The best of the best
Land Rover Discovery
The Disco isn't cheap, but it's an incredibly adaptable vehicle – think of it as three cars in one.
If you need to go off road, the Discovery is more than up to the job. Its four-wheel drive system is clever enough to take you and a trailer to the top of a mountain with minimum fuss, and it will take you there in incredible comfort.
Swap the slopes for the M25 and you'll discover the Discovery is equally home on the road.
On top of that, the Discovery is an amazing family car with a huge amount of space in the cabin for seven and some luggage besides. It's easy to fold the seats out of the way to leave a large loadbay.
What Car? pick of the Land Rover Discovery range - 3.0 TDV6 XS
The best of the rest
Hyundai Santa Fe
You could almost get two Santa Fes for the price of the Discovery.
The Hyundai offers bags of room for seven and plenty of equipment, despite its pocket-friendly pricetag.
The 2.2-litre diesel has loads of torque but, like the rest of the car, it's very refined so long journeys pass easily.
While some of the cabin trim hasn't come from the top drawer, the Santa Fe's value for money is proving very popular with whatcar.com readers.
What Car? pick of the Hyundai Santa Fe range - 2.2 CRDi Style 7st
We weren't huge fans of the previous generation BMW X3. It didn't have enough, well, BMWness about it.
Quality, class and a good driving experience – everything you'd expect from the BMW brand is now wrapped up in its new mid-sized 4x4 package.
There isn't a massive amount of choice when it comes to engines or trims – two diesels and two trims - although you can pick between a six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic. The lower-rated diesel is reasonably refined, provides plenty of pace and economy, while equipment levels are fine with SE trim.
What Car? pick of the BMW X3 range - xDrive20d SE
If you want to lay a red carpet down on the green lanes, the Range Rover is the car for you.
Although it may be more posh luxury car than mud-plugger, the Range Rover can still get down and dirty and take you across open country in extraordinary comfort.
The cabin is generously appointed, as you would expect at the lofty price, and there's a huge amount of performance available from the superb 4.4-litre V8 diesel. It's costly to buy and run, but stunning if you can afford it.
What Car? pick of the Range Rover range - 4.4 TDV8 Vogue
It's not just the super-low CO2 output that should have you feeling environmentally smug with the Lexus RX, but the particulates and NOX emissions are also kept right down.
On a global and a local level, then, the RX treads lightly, but it's also packed with equipment, beautifully built and backed by dealer service that is second-to-none.
While it may not be the most fun 4x4 to drive, the Lexus is comfortable and quiet - a great companion for a long journey.
What Car? pick of the Lexus RX range - 450h SE-L
The Suzuki Jimny has something of a cult following among hardcore off-roaders, but its performance on-road means it's never going to become a major religion – it's the only one star car in this category.
The Land Rover Defender. Well, if you spend your working life driving from field to field it's difficult to beat, but in every other respect it's a bit of a nightmare. Uncomfortable and uncompromising, it's just too focused for 90% of normal car buyers.
The Suzuki Vitara is affordable and drives well, but it's uncomfortable, unrefined and under-powered.
Based on the Navara pick-up, the Pathfinder has plenty of kit, seats seven and is happy in the mud, but it's cramped in the cabin and it feels like it belongs in another era.
The Nissan Murano is quirky-looking, quiet and well-equipped, but it costs too much to run and doesn't drive well. The CVT automatic is particularly disappointing.
Another pair, the Ssangyong Rexton and Kyron, round off the bottom of our 4x4 heap.
The Rexton gives you a lot for you money, but it doesn't feel at home on the road – it's a similar story with the Kyron. While it can cope off road it struggles elsewhere. Both have poor residual values.
You can see all of our 4x4 reviews here
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