Best cars for floods: cars that can drive through the deepest water

Need a car that's prepared for anything? Here are the most affordable cars that can cope with deep flood water

Christofer Lloyd
Oct 10, 2019

It doesn’t matter whether you live in the centre of London or rural Somerset, flooding can cause big issues on the roads. If you don’t want to be marooned away from home, however, you can take matters into your own hands, by choosing a car that is capable of driving through deep water without conking out and causing serious damage.

With more and more drivers choosing high-riding SUVs, you might think these cars are capable of ploughing through deep water without incident. However, some tough looking models like the Mercedes GLC can barely cope with water any deeper than an ordinary hatchback.

The GLC can only survive driving through 300mm of water. That’s just half of what the similarly sized Land Rover Discovery Sport can manage and much less than the far smaller and cheaper Ford EcoSport can handle, at 550mm.

Choose an ordinary car, though, and you may find that even 300mm of water is far too much for your car to handle, meaning that if you encounter any deep water, you’ll have to turn around and take a detour. Keep reading for our roundup of the off reasonably priced off-roaders that can get you through floods without incident.

Best cars for floods 2019

1. Land Rover Defender

Wading depth 900mm of water
Land Rover Defender deals from £29,491
Monthly finance from £507

The old Land Rover Defender is one of the most capable off-road vehicles ever built. However, it could only wade through 500mm of water - a decent effort, but not enough to get through the deepest floods, without modification. The new model, though, is capable of driving through nearly twice that, at 900mm.

This makes the Defender seriously capable at dealing with flooding. Yes, the new car is pricey, starting from £45,240, but with plenty of used models available from £29,491, fit a snorkel and it should be able to practical rival the new model.

If you’d rather something a bit more luxurious, the Range Rover is also able to wade through 900mm of water, as is the Land Rover Discovery when air suspension is fitted. Meanwhile, the Range Rover Sport can get through 850mm of water, making it very nearly as capable.

2. Ford Ranger

Wading depth 800mm of water
Latest Ford Ranger deals from £11,990
Monthly finance from £235

Not only is the Ranger capable of fording 800mm of water, but it’s damn tough, too, able to carry a tonne of kit in its load bay and tow a hefty 3,500kg. Better still, it has 237mm of ground clearance, meaning it should be able to negotiate rough terrain without you having to worry about scraping its underside

It’s not just brand new Rangers that offer this capability; used versions do too. This means that you can get a Ranger capable of plunging through 80cm of water from just £11,990.

Ford Ranger buyers' guide

3. Toyota Land Cruiser

 Wading depth 700mm of water
Latest Toyota Land Cruiser deals from £29,000
Monthly finance from £436

With a relatively compact three-door version and a huge five-door model to choose from, the Land Cruiser comes in everything from a basic van-like entry-level form to luxurious, upmarket incarnations.

Whichever you go for, however, you should be able to splash through 700mm of water without drama. Another bonus is Toyota’s reputation for reliability, so you shouldn’t expect any flooding- or reliability-related headaches.

Toyota Land Cruiser buyers' guide

4. Mitsubishi Shogun Sport

Wading depth 700mm of water
Latest Mitsubishi Shogun Sport deals from £26,790
Monthly finance from £386

Another alternative that can cope with 70cm of water is the similarly tough Mitsubishi Shogun Sport. This isn’t the most comfortable or luxurious off-roader, but if you want a car that offers serious off-road capability over style, the Shogun Sport is a great choice.

With seven seats and the ability to tow a substantial 3,100kg, the Shogun Sport should be tough enough to cope with whatever challenges you present it with. Just don’t expect a sporty drive or the most upmarket cabin.

Mitsubishi Shogun Sport buyers' guide

5. Toyota Hilux

Wading depth 700mm of water
Latest Toyota Hilux deals from £14,490
Monthly finance from £211

The Toyota Hilux pick-up is every bit as tough as the Mitsubishi above and also offers about twice as much ground clearance as many ‘crossovers’ that look like off-roaders, but don’t have any of the mechanical kit to back up the looks.

This means that whether you need to head off-road or tackle serious floods, the Hilux should be up to the job. Considering how capable the Ford Ranger above is, in terms of its wading depth and towing capability, however, you might want to look at the Ford first.

Toyota Hilux buyers' guide

6. Land Rover Discovery Sport

Wading depth 600mm of water
Latest Land Rover Discovery deals from £17,300
Monthly finance from £241

It may not be able to cruise through water as deep as the Defender above and the full-size Discovery, but the Discovery Sport can still get through 600mm of water without incident - far more than you should ever need to take advantage of on the road.

The Discovery Sport also looks modern and offers a comfy interior with the option of seven seats - making it a practical family car. The new Range Rover Evoque can also handle 600mm of water, as can the Mitsubishi L200 pick-up, though that’s bettered by the Ford Ranger (800mm wading depth) and Toyota Hilux (700mm) mentioned above.

Land Rover Discovery Sport buyers' guide

7. Ford EcoSport

Wading depth 550mm of water
Latest Ford Ecosport deals from £7,000
Monthly finance from £115

Looking like nothing more than a squared-off, jacked-up Fiesta, you wouldn’t expect the EcoSport to prove particularly capable in deep water, but it can actually wade through a substantial 550mm of water.

This is a hugely impressive feat considering that the Jeep Wrangler - famous for its off-road ability - and the enormous Mercedes GLE can’t get anywhere near that.

To ensure this impressive wading depth, go for one of the pre-2017 models, since changes to the EcoSport have actually made it less capable over challenging terrain since then.

Ford EcoSport buyers' guide

8. Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk

Wading depth 508mm of water

If you want a car that can deal with deep water as well as a little off-roading, the Cherokee Trailhawk should fit the bill. In off-road-friendly Trailhawk trim the Cherokee offers four-wheel drive, decent ground clearance for driving over rough ground, plus that 508mm wading ability.

The larger Grand Cherokee Trailhawk can wade through water the same depth, but since it’s a larger, more expensive car, it’s more impressive that the Cherokee can manage the same feat.

Jeep Cherokee buyers' guide

9. Jeep Renegade Trailhawk

Wading depth 480mm of water

The Jeep Renegade is exactly the same length as the VW Golf, yet it offers a whole load more capability when it comes to wading through deep water or tackling rough roads.

It may not be able to match the even smaller Ford EcoSport in the wading stakes, but being able to drive through 480mm of water should get you home unscatched, even if you have to negotiate deep floods across the road, from time to time.

Jeep Renegade buyers' guide

10. Volvo XC40

Wading depth 450mm of water
Latest Volvo XC40 deals from £23,990
Monthly finance from £312

The XC40 may look like a style-over-substance ‘crossover’ unlikely to offer any decent all-weather ability, but as long as you avoid the T5 hybrid model, it can actually ford 450mm. That should be enough to deal with most, if not all, of the floods that you’re likely to encounter during normal driving.

Surprisingly, this means that the XC40 offers greater wading credentials than the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross - which can only handle 400mm of water - and the Dacia Duster, which offers strong off-road ability, but can only safely negotiate 350mm of water.

So, if you never intend to drive off-road, but periodically encounter flooding on the roads around home - and want to be sure you can get home - the XC40 could actually be a wiser bet than the Mitsubishi and Dacia above, despite both of these models offering greater off-road credentials.

Volvo XC40 buyers' guide


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