Real-world MPG: luxury SUVs that beat 35mpg

  • Large SUVs needn’t cost a fortune to run
  • Three big four-wheel-drive cars beat 35mpg
  • Results indicate real-world fuel economy
Words ByEd Callow

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What Car?’s technicians drive new cars every week to bring you True MPG fuel economy data. Unlike official Government figures generated by a laboratory test, the numbers we publish are gained from real-world conditions.

This week we’re looking at the most economical large SUVs that we’ve tested so far, including the new Range Rover Sport TDV6. These three four-wheel-drive cars offer plenty of space and lots of luxuries, and all beat 35mpg in our test.

1. Mercedes-Benz ML250 Bluetec – official 44.8mpg: True MPG 37.6mpg

The ML250 is the entry-point to the M-Class range, but it certainly doesn’t feel cheap when you’re driving it. Cabin quality across all MLs isn’t up to the standards of rivals, but the drivetrain feels built to last, and in relative terms it won’t cost the earth to run. Our True MPG test shows that this diesel is one of the most economical options if you want a luxury SUV. That said, we’d spend more to get the more refined ML350, even though the running costs will make it more expensive, too.

2. Range Rover Sport TDV6 – official 38.7mpg: True MPG 35.4mpg

The new Range Rover Sport is refined, classy, well-equipped and comfortable; everything a Range Rover should be. In fact, we no longer think it’s worth spending the extra to buy the larger model. It’s a good deal more practical than most of its rivals, and is even available as a seven-seater. The way the Sport drives isn’t as dynamic as the name suggests, but its blend of relaxed on-road manners and a sumptuous interior outguns the competition.

3. Volvo XC90 D5 AWD – official 34.0mpg: True MPG 35.1mpg

The XC90 may still be regarded as a luxury car, but it’s definitely starting to show its age. It doesn’t feel as sharp to drive as some newer rivals, but its biggest problem is refinement. This diesel engine is noisier than you’d expect and transmits vibrations through the wheel and pedals.
However, it remains a comfortable and practical seven-seat SUV, which - if you choose the right model - should hold its value well, too. SE trim comes with all the equipment you’d expect, and keeps purchase costs reasonable.

We add new models to our True MPG database every week. Visit to see the full range of cars we’ve tested, and find out what you really can expect to achieve on UK roads.