Owners of SUVs are spending hundreds of pounds more than other motorists to fuel their cars every year, a new study has found.
SUVs and crossovers have seen an explosion in popularity over the last 10 years, stealing sales from traditional hatchback, saloon and estate markets.
But an investigation by Which? has revealed that drivers are paying a handsome price for keeping up with the Joneses.
According to its testing, the drivers of even the smallest crossovers, such as a Nissan Juke or Ford Ecosport, pay £130 extra in fuel every year. And for drivers of the largest SUVs, such as a BMW X5, that rises to more than £400.
The Which research compared the official economy figures across a range of classes of SUVs and similar-sized cars and used an average miles per year figure of 9,700 (8,400 for the small car/SUV classes) to calculate the difference.
Big cars, big bills
It found that owners of large SUVs were hardest hit by increased fuel costs. Those who drive models such as the Volvo XC90 and BMW X5 spend an average of £1,561 a year on fuel – £409 more than the owners of large estates such as the Ford Mondeo or BMW 5 Series Touring and £331 more than those with large people carriers such as the Seat Alhambra or Ford Galaxy.
The large cars were also £182 a year cheaper than even mid-sized SUVs.
Mid-sized models such as the best-selling Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage were found to cost an average of £1,276 to fuel per year – £199 more than equivalent estate cars such as the Mini Clubman and Mercedes CLA, and £152 more than mid-sized people carriers such as the Vauxhall Zafira.
The differences are less at the smaller end of the market but small SUVs such as the Dacia Duster and Volvo XC40 still proved to be £154 a year more expensive to fuel than equivalent hatchbacks such as the VW Golf.
Compact SUVs such as the Nissan Juke were also £130 more expensive than superminis such as the Ford Fiesta.
Which? Used the official economy figures provided by the manufacturers and calculated the fuel costs based on the average price for March according to PetrolPrices.com.
Whatever you drive, you can cut your fuel costs by following our advice on driving more efficiently.