Which SUVs have the best real-world fuel economy?

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The revelation that Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s chief adviser, drove from Islington to London to County Durham during lockout restrictions with his wife suffering from coronavirus has been in the news since Friday.

Some have questioned whether the 264-mile trip was achievable in his Land Rover Discovery Sport diesel without having to stop for fuel after Mr. Cummings said at a press conference on Monday that he could not – be completed only once during the return trip to the family home in the capital.

We used What Car’s True MPG calculator. To determine how far his Land Rover can go before emptying its fuel tank – and reveal seven mid-size SUVs with the most fuel-efficient engines in real driving conditions that are best for long distance trips outside the lock .

Could Cummings' car drive 264 miles without needing fuel? According to our calculations, the Land Rover Discovery Sport diesel could complete the journey from north London to Durham with about half a fuel tank.

Could Cummings’ car drive 264 miles without needing fuel? According to our calculations, the Land Rover Discovery Sport diesel could complete the trip from north London to Durham with about half a fuel tank.

Cummings’ car used for the 264-mile hike north was its 2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport diesel.

The seven-seat SUV has a 2.0-liter engine linked to a smooth hybrid transmission, a 9-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive.

Its D180 is an R-Dynamic HSE specification, which currently costs from £ 48,300 in showrooms.

The Discovery Sport has a 65 liter (14.3 gallon) fuel tank and the official fuel economy based on a laboratory test is 38.9 mpg – although the actual What Car test? Has revealed that the figure would be closer to 33.6 mpg when driving on the road.

We calculated that to cover 264 miles with official fuel economy statistics of 38.9 mpg, the Land Rover Discovery Sport would use only about 6.8 gallons of fuel from its 14.3 gallon tank.

Using What Car? True MPG figure of 33.6 mpg, the trip to Durham from the capital could be completed using 7.9 gallons.

This means that even with about half a tank, Mr. Cummings could have gone to his parents’ home without stopping to get fuel – but only he would know how much diesel was in his Land Rover before he left.

Dominic Cummings, Prime Minister's Chief Advisor, arrives at Downing Street Tuesday

Dominic Cummings, Prime Minister’s Chief Advisor, arrives at Downing Street Tuesday

The Discovery Sport (similar to the model shown here) has a 65-liter (14.3-gallon) fuel tank and the official fuel economy based on a laboratory test is 38.9 mpg - although the actual test of What Car? Found the figure to be closer to 33.6 mpg when driving on the road

The Discovery Sport (similar to the model shown here) has a 65-liter (14.3-gallon) fuel tank and the official fuel economy based on a laboratory test is 38.9 mpg – although the actual test of What Car? Found the figure to be closer to 33.6 mpg when driving on the road

Would the round trip be possible with a single tank?

However, could Mr. Cummings have gone home without visiting gas stations?

A simple calculation shows that it would have been very difficult for Boris Johnson’s assistant chief to complete the 528-mile round trip without having to stop.

With Land Rover’s 38.9 mpg official claim, only 0.7 gallons of fuel would remain in a 14.3 gallon overflow fuel tank after a trip of this duration – regardless of other trips made between the two. trips, such as driving to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight.

Using What Car? S more realistic fuel economy figure, Discovery Sport would need 15.7 gallons of diesel to travel from Islington to Durham and back.

This means that Mr. Cummings would need to pump an additional 1.4 gallons into his car to prevent him and his family from getting stuck on the side of the road.

The 7 most fuel-efficient mid-size SUV discovery sports alternatives based on real tests

Which car? performs a True MPG test on as many cars sold in UK showrooms as possible.

This is a controlled measurement, performed on closed roads and replicating city, rural and highway driving, while respecting speed limits and driving smoothly.

These are the seven family-size SUVs he has tested that have proven to be incredibly fuel efficient.

To put their fuel consumption benchmarks in context, we also compared the number of gallons of fuel each will use to travel 264 miles versus Dominic Cummings’ Land Rover.

The Mazda CX-5 has a True MPG figure of 48.3 mpg, which means it only needs 5.5 gallons of diesel to make the same 264-mile trip

The Mazda CX-5 has a True MPG figure of 48.3 mpg, which means it only needs 5.5 gallons of diesel to make the same 264-mile trip

7. Mazda CX-5 2.2 Skyactiv-D 150

Price: from € 29.060

Which car? True MPG: 48.3 mpg

True MPG gallons used for a 264 mile trip: 5.5 gallons

Less gallons used than Dominic Cummings’ Land Rover: 1.3 gallons

This diesel-powered Mazda is a mid-size family car with a sporty style and look.

For a diesel engine, it’s refined and quiet. The only downside is that it’s only available as a five-seat option, unlike Cummings’ seven-seat Discovery Sport.

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is an ideal long-distance SUV that combines gasoline and electricity and is much more fuel efficient than Mr. Cummings' Land Rover diesel.

