Best 4x4s and SUVs

Last updated: Sep 30, 2014

With summer coming to a close, and winter just around the corner, 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.

While choosing an SUV used to mean improved off-road ability but a compromise in agility and on-road manners, the latest raft of crossovers and sports utility vehicles ensures that one needn’t sacrifice motorway refinement for a high driving position and a bigger boot.

The expanding market means there are lots of models to choose from, covering everything from the more road-biased Nissan Qashqai to the rugged Land Rover Discovery. It can handle the tough off-road conditions you would expect only the utilitarian Land Rover Defender to be at home in.

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 SUVs on sale today.

Nissan Qashqai SUV

The Nissan Qashqai has been one of the UK’s best-selling cars ever since it went on sale back in 2007. The all-new model hit showrooms in 2014, offering improvements in near-enough every area. It’s got a bigger boot, a higher-quality interior, more desirable looks and a range of economical petrol and diesel engines. There’s still no seven-seat option (you’ll need a Nissan X-Trail for that) this second-generation car is quiet and refined on the motorway, has plenty of room for the family and won’t cost the earth to run. It really does deserve its spot at the top of our list of the best 4x4s and SUVs. Read more.

Key points

4.8 / 5
Price 
£18,265 - £28,500

Dacia Duster compact SUV

If you need an best family 4x4 that is cheap to buy and run then the Dacia Duster is a great choice. Its utilitarian exterior hides an interior that is basic and poorly equipped on all but the top of the range model. But what matters is the Dacia’s spacious interior and generous 475-litre boot, and that bargain price tag. Not many cars can be bought for less than £10,000, let alone a tough 4x4. There’s a price to pay though: although the old Renault diesel engines are reasonably frugal, they’re not particularly powerful and are noisy. And, while there’s plenty of body lean in the corners, four-wheel-drive Dusters are accomplished off-road performers. Many people will be put off by the car’s three-star NCAP safety rating, however. Read more.

Key points

4.7 / 5
Price 
£9,495 - £15,495

Mazda CX-5 SUV

The Mazda CX-5 is an excellent example of the modern best family 4x4. It may have the shape and upright driving position of an old off-roader, but the Mazda can return fuel economy of up to 61.4mpg and CO2 emissions so low that road tax starts from just £20 annually. Take it down a fun country road and the CX-5 will prove even more of a revelation thanks to its fun handling characteristics, controlled body lean and responsive steering. The smart looks outside continue inside – although some interior plastics feel cheap – and there’s plenty of space for four adults. Read more.

Key points

4.6 / 5
Price 
£21,895 - £29,895

Skoda Yeti SUV

It might be starting to show its age, but the Skoda Yeti is still an excellent SUV. Unlike most of the models here, the Skoda looks like a normal car that’s had its suspension raised. That makes it easier to drive for people not used to getting behind the wheel of a big SUV, but also means you don’t get a raised driving position. While four-wheel drive Yetis have plenty of off-road grip, fitted with two-wheel drive the car can return economy of 61.4mpg. Meanwhile, our readers voted the Yeti first out of 150 cars in our 2014 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. Read more.

Key points

4.5 / 5
Price 
£16,715 - £27,840

Range Rover Sport SUV

The Range Rover Sport blends luxury with off-road ability. It is based on the full-sized Range Rover, so it matches that car’s on and off-road performance, but costs significantly less to buy. Get inside and you’ll be greeted by an upmarket interior, with plenty of leather and wood on show, although taller adults might find knee room tight in the back. Land Rover offers the Range Rover Sport with a diesel engine capable of fuel economy of 37.7mpg. At the opposite end of the range, the high performance SVR model offers pace to shame many sports cars – with running costs to match. Read more.

Key points

4.5 / 5
Price 
£61,250 - £93,450

Range Rover SUV

It could be hard to justify the £20,000 premium you’ll pay for the Range Rover over the Range Rover Sport, but it offers an even more luxurious interior and added space. Indeed many consider it an alternative to sumptuous luxury saloons like the Mercedes S-Class. Just like the Sport, the Range Rover has off-road ability that is second to none, but on-road it feels like a luxury saloon to drive. Huge reductions in weight mean the Range Rover can now return up to 37.7mpg when fitted with the 3.0-litre diesel engine, while the 5.0-litre petrol can get it from 0-60mph in just 5.1 seconds. Read more.

Key points

4.5 / 5
Price 
£73,950 - £146,900

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross SUV

It might not be blessed with hugely memorable looks, but the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross is a surprisingly good best family 4x4. Although our testers found the suspension a little firm, the S-Cross is fun to drive thanks to good levels of grip, quick steering, and little body lean in the corners. Four-wheel-drive models should also be strong off-road performers, thanks to Suzuki’s experience building the rugged Suzuki Jimny and Suzuki Grand Vitara. The S-Cross’ interior has lots of useful space, but fitting the panoramic sunroof limits headroom. Read more.

Key points

4.4 / 5
Price 
£15,499 - £23,549

Land Rover Discovery 4 SUV

While some of the SUVs here wouldn’t be much better off-road than a conventional car, the Land Rover Discovery is a proper off-roader and all come with four-wheel drive and lots of ground clearance. Its interior might lack some of the nice touches of the Range Rover models, but it still feels well built and upmarket. It is spacious, too, and five adults should be able to fit in comfort, while there is also the option to fit seven seats. Out on the road, there’s plenty of body lean in the corners, but treat it as a comfortable cruiser and you’ll not be disappointed. Read more.

Key points

4.3 / 5
Price 
£41,595 - £59,965

Nissan X-Trail SUV

If you want a seven-seat Nissan SUV then the Nissan X-Trail is now you only option. As with the Nissan Qashqai, the X-Trail blends SUV looks with a car-like driving experience that makes it easy and fun to drive. Right now, it’s only available with one engine – a 1.6-litre diesel – that returns up to 57.6mpg. That might fall short of the 61.4mpg the Mazda CX-5’s capable of, but it’s still impressive for a large SUV. Inside, the agricultural cabin of the old X-Trail has gone to be replaced by an interior that’s stylish and well built. Read more.

Key points

4.2 / 5
Price 
£22,995 - £30,995

Audi Q3 SUV

When Audi designed the Audi Q3, it blended the best parts of an Audi saloon with a raised SUV body style. That makes the Q3 one of the smartest cars in its class, with an imposing grille, distinctive front and rear LEDs, and an upmarket interior. The Q3 can be fitted either with two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive – kitted out with the former it can return fuel economy of up to 54.3mpg. Choosing four-wheel drive brings added grip on slippery roads, but it does bring useful grip for slippery roads. Read more.

Key points

4.2 / 5
Price 
£23,875 - £43,015

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