Whilst sports utility vehicles (particularly large ones) tend to work best in general with diesel engines, especially for those who drive more than 20,000 miles a year, petrol SUVs are becoming more and more popular, thanks to a lower purchase price. For those who drive less than the above mileage, you are also likely to enjoy lower running costs too.


Petrol and diesel engines both have their own selling points, as well as numerous pros and cons. To help you decide which is right for your needs, we’ve compiled the main differences below. Typically:

  • Petrol cars are cheaper to buy and service
  • Diesel engines are more efficient, using 15-20% less fuel
  • Petrol fuel is usually cheaper than diesel
  • Diesel cars tend to have a higher resale value on the used car market
  • Petrol engines tend not to be as noisy as diesel engines

Whichever type of engine you settle on, when it comes to fuel economy there are some practical tips for getting the most out of your SUVs miles per gallon (MPG). To see the best return:

  • Drive smoothly, especially when accelerating, braking, and changing gears
  • Drive at lower speeds and at the speed limit on the motorway
  • Remove your foot off the clutch to engage the SUVs stop/start technology (if it has it)
  • Turn off electrical appliances, like air con and heated seats
  • Keep your car well-maintained and serviced
  • Make sure your tyres are at the correct pressure
  • Remove unnecessary heavy items from the SUV
  • Remove the SUVs roof box and bike rack when not in use
  • Plan a direct route for your journey ahead of time


To give you extra peace of mind and security when driving about town, all of the cars on this list have scored an impressive five stars out of five in rigorous Euro NCAP safety tests. The exceptions to this are the Dacia Duster and Suzuki Jimny, which both scored a commendable three stars, largely losing points for their lack of driver assists. Please, read on to find out our top 10 best petrol SUVS.


The Volvo XC60 ticks all the right boxes for SUV drivers. It is practical, comfortable, and it has an upmarket interior. It is also one of the safest cars on the market, packed with lots of safety kit and a wealth of driver assists. Unsurprisingly, it is a best seller for Volvo and it’s also one of the best-selling mid-size SUVs in Europe. It’s not the most exciting car to drive on this list, but then it’s not trying to be. It focuses on safety, comfort, practicality, and refinement and it delivers on all four counts – a winning combination for families. The XC60 is offered with a range of petrol and diesel engines too, as well as efficient hybrid powertrains, all of which offer decent fuel economy for this class of car.

Best features:

  • Class-leading safety
  • Practical and comfortable
  • Upmarket interior


2. PEUGEOT 3008

With bold styling that helps it stand out from the crowd, the Peugeot 3008 is a smart looking crossover SUV. But that’s not all it offers. It’s also good to drive, it has a spacious cabin, and it offers excellent levels of practicality, including a large boot, which is amongst the leaders of its class. When it comes to engines, the 3008 has a choice of rather frugal petrol and diesels. And the petrol options on offer provide a surprisingly good return and an equally enjoyable ride experience as their diesel counterparts. The mid-size crossover has a slightly higher start price for the segment, but then again, it comes with a lot of equipment as standard balancing out the cost somewhat.

Best features:

  • Bold styling
  • Good to drive
  • Spacious cabin



The Dacia Duster is a superb budget SUV that is way better than its astonishingly low price would suggest. Starting from just £11.7k, which is an absolute bargain, the Duster is a stylish vehicle, with a spacious cabin and a large boot. It’s also easy to drive, although it is on the slower side when it comes to performance. Nonetheless, it’s a great SUV that’s really good value for money. You can choose from 4×2 or 4×4 models, the latter proving to be rather capable off-road, and you can take your pick from a decent selection of frugal engines, including a couple of petrol ones that offer a good return for the segment.

Best features:

  • Great value for money
  • Easy to drive
  • Stylish exterior



If you’re looking for a great family car that focuses as much on the driver’s experience as it does on practicality and comfort, then the Mini Countryman is an SUV worth checking out. It’s particularly good to drive, with excellent handling, and it comes with a lot of personalisation options so you can set the car up to suit your needs and style. It also has a premium finish to the exterior and interior, as well as brand appeal. As you’d expect from a top marque like Mini, it’s seriously stylish too. When it comes to space, the Countryman dispels the myths about Minis, providing ample room for adults to sit comfortably in the front and rear seats, plus it has a large 450-litre boot. It offers reasonable running costs as well, across the board of petrol, diesel, and plug-in hybrid engines available.

