If you’re thinking of buying an SUV, but you’re worried about the day-to-day running costs, then we recommend taking a look at the cars on this list. They’re the best economical SUVs available, proving cheap to run with high miles per gallon (MPG) – perfect for taking you further for less money.


When it comes to fuel economy it’s not just about the car’s miles per gallon, it’s also about how you drive. Here are some tips to help you get the most miles for your money. To improve fuel economy:

  • Accelerate, brake, and change gears smoothly
  • Stick to lower speeds and the speed limit
  • Plan your journey ahead of time and with a direct route
  • Keep your car well-maintained and serviced
  • Turn the air con, heated screens, and other electrical appliances off
  • Take your foot of the clutch (if your car has stop/start technology)
  • Regularly check and ensure your tyres are at the correct pressure
  • Remove unnecessary heavy items from the car
  • Remove the roof box and bike rack when not in use

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With the bulky size of SUVs, most people assume they will have poor fuel economy. Whilst that is certainly the case with many of the larger types of sports utility vehicles, it’s not the case for the whole segment. In fact, there are lots of cars in this sector which offer a good return. Please, read on to discover our top 10 best economical SUVs, we think you might be surprised at the low running costs on offer.


A city car/SUV crossover, the Suzuki Ignis enjoys dinky dimensions with a jacked up ride height and very cool, boxy styling. Thanks to its smaller size and light curb weight, it also offers excellent fuel economy with efficient miles per gallon, ranging roughly from 60mpg to 65mpg range. The Ignis is only available with one frugal petrol engine or with mild hybrid technology, which is perfect for reaching those higher economical numbers. You can also enjoy the car as a 4×4 with Suzuki’s fantastic AllGrip four-wheel drive system, although that will be somewhat less economical. Overall, the Suzuki Ignis is a great little city car crossover that’s well-suited for driving around town, offering low running costs, an affordable starting price, and excellent practicality for its size.

Best features:

  • Very practical
  • Low running costs
  • Affordable starting price



Another small crossover SUV, albeit a larger one compared to the Ignis, the Renault Kadjar is an all-rounder of a sports utility vehicle: it’s good to drive, it enjoys an affordable price tag, and it offers a lot of practicality, with a large boot and a spacious cabin. It also provides low running costs with a range of four frugal engines, including two petrol variants with decent miles per gallon in the low 40s and two diesel options, which offer a much better return. For the most fuel efficient variation, you’ll want to opt for the entry-level 1.5-litre diesel engine. Whilst it’s not particularly quick, it has a claimed return over 57mpg, which is excellent for saving money on fuel bills.

Best features:

  • Good to drive
  • Spacious and practical
  • Low running costs



Rounding out the final podium position is yet another crossover, which should come as little surprise as the smaller dimensions of this type of vehicle typically results in better fuel economy. And in third place, the Nissan Qashqai offers a very good return, with a frugal range of efficient petrol and diesel engines. For the best economy, the 113bhp 1.5-litre engine can achieve around 53mpg, whilst petrol variants will manage a respectable 40+ miles per gallon. The Qashqai is one of the early success stories of the crossover market. It’s also one of the best crossovers available, with a comfortable cabin, excellent practicality, and an enjoyable driving experience. It shares a platform with the Renault Kadjar too. Both cars are very similar, though the Kadjar just tops its sibling by a slight margin in a few areas, such as styling.

Best features:

  • Enjoyable driving experience
  • Comfortable cabin
  • Excellent practicality



Powered by electric motors and a petrol engine, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) enjoys an incredible real world return of around 139mpg. Furthermore, it’s capable of running 28 miles on electric alone. However, to get that high mileage, it will depend on how you use the SUV. You’ll want to charge it every night, preferably with a fast-charging wallbox, and focus on those electric miles whilst driving. If you mainly drive in the city, then the Outlander PHEV is certainly an excellent low cost option. As for the car itself, it offers fantastic practicality, nice chunky SUV looks, and lots of kit as standard. Understandably, it’s one of the best-selling plug-in hybrids in the UK. It misses out on a top spot by a slight fraction – in short, the podium cars are more engaging to drive.

