Best 4x4 2024
A lot of people buy SUVs because of their raised driving position, practicality and go-anywhere styling. But what if you want to walk the walk and talk the talk? When the going gets tough, the tough get a 4x4, or something.
While many SUVs are front-wheel-drive, meaning you can't venture much further than a raised kerb outside the school gate, it's still possible to buy a proper 4x4. If your daily commute requires you to ford a stream, climb a mountain or venture through jungle-like undergrowth, a 4x4 is what you need.
A good 4x4 will feature four-wheel-drive for dealing with the rough stuff, ground clearance to clamber over obstacles and possibly selectable driving modes for dealing with different terrains, such as mud, snow, rock and sand.
Just make sure that you really need a 4x4, because these cars are more expensive to buy and run than their front-wheel-drive equivalents. If your lifestyle warrants it, these are the best 4x4s you can buy right now.
Land Rover Defender
The Land Rover Defender has been reinvented as a modern icon, which is just as desirable as the original. Award-winning design means it turns heads even when parked alongside a Ferrari, and the interior is a tactile, minimalist treat (albeit one fully equipped with the latest touchscreen wizardry). Along with the Defender 90, you can get a Defender 110 with three rows of seats, along with the eight-seater Defender 130. Offered in petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid form, the Defender has an exceptional range of talents off-road, with even more ability than its predecessor. And it’s another world in terms of on-road refinement and dynamics, too.
Toyota Land Cruiser
The Toyota Land Cruiser is the car you choose if you want to drive deep into the Australian Outback, and guarantee you’ll be able to get home without a problem. It is world-renowned for its reliability, and is the vehicle of choice in the most inhospitable regions on the planet. In the UK, it is offered in three-door and longer five-door formats, all with a hardy and robust 2.8-litre turbodiesel engine. You can also buy a commercial version, to enjoy van-based tax savings. Roomy, well-equipped and exceptionally able when the going gets tough, if you need a dependable 4x4 to really put to work, look no further. A new Land Cruiser will arrive in 2024, so grab the outgoing model while stocks last.
Dacia Duster 4x4
The Dacia Duster is one of Britain’s most affordable rugged 4x4s. Priced from around £25,000, the 4x4 version of this popular SUV comes with an economical but punchy 1.5-litre Blue dCi turbodiesel engine, and is offered in well-equipped Extreme trim. With family-focused space for five and a decent 467-litre boot, the Duster 4x4 also looks the part, with a recently refreshed design that boasts chunky bumpers and handy roof rails. There’s 214mm of ground clearance, which is perfect for green-laning, and occupants can watch what the all-wheel-drive system is doing through a neat 4x4 Monitor, displayed via the 8-inch touchscreen.
The Range Rover is a 4x4 legend. First introduced back in 1970, it defined the luxury SUV and, in all-new guise, has raised the bar once again. Prices from £104,000 – or £130,000 for the long-wheelbase version – are justified by a beautifully pure-looking exterior and staggeringly plush interior, which is palatial in its panache. Along with the petrol and diesel engines, the Range Rover is also available as a plug-in hybrid, which offers up to 75 miles of electric range. Despite its sophistication, the Range Rover can still off-road with the best of them. It has an intelligent all-wheel-drive system, a Defender-matching wading depth of 900mm, plus 295mm of ground clearance (which can be lifted a further 145mm via height-adjustable air suspension). This is not just one of the best 4x4s, it’s one of the best new cars on sale.
The Jeep Wrangler is one of the original 4x4s, with its roots back in World War Two. These days, it’s a higher-end proposition, with prices from £60,000, but this latest version has been thoroughly re-engineered over the years to offer contemporary features and technology. It has a touchscreen infotainment system, plenty of active safety features and even adaptive cruise control with auto stop and go. But it’s off-road where the legendary Wrangler really earns its stripes – particularly the formidable Rubicon range-topper. This has BF Goodrich mud-terrain tyres, a disconnectable front anti-roll bar, locking front and rear differentials and a Jeep-honed Rock-Trac 4x4 system. Off the beaten track, it’s pretty much unstoppable.