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is an ideal long-distance SUV that combines gasoline and electricity and is much more fuel efficient than Mr. Cummings’ Land Rover diesel.

6. Toyota RAV4 hybrid

Price: from £ 33,450

Which car? True MPG: 49.0mpg

True MPG gallons used for a 264 mile trip: 5.4 gallons

Less gallons used than Dominic Cummings’ Land Rover: 1.4 gallons

Toyota abandoned the diesel powertrain years ago, investing in hybrid technology instead.

The RAV4 Hybrid is incredibly economical for a mid-size SUV using unleaded and the price is reasonable compared to its rivals. Reliability is also solid.

The Kia Niro is available with conventional engines, a plug-in hybrid version and a fully electric version. The one tested here is the self-loading hybrid model

The Kia Niro is available with conventional engines, a plug-in hybrid version and a fully electric version. The one tested here is the self-loading hybrid model

5. Kia Niro hybrid

Price: from 24 900 €

Which car? True MPG: 50.1 mpg

True MPG gallons used for a 264 mile trip: 5.3 gallons

Less gallons used than Dominic Cummings’ Land Rover: 1.5 gallons

Another hybrid to appear in the list of the most sober SUVs is the Nia with automatic loading from Kia.

There is also a fully electric version, which offers one of the longest ranges of any new electric vehicle on sale – and it was What Car’s car of the year. In 2019.

The Seat Ateca is not only great to drive, but would use 1.5 gallons less than Mr. Cummings' Land Rover to travel from north London to Durham

The Seat Ateca is not only great to drive, but would use 1.5 gallons less than Mr. Cummings’ Land Rover to travel from north London to Durham

4. Seat Ateca 1.6 TDI 115

Price: from € 25.560

Which car? True MPG: 50.2 mpg

True MPG gallons used for a 264 mile trip: 5.3 gallons

Less gallons used than Dominic Cummings’ Land Rover: 1.5 gallons

Another example of a mid-size family SUV, the Ateca is one of the best models to drive in this category.

In addition to being fun in turns, the Ateca is understated and undermines sister cars of the VW group at a price.

The Sportage is Kia's best-selling model in the UK. The 1.7-liter diesel engine in the version tested here is no longer available, although it is replaced by an equally efficient 1.6-liter engine

The Sportage is Kia’s best-selling model in the UK. The 1.7-liter diesel engine in the version tested here is no longer available, although it is replaced by an equally efficient 1.6-liter engine

3. Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi

Price: from £ 25,150 *

Which car? True MPG: 51.4mpg

True MPG gallons used for a 264 mile trip: 5.1 gallons

Less gallons used than Dominic Cummings’ Land Rover: 1.7 gallons

The Sportage is one of the most popular mid-size SUVs in the UK and the Korean brand’s best-selling model in the country.

The 1.7-liter diesel engine tested here is no longer available, replaced by a new 1.6-liter engine that should be just as economical.

Mr. Cummings might be better off choosing a British build model for long distance hikes, with the fuel-efficient Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland

Mr. Cummings might be better off choosing a British build model for long distance hikes, with the fuel-efficient Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland

2. Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi 110

Price: from 22.185 € *

Which car? True MPG: 51.9 mpg

True MPG gallons used for a 264 mile trip: 5.5 gallons

Less gallons used than Dominic Cummings’ Land Rover: 1.3 gallons

The Qashqai, built in the UK, is one of the UK’s top auto exports and is the best-selling SUV in Britain every year since it first appeared on the market over a decade ago.

This 1.5 liter 110 diesel engine is no longer available, replaced by the 115 version than What Car? has not yet tested.

The Reanult Kadjar is the sister car of the Nissan Qashqai. This now abandoned diesel engine produced a staggering 55.2 mpg in actual tests, which means it would use 2 gallons less than Dominic Cummings 'Land Rover to travel from the capital to his parents' house.

The Reanult Kadjar is the sister car of the Nissan Qashqai. This now abandoned diesel engine produced an astounding 55.2 mpg in actual tests, which means it would use 2 gallons less than Dominic Cummings ‘Land Rover to travel from the capital to his parents’ house.

1. Renault Kadjar 1.5 dCi 110

Price: from 23.295 € *

Which car? True MPG: 55.2 mpg

True MPG gallons used for a 264 mile trip: 4.8 gallons

Less gallons used than Dominic Cummings’ Land Rover: 2.0 gallons

The Kadjar and Nissan Qashqai are sister cars, so it’s not surprising to see the Renault at the top of this table.

Like its nibbling Nissan, this 110 diesel engine has been abandoned and replaced by a 115 version that has not passed the rigorous True MPG test. That said, it’s likely to be more economical than Mr. Cummings’ 2.0-liter Land Rover Discover Sport.

Remarks

* – The model is no longer on sale. Price of the new comparative model on sale

** – MPG figures based on an official test using the old NEDC test cycle and not the current WLTP cycle

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