It’s a long time since 4x4s were mud-plugging heroes to their friends and the nemesis of the planet to their enemies. Today, everyone seems to be jumping on the SUV bandwagon.
With their up-for-it style and commanding all-round view, 4x4s make all sorts of sense even if you don’t ever intend to take them off-road. None of the vehicles in this list are built to tackle the Rubicon Trail – but if you want a family wagon that’ll make you feel like no picnic spot is out of reach, look no further.
10: BMW X5
The keen driver’s choice, the X5 handles with real tautness – and you can get it with some seriously fast engines. The diesel options make most sense, however, even if they’re not the quietest. There’s loads of space for people and cargo alike, but the best premium 4x4s are more elegant inside.
Base price: £44,575
Best buy: xDrive25d SE Auto
9: Kia Sorento
A big, no-nonsense seven-seater with stacks of equipment, the Sorento is a whole lot of car for your money. Whichever model you buy, you’ll be well looked after; each has a strong diesel engine driving all four wheels.
Base price: £28,795
Best buy: 2.2 CRDi KX-2
8: Mercedes-Benz GLC
You need to choose the AMG Line model to get the best from the GLC – other versions don’t ride with the same plushness. All are classy inside, and will carry you and yours in style, though some of its rivals do have more outright space.
Base price: £34,950
Best buy: 250d 4Matic AMG Line Auto
7: BMW X1
With a classy, well equipped and impressively usable cabin, the X1 is among the best small SUVs – so long as you don’t need seven seats. It won’t break the bank to run, either, with a range of clean, frugal diesels on offer.
Base price: £27,090
Best buy: xDrive20d SE
6: Suzuki Vitara
First and foremost, nothing else here comes close to matching the Vitara’s price. You get a load of equipment even in the base model, too – as well as an excellent interior with loads of room. Many 4x4 makers have abandoned petrol altogether, but Suzuki’s 1.6 unit is brisk and pleasingly refined.
Base price: £13,999
Best buy: 1.6 SZ-T
5: Nissan Qashqai
The reigning crossover champ since its launch, the Qashqai is very well put together and sensationally usable inside. It’s also very good value, though the headline price only gets you a model with a fairly stingy spec list. Don’t let that put you off, though – the Qashqai is a winning choice, especially with the brilliant 1.5-litre diesel engine.
Base price: £18,545
Best buy: 1.5 dCi 110 N-Tec
4: Volvo XC90
At once luxurious and immensely practical, the XC90 is also the safest vehicle you can currently buy. You’d expect that from Volvo, but you might be surprised by just how much of a premium SUV the XC90 now is – even in base-spec form, which really is all you need.
Base price: £46,850
Best buy: 2.0 D5 Momentum AWD Geartronic
3: Mazda CX-5
Stylish and hugely practical, with exceptional cargo capacity, the CX-5 is also one of the cleanest SUVs in its class. A few of the interior details show you where the money’s been saved, but over the piece this is a vehicle that does pretty much everything well, and most things very well.
Base price: £23,195
Best buy: 2.2d SE-L
2: Audi Q7
Few things combine class, style, luxury and practicality with as much success as the Q7. It’s imposing on the road and very pleasing to drive – the price tag is decidedly premium too, but even the cheapest model has all the equipment a person could reasonably ask for.
Base price: £48,455
Best buy: 3.0 TDI Quattro SE Tip Auto
1: Land Rover Discovery Sport
Stylish and comfortable inside, the Disco Sport justifies its price with a decidedly premium image – and a smartly practical cabin layout. Unlike many of its competitors in this segment of the SUV market, buying at the bottom of the range doesn’t mean having to content yourself with two-wheel drive, either – all Discovery Sports are 4x4s.
Base price: £31,095
Best buy: 2.0 TD4 180 SE Tech Auto