Real-world MPG: the most economical SUVs of 2016

Every week, our True MPG team tests new cars to see how they perform in the real world. This week, we're looking at the most economical SUVs on sale...

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Darren Moss
9 May 2016 9:0 | Last updated: 14 Jun 2018 0:3

One of the most commonly asked questions here at What Car? is 'what's the most economical SUV?'. Our real-world fuel testers have been testing a whole array of these popular vehicles to find the answer.

What Car?’s technicians drive new cars every week to capture our True MPG fuel economy data. Unlike official government figures, which are generated by laboratory tests, the numbers we publish are gained from real-world conditions. These SUVs all managed more than 38mpg.

The top 10 most economical SUVs

1 - Nissan Qashqai 1.6 dCi 360 diesel, official economy: 55.4mpg; True MPG: 50.8mpg

Our reigning Small SUV of the Year for 2016, the Nissan Qashqai is top-class performer in almost every aspect. It's a pleasure to live with, and appeals to both company car drivers and private buyers thanks to its practical, versatile cabin, excellent refinement and economical engines.

2 - Kia Sportage 3 Sat Nav CRDi diesel, official economy: 52.3mpg; True MPG: 49.7mpg

Kia's small SUV offers excellent value for money, and comes with a spacious, practical interior. Its engines may be a little unrefined compared with some rivals, but they're certainly economical. We'd opt for the 1.7-litre diesel engine, which returns almost 50mpg in the real world.

3 - Honda CR-V i-DTEC SE diesel, official economy: 50.4mpg; True MPG: 47.6mpg

If you're after an SUV with enough space to take your family, their luggage and the family pet and still have room to spare, then the Honda CR-V should be on your shopping list. It's got masses of space inside, and is also as easy to drive as a regular family hatchback. It's more expensive than some rivals, though.

4 - Toyota RAV4 D-4D Icon diesel, official economy: 57.6mpg: True MPG: 46.9mpg

Toyota's RAV4 has long been an established player in the SUV market. It's a capable all-rounder, being easy to drive and spacious inside, while also offering a long warranty and decent levels of equipment. Some rivals, such as the Mazda CX-5 and Ford Kuga, do the basics better, though.

5 - Volkswagen Tiguan TDi 4Motion Bluemotion Sport diesel, official economy: 47.0; True MPG: 46.7mpg

There's a new Volkswagen Tiguan on the way, but there wasn't much wrong with the old model. It's great to drive, has a range of responsive, fuel-efficient engines and a spacious and flexible cabin. This is an SUV that offers the practicality of a family estate with decent off-road prowess, too.

6 - Nissan X-Traill 1.6 N-Tec diesel, official economy: 53.3mpg; True MPG: 45.7mpg

If the smaller Nissan Qashqai isn't enough SUV for you, then it's worth looking at Nissan's larger offering, the X-Trail. This seven-seat SUV offers a spacious interior and boot, plenty of standard equipment and low running costs. Just avoid the noisy CVT automatic gearbox.

7 - Porsche Macan S diesel, official economy: 44.8mpg; True MPG: 40.7mpg

Premium performance SUVs are something of a niche market in the UK, but the Porsche Macan is one of the best there is. It's small enough to be easy to drive around town, but it offers all the practicality of an SUV. Its interior is also of an extremely high quality, and there's punchy performance from the diesel engine tested here.

8 - Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi 4WD Premium diesel, official economy: 46.3mpg; True MPG: 40.4mpg

The Santa Fe is the largest SUV in Hyundai's line-up. It's a spacious seven-seater, and offers a practical cabin and comfortable ride, but rivals offer better value for money. Head room is particularly tight for passengers relegated to the third row of seats, too.

9 - Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design diesel, official economy: 53.3mpg; True MPG: 39.3mpg

Few SUVs are as spacious and versatile as the Volvo XC60. It's a fine family car that is loaded with safety and convenience technology, and, although most of its engines can't match the fuel economy of rivals, the 2.4-litre diesel tested here is particularly good.

10 - Mini Paceman 1.6 Cooper S petrol, official economy: 46.3mpg; True MPG: 38.9mpg

The Paceman exists in its own niche really. It aims to offer the practicality of the larger Countryman while retaining the styling of the classic Mini hatchback. It succeeds to some degree, but rivals like the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Scirocco are better to drive and cost similar money.

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

Real-world MPG: the most economical SUVs of 2016