Best 4x4 Cars

13 minutes Published: 24/11/2020
Alasdair Cherry

Do you have your heart set on a capable four-wheel drive? Do you need something suited to bumpy rural roads and challenging off-road terrains? With powerful engines and expert handling, 4x4 cars make light work of cross-country journeys - they offer practicality and versatility in one rugged package. 

The four-wheel drive provides torque to all four wheels simultaneously, giving you maximum control on any terrain compared to rear or front wheel drive alone, while the high driving position gives you the best view of the road so you know exactly what move to make next. Whether you choose a 4x4 with automatic transmission so you can pay closer attention to other aspects of your driving experience, or a manual gearbox for a more finely tuned and controlled drive, you’ll find the best car for off-roading right here.

To give you a helping hand, we’ve compiled the best 4x4 vehicles on the market here.

Is the weather where you are a bit unpredictable? Check out our best cars for snow. Need a car that can do all the heavy lifting? Look at our best cars for towing. If you want a car that has the high drive position of a 4x4 but you don’t necessarily need all the added off-roader features, check out our best SUV cars.

Compare the best 4x4 cars of 2020

1. Range Rover Sport Estate

RRP: £61,395 - £112,685 | From £575.76 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 5.0
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: SUV
  • Drive: A
  • CO2: 374g/km

Of course we have to start off the list with a Land Rover - the Range Rover Sport! Arguably the best in the Range Rover class for off-road ability, you couldn’t be in better hands. Since its humble beginning in 2005 as a more athletic version of the Land Rover Range Rover, this model has continued to wow over the years. It’s a little pricier than other 4x4s but the Range Rover Sport offers a pretty luxurious ride as far as off-road cars go!

With a choice of powerful supercharged or turbo engines, the Range Rover Sport has the strength to tackle the roughest of roads. The automatic transmission allows you to focus all of your attention on the road while still enjoying a smooth ride.

Available as a 5 or 7 seater, the Range Rover Sport is ideal for larger families who live out in the sticks - the school or supermarket runs are comfortable, with excellent air suspension technology that cushions the blow from even the bumpiest of roads.

Although the Range Rover Sport hasn’t been tested by NCAP, its older sister the Range Rover has and received a full 5 star rating for safety.

2. Audi Q7

RRP: £56,715 - £94,660 | From £544.31 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 6.0
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: SUV
  • Drive: A
  • CO2: 309g/km

Audi vehicles are the epitome of class and quality, making driving in style effortless while navigating rocky roads.

The Audi Q7 is kitted out with an electronically regulated adaptive air suspension system to cushion you from harsh terrains. You can fine tune your driving experience with the Q7’s manual gearbox and a choice of powerful petrol engines or diesel engines, perfect for long choppy journeys.

Even with 7 seats and plenty of passenger space, the Audi Q7 is lightweight and agile for multi-purpose driving that includes the whole family. If you’re in need of a car with a high driving position, the Audi Q7 gives a great view of the road ahead, although it’s not as high as other SUV 4x4s. It is, however, one of the best cars for tall people!

The Audi Q7 ranks highly for safety with an NCAP score of 5 stars out of a possible 5.

3. Jeep Wrangler Hard TOP

RRP: £38,620 - £49,620
  • Doors: 2 - 4
  • Engine: 4.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 325g/km

When it comes to off-road supremacy, the Jeep Wrangler deserves plaudits. With its iconic square body, the Wrangler bears a slight resemblance to the Mercedes G-Class (more expensive) and the Suzuki Jimny (cheaper).

Jeep offers the original off-roader experience. With removable windows and doors, you can fill the cabin the rawest of the British countryside air.

The Wrangler front suspension can adapt readily to the road, evening out the impact of the road. Its engine power is decent but you may expect more from something in the Wrangler’s price range.

It has a high ride height for a better view of the road however, it’s not the ideal vehicle for six footers as it can be a bit of a squeeze to fit in. The safety of the Jeep Wrangler is questionable as it only received 1 star out of 5 stars.

