Top 10 Most Fuel Efficient SUVs in India

India's Top 10 Highest Mileage SUVs:
Shortlisting the Contenders: Before we begin the countdown of the top 10 highest mileage SUVs in India. let us dwell upon what makes a vehicle a SUV in the Indian sense of the term. For the majority of car buyers in India, a SUV doesn't mean something which can scale mountains and valleys, but rather something which can tackle the potholes, speed-humps and the occasional unpaved roads, without the constant worry of scraping the under-body or bending a suspension strut. While at the same time these "SUVs" are expected to double up as efficient, reliable, refined, comfortable and practical family cars. Therefore, we started by shortlisting all the vehicles available in the Indian Market that had more than 180mm of ground clearance. This led straight to the elimination of some pseudo SUVs like the Volkswagen Cross Polo (ground clearance = 165mm) and Toyota Etios Cross (ground clearance = 174mm) and left us with the following list of contenders.


Top 10 Most Fuel Efficient SUVs in India on Video:



Although Scorpio's ground clearance is "officially" just 165mm, we know that it is just for the sake of getting around the tax regulations. There were also other basic 'family car' criteria that the cars should have adequately functional air conditioning, which led to the elimination of Mahindra Thar, Maruti-Suzuki Gypsy and the Force Gurkha and should at least be BSIV compliant which led to the elimination of Chevrolet Tavera.

Updated on 21st April 2015: Vitara Brezza enters the list at #1
#12. Mahindra Scorpio: 15.40 kmpl
On the last spot stands the car which literally popularised the term S-U-V in India, the Mahindra Scorpio, whose latest avatar has managed to get a 15.4 km/l mileage rating from ARAI. It is quite an achievement for a two and a half tonne behemoth. But now it has been outclassed by lighter and more advanced alternatives.
It just about managed to defeat the #12. Tata Movus (15.16 kmpl ARAI mileage) #13. Tata Aria (15.05 kmpl ARAI mileage), which was a bit like fighting for that last championship point in a F1 race.

#11. Mahindra Bolero: 15.96 kmpl
It is quite surprising that in a nation so obsessed with fuel efficiency, the best-selling SUV in the market only managed to get into a lowly 9th place with an ARAI certified mileage of 15.96 km/l. It all boils down to the outdated technology that Mahindra continues to use inside the Bolero. In spite of having a 2500cc so called common rail engine it manages to produce only 63 horsepower, which is less than what Swift's 1250cc produces. It's a crying shame that in spite of there being seven more fuel efficient SUVs being available in the market, the Bolero still continues to be the best-selling SUV in the country, with a whopping 9000 units being sold every month.

#10. Tata Sumo Gold: 16.00 kmpl

It is quite a pleasant surprise that India's old favourite, the Sumo Gold makes it to the top 10 at all. With a humongous 3000cc engine and a 1800 kg+ kerb weight getting it has still managed to outsmart the Bolero by a whisker, with an ARAI certified mileage of 16 km/l. However it has not quite managed to do that in the sales department, where the Bolero continues to outsell it in the ratio 5:1.


#9. Mahindra XUV500: 16.00 kmpl

The new Mahindra XUV500 has managed to score 16.00 kmpl in ARAI certification, thanks to the combination of it's new Regenerative Braking technology & old Micro Hybrid technology. Both are extremely effective ways of increasing the fuel efficiency in ARAI tests, although not so great for daily usage. Even so a 16 kmpl certification for a 1900 kg behemoth is no mean feat.

#8. Mahindra Quanto: 17.10 kmpl

Mahindra's mini Xylo may have turned out to be a flop in the market, but it still is the most fuel-efficient 5-seater, RWD, ladder frame SUV in India with an ARAI certified mileage of 17.1 km/l. Don't be fooled by the 7-seater claims though. The last 2 seats were put in place just because the Quanto was unable to meet the prescribed emission limits set for 5-seater vehicles.

#7. Renault Duster: 19.87 kmpl (85PS), 19.6 kmpl (110PS)

India's first mini SUV the Renault Duster really showed the market the proverbial shape of things to come. Thanks to its hatchback underpinnings based on the front wheel drive Renault/Dacia Sandero platform shared with the Logan and powered by the 1.5 litre K9K diesel engine, it proved to the buyers that SUVs didn't need to be guzzlers and that it was really possible to have the best of both worlds. It got an ARAI certified mileage of 19.87 kmpl for the 85PS version and 19.72 kmpl for the 110PS version, which was unheard of for an SUV.

