Compared to their two-wheel drive variants, 4x4s are known for being less economical, with the engine having to work harder, using extra fuel, to power all four wheels. However, with today’s improved technology, including the magic of plug-in hybrids, 4x4s are no longer the gas guzzlers they used to be. In fact, there are some excellent 4x4s on the market that are rather efficient.

Tips to improve fuel economy

If you’re conscious of fuel economy and want the best return possible, you’ll want to look at more than a car’s miles per gallon (MPG) figures. To get the most mileage for your money, you’ll want to follow these practical tips too. Typically, fuel economy is improved by:

  • Driving at slower speeds and sticking to the speed limit
  • Removing heavy items from the car, including bike racks and roof boxes
  • Ensuring the tyres are at the correct pressure
  • A well-serviced and maintained car
  • Stop/start technology (just remember to take your foot off the clutch to engage it)
  • Turning off electrical appliances, including air con
  • Driving smoothly, whether accelerating, braking, or changing gears
  • Driving directly to your destination (plan ahead and avoid detours)

Top 10 Best Economical 4x4s

Please note the miles per gallon quoted below are rough estimates that will vary in real world practice depending on numerous factors, like those mentioned above. Furthermore, the mpg figures depend on the model of the car, engine, and drivetrain (whether 4×2 or 4×4), so treat them more as guidelines than an exact science. Nonetheless, read on to see what we’ve chosen as our top 10 best economical 4x4s.


Available as a petrol, diesel, or plug-in hybrid, Land Rover’s Range Rover Evoque is a stylish 4×4 finished with a solid layer of luxury and class-leading off-road ability, typical of the renowned iconic marque.

When it comes to fuel economy, the car offers good miles per gallon in the diesel class, but really comes into its own as a plug-in hybrid, with a claimed fuel consumption of up to 201mpg – a staggering figure. To achieve that number, you’ll have to drive the car more on the battery in EV mode, although that shouldn’t be too much of a problem as the Evoque offers a fantastic range of up to 41 miles, which should be more than enough for city driving.

Overall, the elegant Range Rover Evoque is a brilliant 4×4, that’s very enjoyable on and off the road, providing an excellent return.

Best features:

  • Very stylish
  • Luxury interior
  • Class-leading off-road


2. BMW X1

The BMW X1 has improved ground clearance and the company’s xDrive four-wheel drive system providing a decent 4×4 off-road ability.

It’s nowhere near in the same class as the Range Rover Evoque when it comes to travelling off the beaten track and it won’t be able to take the punishment of the toughest terrain, however, it will tackle steep inclines and rugged farmland. Furthermore, petrol and diesel variants see a much better return than the Evoque, providing good miles per gallon around the 35-42mpg mark and 45-55mpg respectively. Again, plug-in hybrid versions see the best fuel figures running up to 157mpg.

The SUV enjoys that premium BMW quality too, with a sleek exterior and a quality cabin, which is comfortable and practical. It’s also good to drive, which is always welcomed news for drivers.

Best features:

  • Good to drive
  • Quality cabin
  • Very practical



With a very affordable starting price, from roughly £14k brand new and averaging at £9.8k used, the Suzuki Ignis is not only cheap to buy, it’s also cheap to run.

The car is offered with only one engine and that’s a frugal petrol one that will see impressive figures around 60mpg to 65mpg. It’s also available as a mild hybrid for even better fuel efficiency, aided by the fact that it’s a dinky little city car/SUV crossover with a light curb weight. It also offers a raised ride height and charming boxy looks, although as a 4×4 this is a vehicle better suited to ill weather and light off-roading, rather than a true mud monster.

It is, however, great for driving around town, particularly with its excellent practicality and its smaller dimensions (handy for parking in small spots).

Best features:

  • Very affordable starting price
  • Frugal running costs
  • Excellent practicality



The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is one of Britain’s best-selling plug-in hybrid vehicles. It offers excellent fuel economy with a real world return of approximately 139mpg.

On electric mode alone, it can run roughly 28 miles, which should be well-suited to a morning city commute. Of course, to see such returns you will have to keep on top of charging it every night, as you would any plug-in hybrid. The chunky 4×4 offers strong looks, fantastic practicality, and a good amount of kit as standard.

It’s also capable off the beaten track, although the ground clearance isn’t that great, so it’s best reserved for light off-roading and better grip in adverse weather.

Best features:

  • Strong looks
  • Fantastic practicality
  • Good amount of kit as standard



With sporting good looks and a fun driving performance to match, the Seat Ateca proves to be one of the best cars to drive in the crossover segment.

