Best small economical 4x4s

  • Our pick of the best small and economical 4x4s
  • Up to 67mpg on offer with low VED tax bills too 
  • Diesel is still the king when it comes to fuel choice
  • Our pick of the best small and economical 4x4s
  • Up to 67mpg on offer with low VED tax bills too 
  • Diesel is still the king when it comes to fuel choice

While you’re unlikely to see a tall SUV with a heavy four-wheel drive system winning awards for fuel economy, 4x4s aren’t anywhere near as expensive to run as they used to be.

Pick wisely and you’ll find that small modern all-wheel drive cars can be nearly as efficient as their hatchback relatives.

To help you find a fuel-efficient small 4x4, we’ve done the leg work for you by selecting our 10 favourite small 4x4s that work off-road but still promise at least 50mpg.

Make sure you check out our Cars for Sale section, plus get a free valuation of your car. Also, head on over to our Finance section for information on funding your purchase.

Scroll down for the best small & economical 4x4s

1. Small 4x4s - Suzuki Vitara

Small economical 4x4s - Suzuki Vitara

Suzuki is synonymous with off-road prowess and the improved on-road manners of this new Vitara make it a tempting proposition as an economical small 4x4.

The Allgrip 4x4 is a capable off-road system with a choice of driving modes, including a differential lock and sport setting.

Safety is well taken care of with seven airbags, stability control, tyre-pressure monitoring, Isofix child seat mountings and hill hold control as standard. Choose SZ5 like we have and you add a radar braking system which will stop the car if it senses an imminent crash and hill descent control to that list too.

Vital statistics

  • Parkers rating: 4 stars
  • New price: £14,999 - £24,899 
  • Used price: £8,425 - £20,000
  • Our choice: Suzuki Vitara 1.6 DDiS SZ5 Allgrip 5d
  • Running costs: 67mpg and 111g/km of CO2

Read our full Suzuki Vitara review 
View the latest Suzuki Vitara cars for sale

2. Small 4x4s - Dacia Duster

Small economical 4x4s - Dacia Duster

As well as offering up to 60mpg, the Dacia Duster works out as seriously good value per mile thanks to a low asking price.

A mid-spec Ambiance Duster with the superior 1.5-litre diesel engine will only cost you £13,995 and this gains a few niceties like central locking and alloy wheels.

The four-wheel drive system is from Nissan and apportions grip between the two axles according to the road conditions. A great small 4x4. 

Vital statistics

  • Parkers rating: 3.5 stars
  • Our choice: 1.5 dCi Ambiance 4x4 5d
  • New price: £9,495 - £18,395 
  • Used price: £3,905 - £16,225
  • Running costs: 60mpg and 123g/km of CO2

Read our full Dacia Duster review
View the latest Dacia Duster cars for sale

3. Small 4x4s - Mazda CX-3

Small economical 4x4s - Mazda CX-3

Pick a Mazda CX-3 for its excellent on-road handling, grippy all-wheel drive system and generous kit levels.

All cars come with alloy wheels, air-conditioning, DAB radio, Bluetooth, cruise control, push button start and a seven-inch colour multimedia screen, but you’ll need top-tier Sport Nav to unlock the all-wheel drive option. This also gets you sat-nav, LED headlights, Bose stereo, and a reversing camera.

Best of all, the 1.5-litre diesel engine offers impressive economy of up to 60mpg - a really economical small 4x4.

Vital statistics

  • Parkers rating: 4.5 stars
  • Our choice: Mazda CX-3 1.5d Sport Nav AWD 5d
  • New price: £18,495 - £25,195 
  • Used price: £10,195 - £19,365
  • Economy: 60mpg and 123g/km of CO2

Read our full Mazda CX-3 review
View the latest Mazda CX-3 cars for sale

4. Small 4x4s - MINI Countryman

Small economical 4x4s - MINI Countryman

Stylish and surprisingly economical, the MINI Countryman trades outright off-roading ability for on-road handling, but if you only plan on traversing the odd campsite it will be ideal.

Powering the ALL4 all-wheel drive version is an uprated 1.6-litre diesel engine, which provides 112bhp rather than the two-wheel drive’s 90bhp for more muscular performance.

There’s a bit of body-lean when driving fast but the hallmark MINI agility is still there with plenty of traction too thanks to the all-wheel drive.

Vital statistics

  • Parkers rating: 4 stars
  • Our choice: 1.6 D Cooper ALL4 5d
  • New price: £16,995 - £30,730 
  • Used price: £4,840 - £21,225
  • Economy: 60mpg and 123g/km of CO2

Read our full MINI Countryman review
View the latest MINI Countryman cars for sale

5. Small 4x4s - BMW X1

Small economical 4x4s - BMW X1

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thought the original X1 was a good-looking car – yet BMW sold more than 40,000 of them in the UK.

It offered a raised ride height with the ability to tackle rugged tracks and muddy campsites, plus decent on-road handling and this second-generation car looks to build on that solid foundation.

