The guilt-free way to SUV ownership

It was not so long ago that you had a simple choice in life: you could be environmentally responsible or you could drive a ‘Chelsea Tractor’. Even ten years back, the thought of choosing a 4×4, or SUV, as our American cousins are gradually teaching us to say, and at the same time having a care for your car’s green credentials would have resulted in laughter and derision.

Of course, awareness, legislation and most of all, technology have come a long way over the intervening years, and today, the top manufacturers are offering luxury SUVs with highly economical petrol engines, the most advanced, low emission diesel engines, and plug-in or hybrid technology.

Luxurious, affordable and green

They are also more affordable than ever, particularly for the growing number of buyers looking at lease options. As a case in point, there are some incredible Range Rover Evoque leasing deals from Vantage, on what was the first Range Rover in the brand’s history to return more than 50 mpg.

It really does seem that today, we can get the best of all worlds. Let’s take a look at some of the top choices.

1) Range Rover Evoque

The original, and to many the best, Land Rover offerings have always been acknowledged to have top off road performance. Range Rover added luxury, and the Evoque design brought it into the 21st Century with modern sophistication, reduced emissions and the best fuel economy ever seen from the 2.2 litre turbo diesel.

2) BMW X3

The Bavarian beast that is the X3 snaps closely at the Evoque’s heels and has all the comfort and build quality that you would expect. In 2.0 litre xDrive guise, it is so superbly developed that it actually delivers better fuel economy than its smaller brother, the X1, returning more than 50 mpg.

3) Kia Sportage

The brand might not have the kudos of Range Rover or BMW, but the Sportage is a thoroughly competent SUV, and many feel the modern looks are as stylish as its more illustrious competitors. At almost half the price, yet with almost identical fuel economy, it is well worth a look.

4) Skoda Yeti

Once the butt of everyone’s jokes, the Skoda range is now the obvious choice for anyone looking for good build quality and reliability. Indeed, parent company Volkswagen has in some ways shot itself in the foot, as their Skoda offerings are every bit as good as the VWs or Audis, but at a fraction of the price. The Yeti SUV is no different, and despite looking more rugged and ready for off road adventures than the cars we examined above, its 2.0 litre TDI engine still returns 46 mpg.

5) Lexus RX 450H

Diesel engines have come a long way, but the future is electric, and is represented in our list by this remarkable petrol-electric hybrid. 45 mpg is a remarkable achievement for such a large vehicle with a V6 petrol engine, and it comes with all the quality and luxury you would expect from this premium carmaker.