4WD for country lanes? - Anubis
I have recently moved to a nice quiet country setting in the back of beyond. Roads are not great and get very muddy and slippy. My car is not going to get me out in the winter months if we continue to have weather like it is at the moment.

I want to buy a cheap 4 wheel drive car, dont want Jeep type stuff but it does need to be big enough for me the wife two kids and the dogs of which there are two.. I need something with reasonable economy reliable and safe. I have ruled out Landrover Freelander and Discovery as I dislike both Oh and suzuki as they feel like they are made of tin foil.. Any ideas?? price wise I only have £4k tops to play with.

Many thanks

Edited by Pugugly on 18/12/2009 at 09:25

Advice please - Rattle
What about the RAV4?
Advice please - Anubis
RAV4 ? who makes them? honest I know nothing about these is it a car or more a Freelander type thing?
Advice please - Rattle
Its a Toyota, I am not normally a fan of Japanese cars but these are very well built and reliable they are no Landscruiser or Defender off road but they should be fine on country roads.

The other thing you can consider is a Subaru Legacy, lots of space and good 4x4 grip.
Advice please - Anubis
Dont need to go off roading so (I hope) will be staying away from fields, just Needs to cope with steep hills and small single track lanes dont think you can call them roads here.. Had a quick look on here and they seem to have a good write up will see if I can find one and have a look at it. Hope they are better made than the Suzuki, tried a Vitara and thought it was.. well not good.

4WD for country lanes? - Brian Tryzers
Sweden and the French Alps get much more wintry weather than we do yet the locals generally prefer FWD cars with mud-and-snow tyres to 4WD. Friends of ours who live on a farm in rural Pembrokeshire get happily around the steep, narrow, muddy lanes in a Mini and even a BMW 3. The ground clearance of a 4WD may be useful on rough tracks but if the road is smothered in mud or snow, it won't grip any better than FWD. Assuming your present car isn't a Lotus, are you sure a change of tyres wouldn't be enough?
4WD for country lanes? - perro
We lived in a remote area of Bodmin Moor for 6.5 years.
Not too high, but it was still 700ft ASL.
Being a townie I threw loads of green folding stuff at a rather nice Discovery XS auto + a set of snow chains )hahaha!) didn't need any of it!
I used to ask the locals "how come y'all don't drive 4X4's up here?"
In that 6.5 years, we only got 'snowed in' twice in all that time (for a few hours)
BTW, the 2 narrow lanes that lead to our 'Hamlet' were very, very steep and I used to find FWD best (obviously) and the smaller (as in lighter) the better - Pug 205's use to fly up those icy lanes whereas our Volvo 240 GLT would just slide down again!
4WD for country lanes? - Lou_O
The french side of my family live in a village in Lozere. The weather there can get quite cold and it's hilly too.

When the snow and ice is bad and it's down around -10 at night the guy who delivers cheese swaps his transit van for a 2CV with the skinny tyres.

Very few people in that part of the world, which has much worse weather much more often than the UK, have 4WD those that do are the farmers who drive Hilux or similar.
4WD for country lanes? - Old Navy
It amazes me that many urban dwellers think they need expensive specialist vehicles to exist in rural areas, just look at the local residents cars.

They must be influenced by the inability of many urbanites to complete the school run in anything less then a Toyota Landcruiser. :-)
4WD for country lanes? - b308
Got it in one!
4WD for country lanes? - injection doc
Fiat Panda 4x4 mk 2 are quite remarkable how they cope in deep snow. I belive top gear put one up against a range Rover in an off road situation a couple of years ago & they were suprised at its capabilities.
When all siad & done ive been driving nearly 40 years including coaches & Artics & I too live in a rural area & there is no substitute for 4WD. With 2WD you cannot stop at the top of a steep hill with traffic lights & just expect to hit the throttle & gp without having to gingerly contol the clutch & pull away very slowly. With 4WD you can just floor the throttle & go with confidence.
I live at the top of a steep hill & have 2 2WD's & 1 4WD & whilst I can get the 2WD's up the hill if a numpty hasn't got stuck first when it snows but the 4WD just ploughs straight up like its still on tarmac! & yes I have had old landy's including series 1 & yes they could slide very badly in snow but still better then 2WD.
2WD rally cars cannot compete with 4WD so that clearly rules out that 2Wd is as good as 4WD
One of the best 4x4's I ever had was the original Panda 4x4 1.0 ltrs in snow they were so much fun & the grip was just unreal.Also becuase they are so light they don't slide under braking!. The deeper the snow the better they got.
4WD for country lanes? - bathtub tom
For that sort of money I don't think you'll get much.

