Off-road 4x4 mega test
Ten of the most capable four-wheel-drive SUVs go toe-to-toe to establish what you should be driving when the going gets rough...
Dacia Duster Blue dCi 115 4x4 Comfort
List price £17,995
Target Price £17,824
Suzuki Jimny 1.5 Allgrip SZ5
List price £18,499
Target Price £18,499
Subaru XV 2.0i SE Premium Lineartronic
List price £28,525
Target Price £27,363
Jeep Renegade 2.0 170 4WD Trailhawk ATX
List price £31,230
Target Price £30,248
Mitsubishi Shogun Sport 2.4 Diesel 4WD 4 auto
List price £32,499
Target Price £32,499
Toyota Land Cruiser 2.8 Diesel 177 AWD Utility 3dr
List price £35,295
Target Price £33,088
Jeep Wrangler 2.2 Multijet-II 200 Rubicon 4dr
List price £49,455
Target Price £47,111
Land Rover Discovery SD6 Landmark Edition
List price £59,995
Target Price £56,072
Range Rover SDV6 Vogue SE
List price £90,225
Target Price £87,162
Mercedes G-Class G350d 4Matic AMG Line
List price £96,180
Target Price £96,180
While we appreciate the appeal of a lofty driving position and rugged styling in an SUV, we don’t often recommend one with four-wheel drive if it’s available with just two driven wheels. That’s because most people only drive on the road and despite what you might think, would rarely benefit from having four-wheel drive. It also makes cars heavier, more complex and pricier to buy and run, while suspension systems that work well over rough terrain don’t usually offer a comfortable ride on the road.
But what if you need something that can plough through mud or climb a steep, rock-strewn hill? What’s your best bet then? To find out, we’ve gathered together 10 of the most capable four-wheel-drive SUVs you can buy and paired them up in five price brackets.
For those with up to £35,000 to spend, we’ve got two contenders from brands with loads of four-wheel drive experience: the Subaru XV and the Jeep Renegade, in its most capable Trailhawk trim. Push your budget to £45,000 and things get even more serious, with the rugged Mitsubishi Shogun Sport going up against the legendary Toyota Land Cruiser.
In the £45,000 to £60,000 price bracket, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon tussles with the Land Rover Discovery, and if you’re lucky enough to be spending even more than that, we’ve got the ever-capable Range Rover and the mighty Mercedes-Benz G-Class.
Of course, such worthy 4x4s need a suitably challenging venue in which to test them. We’ve been to not one but two off-road courses – one at Millbrook Proving Ground and another at a disused quarry – where we’ve found out how they climb, crawl and wade through terrain that would stop lesser SUVs dead.
We’re concentrating on a handful of obstacles, starting off with four relatively smooth gravel hills ranging from 26% to 35%. If each 4x4 can handle this, it’s on to sand and silt hills that are slipperier and far more rutted. Even trickier is the Horseshoe, a slippery, churned-up hill with a sharp bend at its peak. We also have offset ditches and humps to test suspension travel and a range of easier trails to assess driveability. The winner from each price band will go into contention to be crowned overall champion.
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