Best 4x4s to buy

Best 4x4s and SUVs
15 Jan, 2014 12:30pm

From the improved Range Rover Sport to the budget Dacia Duster, these are our best 4x4s to buy

The 4x4 (also known as SUV) is a type of car that's gaining more and more fans in the UK, thanks to the great practicality, commanding driving position and all-weather ability. In the early 2000s it seemed like 4x4s and SUVs had gone out of fashion thanks to rising fuel costs, but with efficient modern engines equipped, the market for these cars is growing a lot.

Off-roading used to be the main reason for owning one, but these days they rarely leave the tarmac - but that's not so say some of these cars can't handle the rough stuff.

4x4 cars like the Range Rover offer incredible luxury and comfort, but they do come at a price - and because of the high weight the fuel economy suffers a lot as well. The engines used to power larger, more luxurious cars like the Range Rover and Land Rover Discovery tend to be on the large side, and will barely reach 30mpg in economy. 

Of course, there's always the budget option - the Dacia Duster is a fine SUV and one of the cheapest cars in the UK, too.

The improved traction offered by four-wheel drive in many SUVs gives a lot of peace of mind for owners who plan to traverse muddy tracks or country lanes, too. Plus, the increased grip from a 4x4 drivetrain means you can be more confident in snowy and icy conditions - although winter tyres are the most important factor here. Some of the top 4x4s have technology that adjusts the suspension, engine and transmission settings to cope with the most extreme terrain, often automatically and at the touch of a button.

The large size of 4x4s and SUVs means there's plenty of interior space - either to transport large families or to carry lots of luggage. Many of the top 4x4s also have a third row of seats that folds away into the boot floor, so you can choose between seating and luggage space when you need it.

Thanks to the big diesel engines in these cars, they're a popular choice for those wanting to tow a caravan or trailer - the high torque of a large diesel engine is perfect for load-lugging. This does still hamper fuel economy quite a bit, though.

To help you choose which 4x4 is right for you, we've rounded up 10 of the best. Click the links on the left or the next page link below to find out more. Or, for an alternative review of the best 4x4s on the market today, visit our sister site

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I cannot believe that the BMW X cars do not make the list...... someone was asleep at the helm when this Top 10 list was put together

This list seems to put fashion over mudplugging. Now let's rearrange the things a little bit.
1. Land Rover Defender
2. Land Rover Discovery 4
3. Toyota Land Cruiser
4. Range Rover
5. Mitsubishi Shogun
6. VW Touareg
7. Jeep Grand Cherokee
8. Volvo XC90
9. Mercedes ML
10. BMW X5/Porsche Cayenne

Surprised not to see the Dacia Duster either, if only because it's remarkable in many a way.

Putting being British ahead of reliability i see. Typical. Yes the range rover is comfortable and has a beautiful. Which is nice to admire when you're waiting for the AA truck.

Do you not believe that the best mud pluggers are the ones that combine rugged ability, luxury, relative efficiency, and every day usability? If so, the Land Rovers deserve their spot.

Though I had no idea that the Mercedes ML was so good off road?

I don't see many people buying Mercedes ML, BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne for off-roading. Mercedes ML and Porsche Cayenne GTS are insanely fast on road and that's where their owners keep them. Volvo XC90 and VW Touareg are okay for basic off-roading but no more. For pure off-roading my pick from this list would start from Land Rover Defender or Toyota Land Cruiser and would include Mitsubishi Shogun and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Is that the same Jeep Grand Cherokee that failed the moose test this year, and deemed as highly dangerous by teknikensvarl.? (have a look on youtube). As for 4x4's I'll take a 4x4 skoda yeti over this lot anyday.

I agree with you. Personally I would prefer a Range Rover or Disco 4. Don't think you can beat their huge range of abilities while still looking classy yet unrestrained.

Yeah, and along the same lines, and what about the Panda 4x4? It depends whether it's a list of the best big SUV's or best four by fours taking into account price, too.

I drive a 4x4 (OK a honda CRV) just because its VERY reliable,VERY comfortable all the time andI have no concerns whatever the weather - I also like the view :)
PS I also like the fact that my dinky little 4x4 also upsets some toyota pious drivers;)

BMW X5 sport best car of all for me.

Yes, low range gives awesome off road ability, coupled with ground clearance ( best to have air suspension) body except farmers have access to this type of terrain so what's the point. You're lugging around 2.5-3t of car at 25mpg just incase. Freelander 2 will give 40mpg and get you further off road than you will ever need to go and handles like a well sorted saloon. I like SUV's as they are massively practical, comfortable and nowadays offer good driving and mpg. Full fat 4x4's are for the vein.

What about the rest e,g X-trail. Dacia Duster , Hyundai's , Jeep,etc If you're going to compare do it correctly.

