Most SUVs are now more about a raised ride-height and huge luggage capacity than heavy four-wheel drive systems and chunky differentials.

Not only does this mean that they’re more affordable than ever, but it also allows certain models to achieve fuel economy figures you wouldn’t believe.

Another advantage of shopping in the SUV segment is the diverse choice on offer, from small but tough city cars on stilts to bona fide off-roaders with trick traction control systems.

Here are AutoeBid’s favourite frugal SUVs, all available with substantial savings off list price thanks to our unique dealer reverse auction arrangement.

Nissan Qashqai


New on the block and already taking plaudits by the bucket-load, Nissan’s brand new second-generation Qashqai is available with a 1.5-litre diesel engine that returns a combined 74.3mpg and is free of road tax.

You don’t get four-wheel drive in the most economical model, but that diesel engine is surprisingly refined and the overall package could hardly be more convincing.

Mercedes Benz GLA


Essentially a taller version of the A-Class, the new GLA-Class has been praised for being an excellent all-rounder. Buyers get space, practicality and brand appeal in a reasonably priced compact SUV.

The diesel 200 CDI version plays a healthy 134bhp off against a combined fuel economy of 62.8mpg and carbon dioxide emissions of just 119g/km.

Suzuki S-Cross


The new S-Cross does the basics well. It’s cheap (even more so with AutoeBid) and it offers class-leading boot space – two big bases covered for buyers looking for practicality on a budget.

While diesel models are more expensive, the front-wheel drive version manages a combined 67.2 mpg and 110g/km carbon dioxide emissions, so it’s also inexpensive to run.

Volvo XC60


Arguably the most handsome car on this list and certainly one of the safest, the Volvo XC60’s generous proportions also give it an advantage both in space and visibility.

Those after frugality will gravitate towards the D4 Start/Stop version, which delivers 181bhp at little cost to economy. A combined 64mpg is quoted for the big, undeniably desirable Volvo.

Mazda CX-5


Criminally underrated, the CX-5 is a match for any SUV when it comes to performance, build quality and fuel economy. Along with excellent road manners, it represents the excellent value that Japanese brands are often associated with.

The popular front-wheel drive (four-wheel drive is available) 2.2D delivers a torquey 150bhp yet returns 61mpg. The best part is that it still takes only 9.2 seconds to hit 60mph.

Ford EcoSport


This is new ground for the Blue Oval and an attractive proposition for drivers who want to sit high on the road but don’t want the worry of driving a car with epic dimensions.

Like the Fiesta it’s based on, the EcoSport is fun to drive. The cleanest diesel also returns 61.4mpg and emits 120g/km carbon dioxide.

Honda CR-V


Although its fellow countryman, the Mazda CX-5, is probably the better buy (only just), the Honda CR-V still deserves a look thanks to extremely high fuel economy and a well-sorted chassis.

Honda’s bulletproof 1.6-litre i-DTEC engine helps the junior SUV return 62.8mpg with carbon dioxide emissions of 119g/km. The only problem is that power output is a weedy 118bhp compared to the Mazda’s 150bhp.

MINI Countryman


The largest MINI may be an acquired taste but there’s a reason why it’s so popular. It could be something to do with the fact that it offers all the best things about the hatch (‘being small’ was an attribute lost some time ago) but with more practicality and a raised ride-height.

The Countryman One Diesel also returns excellent fuel economy, at 64mpg combined, although some of the fun is lost with a lethargic 0-60mph time of 12.9 seconds.

Fiat Panda 4x4


Just about as junior as an ‘SUV’ can get, the beefed-up Panda is nonetheless one of our favourite cars in any segment. It’s just so much fun to drive, and this version comes with better visibility and genuine four-wheel drive.

To maximize economy buyers will have to opt for the 1.3-litre Multijet diesel unit Fiat offers. It’s good for an impressive 67.3mpg although carbon dioxide emissions of 125g/km are some way off the numbers the two-cylinder ‘TwinAir’ engines the company offers return.

Skoda Yeti


Like the little Fiat, this Skoda probably shouldn’t be on this list. It is because the combination of build quality, practicality and economy is all but unbeatable. It also comes with four-wheel drive, making it one of the best utilitarian vehicles on sale.

Skoda’s ‘Greenline’ sub-brand provides the goods, with the 1.6 TDI CR 106 Outdoor returning 61mpg. Do not, whatever you do, let the badge put you off – this is one of the finest vehicles in its broad class.

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