Best 4x4s and SUVs

Last updated: Jan 7, 2016

Brace yourselves – winter is coming. Even though SUVs are quickly becoming a perennially attractive option, they certainly appeal more in the colder months.

Way back when, buying an SUV or 4x4 meant you had to compromise – the design required to make a car perform well off-road usually worked against stability at speed and good looks. However, the latest ‘sport utility vehicles’ use technology and clever design to make sure you don’t have to sacrifice comfort, safety, speed or fuel economy for that high driving position and rugged ability.

The growing demand for SUVs and 4x4s means there are a huge amount of models to choose from, including small SUVs and family 4x4s right through to off-road kings and large seven-seat options. They’re all able to tackle the rough stuff while comforting and cosseting occupants as well as a conventional car does.

SUVs can cover all budgets, from the no-frills Dacia Duster to the opulent Range Rover. If you’re in the market for a smaller SUV or ‘crossover’, we’ve compiled a separate list that aims more towards small-to-medium sized crossover SUVs. As a general rule, all cars on this particular list are medium-to-large SUVs that have (or can be specified with) four-wheel drive. So keep reading on for our rundown of the best 4x4s on sale today.

Renault Kadjar SUV

Based on the Nissan Qashqai (but also a direct rival to it), the Renault Kadjar has a lot going for it. It takes the Qashqai’s formula of a practical interior, a comfortable ride and low running costs one step further. Along with an arguably better design (from the front end, at least), one of the Kadjar’s trump cards compared to the Qashqai is its lower price. The cheapest diesel Kadjar with satellite navigation costs around £2,000 less than the equivalent Qashqai. Optional four-wheel drive will help you traverse muddy country roads if you need to. Read more.

Key points

4.8 / 5
Price 
£17,995 - £26,295

Nissan Qashqai SUV

Although the Kadjar has usurped it from its throne, the Nissan Qashqai is still a benchmark for the SUV and crossover classes. That’s because it’s one of the best all-rounders if you’re looking for an SUV. The range of petrol and diesel engines on offer is very efficient, which makes the Qashqai a highly cost-effective family 4x4 to run. There's no longer a seven-seat version in the range (the larger Nissan X-Trail is now available for that), but this model really deserves its place in our top 10. Read more.

Key points

4.7 / 5
Price 
£18,545 - £28,910

Dacia Duster compact SUV

The Dacia Duster is by far the cheapest SUV on this list, if not the cheapest way into SUV ownership in the UK. With a starting price of less than £10,000, you can have a brand-new 4x4 with a full warranty and an impressive roster of talents. Its utilitarian design really does what it says on the tin, which means a spacious interior, generous boot space and tremendous capabilities off-road. The trade-off is a dated dashboard and noisy diesel engines. It also scored a sub-standard three stars when Euro NCAP crash-tested it. Read more.

Key points

4.7 / 5
Price 
£9,495 - £15,495

Volvo XC90 SUV

When the new Volvo XC90 was launched in mid-2015, Volvo showed the world that it really could build on the impressive capabilities of the first-generation car. The company’s focus on safety not only secured the maximum five-star rating when Euro NCAP crash-tested it, but the SUV scored an excellent 97% for adult occupant protection and full marks for the amount of safety technology on board. Couple that with an attractive design, plush interior, flexible seating and smooth engines and it’s hard not to recommend the XC90 to those in the market for a luxury seven-seat SUV. Read more.

Key points

4.6 / 5
Price 
£46,250 - £64,205

Land Rover Discovery Sport SUV

Built to replace the Land Rover Freelander, the Land Rover Discovery Sport could quite possibly be all the car you’ll ever need. Handsome design means it looks at equally home at the golf club or in the supermarket car park, while the versatile, user-friendly interior is incredibly spacious. It’s only marginally longer than a Freelander, yet comes with seven seats – all of which can be used by adults. Plus, Land Rover’s reputation for creating go-anywhere vehicles is maintained by the Discovery Sport – it really can climb mountains and wade through rivers. Read more.

Key points

4.5 / 5
Price 
£31,095 - £46,510

Range Rover Sport SUV

If the Discovery Sport isn’t upmarket enough for your tastes, the Range Rover Sport adds more glamour and on-road performance to the mix. It’s still a Land Rover, so it’s very capable off-road thanks to the Terrain Response system, but it’s also comfortable and well equipped. Although space up front is good, rear-seat passengers will find legroom is a little cramped. The most popular Range Rover Sport models feature a diesel engine capable of 37mpg, but there are also high-performance versions, which provide sports car-like performance – with running costs to match. Read more.

Key points

4.5 / 5
Price 
£62,700 - £95,900

Audi Q7 SUV

Like the XC90, the Q7’s first generation proved popular with both long-time Audi customers and those looking for a big, comfortable and capable SUV. A drastic weight loss of around 300kg compared to the old model means this latest Q7 is not only faster and better to drive, but more economical, too. The most efficient diesel can return up to 49.6mpg and the optional air suspension is a must-have if you want the most comfortable ride. The Q7 has seven seats, but the third row is only really suitable for children. Just avoid spending too much time on the expensive options list. Read more.

Key points

4.3 / 5
Price 
£47,755 - £53,835

Land Rover Discovery SUV

Not only is the Land Rover Discovery the car of choice for many remote expeditions, it’s also an exceptionally practical family car. It has five seats as standard, with the option of seven if needed. It’s not quite as luxurious as a Range Rover or as good to drive on-road as a Range Rover Sport, but the Discovery deserves a place on this list for its comfortable ride and upmarket interior. It’s getting on a bit compared to the rest of the Land Rover range, but the Discovery is best described as a dependable, go-anywhere 4x4. Read more.

Key points

4.3 / 5
Price 
£47,495 - £55,995

Nissan X-Trail SUV

The Nissan X-Trail might isn’t quite the rugged workhorse it once was, but this generation is designed to be more of a family-friendly runabout. It replaced the Qashqai+2, so it’s now the only seven-seat Nissan on sale (those extra seats are still optional, though). Still, it’s pretty stylish and well equipped, while the 1.6-litre diesel engine can return up to 57mpg. Two- and four-wheel-drive versions are available and there's a choice of manual or automatic transmission. Read more.

Key points

4.2 / 5
Price 
£21,995 - £31,820

Kia Sorento SUV

The Kia Sorento is a very attractive prospect if you’re in the market for a large SUV. The Sorento is around the same size as an Audi Q7 or BMW X5, but around £10,000 cheaper to buy. Plus, as it’s a Kia, it’s well built inside, has plenty of standard equipment and comes with an unbeatable seven-year warranty. The 2.2-litre diesel engine isn’t the last word in efficiency, but it’s powerful enough and pretty smooth. Plus, Kia has kept the options list to a minimum, to help you decide which model you want quicker. Read more.

Key points

4.1 / 5
Price 
£28,795 - £41,000