Best 4x4s and SUVs

Last updated: Mar 11, 2016

While SUVs are undoubtedly superior in the winter months in slippery and treacherous conditions, they’re becoming more and more popular for the rest of the year, too – you can even get two-wheel drive versions of some models.

This goes to show just how appealing an SUV's elevated driving position is to people who need a bit of extra space and the feeling of solidity and safety in a family car. The days of big SUVs being gas-guzzling tanks are long gone, too, and there is a huge variety of styles available – some are cheap and practical, others are stylish with coupe-like bodies and focused on being sporty. There are even convertible off-roaders on the way, too. 

There should be a 4x4 or SUV to suit all tastes and budgets, then. Something like the Dacia Duster is great for no-frills, rugged motoring, while the Renault Kadjar and Nissan Qashqai are great all-rounders. The Volvo XC90, Audi Q7 and Land Rover Discovery will appeal to families with a bit more cash to spend on something premium, and something like the Kia Sorento offers loads of room and equipment for a reasonable price. There are also small, efficient SUVs well suited to city life, luxurious SUVs to rival big, upmarket saloon cars, rugged 4x4s capable of climbing a mountain and everything in between available to choose from.

We’ve compiled a list of crossovers in another list, because many of these come exclusively with two-wheel drive. The cars on this list, while some might be more like a crossover in style and size, they all come with either permanent four-wheel drive or the option of specifying it somewhere in the range. So scroll down to see which SUVs and 4x4s are the best to keep you motoring all year round. 

Renault Kadjar SUV

The Renault Kadjar is based on the same platform as the popular Nissan Qashqai, and shares its range of efficient petrol and diesel engines, too. We think it looks more stylish than the Qashqai, too, plus it has a practical interior (its boot is bigger than the Nissan’s) and a comfortable ride. What’s more, the Kadjar is cheaper than the Qashqai, with the cheapest diesel version with sat-nav coming at around £2,000 less than the equivalent Qashqai. Higher-spec models are available with four-wheel drive to help solidify its place at the top of this list. Read more.

Key points

4.8 / 5
Price 
£18,495 - £28,195

Nissan Qashqai SUV

Don’t be put off by the Kadjar trumping the Qashqai. The Nissan is still a hugely capable car, and is one of the most popular new cars on sale in the UK. It’s a great all-rounder – the petrol and diesel engines are efficient and refined, while there’s plenty of space for the family inside. Like the Kadjar, four-wheel drive versions are reserved for versions with the larger 1.6-litre dCi diesel engine. Read more.

Key points

4.7 / 5
Price 
£18,545 - £28,990

Dacia Duster compact SUV

With a starting price of less than £10,000 for the entry-level Duster, it’s particularly appealing if you want a no-nonsense, rugged off-roader. The Duster has a spacious interior and a big boot, while it’s really impressive off-road. You’ll need to move further up the range for a four-wheel drive version, but even these are comparatively cheap when you consider the car’s capabilities. It’s not the most refined car on sale, while the interior feels dated, but you can’t argue too much when the most expensive version is less than £16,000. Read more.

Key points

4.7 / 5
Price 
£9,495 - £16,495

Volvo XC90 SUV

The Volvo XC90 is a luxurious seven-seat SUV that really moved the game on when it was launched in 2015. It looks great, has a seriously plush interior and some very impressive safety credentials – it scored full marks for safety technology, 97% for adult occupant protection and a five-star rating overall. It’s also got smooth and reasonably efficient engines for such a big car, as well as a generous dose of kerb appeal. Read more.

Key points

4.6 / 5
Price 
£46,850 - £64,555

Land Rover Discovery Sport SUV

The Land Rover Discovery Sport is just at home on the school run as it is crossing a muddy field – or even a river. It’s got seven seats and a well-sized boot, almost unrivalled off-road ability and handsome, classy looks. Economical Ingenium diesel engines mean the Discovery Sport won’t be too expensive to run, either, while the interior is also luxurious and high quality. It could be all the car a family could ever need. Read more.

Key points

4.5 / 5
Price 
£31,095 - £46,510

Range Rover Sport SUV

The Range Rover Sport shares design cues with the cheaper Discovery Sport. It has similarly handsome looks with bright LED lights and the option for a contrasting roofline, but it adds even more presence, glamour and performance into the mix. It will still go pretty much anywhere off-road, but it’s spacious, well equipped and has a seriously luxurious interior. It has a price tag to match, though, but it comes with a range of petrol and diesel engines, including a seriously quick SVR model. Best to stick to one of the diesels, though. Read more.

Key points

4.5 / 5
Price 
£62,700 - £95,900

Audi Q7 SUV

The Audi Q7 is another upmarket seven-seat SUV, like the XC90, that’s unlikely to ever venture much further than a wet field or a high kerb. Still, it’s got a premium look, a fantastic high quality interior and room for seven. It’s faster and better to drive than the old model, but it’s also pretty economical – the most efficient version expected to return almost 50mpg. If you want to travel in comfort, go for the optional air suspension, but getting too tempted by the extensive options list can get expensive. Read more.

Key points

4.3 / 5
Price 
£48,455 - £70,970

Land Rover Discovery SUV

The current Land Rover Discovery has been around for a while, but it remains to be a fantastic off-roader and an exceptionally practical car for families. There’s the option of seven seats and is very comfortable on the move. It’s not quite as luxurious or upmarket inside as the Range Rover, but it still feels expensive and should stand up well to family life. As with the rest of the Land Rover range, it’ll go pretty much anywhere you want it to. Read more.

Key points

4 / 5
Price 
£47,505 - £56,005

Nissan X-Trail SUV

The latest Nissan X-Trail is much more car-like compared to the boxy old one, and it effectively replaces the old Qashqai+2 – that’s why it looks so similar to the new one. It shares its engines with the Qashqai, but has added practicality thanks to two extra seats in the boot that are best suited to small children. Two- and four-wheel drive versions are available, but the X-Trail is more about the elevated driving experience and practicality than outright off-road ruggedness. Read more.

Key points

4.2 / 5
Price 
£21,995 - £32,780

Kia Sorento SUV

The Kia Sorento is a great option if you need a large SUV but you’re on a slightly tighter budget than those looking at cars like the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90. It’s about the same size as these cars, but it costs about £10,000 less to buy. You won’t feel short-changed, either, because there’s loads of space inside, it’s well built and comes with a generous list of equipment as standard. The 2.2-litre diesel engine is powerful and smooth, but it’s not the last word in efficiency. Still, it comes with a 7-year warranty, which is great if you want hassle-free motoring. Read more.

Key points

4.1 / 5
Price 
£28,795 - £41,000