Snapshot – SUVs were once known for being gas guzzlers and lousy handlers at higher speeds. The monocoque chassis construction and the front wheel drive layout has changed all that, and then some. The SUVs of today, especially the ones in the compact classes, can claim to be as fuel efficient as some of the comparably sized sedans. Here are five such vehicles that offer great fuel efficiency along with the traditional SUV strengths of high ground clearance and a commanding driving position.
The diesel powered Ford EcoSport tops the fuel efficiency charts, with a stellar 22.7 Kmpl mileage figure, ARAI certified of course. The 1.5 liter TDCI turbo diesel engine tuned to output 89 Bhp-204 Nm isn’t the most high tech piece of motor wizardry around, but the 8 valve, SOHC head equipped mill is an under stressed unit that loves munching the miles by the thousands. With just enough pep to keep things entertaining enough, this engine also has low turbo lag as its other distinct advantage. The EcoSport is also available with two other engines – a naturally aspirated 1.5 liter Ti-VCT petrol mill and a 1 liter-3 cylinder EcoBoost turbo petrol unit.
Like the Ford EcoSport, the Nissan Terrano’s 85 PS diesel variant uses the 1.5 liter K9K turbo diesel engine is a relatively mild state of tune, which is in between the engine’s 65 Bhp-160 Nm base tune and the 108 Bhp-248 Nm top tune. Like the 1.5 liter TDCI Ford unit, the K9K mill is a low tech unit, making do with a fixed geometry turbo charger and an 8 valve-SOHC head. These concessions allow the engine to eke out an impressive 20.5 Kmpl fuel efficiency number. The Terrano is essentially a re-skinned Renault Duster that most people find more attractive. If looks plus fuel efficiency matters to you, along with ample ground clearance and a bad road annihilating ride quality, the Terrano Diesel might just move your cheese.
Renault Duster AWD
Four wheel drive systems sap fuel efficiency and add weight, not so much the new generation all-wheel drive (AWD) systems. The Renault Duster AWD is the only compact SUV that uses such a system in India, and the new generation technology that allows the vehicle to drive in front wheel drive mode in most situations, resorting to AWD only when the situation demands, helps fuel efficiency in a big way. The Duster AWD with the 1.5 liter K9K diesel motor outputting 108 Bhp-248 Nm is actually more fuel efficient than the front wheel driven variant, with a 19.72 Kmpl mileage number. Independent rear suspension, revised gear ratios, and additional safety equipment make the Duster AWD a value buy. The Duster AWD is also available with three other engine options.
The Skoda Yeti is the costliest and most powerful SUV in this list, and also the one with the most comprehensive set of features. Yet, the 2 liter TDI turbo diesel engine that powers this compact SUV is frugal enough to make the cut into this list. The Yeti manages a 17.6 Kmpl fuel efficiency figure, in 4X4 mode and with the 2 liter TDI motor outputting 138 Bhp-320 Nm. In 4X2 mode and the diesel engine tuned for 108 Bhp-250 Nm outputs, the Yeti does marginally better with 17.72 Kmpl mileage figure. Like the Duster AWD, the Yeti uses a Haldex clutch equipped all wheel drive system. A raft of safety features and creature comforts also make the Yeti a very safe and comfortable monocoque SUV.
The Quanto is a sub-4 meter, compact SUV that’s fashioned out of the Xylo MPV. Despite having a ladder frame chassis that makes this SUV the heaviest (1,640 Kg kerb weight) in this list, Mahindra’s first ever twin scroll turbocharger equipped triple cylinder diesel motor keeps the fuel efficiency number respectable. The Quanto finishes with a 17.1 Kmpl ARAI certified fuel efficiency number. The Quanto’s 1.5 liter turbo diesel motor outputs 98.6 Bhp of peak power and 240 Nm of peak torque. A 7 seat layout makes the Quanto the topper in this list as far as carrying capacity is concerned.