Have you considered keeping what you've got and for the odd day getting a reindeer and sleigh?
4WD for country lanes? - WorkshopTech
For £4k I think I'd be hunting for a non-turbo Subaru if you really want a compact 4x4. Either an Impreza 2.0 or Forester 2.0 (v. similar underneath, just sits higher if you need the ground clearance). They are a bit thirsty and parts can be dear, but they are rugged and reliable and traction is good.
4WD for country lanes? - movilogo
Cheapest yet very capable 4x4 are Suzuki Jimny, Daihatsu Terios.
4WD for country lanes? - Cliff Pope
Chunky tyres, a sack of grit, an old carpet and a shovel are much more useful, and a lot cheaper.
4WD for country lanes? - deepwith
I have an X-trail, which automatically clunks into 4x4 if it is slipping on the road. Fits 2 large dogs plus family of 5 (most tall) easily. Smaller than most 4x4's so you still have space to get out of the way of the larger chaps who are unable to get their wheels dirty/scared of the hedges and can get up verges when needed. Higher than normal car so copes with flooded lanes/fords quite well.

Can get the 2001-2003 versions for about your budget.
4WD for country lanes? - Lygonos
Forester or CR-V should cope with greasy lanes and are much better to drive than Jimny/Vitara/Terios.

For snow/ice I'd suggest non-Turbo Forester - low ratio gearbox and no 'boost' from the turbo to break traction (been pootling around at idle in 3rd on icy lanes today - don't let that turbo spool...!).
4WD for country lanes? - daveyjp
Octavia 4x4 estate - Autotrader has a few for £3-4,000. 1.8T or 1.9TDi.
4WD for country lanes? - Paul G1pdc
I bought my Impreza AWD 2litre non-turbo GX wagon (estate) for 4k (03 reg) from a main dealer last Nov 2008 with 29,000 miles and full history.
You would be able to get a 04 reg for that money of course now, the estate has a low and high ratio gear box (unlike the saloon)
and in the snow and muddy lanes there great. I work in a tiny village (in a converted barn) and last year apart from the director in a series 2. landie and another manager who walked 2 miles to work. I was the only one in....
I also have 2 boys, and it stands up to them as well....muddy football pitches
I'm also into running, and most running events involve parking on farmers fields.
ok ok ,,,,the mpg at 32 isn't great and the insurance is group 14.
product engineer.
v40 and impreza owner..
oh make sure if you look at them, the cam belt has been changed at 50k or 5 years.
servicing for these imprezas are 12k, unlike the pre-2000 versions which where 7.5k
and driving past the bmws and mercs today was great fun....bring on the snow....
4WD for country lanes? - madf
We are 600 feet above sea level and in our 27 years here - and my 6 driving years in Scotland = I have driven in snow up to 2 feet deep and more and never failed to get through. Maybe luck but never had to abandon a car. FWD/RWD? does not matter.

FWD with decent tyres is good enough for 90% of cases... if our drive has 2 foot drifts I dig it out first.. but I have never failed to exit up the slight hill or climb the 50 foot high to our house.

Lack of traffic , luck and a slow and steady approach help.

I'd love 4wd. But financially it's like buying a Transit van as you might move your house furniture every 10 years when you move house.

Lots of 4wd cars fail around here in snow: it's the driver wot makes the difference..

Edited by madf on 18/12/2009 at 16:13

4WD for country lanes? - Martin Devon
Chunky tyres a sack of grit an old carpet and a shovel are much more

Does Shag pile produce more grip?

4WD for country lanes? - JH
I've lived up a country lane for 13 years. It has a tarmac top to it. My various fwd cars have only failed to get me through when the bottom end of the lane flooded rather seriously on one occasion. So I went the long way round.

You are seriously going to spend money on buying, running and maintaining a car which will only be needed a single number of days per year and in many years not at all?!

4WD for country lanes? - nortones2
Its more a case of someone wanting something, and trying to get back-up. 4wd is surely not needed on road, unless there's more power than one axle can deal with, e.g in snowy hilly areas, or by the rally fraternity. Other than Reliant Robins etc, all ordinary cars are equipped with 4 tyres (for the sideways forces) and 4 brakes (for the stopping forces) already:) They don't need to be compromised by suboptimal dynamics and excess weight. Just follow the typical 4x4 along country lanes. Its a joke.
4WD for country lanes? - moonshine
I took the i10 out for a drive into town today in the snow. No major hills to get up but many of the back roads had not seen any grit and had a fair covering of snow. The i10 was fantastic!


Skinny tyres with chunky tread pattern on a lightweight car.

I think the problem with many modern cars in the snow is the wide tyres with tread pattern more suited to summer driving.

Edited by moonshine {P} on 18/12/2009 at 20:55

4WD for country lanes? - Anubis
Lots of replies here.. Thank you for the advice.. The roads as I said are very narrow in poor condition full of pot holes and my car at the moment is a Mondeo ST TDCI estate it does not like the last part of our road which is a lane to the house (about half a mile long) which is not made up and is more a track. I have never been stumped or stuck during the winter (except today just could not get out) and spent all my life living in the country Im not fresh from town..

The track is going to be surfaced, its steep and we to live several hundred feet above sea level on Exmoor. The mondeo has not managed well with the roads and had to have several trips to the garage for suspention repairs now. The Subaru sounds good, and I could just do a part ex with whats left of the Mondeo and use it as the family car. Any one had or own a Legacy? if so what do you think of it?

