True MPG: most and least efficient SUVs

What Car?'s True MPG tests show what you can really expect from a car. Here, we reveal the top 10 most efficient SUVs we've ever tested, and the one which performed the worst...

Volkswagen Taigo with True MPG logo

The official MPG figures published in car sales brochures can tempt you into buying a particular model, but they're often misleading.

Fortunately, What Car?'s True MPG test tells you what sort of fuel economy you can expect to get in the real world, with our results reflecting what's achievable if you drive gently and stick to speed limits, without resorting to any unrealistically slow acceleration or special 'hypermiling' techniques.

Here, we count down the 10 most efficient SUVs we've tested – plus we reveal the one that used the most fuel.

1. The most fuel-efficient SUV: Toyota Yaris Cross 1.5 hybrid

Toyota Yaris Cross front right tracking

True MPG Average 60.1mpg | Town 103.3mpg | Motorway 45.5mpg | Rural 70.5mpg

The Yaris Cross is a longer, wider SUV version of Toyota’s enduring Yaris small hatchback, competing with the Ford Puma and Skoda Kamiq. It’s a hybrid, using a combination of a 1.5-litre engine and an electric motor to improve economy and performance. It’s not only the most economical SUV we’ve tested – it's the thriftiest car, full stop. Read our full Toyota Yaris Cross review or see our latest Toyota Yaris Cross deals

Read on to find out how we calcluate your car's True MPG, and see more of the SUVS that performed best in our tests, and the model that will cost you the most to run.

How we test for a car's True MPG

We perform our True MPG tests in a laboratory in strictly controlled conditions, so you can rely on them being a true comparison of one model against another because there is no chance that the weather or traffic conditions can skew the results. 

Although the tests are done in a lab, they are realistic because they're based on a route we’ve chosen, which includes town, motorway and rural sections. 

All cars undergo a thorough preparation process, too, including having their tyre pressures tested to match the manufacturer's recommendations, and they're kept in a temperature-controlled chamber so that all cars are at the same temperature when tested. During testing, we keep the headlights off, and if they have air-con, it’s set to 21 degrees and the lowest fan setting. 

The fuel economy figures are calculated using measurements of the car’s exhaust emissions, and this is turned into our True MPG economy figure. 

The best of the rest: SUVs

2. Suzuki Ignis 1.2 Dualjet Hybrid

Suzuki Ignis 2022 front

True MPG: 59.9mpg

Don't be fooled by its small size, because the tiny Suzuki Ignis is deceptively spacious inside. Even though its not much bigger than many city cars, it’s roomy enough to accommodate four adults in comfort. Its peppy 1.2-litre petrol engine uses hybrid technology to add some extra oomph at low engine speeds. However, the Ignis's steering can feel quite vague, and rivals have better infotainment systems.

Read our full Suzuki Ignis review, or see the latest Suzuki Ignis deals

3. Renault Kadjar 1.5 dCi 110

Renault Kadjar

True MPG 55.2

The diesel-engined Kadjar is no longer on sale new, but it’s worth seeking out if you’re after a frugal secondhand family SUV. Although it shares many of its underpinnings with the used Nissan Qashqai, it beats that model for efficiency. The 1.5-litre diesel engine is a good option because delivers its power smoothly and has plenty of pull from low revs. Other plus-points of this family-friendly SUV include a big boot and plenty of standard equipment, even in the lowest trim level. Used prices start from around £9000.

Read our used Renault Kadjar review, or see the latest used Renault Kadjar deals >>

4. Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi 110 (2014-2021)

Used Nissan Qashqai mk2 front

True MPG 51.9

The previous generation of Nissan Qashqai remains a standout choice in the family SUV market; indeed, it was our overall Car of the Year in 2014. These days, you can pick up a used example for as little as £7000. And you'll be getting a whole lot of SUV for that money, because the Qashqai is comfortable, practical and, if you choose one equipped with this punchy 1.5-litre diesel engine, pleasingly frugal.

Read our used Nissan Qashqai review, or find the latest used Nissan Qashqai deals >>

5. Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi (2016-2021)

Kia Sportage

True MPG 51.4

The Sportage makes a great used buy because it is attractively styled, practical, inexpensive to buy, and many are still covered by Kia's seven-year warranty. The most popular diesel engine option of the original line-up was the 114bhp 1.7-litre – and this is also the most economical choice. That’s great news because there are plenty of used examples to choose from. Prices start from £10,500.

Read our used Kia Sportage review or find the latest used Kia Sportage deals >>

6. Volkswagen Taigo 1.0 TSI 95

Volkswagen Taigo 2022 front cornering

True MPG 50.5

If you’re after a coupé SUV that won’t break the bank to buy or own, the Taigo should be on your shopping list. It has a comfy ride, a surprisingly spacious interior and the prospect of low running costs if you choose the lower powered of its 1.0-litre petrol engines. In our test, the 94bhp Taigo managed 45.8mpg on the motorway and upwards of 62mpg on faster country roads.

Read our Volkswagen Taigo review or find the latest Volkswagen Taigo deals >>

7. Seat Ateca 1.6 TDI 115

Seat Ateca

True MPG 50.2

The Seat Ateca isn’t just great to drive and attractive to look at, it’s also impressively spacious, well equipped and competitively priced compared with its Skoda Karoq and Volkswagen Tiguan rivals. The punchy yet frugal 1.6-litre diesel engine is no longer available in a new Ateca, having been replaced by a 2.0-litre variant as part of a mid-life update, but you can find examples on the used market. 

Read our full Seat Ateca review, or see our latest deals >>

8. Mazda CX-5 2.2d 150 (2012-2017)

Mazda CX-5

True MPG 48.3

This version of the Mazda CX-5 was replaced by a newer model in 2017, but as our real-world figures show, it can still be a very frugal choice if you buy used – and the good news there is that prices start from just over £10,000. It's well kitted out and nicely made inside, and there's plenty of space for your family and all of their luggage. It's good to drive, too.

Read our used Mazda CX-5 (2012-2016 review or find the latest used Mazda CX-5 deals >>

9. Suzuki Vitara 1.6 petrol

Suzuki Vitara

True MPG 47.7

Even in the crowded small SUV market, the Suzuki Vitara makes a lot of sense, especially if you stick with the cheaper trim levels, which represent the best value for money. It's spacious and fuel efficient, but rivals have nicer interiors and the infotainment system on entry-level versions is quite basic. The 1.6-litre petrol engine is responsive and pretty economical, but is no longer available from new, though, having been replaced by a 1.4-litre mild hybrid unit. 

Read our full Suzuki Vitara review, or find the latest Suzuki Vitara deals >>

10. Hyundai Kona 1.6 GDi Hybrid

2019 hyundai kona hybrid blue driving front

True MPG 47.4

The Kona is available with petrol, hybrid or electric power. The Hybrid version is powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine paired with an electric motor that makes it quicker than the petrol from a standstill. To save on fuel, it can drive on electric power alone at low speeds for short distances. Whichever trim level you choose, you’ll get a generous amount of standard equipment and an easy-to-use infotainment system.

Read our full Hyundai Kona review, or see the latest Hyundai Kona deals >>

And the least efficient SUV: Audi SQ5 petrol

Audi SQ5

True MPG 24.6

It's perhaps unsurprising that a performance SUV takes the bottom slot in this cagetory. The 3.0-litre petrol SQ5's result of just 24.6mpg is 2.5 times less than the most fuel efficient SUV in this list. This SQ5's petrol engine has since been replaced by a 3.0-litre V6 diesel that's far more frugal. Whichever version you go for, though, you’ll get great ride and handling and a spacious interior.

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