Automatic off-roader

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Name Sarah Williamson
Age 47
Drives Toyota RAV4
Budget 17,000
Wants 'Something just as safe for me and my dog.

It needs to have an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive. Better fuel economy would be nice, too.'

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Subaru Impreza 2.0 R auto
Price 16,155
Target Price 16,079

It doesn't have as much ground clearance as an SUV, but the Impreza does have four-wheel drive to help out on those slippery roads. This auto version is surprisingly frugal for a petrol it'll do 34.4mpg.

Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI SE DSG, '08/08
Price 16,800

Pricey when new, but a year-old Tiguan is a great buy. It's as good on Tarmac as many small hatches, and this 2.0-litre diesel version should manage almost 40mpg even with the optional auto 'box.

Land Rover Freelander 2.2 TD4 GS auto, '07/07
Price 16,200

It's miles ahead of the Tiguan when the road turns to mush, but fuel economy does take a hit from the Freelander's optional automatic gearbox Sarah could expect a maximum of only 33.2mpg.