In Depth

Why are SUVs so expensive to run?

Consumer watchdog finds SUVs cost over £400 more per year to fuel than other vehicles

SUV drivers are paying considerable more on fuel every year compared to hatchback, saloon and estate owners, a study has found. 

Researchers at consumer watchdog Which? discovered that drivers of large SUVs, such as the Range Rover (pictured top) and Porsche Cayenne, consume £1,561 worth of fuel on average every year, which is £409 more than large estate vehicle owners. 

Meanwhile, owners of mid-size SUVs, which could include Jaguar F-Pace and BMW X3, tend to spend £199 more in fuel every year compared to those who own mid-size estate vehicles, the Daily Express reports. 

While the researchers note that compact SUVs, such as the Nissan Juke and Audi Q2, are only marginally larger than the hatchbacks they are based on, they still cost around £154 more per year compared to the equivalent small vehicle, the newspaper says. 

The investigation used official fuel economy figures for small, mid-size and large SUVs and compared them against records for hatchbacks, saloons and estate cars of similar sizes, reports Auto Express

The average numbers in the report were calculated on the assumption that drivers would travel 9,700 miles in a year, the motoring magazine says.

Why is running an SUV so expensive?

The reason why you’ll find yourself at the petrol station more frequently in an SUV over other vehicles comes down to physics. 

Crossover models tend to be larger and heavier than their equivalent hatchback or estate, meaning engines need to deliver more power to compensate for the greater wind resistance and mass.

Therefore, the engine uses more fuel to cater for the need of more power. Diesels are often more fuel efficient than petrol SUVs, but they cost more to fill up. 

Not only are SUVs more expensive at the pumps, but they also produce more carbon emissions compared to the equivalent hatchback or estate, pushing them into a higher tax bracket, says Auto Express. 

However, a 2016 report from car reviews site Parkers claims that SUVs boast better resale values than the regular cars, making their higher running costs “a price seemingly worth paying”.

What SUVs are cheap to run?

CarBuyer puts the Peugeot 3008 among the best SUVs on sale for practicality and running costs. The reviews site says the crossover is a “practical family car” with “loads of space, both for passengers and their possessions, and a high level of standard equipment”.

Another model to consider is the Toyota C-HR hybrid, which uses electric motors to help eke out more fuel and reduce emissions, the website says.

The Nissan Qashqai is also frugal with fuel, notes WhatCar?. The SUV boasts a real-world fuel economy of 51.9mpg and is better equipped than the Renault Kadjar it shares its production platform with.

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