, we’d go for the latter with a manual gearbox.
Top five most economical hybrid SUVs
- BMW X5 xDrive45e – 235.4mpg
- DS 7 Crossback E-Tense – 217.3mpg
- Kia Niro PHEV – 201.8mpg
- MINI Countryman Cooper S E ALL4 – 156.9mpg
- Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV – 139.7mpg
1. BMW X5 xDrive45e
With much bigger batteries than mild- or full-hybrids, it’s natural that plug-in hybrids should dominate this list. And the BMW X5 xDrive45e is the most dominant of the lot, offering (for now, at least) the most electric range of any plug-in hybrid on sale. Its 24kWh battery is enough for 54 miles of zero-emissions range, meaning most could easily complete their daily commute without using the engine at all.
2. DS 7 Crossback E-Tense
The plug-in hybrid, E-Tense version of the DS 7 Crossback is the pick of the line-up, with a smooth, refined drive that could return ultra-low running costs if charged on a regular basis. Its 13.2kWh battery is a much more typical size than that of the X5 xDrive45e, and in theory it’s enough for 36 miles of range. The SUV is expensive though, priced at well over £47,000. Good job it’ll hit 217.3mpg.
3. Kia Niro PHEV
The all-electric version of this car – the Kia e-Niro – is rather brilliant, and well worth considering if an EV is a feasible prospect for you. That said, the plug-in hybrid Niro is the next best thing, with an 8.9kWh battery that’ll give you up to 36 miles of electric running. That amounts to 201.8mpg officially, but how close you get to that in the real world depends on how often you revert to using the 1.6-litre petrol engine.
4. MINI Countryman Cooper S E ALL4
The MINI Countryman Cooper S E ALL4 (yes, it’s a mouthful) has been around since 2017, but it’s still a tantalizing proposition for those who’d suit a plug-in hybrid kind of lifestyle. Its 10kWh battery can be topped up in under four hours using a three-pin plug, and a full charge should reward you with 32 miles of range. Practicality remains decent and the drive isn’t half bad either.
5. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is something of a trailblazer in the plug-in hybrid kingdom, getting to the market early in 2013 while making the technology relatively affordable. It’s evolved since then, with today’s car achieving 139.7mpg on paper thanks to a 13.8kWh battery. As with all the plug-in hybrids on this list, getting close to that number relies on regular charging via a cable. Without it, you’re more likely to see something like 40mpg in regular driving conditions.
Now you know the most economical SUVs on sale, why not shift gear and look at the fastest SUVs on sale?