Best 4x4s and SUVs

Last updated: Apr 24, 2015

With summer a distant memory, a number of new and used car buyers may be considering a 4x4 or SUV for added grip in the inevitably slippery conditions to come during the winter.

Buying an SUV or a 4x4 used to mean huge compromises - the design required to make a car perform well off-road usually flew in the face of what was needed to make the car feel stable at speed. But the latest models, also referred to as crossovers or sports utility vehicles, use technology that means one needn't sacrifice refinement and comfort for that high driving position and rugged ability.

The growing market means there are lots of models to choose from, including small SUVs and family 4x4s right through to large 4x4s and seven-seat SUVs. They carn handle the tough off-road conditions, but in most cases cosset the driver and passengers as well as a conventional car.

SUVs cover all budgets, too, so our list of the UK's top 10 SUVs includes everything from the affordable Dacia Duster to the pricey, but luxurious Range Rover. So keep reading on for our rundown of the best 4x4s on sale today.

Nissan Qashqai SUV

The second generation Nissan Qashqai has successfully built on the reputation the original forged. Although it looks like a small SUV, it's far more family-friendly. In fact, it's one of the best family cars on the market, with a well-built and practical interior. There's a very efficient range of petrol of diesel engines, which make the Qashqai a very cost-effective family 4x4 to run and refined on the motorway. There's no longer a seven seat version available though (the Nissan faithful will have to turn to the Nissan X-Trail for that). But that aside, it's a model that really deserves its place as the best 4x4 or SUV on sale. Read more.

Key points

4.8 / 5
Price 
£18,265 - £28,500

Dacia Duster compact SUV

The Dacia Duster is one of the cheapest ways into SUV ownership. For less than £10,000, you can have a brand new small 4x4 with a full warranty and a surprising depth of talent. That utilitarian exterior hides a machine that is tremendously able off road, but one that's also very spacious for both passengers and luggage. There is, predictably, a price to pay for all this though. The interior plastics look cheap and dated - although it seems well built - and this isn't a car that is particularly adept at cornering with any real sophistication. And while the Duster's old Renault diesel engines are reasonably efficient, they're not very powerful and quite noisy. It scored a below par three stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests - most of its rivals are five star cars. Read more.

Key points

4.7 / 5
Price 
£9,495 - £15,995

Range Rover Sport SUV

It's easy to dismiss the Range Rover Sport as a model aimed squarely at the school run. But while there's truth in that - it's a spacious and practical family 4x4 - it's also comfortable on the road and extremely capable off the road. It also delivers the goods claimed by it's name; the first Range Rover Sport was one of the first in a new breed of sports SUVs, and the second-generation model is even better. That sleek styling hides an upmarket interior featuring swathes of leather and wood. Although space up front is good, rear passengers will find legroom a little cramped. The most popular Range Rover Sport models feature a diesel engine capable of 37mpg, but there are also high-performance models which provide sports car-like performance, with running costs to match. Read more.

Key points

4.5 / 5
Price 
£61,950 - £95,150

Land Rover Discovery SUV

The Land Rover Discovery offers an intriguing mix of abilities. Not only is it the Land Rover of choice for many remote expeditions, it's also an exceptionally practical family car with five seats as standard, but the option of seven seats. Although it's not as luxurious as the Range Rover, or as fun to drive on-road as the Range Rover Sport, the Discovery is very comfortable and feels as upmarket as its £40,000-plus price tag suggests. There are some nice touches too, like the bootlid which opens in two parts - the lower half doubles as a useful seat. Read more.

Key points

4.3 / 5
Price 
£41,600 - £59,970

Porsche Cayenne SUV

The Porsche Cayenne has courted controversy throughout its life because for many, sports cars and SUVs were really mutually exclusive terms. But those critics were proved wrong - the Cayenne really does drive like a sports car, yet it is still hugely capable off road. Despite the near super car performance offered by the Cayenne Turbo model, it’s the Cayenne Diesel that’s our top pick. It can provide a 7.3 second 0-62mph time, yet is claimed to return 41mpg. Read more.

Key points

3.9 / 5
Price 
£49,576 - £118,455

Nissan X-Trail SUV

The Nissan X-Trail might not look like a rugged SUV anymore, but the second-generation model is more of a family SUV. It partially replaced the Nissan Qashqai+2, meaning it's now the only seven seat Nissan available. It's a stylish SUV inside and out, and there's an efficient 1.6-litre diesel engine that claims more than 57mpg. Two- and four-wheel drive versions are available, and there's a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes too. Read more.

Key points

4.2 / 5
Price 
£23,195 - £31,345

Range Rover SUV

As good as the Range Rover Sport is, there's no shortage of buyers willing to spend more than £20,000 extra on the full-sized Range Rover. It's not hard to see why, because it is the first proper luxury SUV, with many buyers considering it an alternative to the opulent Mercedes S-Class. Although it's not as sporty as the Range Rover Sport, it is far more comfortable and few cars are more capable off road. Despite its size - it is huge, especially in its long wheelbase form - it is a surprisingly fuel efficient 4x4, capable of more than 37mpg in its greenest guise. Supercharged versions can reach 60mph in just over five seconds. Read more.

Key points

4.5 / 5
Price 
£74,950 - £164,600

Volkswagen Touareg SUV

The Volkswagen Touareg is a big full fat SUV that is very comfortable on the road, despite being ferociously capable off it. Those elegant looks hide a rugged four-wheel drive system that can handle any terrain thrown at it. Yet for its size, it's reasonably economical - with light use of the accelerator, you'll see 43mpg, but road tax will still cost more than £200 a year. One of it's biggest failings is that there's no seven seat version offered, but at least there's plenty of room in the remaining five seats. Read more.

Key points

3 / 5
Price 
£43,605 - £48,405

Hyundai Santa Fe SUV

The Hyundai Santa Fe combines the seven seat practicality of an MPV with the off-road ability SUV buyers expect. What it lacks in efficiency compared to its closest rivals, it more than makes up for in the practicality stakes. There’s a huge boot and loads of storage space. And with a towing capacity of 2,500kg and a trailer stability assistant system, it makes an excellent choice for caravanners. Plus it features a five-year warranty. Read more.

Key points

3.6 / 5
Price 
£27,995 - £37,110

New Kia Sorento SUV

Here’s another big, seven seat SUV with an even longer warranty. The Kia Sorento isn’t the cheapest model here to run, but that seven year warranty and a number of fixed-price service plans take the sting out of unexpected bills. There’s plenty of power from the 2.2-litre diesel engine, and while it isn’t the last word in refinement, it has plenty of oomph to make it a great tow car. There’s plenty of standard equipment, so the options list is rather short making choosing the perfect model for you pretty straightforward. Read more.

Key points

4.1 / 5