Best 4x4s to buy

Best 4x4s and SUVs
15 Jul, 2014 11:00am

From the budget Dacia Duster to the opulent Range Rover, these are our best 4x4s and SUVs to buy

With plenty of space inside, outstanding all-weather ability and trendy jacked-up looks, 4x4s and SUVs are back in fashion in the UK, with buyers across the country choosing them. With engines getting more and more efficient, even these big, heavy models are getting cheaper to run, too.

Buyers these days are urban as well as rural, with many 4x4s and SUVs never leaving the tarmac. Potholes and speed bumps have replaced mud ruts and boulders for so many buyers that some models will struggle if it gets too rough.

Some 4x4s still have that incredible off-road ability, like the Range Rover, but these models tend to come at a price, and have high fuel costs as well. The Land Rover Discovery is another great example of a fantastic off-roader, but the engines are large, powerful, and will barely reach 30mpg in economy.

One of the cheapest cars around happens to be an off-roader, though - the Dacia Duster isn't the best on the rough stuff, but the low price and practical SUV body mean it's a great choice for some.

Four-wheel drive means that many of these cars, whether they're designed to take on mountains or just molehills, will be much better in bad weather. In snow you can expect much better traction when pulling away, but remember that a 4x4 drivetrain doesn't help stop the car - so some winter tyres are a must.

In some models the suspension, engine and transmission settings can be changed to cope with different terrain, with a setting for the car to automatically detect the conditions as well.

There's most likely going to be plenty of interior space in a 4x4, thanks to the large dimensions, and many models will also be available with a third row of seats in the back, making them solid choices as 7-seater cars. Large boots mean they're a popular choice for holiday trips, too.

Towing a caravan or trailer is a common use for these cares as well - and if that's your plan, the high torque of a large diesel engine is the best choice for load-lugging. Towing does still hamper fuel economy quite a lot, 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 Carbuyer.co.uk.

Best 4x4s 2014

1. Hyundai Santa Fe
2. Range Rover Sport
3. Dacia Duster
4. Land Rover Discovery 4
5. Fiat Panda 4x4
6. Mazda CX-5
7. Range Rover
8. Range Rover Evoque
9. Suzuki SX4 S-Cross
10. Skoda Yeti

Disqus - noscript

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).......no 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.

Wot no scooby, how about the ever-trustworthy Forester? Functional, practical and reliable, isn't that what a 4x4 is supposed to be.

Four wheel drive improves handling even on dry smooth roads - especially newer types such as Haldex series 5 with torque steering --which is standard fit to many All wheel drive vehicles.

Driving a heavy 4x4 in London maybe ridiculous but for anyone with a family and dogs , and live in the countryside, a light 4x4 or a crossover is infinitely sensible than a car.

Small, limited space, odd styling and looks cheap. Most underwhelming 4x4 i have looked at.

Different types of 4x4 for different needs. Defender is mainly used for military purposes in most countries. Too crude for any normal day-to-day use. Toyota land Cruiser is a favorite in Australia, Mid -East and South Africa where mining companies and oil drillers need to cover vast areas of unpaved roads. The list is a good one if you happen to spend 80% of time off road -- and especially if you happen to own a oil company or have your own oil well. Most people in Asia and Africa , where roads suddenly disappear in to mud tracks or have to deal with flash floods, buy a 4x4 for its high ground clearance. For the vast majority of people with a family or dogs , a cross over ( cross between a wagon and a utility vehicle) is the best compromise. If you can afford, a small city car for daily commute and a crossover for family weekend trips is the best combination.

When I drive around I am not aware -- or look at what other people drive. So your opinion of others who drive different type of vehicles is most disturbing. If you are aware of a class difference when you drive around, and notices who drives what, then you have a bigger problem than those whom you try to belittle. .

On the contrary, I'm extremely happy in my own skin. Not caring what other people think comes with age, and is a good thing. Because of that I can purchase any car (in fact, any item), and trust me, it is a nice feeling. I don't need to "don the sunglasses", behave in a certain way to try to look "cool", or buy a car with a "must have" badge, in an attempt to impress others. My observation is absolutely true, and is an unfortunate reflection of society in Britain today. With regard to cars, it is a fact, that far too many people today buy vehicles, purely on the basis of what other's may think. This is why virtually very car on the road today is either a BMW/Audi/Merc, and the private school car park is full of black 4x4s. They're like sheep. So good for you if you do not notice it, however, if you cannot see this mass pretence that is going on around you, then you are naive.

~asian

Factor in reliability and land rovers are toast.

I have had a couple. They are not very reliable. Good image thanks to good advertising though.

I have an uncle who paid over £60k for a high end Range Rover a year ago, it has spent 8 months of that in the garage being repaired or undergoing diagnostic tests to find out why it keeps breaking down.

He recently told them to stuff it and has said the vehicle is clearly not fit for purpose and requested compensation, in the mean time he bought a BMW X5, which hasn't skipped a beat and is very happy with.

Sitting in the garage or beside the road awaiting recovery.

Most individuals needn't bother with a 4x4. In the event that you are an agriculturist or you live in a range that has terrible snow in winter consistently, then yes its a decent thought.

More class warfare.

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