The 4x4 is back in fashion. At the start of the last decade, buyers turned their backs on large four-wheel-drive cars and SUVs due to their reputations as gas-guzzlers. But many have since cleaned up their act with much more efficient diesel engines and clever green technology – and they still retain their enormous presence on the road and impressive ability off it.
Many off road models are still bought as fashion accessories, which is fine for drivers with deep pockets. But if you want low running costs, look elsewhere. Most models in this market weigh more than two tonnes, and need large engines. They’re not as thirsty as they used to be, but owners will still be lucky to see 30mpg.
Those who choose a 4x4 can justify this expense for the peace of mind their car provides. With power going to all four wheels, an off road model has more than enough grip to keep moving through the worst snow and ice in winter, and can cope with mucky farm tracks. The most capable models have clever 4x4 technology that adjusts the suspension, engine and transmission settings to cope with the most extreme terrain, often at the touch of a button.
Many cars in this class rarely get dirty, however, with owners sold instead on the great view of the road and sense of security the elevated seating position provides. The huge dimensions usually mean plenty of interior space, too, and some models make the most of their boot size with extra rear seats that fold up from the boot floor. The vast majority of cars sold in this class run on diesel and have considerable pulling power, so 4x4s are popular with caravan owners due to their huge towing capacity. Just bear in mind that towing will hamper fuel efficiency further.
To help you choose which 4x4 is right for you, we've rounded up 10 of the best. Click the links on the left to find out more.