Best 4x4s and SUVs

Last updated: Apr 2, 2014

Choosing to drive a 4x4 used to require a certain amount of compromise, but modern SUVs have closed the gap and can now compete with more conventional family cars in most areas.

Nonetheless, driving all four wheels will always burn more fuel than driving two, and an SUV's raised suspension means it will always lean more in the corners than a normal car. The payoff is that SUVs can travel across terrain that a normal car cannot, and they also give extra grip in normal driving conditions. SUVs tend to have high towing weight, too, which makes them ideal if you regularly pull a caravan or trailer. The raised ride height is also a bonus, giving you an excellent view of the road ahead and your surroundings.

You can choose from budget options, family cars and full-blown luxury models, but for a comprehensive list of the best SUVs on sale today, keep reading for the Carbuyer top 10 best 4x4s and SUVs.

Nissan Qashqai SUV

The 2014 Nissan Qashqai has a bigger boot and more headroom than the car it replaces, and there are plenty of practical cubbyholes dotted around the cabin, too. The new Qashqai has slightly stiffer suspension than the old model, but luckily it doesn't really affect comfort too much. It's more fun to drive and interior noise (even at motorway speeds) is low. The Qashqai can return up to 57.6mpg when fitted with four-wheel drive, or more than 60mpg in front-wheel drive form. Read more.

Key points

4.8 / 5
Price 
£17,595 - £27,845

Dacia Duster compact SUV

The Dacia Duster offers excellent value for money and has a rugged charm that means it is also quite good looking. Interior quality could be better, but the cabin is very spacious and has a large 475-litre boot. The Duster uses Renault engines that can be found in other models, so should be reliable. The 1.5-litre dCi diesel is the best option, returning up to 53.3mpg when fitted with four-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive versions are available, but unfortunately all models only managed three stars for safety in the Euro NCAP crash tests. Read more.

Key points

4.7 / 5
Price 
£9,495 - £15,495

Mazda CX-5 SUV

If you want a car that is surprisingly fun to drive, yet offers all the usual SUV comforts, the Mazda CX-5 could be the car for you. The 150bhp, 2.2-litre diesel returns an impressive 61.4mpg and gets from 0-60mph in 9.2 seconds, while emissions of 108g/km are very low too. The car’s attractive exterior continues inside, where the spacious interior is stylish to look at and has sat-nav fitted as standard. The CX-5’s excellent on-road handling does slightly compromise its off-road performance, however. Read more.

Key points

4.6 / 5
Price 
£21,595 - £29,595

Range Rover Sport SUV

The Range Rover Sport is based on the full-size Range Rover, but costs £20,000 less. It’s excellent off-road and has a long list of clever technology that makes it comfortable on-road, too. The Sport’s imposing body and fancy LED lights give it a classy look, plus inside you will find a luxurious interior with plenty of headroom in the front and rear. Knee room is a little tight, but you can specify seven seats if you need to transport the whole family across a muddy field. The Range Rover Sport can manage 38.7mpg, emissions of 194g/km, and will do 0-60mph in just 7.1 seconds. Read more.

Key points

4.5 / 5
Price 
£60,005 - £81,575

Skoda Yeti SUV

Despite not being an out-and-out off-roader, the Skoda Yeti is an extremely robust crossover SUV. Its back seats can slide forwards and backwards, fold down, or be completely removed to reveal 1,760 litres of boot space. Skoda uses reliable Volkswagen engines that can return more than 50mpg, and if you go for one of the 4x4 models you'll even get some decent off-road ability. The Skoda Yeti came first (out of 150 cars) in our 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, which speaks volumes for how well-liked this car is by its owners. Read more.

Key points

4.5 / 5
Price 
£16,605 - £27,730

Range Rover SUV

No other car offers off-road ability such a luxurious a package as the Range Rover. It is a lot lighter than the old model, which means it is both faster and more economical. The basic model can manage 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds and economy of 37.7mpg, which is impressive when you consider how big this car is. The Range Rover is also loaded with technology that makes it fun on road and almost unstoppable off it, while the spacious interior is one of the best in the business. Read more.

Key points

4.5 / 5
Price 
£71,320 - £105,855

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross SUV

If you think of the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross as a cut-price Nissan Qashqai and you're not far off the mark. Family heritage includes the rugged Suzuki Jimny and Suzuki Vitara, meaning the 4x4 versions should be pretty capable off-road – though ground clearance isn't as good as a Land Rover Freelander or Mazda CX-5. The SX4 is good to drive on road, too, although our testers found the suspension was a little on the firm side, when compared to more conventional family hatchbacks. Space is decent inside, but the panoramic sunroof on top-spec models significantly hampers headroom. Read more.

Key points

4.4 / 5
Price 
£14,999 - £23,549

Land Rover Discovery 4 SUV

The Land Rover Discovery is a formidable off-roader. It can tackle family life pretty well, too, with a huge cabin and the option of seven seats, while the interior is quiet and the suspension is comfortable. The powerful 3.0-litre diesel engine means the Discovery feels fast, but economy of 35mpg is some way off the best in class. Land Rover may have a poor reputation for reliability, but the Discovery finished a credible eighth out of 150 cars in our 2013 Driver Power survey. Read more.

Key points

4.3 / 5
Price 
£35,510 - £63,265

Kia Sportage SUV

The Kia Sportage is one of the best looking SUVs on the market and is a great choice for families. It has more boot space than key rivals such as the Skoda Yeti and Nissan Qashqai and also has a cabin that is quiet on the motorway thanks to decent sound insulation. Negatives include the bouncy suspension, while the smaller diesel engines are quite slow. Four-wheel-drive Sportage model come fitted with the 2.0-litre petrol or diesel engine, and all cars get Kia’s superb seven-year warranty as standard. Read more.

Key points

4.2 / 5
Price 
£17,500 - £29,505

Audi Q3 SUV

The Audi Q3 is a premium SUV that has classy looks and a well-built interior. All Q3s come fitted with stop-start technology that means the basic car can return more than 54mpg. Add four-wheel drive and economy worsens, but not by much - and given the reassurance of added grip and all-weather stability, it's a small price to pay. List prices are high, but thanks to the car's premium badge, you can expect it to hold its value better than cheaper rivals. Read more.

Key points

4.2 / 5
Price 
£23,870 - £43,000

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