Best small 4x4s

Fiat Panda 4x4
3 Sep, 2014 1:00pm

Our top 10 best small 4x4s and SUVs, for those looking for practicality without the high fuel economy

SUVs and 4x4s are becoming more and more popular, thanks to their fashionable looks, practical bodies and strong reputations for safety. They're great in winter too, providing plenty of traction when you find yourself on a more slippery surface. However, a large 4x4 can be expensive to run, thanks to the high weight reducing fuel economy and raising the taxable emissions.

That's where a small 4x4 comes in - there are many to choose from these days, offering a good mix of the practicality of a larger car with the lower running costs of a small family car. There are so many that it can be tough to work out which is best - and that's why we've put together this handy list.

Start off by narrowing down your options a bit. Do you need four-wheel drive, or is it the high driving position and practicality of a 4x4 that you require? Some of these models are available with front-wheel drive, which saves you money on running costs. If you're after the extra traction of a 4x4 without the bulky body shape, try something smaller like the Fiat Panda 4x4 or Suzuki Swift 4x4.

You'll need to make a decision on the engine you'll want in your small 4x4, too: most will go for a torquey and efficient diesel, which will be the most sensible choice for most. However some small 4x4 cars can be just as cost-effective with a petrol, especially thanks to the generally higher purchase price of diesel models and company car tax can be higher, too.

Higher running costs are a small price to pay if you live in isolated rural areas because when the snow arrives, four-wheel drive could be the difference between being housebound and business as usual. So while there are trade-offs, the benefits really come into their own when the weather turns sour.

A small 4x4 will be perfect for many, but you might find yourself needing something a bit bigger. Check out our list of the best 4x4s and SUVs on sale for our top picks overall.

For an alternative view on the best 4x4s on sale check out our sister site

Best small 4x4s

1. Skoda Yeti 2. Mazda CX-5 3. Nissan Qashqai 4. Dacia Duster 5. Suzuki SX4 S-Cross 6. Kia Sportage 7. Fiat Panda 4x4 8. Volkswagen Tiguan 9. Audi Q3 10. Suzuki Swift 4x4

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I have a lada niva in south africa I see it is not rated

No, the Lada Niva, or any Lada for that matter hasn't been on sale in the Uk for over 15 years.

Mitsubishi ASX is good in the winter

The only cars remotely interesting on that list are Dacia Duster and Panda 4x4.

Don't think any of those listed has a proper transfer case or at least some low range gearing meaning they're AWD cars

And No mention of the Suzuki Jimny which is far more cable than any of those listed? Rubbish list

How can you test 10 small 4 x 4 cars without the Suzuki Jimny ? I have one and absolutely love it. Great offroad and I have no issues with driving on the road.

This is a list of modern, compact crossover SUV's. I dare say that the Jimny has certain distinct advantages off-road and it's super cheap - but that's where it ends. In no other way is the Suzuki Jimny able to compete, realisticly, with those in this list. I doubt having a low range gearbox would really benefit this class of car - besides adding to the weight, complexity and cost. Intelligent 4WD, descent control etc more than makes up for this, however, and requires no input from the driver. Anyone doubting the capabilities of crossover SUV's, such as the Kia Sportage, need to have a look on YouTube, to see what the Russians manage to do with them - there are some insane videos. For commuting through snow, getting up and down muddy lanes, most of us would manage just fine with a crossover SUV without resorting to a hugely compromised boneshaker vehicle like the Jimny. ;)

I think the Kia Sportage is a very interesting car for the money. It's nice inside, has intelligent 4wd, good kit, good looks and a 7 year warranty. And the Russians like them. LOL!

Provided you drive below 50mph at all times! ;) It's easy to fall in love with cars you own - but hand it to someone else and they won't necessarily share your enthusiasm. I've driven a Suzuki Jimny and it's firmly in the.....agricultural department. These crossover SUV's are like hatchback's on stilts. Thus they can cope with light offroading/adverse road conditions but still perform well on the road - without giving the user heart attacks on every bend.

The Mitsubishi ASX (4WD variants at least) should be on this list - even if they had to add an 11th slot. Makes more sense than the clubman to be honest.

"For commuting through snow, getting up and down muddy lanes, most of us would manage just fine with...."

any standard front wheel drive car.

It's difficult to find any current new car in the UK that is so disliked by the motoring press and at the same time so universally loved by their owners. (Suzuki Jimny).

The panda 4x4 twinair is an excellent car. The engine is not as economical as it was meant to be, but for a go anywhere car that has great ride and handling (i had the non 4 wheel drive panda), it is a great choice for the money. I could afford a premium 4x4 but why do i need to show off? That's the only reason people buy range rovers etc. To boost their own ego.

Yep. My thoughts exactly. Some people will think of any silly reason to justify buying a large 4x4.