Height of eco-friendliness: New Zealand's greenest (and affordable) SUVs
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It’s tempting to think of SUVs as oversized and environmentally unfriendly, but that’s a bit old-fashioned these days.
Because most are based on passenger cars, they have a similar footprint to their hatchback or sedan equivalents. In fact, some are positively green.
Here are eight that sip less than five litres of fuel per 100km (or none at all in the case of the EVs) and cost less than $100,000.
Which is still a lot of money, but that’s just our upper limit; the average price of the cars featured here is actually under $50k.
Suzuki Ignis: from $19,990, 4.7l/100km
You can debate whether the minuscule Suzuki Ignis is really an SUV (we certainly do at the office), but it has the ground clearance.
And in facelift form, it has the roof racks and pseudo-skid plates too.
The engine technology is conventional (it's a no-frills 1.2-litre), but the Ignis is still a real fuel sipper.
That headline figure is for the Ignis manual, but even the automatic achieves 4.9l/100km.
Toyota C-HR: from $35,990, 3.8l/100km
Toyota’s radical-looking C-HR gained a hybrid engine option late last year, giving a huge boost to its credentials as a compact city SUV.
Unlike the larger RAV4 it’s FWD, not AWD, but that helps it to an astonishing fuel economy figure.
Kia Niro: from $39,990, 3.8l/100km or BEV
Kia’s Niro SUV range covers both petrol-electric hybrid and Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) models.
The former impresses for value and thrift, getting well under four litres per 100km. The latter shares battery tech with the Hyundai Kona Electric, but there are two capacities (and therefore two prices and ranges) to choose from: 289km for $69,990 or 455km at $76,990.
Toyota RAV4: from $43,490, 4.8l/100km
We really rate the RAV4 Hybrid, especially in terms of green credentials.
It’s one of the larger medium-sized SUVs out there, but with Toyota’s hybrid system on board it still returns sub-5l fuel economy. Our time with a long-termer showed you really can achieve that day-to-day as well.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: from $52,490, 1.9l/100km
The Outlander Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) can run 55km on pure-electric power, which contributes to an incredible fuel economy test figure of 1.9l/100km.
Back in 2013, the Outlander was the first plug-in SUV on the market, and it’s still somewhat unique in combining medium-SUV size with plug-in tech at a mainstream price.
Mini Cooper S E All4 Countryman: from $59,990, 2.5l/100km
The Countryman is another PHEV, with 42km pure-electric range. It combines a three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine (front wheels) with a battery and electric motor (rear wheels) to make a compact AWD SUV. A fun one, too.
Lexus UX 250h: from $63,300, 4.5l/100km
The UX is Lexus’s entry into the booming premium compact-SUV segment, against Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
But the hybrid-engine option (with AWD) gives the Japanese maker a unique selling proposition and being Toyota tech, it works really well.
Hyundai Kona Electric: from $78,990, BEV
One of the most highly regarded BEV models out there, the Kona Electric looks relatively expensive next to conventional Kona models – but it’s great value by EV standards, offering a real-world range in excess of 400km. It’s got impressive battery technology and it’s great to drive as well.
Hyundai just achieved a big milestone with the Kona Electric, too: 100,000 produced globally.