- Our pick of the best small and economical 4x4s
- Up to 67mpg on offer
- 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 favourite small 4x4s that work off-road but still promise at least 50mpg and are relatively cheap to buy. 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 or click to jump to your favourite:
- Suzuki Vitara
- Dacia Duster
- Mazda CX-3
- MINI Countryman
- BMW X1
- Fiat Panda Cross
- Mitsubishi ASX
- Nissan Qashqai
- Kia Sportage
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 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.
- New price: £15,834 - £25,694
- Used price: £7,070 - £20,765
- Typical used monthly cost: £174 - £512
- Running costs: 67mpg and 111g/km of CO2
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 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.
- Used price: £3,325 - £17,140
- Typical used monthly cost: £82 - £423
- Running costs: 60mpg and 123g/km of CO2
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.
- New price: £18,995 - £25,645
- Lease this car from new: From £173 per month
- Used price: £8,915 - £22,400
- Typical used monthly cost: £220 - £553
- Economy: 60mpg and 123g/km of CO2
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 1.5-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.
- Used price: £4,295 - £22,470
- Typical used monthly cost: £106 - £554
- Economy: 60mpg and 123g/km of CO2
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thought the original BMW X1 was a good-looking car – yet the company 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.
- New price: £28,210 - £36,970
- Lease this car from new: From £353 per month
- Used price: £14,600 - £29,220
- Typical used monthly cost: £360 - £721
- Economy: 60mpg and 124g/km of CO2
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.
- New price: £14,865 - £16,465
- Lease this car from new: From £190 per month
- Used price: £3,815 - £14,990
- Typical used monthly cost: £94 - £370
- Running costs: 57mpg and 114g/km of CO2
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. The new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross will replace this once stocks run down.
- New price: £19,195 - £19,195
- Lease this car from new: From £222 per month
- Used price: £3,425 - £20,565
- Typical used monthly cost: £84 - £507
- Economy: 56mpg and 132g/km of CO2
The Nissan Qashqai has been the default answer to the family car question for 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.
- New price: £19,995 - £30,645
- Lease this car from new: From £157 per month
- Used price: £7,145 - £23,885
- Typical used monthly cost: £176 - £589
- Economy: 55mpg and 133g/km of CO2
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.
- New price: £20,305 - £34,545
- Lease this car from new: From £204 per month
- Used price: £9,535 - £26,785
- Typical used monthly cost: £235 - £661
- Running costs: 54mpg and 139g/km of CO2