Best features:

  • Fantastic practicality
  • Very low running costs
  • Lots of kit as standard



The Toyota C-HR is a crossover SUV with bold, angular styling that is very funky and pleasing to the eye. It also has an efficient hybrid powertrain and can approximately return a noteworthy 54mpg to 57mpg, providing fuel efficiency and those all-important low running costs, which is why it finds itself firmly in fifth position. But that’s not all the Toyota C-HR offers. It is also rewarding to drive, with a low centre of gravity, surprisingly good handling, and a sportier feel to the ride and driving experience. On top of that, it’s also comfortable with good levels of interior space. Furthermore, the hybrid models tend to hold their value well on the used car market too.

Best features:

  • Rewarding to drive
  • Good interior space
  • Low running costs




Available with three different powertrains, as an electric, a plug-in hybrid, or as a self-charging hybrid, the Kia Niro naturally offers some impressive figures when it comes to fuel economy. At the lower end, the self-charging hybrid offers an excellent 58.9mpg, whilst the plug-in hybrid and electric variants considerably extend the fuel economy, providing incredibly low running costs, although they are more expensive upfront. Whichever you choose, the Kia Niro is a practical and comfortable SUV, with a quiet and refined ride that is particularly suited to leisurely driving. Plus, it has a spacious cabin with a large boot, which is ideal for families. If you go for the Kia Niro, we recommend choosing the optional ‘advanced driving assistance pack’ as it increases the car’s Euro NCAP safety rating from four to a full five stars.

Best features:

  • Practical and comfortable
  • Spacious cabin
  • Low running costs


7. PEUGEOT 3008

Equipped with the smaller diesel engine, the Peugeot 3008 will achieve good fuel economy approximately around the 55mpg mark. And with that same engine, the 3008 is also good to drive. There is a frugal petrol engine too, that will see similar (albeit lower) returns and an equally enjoyable ride experience. A big selling point for the SUV is its bold and attractive styling, which helps it stand out from the crowd, and its high levels of practicality. Against rivals like the Renault Kadjar and Nissan Qashqai, the Peugeot 3008 also offers a little bit more room with a more spacious cabin and a larger boot – ideal for taller families or for those who put premium on space.

Best features:

  • Attractive styling
  • Spacious cabin
  • Excellent practicality




With a stylish and sporty exterior, the Seat Ateca is one of the better looking cars in the family SUV sector. It also offers one of the better driving experiences compared to rivals, with a sportier feel to the handling. Furthermore, it’s spacious and comfy and it provides good fuel efficiency, when you opt for one of the lower powered engines. Doing so will see the petrol variant return around 45mpg, which is rather good, whilst the diesel option performs a fair bit better roughly at the 56mpg mark. If you go for Seat’s 4Drive four-wheel drive system it will have an impact on fuel consumption when engaging all four wheels, yet at the push of a button you can put the Ateca into front-wheel drive mode for greater economy.

Best features:

  • Stylish and sporty looks
  • Good to drive
  • Spacious and comfy




Available as a petrol, diesel, or plug-in hybrid, the Mini Countryman is a great family car with iconic styling that’s distinctive to the Mini brand. As you’d expect from the renowned marque, the car has a premium feel to it, inside and out, and it’s good to drive too. When it comes to fuel economy, plug-in hybrid versions will see the best return, ranging from 140mpg to 166mpg depending on how you drive it, and by that we mean leaning heavily on electric power alone. The good news is the Mini Countryman can reach up to 26 miles purely by the electric motor, which should be enough for city driving. At the lower end, the entry-level petrol engine will see around 44mpg, whilst the diesel variant will achieve approximately 57mpg.

Best features:

  • Stylish looks
  • Premium feel
  • Good to drive




The Citroen C3 Aircross is a small crossover SUV with a stylish design and a very comfortable interior, which is a lot more practical than the outward dimensions suggest. Whilst it might not be as engaging to drive compared to rivals in the sector, the Aircross is one of the best in its segment, particularly if you put a premium on space, comfort, and practicality. It’s also cheap to run, with most variants reporting around 45mpg. On the petrol front, to get the best out of the car, the 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine (with stop-start technology) offers roughly 47mpg, whilst the 1.6-litre diesel BlueHDI sees the best return with a claimed (and rather impressive) 70.6mpg.

Best features:

  • Stylish design
  • Very comfortable
  • Practical cabin


Ready to go on adventure that doesn’t break the bank? Find your next SUV at

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Back to articles January 27, 2021

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