Are those plastic pieces front & back on a Range Rover supposed to resemble a sump guard? I would imagine they would be the first bits that fall off should you take it off-road.

I had an X5 couldn't wait to get rid of it and buy a far superior XC 90 (the best 4X4 by far)

Nothing but Poseurs Jeeps, Rich folk who wanna look cool when popping down to Harvey Nicks ~ If you want a serious off road/on road Jeep then the TOYOTA HiLUX is the one. Also consider the MITSUBUSHI L200. Both are fantastic off roaders ~ I know because I've driven them up radio masts access tracks all over the Highlands and Islands.
The worst 'off roader' I've had was the old Freelander, ended up on a breakdown truck 5 times in the 2 years I had them, on the last occasion I didn't get home till 2am.

Where is the Lada Niva on this list?

They lose money like water down a drain hole. Check out the ads. Most of these black buses are driven by women (and they absolutely must be black - otherwise the blonde "sun glass wearing" mummy couldn't possible be seen at their private school, of which many are struggling to pay the fees) have private plates to hide the fact that they are worth less than £20k.. not £60k. The new ones are all leased, not purchased. It's all about school gate & supermarket car park snobbery for most drivers of these black leviathans, with the car's abilities taking a very distant second place. BTW, if it's not a black RR then it has to be a black Q7.... otherwise you're just not in with the "in crowd" darling. Anything else, EG X5s or Discoverys are considered to be driven by poor, struggling people. Don't even approach the school if you've got an X3! Sad world.

A bit tongue in cheek? Very good all the same.

Fully agree. I've not done your kind of driving but I do know that Toyota and Mitsibishi do make the most reliable off-roaders.

its all about the Mercedes g65

Or buy toyota and get an osteopath with its rock hard suspension.

None of the BMWs are proper 4x4 ORVs ( Off road vehicles) . They lack low range gear box with differential lock. So no good for proper off road use.

Yes agreed, get a Tiguan.

Don't be silly!

Silly list which doesn't relate to most normal people. You will lose £10,000 as soon as you leave the showroom, and another £500 each time you service them.

Justin Bieber !

Some spotty 17 year old made these lists up - what RUBBISH judgments from people of NO discernment.

Where´s the Ford Kuga?

Owned some of them tried most of them (plus the new range rover and sport.) For the best mix of all benefits and features the 240 BHP Tuareg with air (Height adjustable) suspension is the best all round vehicle to own.The adaptive cruise control is also excellent but not absolutely essential if you want to economise.
20,000 Fault free miles in 15 months,fast,frugal,quiet and safe.

Prefer the Tiguan myself. Not too big on the outside, sensible running costs and great to drive.

Useless artical again from AE: where is the world's safest and efficient 4x4; the XC60? You know AE the won that YOU voted ahead of the Freelander and X5. Doesn't even get on your top ten!

Johno, I doubt you have ever driven one! Your comment is about as relevant today as “If only everything in life is was as reliable as a VW”...yeah tell that to anyone who has bought a VW in the last ten years! Land Rover is way more reliable than it was from years back.
One thing I would never accuse AE of is backing British over anything. I do think their list needed more variety and they lose more credibility when they include a Fiat Panda 4x4 and Suzuki SX4 as better than maybe an XC70,XC60 Audi All road, Land cruiser and many others. It just show how much effort they do not put into their articles!

Spot on!, I have a 12 year old CRV, SUPER SMOOTH, very reliable, zero rust, great, practical design, that just laughs at deep puddles and snow

I once towed an XC90 off a muddy field in an X5

Agree with most of that revised list..

The Land Rovers and the Rangey are all the best at what they do, it's just whether you want utilitarian simplicity (Defender), sumptuous luxury (Range), or a bit of both (Disco).

Land Cruisers are used by the UN, 'nuff said. All the rest are entry level off roaders. To be fair, I'd put a G Wagon at 5th spot.

But I disagree with 9 and 10, I'd rather have the Skoda Yeti off road than a ML/X5/Cayenne. And judgement is reserved on the Q7.

Have to agree about the CR-V. I bought a Y-reg one with 70,000 miles on it 5 years ago, and can't fault it. OK, I've had to replace the muffler system, the battery, the centre locking control and the sliding roof control, and also the tyres twice, but I've now done over 150,000 miles and it hasn't missed a beat. And I should maybe add that I live in the West Highlands!

Nissan Dualis/Quasqui must be the best balance of cost, equipment, value and lowest running costs model out there?

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Most people do not need a 4x4. If you are a farmer or you live in an area that has bad snow in winter every year, then yes it's a good idea. I laugh when I see women in them, thinking they are something special (and yes, it is mainly women that i see), yet it's usually an older model with a cheap private plate. Lol.

As a further point, I've seen light front wheel drive cars do better in snow and ice than heavy 4x4s.

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