#6. Nissan Terrano: 20.45 kmpl

Terrano is nothing but the Duster's brother-from-another-mother. It has the exact same mechanicals as the Duster. But then how is it that the Terrano was able to achieve an ARAI certified mileage of 20.45 kmpl, which is three quarters of a kpl more than the Duster? The answer is not because of some mechanical improvement but rather because of careful study of the ARAI homologation process and time spent in learning some tricks of the trade while the Duster's bumpers and lights were being modified.

#6. Fiat Avventura: 20.50 kmpl

Unlike Volkswagen's Cross Polo & Toyota's Etios Cross, Fiat didn't just add plastic cladding to the Punto Evo. Fiat painstakingly raised the Punto Evo's suspension to a ground clearance of 205mm and upsized the wheels and tyres as well, not to mention the intricate mechanism of an upward opening hatch mounted sideways opening spare wheel! However, in spite of having the smallest engine of all SUVs it's ARAI certified mileage is only 20.5 km/l, not good enough for the top spot on the list. It just about managed to defeat the #6. Renault Duster (19.87 kmpl ARAI mileage) #7. Nissan Terrano (20.45 kmpl ARAI mileage), which was a bit like fighting for that last championship point in a F1 race.

#5. Hyundai i20 Active: 21.19 kmpl

Since Hyundai's upcoming ix25 SUV is not sub 4-metre, it won't qualify for the excise duty cut. Which is why they needed to modify one of their existing hatches and quick! Thanks to the overwhelming response that it has received, the Elite i20 was the natural candidate. Hyundai deserves credit for not going the Cross Polo & Etios Cross way by just adding some plastic cladding to the Elite and actually putting in the effort of raising its ground clearance by 20mm, to a decent 190mm. Frankly, so much effort wasn't even expected from Hyundai. Even though the Elite's 1.4 engine isn't the most efficient engine amongst hatchbacks, it is enough to land the i20 Active in the 2nd spot, if not the 1st, with an ARAI certified mileage of 21.19 km/l.

#4. Hyundai Creta: 21.38 kmpl (1.4), 19.67 kmpl (1.6), 17.01 kmpl (1.6 AT)

The newest entrant in the Indian SUV market directly makes it to the runner's up spot on the list. With 17.01 kmpl the AT variant is the one and only SUV in the list. What Hyundai has failed to address though is the fundamental dynamics of the vehicle. That makes it inferior to the #3 i20 Active, #4 Fiat Avventura & #5 Nissan Terrano as well as less efficient than them if you consider the Creta's 1.6 litre variant.

#3. Honda BR-V: 21.9 kmpl

The newest entrant in the Indian SUV market directly makes it to the third spot on the list.

#2. Ford EcoSport: 22.67 kmpl

Ford has really delivered an outstanding package with the EcoSport. It has managed to give it 200mm of ground clearance without compromising on the dynamics, made it look like a SUV yet completely different that the hatchback it is based on and at the same time managed to fit it inside the sub 4-metre mark! But that's not all, it has also managed to put in a fantastically refined & drivable powertrain as well.

#1. Maruti-Suzuki Vitara Brezza: 24.3 kmpl

Maruti has really hit the exact sweet spot of the Indian Car Buyers needs and wants, with the Vitara Brezza. It is an incredibly well rounded vehicle too, with just the adequate amount of space, drivability, cornering ability, ride quality and refinement giving the customer absolutely no cause for complaint. But that's not all, Maruti has filled it to the brim with features and priced it almost equal to premium hatchbacks like the Elite i20. We wouldn't be surprised to see it on the podium of monthly sales charts within a couple of years.

