Best small 4x4s

Fiat Panda 4x4
14 Jan, 2013 3:45pm

Our round-up of the 10 best small 4x4s, including the Nissan Qashqai and great-value Dacia Duster

Superior traction, performance and safety; it’s easy to see the benefits of four-wheel-drive models. The good news is that you don’t need to buy a large off-roader or expensive executive saloon to get the benefits, as there are more small 4x4s than ever before.

To begin with, narrowing down your options is pretty straight-forward. For example, do you want a traditional off-roader, a conventional hatchback or a rough and tough supermini? Cost will also play a key role, as it does in any new car purchase – but whatever your budget and whatever your needs, there’s sure to be more than one car that fits the bill.

Here we rank our top 10, to help you find the very best in the business. What separates the best four-wheel drives from the rest of the pack is advanced features that keep CO2 emissions in check. The more CO2 your car produces, the more costly it is to tax (especially if you’re running it as a company car) and the more fuel it will consume, so you’ll be paying more at the pumps.

Four-wheel-drive models typically suffer from inferior fuel economy and higher emissions than their two-wheel-drive counterparts due to the extra complexity and weight of their more advanced drivetrains but transmissions that only employ all four wheels when conditions demand it help to reduce the penalty. Either way, diesel models typically make the most sense here and features like stop-start technology are highly desirable.

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.

If a larger 4x4 or SUV is more your thing, here's our round up of the top models in that sector.

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

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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.

AEX 1334
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