If a car’s engine has to power all four wheels rather than just the two, its fuel economy will inevitably suffer. However, it doesn’t mean that it need be inefficient; these are the most economical models we have tested with 4WD.
What Car?’s technicians drive new cars every week to capture our True MPG fuel economy data. Unlike official Government figures generated by a laboratory test, the numbers we publish are gained from real-world conditions.
1. Fiat Panda 1.3 Multijet 4×4 official 60.1mpg. True MPG 53.7mpg
Okay, so the Fiat Panda is not quite in the same league as the rest of the cars in this list in terms of size and weight, but it is available with 4WD, and it is the most efficient model we have tested with four driven wheels.
The model that takes this accolade comes with the 1.3-litre diesel engine. It is not just for show, either because this lightweight little city car is surprisingly capable off-road
2. Skoda Octavia Scout 2.0 TDI 150 official 55.4mpg. True MPG 50.1mpg
The Skoda Octavia Scout is a good halfway option for those that want 4WD because it is essentially a toughened-up version of the standard Octavia Estate. As well as the 4×4 capability, it gets a higher ride height and more protective cladding around the arches and skid plates front and rear.
All of this does impact on economy, but not so much to prevent it being the second most economical 4×4 we have tested.
3. BMW 420d Gran Coupe xDrive official 57.6mpg. True MPG 48.9mpg
You’re not going to be going off-road in the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, but it should be able to cope better with snowy conditions than the rear-wheel-drive version. It’s a stylish, four-wheel drive, four-door coupe that is well worth considering as an alternative to the standard executive saloon.
4. BMW 320d xDrive official 57.6mpg. True MPG 48.5mpg
The BMW 320d xDrive is not the most appropriate car for off-roading – even the Panda will be better suited to plugging away in mud.
However, if you live in an area prone to snow, but don’t want to commit to anything larger than a saloon, then the 320d is a good option. It is a little disappointing just how far short of its official figure it falls, though – the real-world figure is 9.1mpg below the manufacturer’s.
5. Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI 177 quattro official 55.4mpg. True MPG 48.5mpg
Another alternative to a traditional compact executive, the Audi A5 Sportback is a five-door hatchback that’s more stylish and just as practical as the Audi A4 saloon on which it’s based. It also managed to return 48.5mpg in our real-world test which should make it cheap to run.
6. Honda CR-V 2.2 i-DTEC 148 official 50.4mpg. True MPG 47.6mpg
The Honda CR-V is the first of the proper SUVs on this list, but it still offers a very respectable real-world MPG figure, at 47.6mpg.
The biggest issue with the CR-V is its list price – there are better options when it comes to value for money. That said, it gives you fantastic amounts of space, it is versatile, comfortable and easy to drive. There is a more efficient CR-V, but not with four-wheel drive.
7. Mazda CX-5 2.2 Skyactiv-D 175 official 53.0mpg. True MPG 46.3mpg
The CX-5 is not far behind the CR-V in the efficiency stakes, with a True MPG figure of 46.3mpg, but we reckon it is the pick of the lot when it comes to choosing a compact SUV. This is down to the fantastic diesel engines. We’d usually stick with the lower-powered version, but it doesn’t come with 4WD. It still manages a commendable real-world figure, and is one of the best cars of this type.
8. Nissan X-Trail 1.6dCi 130 official 53.3mpg. True MPG 45.7mpg
The third Japanese SUV in this list comes very close to the other two in terms of real-world economy. The X-Trail is the only car here to come with seven seats, but this doesn’t stop it turning in a strong 45.7mpg in our tests.
The two rearmost seats are small, but having the option makes it stand out from the crowd. There’s only one engine, but the 1.6-litre unit is more than up to the task.
9. Lexus NX300h official 54.3mpg. True MPG 45.5mpg
The Lexus NX300h is the only petrol-powered model to make it into this round-up. It’s a hybrid model powered by a 2.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor. Thanks to its relatively low running costs, the NX300h is worth considering if you’re a company car buyer.
10. Skoda Yeti 2.0 TDI 170 official 49.6mpg. True MPG 44.9mpg
Skoda is the only manufacturer to have two cars on this list, and the Yeti is more classically SUV-shaped than the Octavia Scout. This version is perhaps one you would be more inclined to point at a muddy hill, too. The 4×4 models come in Outdoor trim, which adds a little more cladding and protection than the 2WD versions.
Calculate your real-world fuel economy with our True MPG tool