Not every car aspires to be all things to be all people, and the Suzuki Jimny is a great example. If we’re honest, it’s not great in quite a few areas – it’s very unrefined on the road, the back seats are tiny and so is the boot. But it’s absolutely in its element off the beaten track. It’s small, light and loaded with off-road features like diff locks and a low-range gearbox, which means it positively skips over terrain that would have other hardened SUVs turning back. Unfortunately, Suzuki UK axed the regular Jimny in 2020, but it's still possible to buy the commercial variant. It seats two, but you get a massive load area and the same off-road talents. Alternatively, take a look at the 4x4 version of the Suzuki Ignis.
The Mercedes G-Class is a long-running 4x4 (formerly known as the G-Wagen) that, like the Range Rover, has evolved from a working vehicle into a true luxury proposition. A starting price of £131,500 is evidence of this, but so too is the G-Class’ appearance. Yes, it’s boxy and classically ‘4x4’, but it’s also finished to a fantastic standard, with mirror-like paint and jewel-like detailing. The same is true inside; it’s the Mercedes S-Class of 4x4s. The car’s specification claims a climbing ability of 100%, and it can traverse side slopes of up to 70%. You will be terrified way before the G-Class cries enough. Take the G 400 d diesel for effortless performance – or the G 63 AMG petrol for startling acceleration and a great soundtrack.
Ford Ranger Raptor
Does the Ranger Raptor count as a car? We say yes, because pick-up trucks have never been more car-like. But it’s also a very decent pick-up, capable of hauling everything from gravel to motorbikes around with ease. And, crucially for this list, it’s an excellent off-roader. Even the standard Ford Ranger is pretty good in the rough stuff, but add uprated Fox Racing suspension, body protection and off-road tyres and you have something truly exceptional. It’ll tackle tough terrain, and if the situation allows you, it’ll tackle it very quickly too. It’s a car, it’s a truck, it’s a performance 4x4, and it’s really rather excellent.
The Ineos Grenadier is designed to fill the void vacated by the original Land Rover Defender. Like the Suzuki Jimny, the Grenadier isn't perfect, but if you're after a proper 4x4, the Ineos is a credible alternative to Land Rover's iconic off-roader. Power is sourced from a choice of BMW 3.0-litre petrol and diesel engines, both of which are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Prices start from around £64,500 for the commercial two-seat utility wagon, rising to £76,000 for the five-seat station wagon. That's before you explore the options and accessories catalogue.
Land Rover Discovery
Amid the hoo-ha about the new Defender and Range Rover, it's easy to forget that Land Rover builds another formidable 4x4. If you're after a proper seven-seater with genuine 4x4 capabilities, the Discovery is simply untouchable. And we mean it when we say ‘proper seven-seater', because the ‘Disco’ can seat seven adults in comfort and leave space for their luggage. Unlike Discovery models of old, the current version is as good on-road as it is off-road, plus you get decent fuel economy and a towing capacity of 3500kg.
Which 4x4 is best value for money?
At £25,000, we think the Dacia Duster 4x4 offers the best value for money. It’s small but still useful enough to have a practical interior, while its economical diesel engine has enough oomph for the rough stuff. It comes in the lavish Extreme trim, so you even get lots of equipment for your money.
What is the most reliable 4x4?
Surveys show the Toyota Land Cruiser’s standing as the most reliable 4x4 is thoroughly well deserved. It has a global reputation forged in some extremely tough environments. If you want a vehicle that will almost certainly never break down, choose the Land Cruiser. The more compact and affordable RAV4 is also a safe bet from Toyota.
What is the best 4x4 on the market?
Because the 4x4 market is so broad, which vehicle is best for you really depends on your budget and requirements. Cheaper models will guarantee mobility no matter what the weather or terrain, while larger models are great for active families who want a machine to support ‘lifestyle’ hobbies or extreme sports. If money is no object, the new Range Rover already looks like a magnificent vehicle, ready to claim the crown of best 4x4 in the world.