It also offers a clever 4×4 system called 4Drive, which allows you to put the car into four-wheel drive or two-wheel drive at the push of a button – perfect for delivering 4×4 capabilities and for reducing fuel consumption for daily use.

It has a decent range of fairly frugal engines to choose from too, with petrol variants offering real world returns from around 32.5mpg to 45.6mpg. The diesel options provide the best return, with a strong 40mpg to 56.5mpg.

Whilst it’s not a car for the most punishing off-road journeys, it is quite the capable performer for going off the beaten track for lighter adventures.

Best features:

  • Class leading to drive
  • Sporty looks
  • 4Drive system



As a crossover, the Nissan Qashqai offers a really good return thanks to a frugal range of petrol and diesel engines. The most efficient engine in the line-up is the 113bhp 1.5-litre diesel variant, which will achieve roughly 53 miles per gallon (although that will be reduced as a 4×4).

Inside, the SUV has a comfortable cabin and high-levels of practicality. Furthermore, it offers an enjoyable driving experience, proving to be a good all-rounder of a family car.

As a 4×4, however, the Nissan Qashqai is designed less for driving off-road and more for providing that extra stability and control during the winter snows – great for reassuring families when driving in poor weather.

Best features:

  • Comfortable cabin
  • Good all-rounder
  • Enjoyable to drive



The Renault Kadjar is the sister car to the Nissan Qashqai, the two crossovers both sharing a platform. The two have a lot of similarities, but they also have their own personalities and traits.

Like its sibling, however, the Kadjar offers good fuel economy, again with the best return provided by a 1.5-litre diesel engine that isn’t particularly quick, but does enjoy a claimed return of over 57 mile per gallon.

Again like the Qashqai, the Renault Kadjar is a good all-rounder of a 4×4 better suited to poor weather conditions than full off-road adventures. It is good to drive though, offering a spacious cabin and lots of practicality.

Best features:

  • Good all-rounder
  • Good to drive
  • Spacious and practical



The Toyota C-HR is a stylish SUV with a bold design and an efficient hybrid powertrain. Naturally, as a hybrid it has good fuel economy and an impressive real world return of around 54mpg to 57mpg.

If you opt for the 4×4 variant that will lower those figures slightly by roughly ten percent, but it still proves efficient, particularly for the segment.

As a 4×4, the car is better suited to light off-roading as it doesn’t have particularly good clearance. However, it’ll provide extra traction and stability in adverse weather.

Overall, the C-HR is a funky little crossover that is good to drive thanks to smooth handling and a low centre of gravity. Inside, the cabin offers plenty of space and a comfortable ride too.

Best features:

  • Stylish and bold design
  • Good to drive
  • Spacious and comfortable



Volvo’s XC40 crossover is the smallest of the brand’s impressive XC line-up of SUVs, all of which are renowned for their incredible safety rating.

Like its big brothers, the car offers a superb all-round package with fantastic practicality, a comfortable interior, lots of space, and strong build quality.

It might not be the most fun to drive, but it is confident, poised, and easy going. It is also surprisingly capable for off-roading, albeit on the lighter side of things. Nonetheless, it has good ground clearance and a decent hill decent system too, giving it extra practicality in that domain.

When it comes to fuel economy, the XC40 offers some impressive figures, with a choice of petrol, plug-in hybrid, and full electric powertrains. Naturally, the electric has the cheapest running costs with an excellent range up to 208 miles, whilst the plug-in hybrid provides a fantastic 134.5mpg.

Diesel variants are no longer available new, although you can still find them on the used market, offering a decent return between 39-52mpg.

Best features:

  • Impressive safest rating
  • Fantastic practicality
  • Strong build quality



With recognisable Mini looks, albeit in a chunkier frame, the Countryman is a distinctive SUV that is all the better for it, projecting a suave and stylish, yet playful image.

Inside, the cabin enjoys a premium finish and spacious dimensions, creating an altogether great family car. It’s also good to drive, which is always an important aspect.

In addition, it is available in the flavours of petrol, diesel, and plug-in hybrid, with the latter providing the best return ranging from 140mpg to 166mpg depending on how you drive it. Entry-level petrol and diesel varieties are still efficient, roughly offering a rather frugal 44mpg and 57mpg respectively. Of course, 4×4 versions will reduce the fuel efficiency.

Whilst four-wheel drive models won’t take you off-road, they will help keep you on it in poor weather.

Best features:

  • Stylish looks
  • Good to drive
  • Premium cabin


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Back to articles March 19, 2021

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