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Best cheap 4x4 cars

In need of a cheap 4x4 or SUV? Help is at hand with this list of practical AWD cars from the second hand market

SUVs and 4x4s continue to grow in popularity each year, with almost every manufacturer now trying to get a piece of the action. Modern 4x4s combine rugged styling, all-terrain ability and great practicality with comfort and polished road manners, ensuring near universal appeal. However, they can also be expensive, leaving premium models out of reach for some customers. So to help out we've rounded up some of the best cheap 4x4s and SUVs on the second hand market.

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Buying a used 4x4 or SUV is the best way to make your money go further, with plenty of older models offering the same current-generation qualities at a much cheaper price.

There are a whole host of reasons why this might be the right path for you. With more space and versatility than hatchbacks, SUVs also have a style advantage over traditionally boxy MPVs. Four-wheel-drive can be a handy tool as well, helping you stay one step ahead of the unpredictable British weather and generally giving you more confidence on rough surfaces.

Best new 4x4s and SUVs

While some will use a 4x4 for the intended purpose of serious off-roading, at the premium end of the spectrum high-end SUVs are replacing luxury limos as the transport option of choice for celebrities and heads of state. The 4x4 has gone from utility vehicle to style statement in the space of a couple of decades.

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Whatever your budget, there’s a 4x4 or SUV out there for you, offering many of the above qualities without compromising on reliability or running costs. That is, of course, if you buy well - and the following list should help you do just that…

Dacia Duster

We found: 1.5 dCi Lauréate 4x4 (2014/64-reg, 85k)Price new: £13,440  Now: £3,995Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl, 108bhp  Economy: 56.5mpgCO2: 130g/km  Euro NCAP: 3 stars (2011)

The Duster was updated in 2018, but it didn’t lose the personality that made this no-frills SUV such a hit – which is why the pre-facelift car is still a great used buy.

For less than £4,000 you can get a top-spec Lauréate. While lesser models have hardly any kit, this car offers toys such as Bluetooth, air-con and a stereo.

So while it was once the pricey option in the range, the creature comforts now make it the one to go for. It’s low-rent inside, but there’s plenty of space and a dependable 108bhp diesel engine for decent fuel economy.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross

We found: 1.6 DDiS SZ-T (2013/63-reg, 82k miles)Price new: £19,499  Now: £5,250Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 118bhp  Economy: 67.2mpgCO2/tax: 110g/km  Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2009)

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It’s not the prettiest SUV, but the Suzuki SX-4 S-Cross is a simple, relatively efficient choice with great all-weather performance, due to an effective four-wheel-drive system. We ran one on our fleet in 2014, and it impressed with its solid feel and lack of gimmicks. The 430-litre boot is practical, while six-footers can comfortably fit in the rear.

The small diesel engine is punchy and fuel economy is respectable. So if you need a small SUV that’s reliable and cheap to run, the SX4 S-Cross is a great alternative.

Hyundai Santa Fe

We found: 2.2 CRDi CDX (2008/57-reg, 84k miles)Price new: £22,820  Now: £3,495Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl, 155bhpEconomy: 38.7mpgCO2/tax: 191g/km  Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2006) 

In 2007 Hyundai was on its way to becoming a serious rival to the mainstream European and Japanese firms, and it was the Santa Fe that led the charge.

Admittedly, it lacked the sophisticated driving manners of the class leaders, but it made up for that by being great value for a large SUV that offered up to seven seats, a strong diesel engine and lots of equipment. The same applies as a used buy today, where the Santa Fe makes for a fine family 4x4.

Volvo XC60

We found: 2.4 D4 SE Lux AWD (2013/13-reg, 78k)Price new: £34,660  Now: £10,500Engine: 2.4-litre 5cyl, 161bhp  Economy: 53.3mpgCO2/tax: 139g/km  Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2009)

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Before the sharply styled new Volvo range arrived, the original XC60 was one of the best mid-sized SUVs on sale. Its mix of smart design, a relaxed driving experience, fine practicality and class-leading safety made it a brilliant buy.

Family car rivals such as the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 are sharper to drive, but the XC60 can still hold its own on a twisty road. The raft of cutting-edge safety tech is a big draw, too, even if economy isn’t the best. The Volvo is a perfect long-distance proposition as well, with supple suspension, fantastic seats and an interior that still has a high-quality feel, even if the design now trails rivals’.

Toyota Hilux

We found: 3.0 D-4D Invincible D-cab 4x4 (2014/14-reg, 109k miles)Price new: £26,250Now: £11,995Engine: 3.0-litre 4cyl, 169bhpEconomy: 32.8mpgCO2: 227g/kmEuro NCAP: N/A

Invincible by name, invincible by nature, the seventh-generation Toyota Hilux is one of the toughest pick-ups on the road. It’s at its best when equipped with the muscular 3.0-litre diesel powerplant, with which it can tow up to 2,500kg and carry a 1,060kg payload.

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Switchable 4WD and a low-range gearbox ensure it’s capable off road, too. On the smoother stuff, it can feel a little agricultural, but for barely £12,000 little else can take on any job with so little fuss. Brilliantly dependable.

Range Rover Sport

We found: 3.0 SDV6 HSE (2013/13-reg, 76k miles)Price new: £59,520Now: £14,990Engine: 3.0-litre V6, 292bhpEconomy: 37.7mpgCO2: 199g/km Euro NCAP: N/A

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For some people, the Range Rover Sport is the ultimate large SUV. Bold, chunky looks, a classy cabin and that desirable badge all add up to a car that’s a tempting alternative to the typical German offerings. It’s practical, too, with loads of space inside, and seating for seven people if you find an example with this option.

However, the five-seater is better value and more common, and we’d go for the 3.0-litre V6 diesel. The torquey unit is ideally suited to relaxed cruising, and is much cheaper to run than the supercharged V8 petrol. Priced at nearly £60,000 when new, examples of the Range Rover Sport from 2013 are now available on the used market for a little below £15,000.

Land Rover Discovery

We found: SDV6 HSE (2012/61-reg, 65k miles)Price new: £50,405Now: £16,000Engine: 3.0-litre V6 diesel, 253bhpEconomy: 32.5mpgCO2: 230g/kmEuro NCAP: N/A

SUVS don’t come much more capable. For 2012, Land Rover boosted its twin-turbo V6 diesel to 253bhp and 600Nm of torque which, coupled with excellent 4WD and Terrain Response, lets the Discovery tackle any terrain.

As a motorway cruiser, it has a supple and compliant ride, and it does a reasonable job of hiding its bulk in corners. Inside, the top HSE blends luxury and rugged practicality – and don’t forget its seven-seat layout.

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