4. Mercedes G Class

RRP: £91,875 - £113,765 | From £1,129.67 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 4.0
  • Fuel: D, P
  • Body: SUV
  • Drive: A
  • CO2: 299g/km

Who would have thought that a 1970’s Mercedes military vehicle would stand the test of time and reinvigorate itself as a top of the range SUV? It’s not the most affordable 4x4 out there but with 5 large seats, it certainly is one of the most spacious and pleasurable to drive.

The Mercedes G-Class operates a powerful engine giving you the utmost precision in your driving experience. Three different locking differentials prevent the front and rear wheels from spinning on more challenging surfaces. Special driving modes have been installed into the new model to assist with any terrain if you fancy a jaunt up the mountains Mario Kart style.

Better suited to off-road driving, you may find the G-Class becomes jolty on motorways and urban streets. The manual gearbox transmission, soft suspension and high ground clearance on the G-Class is ideal particularly on more challenging terrains. The G-Class ranks highly for safety with an NCAP score of 5 out of 5.

5. BMW X5

RRP: £57,590 - £76,335
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 4.8
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 356g/km

A BMW never fails to impress. From its first release in 1999, the BMW X5 has flourished into its third generation becoming the world’s most popular SUV. Lightweight and nippy and with a powerful diesel or plug-in hybrid engine, the X5 thrives on bumpy off-road journeys as well as smooth city streets.

With air suspension as standard, the X5 provides comfort even on the most challenging of terrains. A high driving position and 7 seats provides visibility and comfort for everyone on board making it an excellent choice for a family SUV. The automatic transmission lets you pay more attention to the other aspects of your driving experience without lessening the quality.

You can be reassured your passengers are in safe hands with the BMW X5 scoring NCAP score of 5 out of 5!

6. Ford Ecosport

RRP: £17,075 - £23,135 | From £211.97 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 1.5
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 149g/km

The Ford EcoSport is an impressive SUV version of the Ford Fiesta. Now in its third generation as a crossover car, the hatchback body style makes the EcoSport slightly less spacious than other 4x4s and small SUVs on the market. 

What the EcoSport lacks in space, it makes up for in precision and handling. With hard suspension, Ford places more emphasis on handling than comfort but this small car with a high driving position, you get a better view of the roads - on and off. The manual gearbox transmission also gives you more refinement over your driving experience.

The Ford EcoSport has a less powerful engine than most other 4x4s currently available so can be considered as a good entry-level SUV 4x4. Other 4x4s are better suited to off-road driving but the Ford EcoSport definitely gives its best shot. The EcoSport scored 4 out of 5 for the NCAP rating.

7. Land Rover Discovery

RRP: £45,340 - £66,840
  • Doors:
  • Engine:
  • Fuel:
  • Body: SUV
  • Drive:
  • CO2:

If you’re looking for a car with sheer power and impeccable off-road ability look no further than a Land Rover. This family-friendly SUV has built quite the reputation since its introduction twenty years ago. 

The Land Rover Discovery does it all - 7 seats, a powerful diesel engine, and the know-how to tackle anything laid in its path. Utilising Land Rover Air Suspension and automatic transmission, the Discovery can easily take on even the choppiest of roads. A high driving position gives you an optimum view of the road for more precise driving decisions. 

The Discovery is an ideal family car for those who want a lot of space, interesting features (like high-end infotainment systems) and a smooth drive although running costs can be a little bit high. The Discovery is one of the best cars for dogs if you want to bring a canine companion on the go.

Your little darlings (and dogs) will be in safe hands with the Land Rover Discovery as it received 5 out of 5 on the NCAP rating.

8. Mitsubishi Outlander

RRP: £26,795 - £46,005 | From £295.60 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 2.4
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: A, M
  • CO2: 40 - 240g/km

The Mitsubishi Outlander is one impressive SUV. The plug-in hybrid electric variation is Britain’s top-selling plug-in hybrid SUV! Built for family versatility and flexibility, this spacious 7 seater Mitsubishi model impresses far beyond this. 

With a high ride height and performance suspension, you’ll have a great view of the road and a smooth ride while viewing it! With an NCAP rating of 5 out of 5, you can relax knowing you’re in safe hands. 

The manual gearbox transmission of the Outlander gives you more control over your vehicle on a variety of terrains. The Outlander’s engine isn’t the most powerful in comparison to other 4x4 SUVs but it’s almost unbeatable in charm.