Best features:

  • Good to drive
  • Excellent handling
  • Stylish looks


5. BMW X1

From one premium SUV to another, the BMW X1 is the smallest model in the company’s range of sports utility vehicles and it’s everything you’d expect from the German marque. Typical of the brand, it is good to drive with a composed performance and precise steering, it enjoys a sophisticated design, and a spacious cabin finished with upmarket materials. It also comes with a selection of petrol engines to suit a variety of needs, from the frugal, to the more sprightly and punchy. Of course, there are diesel options to choose from too, in addition to hybrid variants. Furthermore, it is available as a four-wheel drive for light off-roading and for better grip and traction during adverse weather.

Best features:

  • Good to drive
  • Premium appeal
  • Spacious cabin



When it comes to family SUVs the Seat Ateca is one of the more stylish offerings, thanks to a sportier edge in the design. This trickles down into the way it handles, providing slightly sharper steering than what’s usual for the segment and it’s one of the best to drive in its class because of it. Inside, the cabin is practical too, proving spacious enough to seat five adults with ease and comfort. Furthermore, you get to choose from a good range of petrol and diesel engines: the former offer good performance and fuel efficiency, but the latter provide the best return. Overall, the Seat Ateca is a good all-rounder of a family SUV.

Best features:

  • Stylish looks
  • Good to drive
  • Spacious cabin



The Citroen C3 Aircross is offered with three petrol engines and one diesel, and all of the options are fairly low-key and fuel efficient providing good miles per gallon. It’s not the most engaging to drive, but then it’s not really trying to be. This is a small crossover SUV that focuses more on overall comfort, practicality, and space. In these areas, however, the C3 Aircross comes to the fore to establish itself as a class leader and in doing so it sets itself up as one of the best small crossovers on the market. To top it off, it has a funky design with bold styling and it is available with a wealth of personalisation options to truly make the car your own.

Best features:

  • Class-leading small crossover
  • Very comfortable and practical
  • Spacious interior, funky exterior



With class-leading levels of practicality and a good driving experience, the Skoda Karoq is another SUV that’s one of the best in its class. It enjoys attractive styling and a superb cabin with plenty of leg and headroom for adults in the front and back. There are lots of neat practical touches throughout as well, like in the large boot for example, where there are also numerous storage cubbies for loose items. Additionally, the Karoq is also comfortable to drive with confident handling, a smooth ride, and a good level of refinement. Engines range from 1.0 to 2.0-litres in size, with both petrol and diesel options, giving you a nice selection of frugal and powerful variants to choose from.

Best features:

  • One of the best in segment
  • Class-leading practicality
  • Comfortable to drive



One of the biggest sellers for Land Rover, the Range Rover Evoque is a fantastic SUV. It’s solidly built, it has stylish, chunky looks, and a premium cabin finished with upmarket materials. It also enjoys the brand’s signature off-road ability, able to tackle whatever is thrown at it. In fact, when it comes to off-roading, the Range Rover Evoque is a class leader. It’s also good to drive on the tarmac too, with a nice level of refinement and a smooth ride experience. When it comes to engines, there’s only one choice in the petrol department, a 2.0-litre one with three different power outputs: P200 (197bhp), P250 (247bhp), and P300 (296bhp). All of these engines are quite thirsty, but they are powerful and fast suiting drivers who like a speedy edge. The diesel variant mirrors the petrol in the choices available, providing a more fuel efficient option.

Best features:

  • Class-leading off-road
  • Premium cabin
  • Stylish looks



The Suzuki Jimny is an SUV with rugged good looks and suave boxy styling. It is cute with its dinky dimensions, but it also looks tough in its design, brimming with old school charm. On the road it is something of an average SUV to drive, however, take the Jimny off the beaten track and this 4×4 will give an expert performance, proving to be a true mud monster. And here it is a lot of fun. Adding to the attraction is a very affordable starting price for such a capable off-roader. Finally, the Suzuki Jimny is fitted with a petrol engine as standard, currently with no alternative options available. It’s a four-cylinder 1.5-litre model that produces 101 brake horsepower (bhp), providing ample performance to keep up with traffic.

Best features:

  • Expert off-roader
  • Suave, boxy styling
  • Very affordable starting price


Looking for a good petrol SUV to take you on your next adventure? Check out our huge range of cars available at

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Back to articles February 24, 2021

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