The Real #1 & #2: Honda Mobilio & Maruti-Suzuki Ertiga

The search for the most fuel-efficient SUV does not stop at the EcoSport. It raised some very fundamental questions as to the very meaning of the term "SUV". Going by the Indian definition of the term viz. "something which can tackle the potholes, speed-humps and the occasional unpaved roads, without the constant worry of scraping the under-body or bending a suspension strut" we found some more SUVs which didn't look like SUVs, but did fulfill the requisite criteria of having more than 190mm of ground clearance. The Honda Mobilio and Maruti-Suzuki Ertiga can handle off-road terrain equally well as the #1 Ford EcoSport or #2 Hyundai i20 Active or #3 Fiat Avventura. Hence if the Mobilio and Ertiga were to be rightfully included in the list, Honda Mobilio would have been #1 with an ARAI certified mileage of 24.2 km/l and Maruti-Suzuki Ertiga would have been #2 with an ARAI certified mileage of 22.77 km/l.

An SUV in a hatchback's clothing: Fiat Punto Evo

With a ground clearance of 195mm for the Active Petrol variant and 185mm for the rest of the variants, the Punto Evo is also no less of an off-roader than the EcoSports, i20 Actives and Avventuras of this world. If it were to be added to the list, it would tie with Hyundai i20 Active for 4th place. Then it would also be by far the SUV with the best handling and ride quality on the list.

What about the Petrol SUVs? Ford EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost - 18.9 kmpl

As of today the price of Petrol is still roughly 1.25 times the price of diesel in India. Therefore even the mileage of the most fuel efficient petrol SUV, which is 18.9 km/l is equivalent to 15.0 km/l of a diesel car. This is lesser than the fuel efficiency of #10 Tata Movus and hence none of the Petrol cars makes it to the list.

Expensive Misers: Mercedes GLA, Skoda Yeti, Renault Koleos
A few expensive SUVs are also very fuel efficient thanks to their efficient engines and would have easily made it to the top 10. Mercedes GLA 200 CDI has an ARAI certified mileage of 17.9 km/l, Skoda Yeti has an ARAI certified mileage of 17.72 km/l for the 4x2 variant and 17.67 km/l for the 4x4 variant and Renault Koleos 4x2 MT has an ARAI certified mileage of 17.15 km/l. However all these cost more than 20 lakh rupees. The fuel cost over an usage of say 75,000 km is so less compared to the cost of buying and maintenance that even a difference of 2-3 km/l would hardly have any effect on their overall cost of ownership. That is why we did not include any SUVs costing more than 20 lakhs in our contenders.

The curious case of Premier Rio: 23.75 kmpl

The Premier Rio has not being forgotten. It does fulfill the criterion of having more than 180mm of ground clearance too and if it were to be included in the list, it would be at the top with an ARAI certified mileage of 23.75 km/l. But it does not have an established and dependable service network and thus doesn't fulfil the most basic criteria of being a family car. That is why it was eliminated from the list of contenders.

Life does not start and end with fuel-efficiency though. The enjoyment of driving comes from performance. Performance has traditionally been equated with power, which is why car buyers obsess over the bhp/PS number of cars. But the bhp that is mentioned is the peak Power that the engine produces at the top-end of it's rpm range. But when we drive we tend to stick to the mid-range or even the low-end. Which is why buyers and manufacturers both have started to focus more on Torque. Torque peaks at lower revs than power and has a much stronger relation to how quickly a car picks up speed at low-mid rpm than the power figure. However, heavier the car more the torque required to propel it. Which is why the torque to weight ratio is an even more useful statistic to gauge the performance feel of a car. That is why we have compiled this list of Top 10 Highest Torque to Weight Ratio Cars under 10 lakh.

Top 10 Cars with Highest Torque to Weight Ratio under 10 lakh
Fuel efficiency is not the be all and end all of a car, performance is what makes cars different than refrigerators, washing machines and all other appliances. Performance has traditionally been equated with power, which is why car buyers obsess over the bhp/PS number of cars. But the bhp that is mentioned is the peak Power that the engine produces at the top-end of it's rpm range. But when we drive we tend to stick to the mid-range or even the low-end. Which is why buyers and manufacturers both have started to focus more on Torque. Torque peaks at lower revs than power and has a much stronger relation to how quickly a car picks up speed at low-mid rpm than the power figure. However, heavier the car more the torque required to propel it. Which is why the torque to weight ratio is an even more useful statistic to gauge the performance feel of a car. That is why we have compiled this list of Top 10 Highest Torque to Weight Ratio Cars under 10 lakh. To read the list click here..

CareOCar.com - Ultimate Tyre Resource

More from CarComparos