9. Skoda Karoq

RRP: £20,660 - £33,455 | From £199.19 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 109 - 156g/km

You may be surprised that Skoda produces some exemplary 4x4s. This midsize crossover makes for the perfect family 4x4. Boasting practicality with a spacious interior and multi link suspension for a smoother ride, the Skoda Karoq is a best seller among families. 

The Karoq provides an agile driving experience with good body control, which provides confidence and security. You can rest easy knowing that the Skoda Karoq received 5 out of 5 on the NCAP ratings meaning your little darlings will be safe and sound on and off-road.

Ride height with the Karoq is reasonable however not as high as other 4x4s available, and there are more powerful engines than what you’ll get with the Karoq but the manual gearbox transmission gives you more refined control over your driving experience. 

10. Suzuki Jimny

RRP: £14,914 - £19,389
  • Doors: 3
  • Engine: 1.3
  • Fuel: P
  • Body: SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 154 - 189g/km

A true Suzuki off-roader in every sense of the word. The Suzuki Jimny is delightfully unique in both shape and style. A retro and budget looking version of the Mercedes Benz G-Class, this box shaped classic 4x4 has its niche, and if your niche is a quirky, unpretentious, dirt-cheap off-roading machine, then you’ll love the Suzuki Jimny.

With a high driving position you get an excellent view of the road ahead for more precision, and rigid axle suspension allows the Jimny to glide through challenging terrains with ease. To be completely honest, the Suzuki Jimny is better suited to off-road driving than on road as you won’t be able to feel the true nature of this 4x4 on a city street.

The engine of the Jimny isn’t the most powerful one you’ll find for this low a price and it only ranked a 3 out of 5 for its NCAP safety rating. The Jimny can be a bit of a squeeze for anyone wanting to hop in the back to join in the fun but the character of this nippy vehicle is outstanding.

11. Toyota Land Cruiser

RRP: £31,940 - £56,455
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 2.8
  • Fuel: D
  • Body: SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 256g/km

The ultimate 4x4 for off-roading is none other than the impressive Toyota Land Cruiser. This spacious 5 to 7 seater Toyota offers plenty of space for passengers and luggage!

In the Land Cruiser you’ll be above everyone else - literally! With a high driving position you can watch over the road ahead and make more precise movements. Toyota’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System makes the Land Cruiser the ideal companion for going off-road without feeling every lump and bump on the terrain.

The automatic transmission also gives you the opportunity to focus your attention on other aspects of the drive without missing out on a refined driving experience. To top it all off, the Land Cruiser comes with a reasonably powerful engine that’s easy to handle and although the Land Cruiser hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP, it’s not hard to imagine that it would perform well due to its sturdy body and seven airbags.

12. Volkswagen Tiguan Estate (2016)

RRP: £22,325 - £39,495
  • Doors:
  • Engine:
  • Fuel:
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive:
  • CO2:

The Volkswagen Tiguan is Volkswagen’s best selling model with over 6 million units sold worldwide. With a powerful engine and spacious interior, it’s easy to see why!

The Tiguan’s manual gearbox transmission allows for a more finely tuned driving experience and the sports suspension smooths over bumps and divots in the road while also being firm enough to avoid rattling around too much on tricky terrains. The Tiguan is one of best cars for high driving positions.

If you’re looking for a 4x4 with a powerful engine, you’re probably better considering a different model as the Tiguan’s engine isn’t the most powerful engine available in this price range. However, if safety is big on your checklist, you’re in luck! The VW Tiguan scored 5 out of 5 on the NCAP ratings.

13. Dacia Duster

RRP: £9,730 - £19,100 | From £180.86 per month to lease
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 1.6
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 185g/km

This adventure-seeking Dacia SUV is capable of tackling any terrain. The dazzling Dacia Duster punches well above the weight of its incredibly affordable price tag. Compact yet spacious, the Duster is an absolute steal if you’re looking for a hassle-free, budget-friendly 4x4.

