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What Car?'s most efficient SUVs in the real-world

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

27 May 2019 16:45

The official government MPG figures published in sales brochures can tempt you into buying a particular car, but those results are often misleading.

SUV compilation image

Fortunately, What Car?'s True MPG tests reveal what sort of fuel economy you can expect in the real world.

To ensure accuracy and repeatability, we use strictly controlled laboratory conditions, but the tests are based on a real-world route that takes in town, rural and motorway driving.

No need to 'hypermile'

SUVs in convoy image

The results reflect what's achievable if you’re driving gently and sticking to speed limits but aren’t resorting to any unrealistically slow acceleration or special 'hypermiling' techniques.

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

The 10 most fuel efficient SUVs

Suzuki Vitara 1.6

10: Suzuki Vitara 1.6

True MPG: 47.7mpg

While the original Suzuki Vitara was a tiny, rugged 4x4, the latest version is more of a rival to city-friendly models, such as the Nissan Juke and Seat Arona.

Unfortunately, this 1.6-litre petrol version has now been discontinued.

9: Mazda CX-5 Skyactiv-D 150

Mazda CX-5 Skyactiv-D 150

True MPG: 48.3mpg

The CX-5 is a five-seat large SUV with a spacious and comfortable interior, and this diesel version is both refined and economical.

Most of the CX-5's rivals offer the option of seven seats, but if you don't need them then it should definitely be on your shortlist.

8: Kia Niro Hybrid

Kia Niro Hybrid

True MPG: 50.1mpg

It doesn't make as much sense as the fully electric e-Niro, but this hybrid model still topped 50mpg in our test, while its practical interior and seven-year warranty are further plus points.

7: Seat Ateca 1.6 TDI 115

Seat Ateca 1.6 TDI 115

True MPG: 50.2mpg

The Ateca is one of the most enjoyable SUVs to drive and a former What Car? award winner.

We're particularly keen on the turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol model, but the 1.6-litre diesel is the most efficient option, with a real-world average of 50.2mpg.

6: Suzuki Ignis 1.2

Suzuki Ignis 1.2

True MPG: 50.9mpg

Don't be fooled by the Ignis's small size – this is a seriously impressive car. It's deceptively spacious, offers a generous amount of equipment and is very cheap to buy and run.

This isn't even the most efficient version, as we'll explain later.

5: Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi

Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi

True MPG: 51.4mpg

Kia's Sportage gives you a lot of equipment for a very reasonable price, especially if you go for our recommended 2 trim level.

It's also a practical choice and the 1.7-litre diesel engine is capable of 51.4mpg. Just don't expect the Sportage to be particularly refined or enjoyable to drive.

4: Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi 110

Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi 110

True MPG: 51.9mpg

Recently updated, the Qashqai is the car that started the trend for small, family-friendly SUVs and it remains one of the best. It's a quiet, comfortable and stylish choice.

And when fitted with the 1.5-litre diesel engine that we recommend, it's capable of almost 52mpg.

3: Suzuki Ignis 1.2 SHVS Allgrip

Suzuki Ignis 1.2 SHVS Allgrip

True MPG: 53.3mpg

This version of the Ignis is a mild hybrid, which means a small electric motor works alongside its 1.2-litre petrol engine, helping to get you moving and reducing the strain on the engine. You even get four-wheel drive.

2: Renault Kadjar 1.5 dCi 110

Renault Kadjar 1.5 dCi 110

True MPG: 55.2mpg

The Kadjar is closely related to the Nissan Qashqai, but it’s even easier on fuel, averaging more than 55mpg in real-world conditions.

However, we'd still be tempted to choose the Qashqai because it's better-equipped and classier inside.

1: Suzuki Ignis 1.2 SHVS

Suzuki Ignis 1.2 SHVS

True MPG: 59.6mpg

It's a third appearance for the Ignis, with this mild hybrid version foregoing four-wheel drive. It's enough to make it the most efficient SUV we've ever tested.

So what about the least efficient SUV we've ever tested...?

Audi SQ5

Audi SQ5

True MPG: 24.6mpg

It's perhaps unsurprising that a performance SUV takes our bottom slot here, but while it might not be very economical, there's plenty else to like about Audi's hot Q5.

For starters, there's its 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 petrol engine – which, combined with its classy and practical interior and comfortable long-distance ride, still makes for a formidable package. Just expect to visit the petrol station quite often.