The track to the house can be sorted but the lane is about 3 miles and is very bad in places I have spoken to our local authority who said not a chance in terms of repairs they have better things to spend their cash on I surpose. I think getting rid of the Mondeo for a more robust car is the way forward. As for the school run 4x4 that was never the idea. Plus unless it was a old landy you would not get my wife driving it.

Thanks to everyone who has replied to this thread.

4WD for country lanes? - Martin Devon
Hi Anubis,

I am based not a million miles from Barnstaple. I have just acquired a Suzuki Jimny for dragging the Gundog about. Sterling little thing, but obviously limited on space.

Cheers.........Martin D
4WD for country lanes? - Old Navy
If the access to your house is damaging your Mondeo it will not take long to damage a "soft roader" or a car based 4x4. Have you thought of a "heavy duty" 4x4, like a pick up.
4WD for country lanes? - billythechid
Subaru Legacy or Outback (greater ground clearance) must have FSH. High mileage with FSH no problem so look for 2003/5 model
4WD for country lanes? - Alby Back
Nice cars those St TDCi Mondeos. By way of a, possibly temporary, solution. If you can't find a suitable replacement in the short term, how about getting hold of some 16" wheels and higher profile ( maybe winter spec) tyres for it? Might soften the ride a bit and give better grip on the rough stuff. Probably not a long term solution as it does sound as if you need something more specific to the task but might provide an interim fix? Bet you could get the wheels from a scrappy for not a lot.

I think it was Deepwith who suggested an X trail. I think that might be my choice too given your criteria.

Edit - If you are selling the Ford, why not post an ad on the classified bit here. Popular cars among those who know them.

Edited by Humph Backbridge on 19/12/2009 at 10:06

4WD for country lanes? - bintang
The point about skinny tyres had not occured to me but may explain why, when I was an estate manager, my 1930s Austin 7 got stuck less often than the Landrovers my employer supplied.
4WD for country lanes? - Sofa Spud
Two things to remember about 4x4s in in snow and ice.

1) All cars have 4-wheel brakes - 4x4s might be better at keeping going in slippery conditions but they aren't any better at stopping! (not that brakes are all that much use on snow and ice anyway)

2) A 4x4 might just mean that you end up getting stuck in worse weather conditions, further from help!

Edited by Sofa Spud on 19/12/2009 at 15:48

4WD for country lanes? - Sofa Spud
I always remember the time at a Land Rover RTV trial where several Land Rovers had had difficulty getting through a very muddy field gateway. One had got stuck and had to be pulled out, and then someone drove straight through in a Ford Fiesta with just a little wheelspin!!
4WD for country lanes? - old crocks
Thirty years ago when I worked on a motorway construction site we had Land Rovers and Bedford vans (Mark 1 Viva style). There were lots of places where the Bedfords were preferable due to their light weight and narrow tyres - and a lot easier to push out when you did get stuck!

Edited by old crocks on 19/12/2009 at 16:02

4WD for country lanes? - Bagpuss
I live in Munich. Oddly there are are far more 4x4s here than there are in the alps, where the vehicle of choice appears to be a Golf Estate. In some of the more remote areas you also see Subarus and Mercedes G-Class, but very rarely the urban tractor type SUVs.

I have winter tyres fitted during the winter months to my 2wd car, which also happens to be rwd. I have a set of snow chains in the boot but I've only ever needed them once.
4WD for country lanes? - brettmick
I bought an 04 Legacy estate with 70k up and a FSH in September for 4.5k

In November we were in Suffolk down a mud track road in the rain and I was grateful for it.

Two weeks ago turning right at a T junction across the A428 where the front wheels were standing in 3 inches of water I was glad the backs were driven too.

Yesterday the Mrs powerslid it across the road outside the house - which was entertaining to watch but scared her silly!

This afternoon going round Cambridge and Madingly where the snow was still thick and the temperature didn't get above -1 I was happy while the Focus and Astra drivers around me were just panicking.

The interior build quality is stunning - not a rattle or squeak. The 2 litre NA petrol engine sounds so good and I smile whenever I boot it.

Only downside is the MPG. 38 on the 2 hour trip to Norwich but 30 around town. Saab diesel would do 52 on the Norwich run.

4WD for country lanes? - Happy Blue!

The Subarus are very well made cars that are extrmely reliable and all Foresters, Legacys and Outbacks are 4WD. Several of us on here have them and we all like them for different reasons.

Today in heavy snow I found my Outback to be great, but would have appreciated a narrower tyre to cut into the snow better. For your driving find a 4-cyl Outback and you will be fine.
4WD for country lanes? - M.M
Fuel consumption poor against a diesel brettmick but your 30/38mpg is pretty well exactly what my Mondeo 2.0 petrol estate does so you have no penalty for the 4WD.

Edited by M.M on 20/12/2009 at 17:32

4WD for country lanes? - WorkshopTech
30/38 is pretty amazing for the old EJ20 engine. Either you drive very gentle or the odo is overreading a bit on the distance covered.
4WD for country lanes? - L'escargot
Just so long as you're not selfish and don't go off-roading just for your own fun, and don't churn up unsurfaced lanes.

Edited by L'escargot on 21/12/2009 at 07:49