After a re-styling on the 2017 model, the Duster has a high driving position for a better driver perspective and precision. Although the engine isn’t one of the most powerful, it is definitely decent for the price range. The torsion beam rear suspension leaves much to be desired in this compact SUV however the Duster can still confidently tackle off-road terrains - just don’t expect too much comfort.

Safety also doesn’t rank highly with the Duster only receiving an NCAP score of 3 out of 5.

14. Fiat Panda

RRP: £8,845 - £17,530 | From £161.28 per month to lease
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 1.4
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 155g/km

This charming little Fiat 4x4 has plenty to offer. Best suited for extra precise and controlled driving on road rather than off-road, the Fiat Panda has a huge personality in a small package.

The engine is powerful in proportion to the Panda’s size but don’t let it’s appearance fool you - this car is like the Tardis! The Panda doesn’t have a particularly high driving position so it is perfect for those who are looking for something more compact than a standard 4x4.

Manual gearbox transmission lets you take greater control of the car's movement and the extra strength suspension makes for reliable and quick braking and smooth riding on road.

If safety is of top priority, then the Fiat Panda is not for you - it scored 0 stars in the Euro NCAP crash test.

15. Land Rover Defender

RRP: £41,155 - £83,530
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine:
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: SUV
  • Drive: A
  • CO2: 228g/km

The Herculean Land Rover Defender is a force to be reckoned with. Offering a powerful engine to get you through those tough off-road terrains. Embodying Land Rover’s image of durability and quality the defender can take on any terrain using air suspension to cushion the blow of bumpy terrain. 

You’ll be able to fit the entire family comfortably in a Land Rover Defender with 6 seats and plenty of space for luggage in the boot! The automatic transmission frees up your attention for other aspects of your driving experience and the high driving position provides optimum road viewing. 

The Land Rover Defender hasn’t been independently tested by Euro NCAP however, we can imagine it would score well given it’s sturdy body and excellent features.

16. Nissan Qashqai

RRP: £19,080 - £31,760 | From £189.72 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 208g/km

With lots of space to keep the full squad happy, the Nissan Qashqai is extremely comfortable, easy to drive, and most importantly, cheap to run! The petrol engines that are available are controllably powerful, but at the same time, peacefully quiet. The manual gearbox transmission makes for precise and comfortable handling.

The elevated driving position allows for greater visibility through the large windows making the Qashqai one of the best small cars with high driving positions. Available as a 4x4, the Qashqai is an excellent option for drivers who need 4x4 capability for the winter, but who also need to nip around town for their commute due to its rear suspension. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Nissan received a full 5 out of 5 NCAP rating for the Qashqai.

17. Volvo Xc90

RRP: £48,800 - £75,020 | From £496.79 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 4.4
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 322g/km

Innovative technology, luxurious comfort, and off-road prowess has earned the Volvo XC90 the title of one of our best 4x4 cars. Easy on the eyes like many cars from Volvo, the XC90 is an up market, family car with barrel loads of space for bags, legs, and/or Ikea furniture. The XC90 is one of the best 7 seater cars, and its sibling - the XC40 - is one of best family cars with similar features and capabilities.

Sharp and steady, the Volvo XC90 can take on a variety of terrains with its powerful engine, elevated driving position for clearer road viewing and air suspension for smooth riding without feeling all of the lumps and bumps. Utilising all wheel drive and either manual or automatic transmission, the XC90 offers ultimate control on and off-road. As if this 4x4 couldn’t get any more impressive, the XC90 received full marks on the Euro NCAP ratings!

Conclusion

4x4’s are both extremely practical and versatile vehicles. If you’re looking for an adventurous off-roader with a powerful engine to spice your weekends up, a 4x4 will fill that void perfectly.

If you want pure off-roading ability you should be swaying towards the more compact and rugged 4x4s. If your priorities are more aligned towards control and refinement, a larger SUV better suited to the roads should be your calling. Many 4x4s will provide you with better road viewing from a higher driving position, and a smoother driving experience with enhanced suspension perfectly suited to rough terrain and harsh weather.

Need a car that can tackle Britain’s riotous weather? Have a look at our best cars for snow. Tow-tally need a car that can pull its weight? Why not look at our best cars for towing. Are you considering a car that’s like a 4x4 but a bit more on road compatible? You should look at our best SUV cars.