Used Vauxhall Frontera 4x4 1998 - 2004 review

Category: Large SUV

Rivals do a much better job

Vauxhall Frontera 4x4 (98 - 04)
  • Vauxhall Frontera 4x4 (98 - 04)
  • Vauxhall Frontera 4x4 (98 - 04)
Used Vauxhall Frontera 4x4 1998 - 2004 review
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Steve Huntingford
Published01 January 2006

What's the used Vauxhall Frontera 4x4 like?

Even when this version of the Frontera was launched, it felt outdated. Land Rover had recently launched the Freelander, What Car?'s Car of the Year that year, and it had moved the goalposts in this class.

On-road, the Frontera's ride is choppy at all speeds, the gearchange is awkward and its refinement leaves a lot to be desired. The only consolation is that, off-road, it regains some of the ground it lost to the Freelander - it's a better choice than a Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V if you head away from the Tarmac regularly. But, overall, a Freelander has a much better blend of abilities.


Rivals do a much better job

  • Good off-road and a cheap used buy
  • Poor on-road and unreliable

Inside, too, things are far from great. For the driver and front-seat passenger, the shallow footwells make things uncomfortable, and the cheap-looking interior is disappointing, if durable.

On the plus side, there's as much space in the back as in the Freelander, but getting there is tricky. The only saving grace is the boot, which is much bigger than a Freelander's, although even that is spoilt by the side-opening tailgate.

Ownership cost

What used Vauxhall Frontera 4x4 will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Vauxhall Frontera 4x4?

Compared to the Freelander, the Frontera looks like something of a bargain used buy. At the same age, a Frontera is at least a few hundred pounds less expensive than the Land Rover, and even a Suzuki Grand Vitara will cost more.

The Frontera also looks pretty good in terms of everyday running costs. Insurance groups are lower than rivals' and it's much the same story with routine servicing: compared to a Freelander or Mitsubishi Shogun Sport, the Vauxhall is generally a little cheaper.

On the other hand the Frontera loses out when you look at fuel economy. Engine for engine, the Vauxhall is always less economical than the Land Rover or Suzuki rivals.

Likewise, when it comes to unscheduled repairs, the Frontera also looks very dear. According to Warranty Direct, average repairs on a Frontera are considerably more expensive than on a Freelander.

Our recommendations

Which used Vauxhall Frontera 4x4 should I buy?

The three- and five-door cars are very distinct; the three-door is less spacious, but more sporty to drive, whereas the five-door is far more spacious and practical, and its ride is less choppy.

In either, the 2.2-litre diesel engine suits the car best, especially if you want to use the car off-road, for towing or ferrying the family around.

By comparison, the 2.2-litre petrol is sluggish and noisy when worked hard - and that's most of the time. The 3.2-litre V6 is certainly quick, but the car's poor handling means you can't make the most of it. And, perhaps more importantly, you're unlikely to see more than 20mpg in everyday use.

Olympus, launched in early 2003, is the most lavish trim available, but we reckon the more basic trims are better value. So, stick with Sport rather than RS on three-door models, and avoid the Limited versions of the five-door.


What alternatives should I consider to a used Vauxhall Frontera 4x4?