As a large, family-friendly platform, family SUVs are burdened with big dimensions and heavy platforms that make fuel efficiency a difficult thing to obtain, however, things have changed within the segment in recent years.
Thankfully, a range of new hybrid engines and clever technologies being introduced to the family SUV market have made them impressive performers when it comes to fuel economy figures, so let’s take a closer look at the most fuel-efficient family SUVs you can currently buy here in Australia.
Our list kicks off with one of the most famous names in both the world of family-friendly motoring and clever, fuel-efficient powertrains, Toyota. The latest RAV4 now offers buyers a hybrid engine option across all variants, giving buyers a heap of options across the range.
The RAV4 hybrid comes powered by a 2.5-litre petrol that works alongside an electric motor, with 2WD and AWD options available. Fuel economy figures for the 2WD variant stand at 4.7L/100km and rise to 4.8L/100km in the AWD variant.
The updated Mitsubishi Outlander is another fuel-efficient SUV perfect for large families up to seven people. It comes powered by a 2.4-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine paired with two electric motors and a large 20kWh lithium-ion battery that offers 84km of all-electric driving range and fuel economy figures of 1.5L/100km.
Haval’s H6 midsize SUV is a great option for budget-concious buyers here in Australia, and comes with a hybrid flagship atop the range. It comes powered by a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder working alongside an electric motor that returns combined cycle fuel economy figures of 5.2L/100km.
For those looking for a slice of family-friendly motoring done the Swedish way, the XC60 Recharge is a practical and powerful SUV that pairs a supercharged four-cylinder engine with an electric motor that is rated at 1.6L/100km on a combined cycle.
MG’s mid-size SUV, the HS has had the range updated with a super fuel-efficient 1.5-litre turbocharged engine paired with an electric motor that offers up to 50km of all-electric range and fuel economy figures of 1.7L/100km.
The MG HS remains one of the most affordable plug-in hybrid vehicles currently available here in Australia, and offers a generous raft of safety and entertainment features as standard.
With more than enough space for a family of seven, the Kia Sorento powered by the company’s 1.6-litre turbo-petrol paired with an electric motor returns very impressive fuel economy figures of just 1.6L/100km combined with an all-electric driving range of 68km.
Inside, the Sorento’s cabin is spacious and practical, making for one of the most comfortable platforms for large families that benefit from a fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid engine.
The Ford Escape is another great option for buyers assessing their options in the midsize SUV segment, and offers buyers an impressive mix of both power and fuel efficiency in a family-friendly package.
The Escape comes powered by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine paired with an electric motor and a sizable 14.4kWh lithium-ion battery that offers 56km of all-electric driving range and fuel economy figures of 1.5L/100km.
For fans of the BMW X5 platform, you’ll be pleased to know the company has introduced a plug-in hybrid variant that pairs an in-line six-cylinder engine with an electric motor that offers 77km of all-electric driving range and is rated at just 2.5L/100km on a combined cycle.
The largest member of Toyota’s family-focused lineup has recently gained hybrid engine options across each variant, giving Australian buyers more options than ever before.
The Kluger hybrid comes powered by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine paired with two e-motors up front and one at the rear that produce an impressive 184kW of power, and bring its fuel economy figures down from 8.9L/100km in the V6 to 5.6L/100km on a combined cycle.
While it might not have as clever of an engine as its twin-under-the-skin, the Kia Sorento, Hyundai’s Santa Fe remains a great option for those looking for a fuel-efficient family SUV perfect for up to seven people.
The Santa Fe hybrid pairs a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol with an electric motor and small lithium-ion battery pack that translates to fuel economy figures of 6.0L/100km on a combined cycle, which is a major improvement of the base model’s 10.5L/100km figures.
Mercedes’ five-seat family-hit, the GLC, now comes packed with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder paired with a compact battery and electric motor that offer 50km of all-electric driving and impressive fuel economy figures of just 2.4L/100km on a combined cycle.
Why are Fuel Economy Figures so Low for a Plug-in Hybrid, or PHEV SUVs?
If you’ve noticed some barely believable fuel economy figures for the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) members of our list, you’re not alone.
Accurate fuel economy figures for a PHEV are difficult to obtain because there are actually some flaws when it comes to how fuel economy is measured for a plug-in hybrid vehicle. With the battery charged, these figures are indeed very possible to obtain, although once the battery is depleted, fuel usage rises dramatically.
What is the Most Fuel Efficient Family SUV in Australia?
As we’ve discovered, the most fuel-efficient family SUVs currently on sale in Australia are the models powered by a hybrid engine, as the electrical assistance from the e-motors takes the strain off the internal combustion engine and improves fuel economy figures.
While there are no doubt flaws in how fuel economy figures are accurately measured for plug-in hybrid engines, they remain the most fuel-efficient option, particularly for models fitted with a large onboard lithium-ion pack that can provide electrical assistance for a longer period of time.
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