We'd recommend the four-wheel drive 18d model which claims fuel economy of 60mpg, and produces 124g/km of CO2.

All BMWs come with sat-nav now but pick xLine trim like we have and you’ll get LED headlights, heated front seats, 18-inch alloys and off-road styling additions to the bodywork.

Vital statistics

  • Parkers rating: 4.5 stars
  • Our choice: BMW X1 SUV xDrive 18d xLine 5d
  • New price: £28,460 - £37,780 
  • Used price: £17,570 - £30,975
  • Economy: 60mpg and 124g/km of CO2

Read our full BMW X1 review
View the latest BMW X1 cars for sale 

6. Small 4x4s - Fiat Panda Cross

Small economical 4x4s - Fiat Panda Cross

Unlike other cars on our list, the Panda Cross has four-wheel drive as standard across the range, whether you pick standard trim, Cross or Cross 4x4.

Cross cars gain chunkier bumpers, a differential lock and hill descent control, and that’s where we’d spend our money.

Obviously this is quite a small car so you only get a 225-litre boot, but the compact Panda makes up for it with surprising off-road capability.

Vital statistics

  • Parkers rating: 4 stars
  • Our choice: Fiat Panda 0.9 TwinAir (90bhp) Cross 4x4 5d
  • New price: £14,605 - £18,155 
  • Used price: £4,280 - £13,735
  • Running costs: 57mpg and 114g/km of CO2

Read our full Fiat Panda 4x4 review
View the latest Fiat Panda cars for sale

7. Small 4x4s - Mitsubishi ASX

Small economical 4x4s - Mitsubishi ASX

Mitsubishi made its name with tough 4x4s and off-road commercial vehicles so it’s no surprise that the ASX is pretty handy when things get muddy.

Flying under the radar a bit, the Mitsubishi ASX may not be the first car you think of when shopping for an SUV but it comes with a huge amount of kit for the money.

For a four-wheel drive version you’ll need to pick the more efficient diesel engine (the better unit on offer) and top-spec ZC-H trim, which comes with climate control, sat-nav and leather trim.

There's a facelifted version on the way (above) which we saw at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show.

Vital statistics

  • Parkers rating: 3.5 stars
  • Our choice: Mitsubishi ASX 1.6 ZC-H 4WD 5d
  • New price: £16,254 - £28,904 
  • Used price: £4,040 - £21,640
  • Economy: 56mpg and 132g/km of CO2

Read our full Mitsubishi ASX reviewView the latest Mitsubishi ASX cars for sale

8. Small 4x4s - Nissan Qashqai

The Nissan Qashqai has been the default answer to the family car question for nearly ten years now. A high ride-height makes installing child-seats a doddle and there’s plenty of interior space, plus a big boot to store bulky pushchairs in.

Pick one with four-wheel drive and you’ve also got a capable car for when things get slippery too, whether during bad weather or while trying to get across a muddy field.

N-Connecta trim get you alloy wheels, cruise control and an around-view camera, which gives you a bird’s eye view of the car when trying to negotiate a tricky parking manoeuvre.

Vital statistics

  • Parkers rating: 5 stars
  • Our choice: Nissan Qashqai 1.6 dCi N-Connecta 4WD 5d
  • New price: £18,955 - £30,235 
  • Used price: £8,435 - £21,810
  • Economy: 55mpg and 133g/km of CO2

Read our full Nissan Qashqai review
View the latest Nissan Qashqai cars for sale

9. Small 4x4s - Skoda Yeti

Small economical 4x4s - Skoda Yeti

A long-term favourite here at Parkers thanks to its flexibility and practical 405-litre boot, the Skoda Yeti may be getting on a bit but still looks fresh and distinctive.

On top of this it offers user-friendliness and low running costs, even with the four-wheel drive model selected.

This uses the same system as the Octavia Scout and can send up to 90 percent of power to the rear wheels, plus you get a special off-road mode with hill descent control.

Vital statistics

  • Parkers rating: 5 stars
  • New price: £17,770 - £28,000 
  • Used price: £4,045 - £20,115
  • Our choice: Skoda Yeti 2.0 TDI CR (150bhp) SE 4x4 Outdoor 5d
  • Running costs: 55mpg and 134g/km of CO2

Read our full Skoda Yeti review
View the latest Skoda Yeti cars for sale

10. Small 4x4s - Kia Sportage

The new Kia Sportage looks set to improve the old car’s refinement and running costs with more economical engines, even for the all-wheel drive version.

Most eye-catching of all is the seven-year/100,000-mile warranty you get with a new Kia, plus impressive levels of equipment.

GT-Line gives you a sporty look without the associated costs, plus 19-inch wheels, front parking sensors, heated front and outer rear seats and LED headlights.

Vital statistics

  • Parkers rating: 4.5 stars
  • Our choice: Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDi GT-Line (AWD) 5d
  • New price: £18,795 - £32,525 
  • Used price: £11,775 - £27,665
  • Running costs: 54mpg and 139g/km of CO2

Read our full Kia Sportage review
View the latest Kia Sportage cars for sale

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