Best used 4x4s

Get a car that doesn't just look the part: the best used 4x4s can handle a range of slippery situations

John Evans
Apr 3, 2018

If you’re looking for a car that can tackle off-road driving with relative ease, then you’ll need a 4x4.

Most tall and rugged-looking cars are crossovers or sport utility vehicles (SUVs), which are designed for mainly road use, but 4x4s are engineered to negotiate deep gullies, steep inclines and rough ground - as well as offering decent off-road performance.

Confusingly, most of these cars are also labelled as SUVs, but you can normally identify a proper off-road car by its high ground clearance - a large gap between the ground and the bottom of the car, making it less likely to catch on jagged terrain. The bodywork and bumpers ahead of the front wheels and behind the back wheels is usually short too, allowing them to climb steeper hills.

 

Underneath the muscular-looking metal, you’ll usually find sophisticated four-wheel drive systems that often have low-range gears, which boost performance in steep or tricky situations.

Some, such as the Range Rover are luxury car and off-roader in one. Others, such as the Jeep Wrangler, are no-nonsense, minimalist vehicles you can take anywhere. Then you have the tiny Fiat Panda and Suzuki Jimny, which punch far above their weight and will surprise you with their ability to out-perform larger and more expensive models.

Best used 4x4s

Toyota Land Cruiser

Our pick Toyota Land Cruiser 2.8 TD Invincible (2017, 5,000 miles)
Typical price £45,000  Representative finance £600 per month

There’s a reason the United Nations runs fleets of these in Third World countries: their ability to keep going, long after others have thrown in the towel. The Land Cruiser is not the most luxurious or sophisticated 4x4 on-road but off it, the car is utterly dependable.

 

Land Rover Discovery

Our pick Land Rover Discovery 3.0 SDV6 SE Tech auto (2015, 22,000 miles)

Typical price £35,950  Representative finance £550 per month
 
There’s a new version of the Land Rover Discovery on sale but it’s nowhere near as cheap as the previous-generation model that’s still popular for its boxy design. It gives the larger Range Rover a run for its money in its ability to blend luxury and go-anywhere capability but at considerably less cost.
Read the Land Rover Discovery buying guide

  

Jeep Renegade

Our pick Jeep Renegade 2.0 Multijet Trailhawk (2015, 19,000 miles)
Typical price £16,995  Representative finance £262 per month
 
Entry-level Jeep Renegades won’t do if you’re looking to really test the car off road, as they only have four-wheel drive. However, the range-topping Trailhawk cars are so capable off road that they'll follow the Land rover Discovery, above, deep into rough and boggy territory.

There’s selectable four-wheel drive offering a choice of high and low ranges, skid plates, which protect vulnerable parts underneath the car from bumps and scrapes, plus an armoury of electronics offering different modes. All this and it’s pretty good on-road, too. 
Read the Jeep Renegade buying guide

  

Range Rover

Our pick Range Rover SDV8 Vogue (2015, 20,000 miles)
Typical price £60,000  Representative finance £700 per month
 
The Range Rover offers an unbeatable combination of luxury and off-road prowess. A car that really can be used as a limousine one day and for exploration the next. The SDV8 diesel engine is the one to choose for its power and economy, and Vogue trim the optimum specification
Read the Range Rover buying guide

  

Fiat Panda 4x4

Our pick Fiat Panda Cross 4x4 0.9 Twinair (2015, 12,000 miles)
Typical price £9,895  Representative finance £177 per month

At the opposite end of the scale to the Range Rover, Fiat's Panda proves you don't need a big diesel engine, hefty mechanical underpinnings and acres of steel to have fun off-road. In fact, its tiny dimensions, short overhangs and light weight are exactly why it can scramble up and down the steepest muddy slopes that would leave reputedly more capable rivals struggling.
Read the Fiat Panda buying guide

   

Jeep Wrangler

Our pick Jeep Wrangler 2.8 CRD Sahara (2014, 28,000 miles)
Typical price £28,995  Representative finance £489 per month

Here’s another back-to-basics 4x4, only the Wrangler offers a bit of ‘alternative cool’ in the mix, too. On-road it bounces along Britain’s jagged roads, accompanied by tyre roar, wind noise and the engine’s din. But for many people, that’s its charm. Take it off-road and it comes into its own as a go-anywhere accessory.
Read the Jeep Wrangler buying guide

      

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Our pick Land Rover Discovery Sport 2.2 SD4 SE Tech auto (2015, 34,000 miles)

Typical price £24,499  Representative finance £376 per month

Land Rover’s reputation is built on designing cars that function well on the road, without losing their off-road ability and here’s another. The Discovery Sport is a seven-seat family car one moment and a serious mud-plugger the next. On the road it has an uncannily smooth ride and corners steadily, with plenty of grip. Off-road, it can plough through rough terrain with the best of them.

   

Suzuki Jimny

Our pick Suzuki Jimny SZ3 (2015, 5,000 miles)
Typical price £10,490  Representative finance £191 per month

On-road, the Suzuki Jimny is slow, noisy and uncomfortable. It is off-road, too, but here its short length and shorter overhangs plus its capable 4x4 system with high and low gear ratios come into their own. 

Anyone who’s hired a Jimny on a Greek holiday will testify to the little car’s astonishing ability to negotiate steep, boulder-strewn tracks. And remember, that’s a hire car that has had multiple users who wouldn’t give its wellbeing a second thought.

   

Mercedes G-class

Our pick Mercedes G-class G350d auto (2017, 3,000 miles)
Typical price £87,500  Representative finance £1,255 per month

The Mercedes G-class, or G-Wagen as it was once known, began life as a military vehicle. So it’s incredibly tough but feels quite crude and basic. There’s a bonkers AMG C63 version but for the real world you won't do better than our pick, the G350d.

Although it looks ludicrously expensive, it’s a car that’s in high demand, so it should keep much of its value, keeping the cost of ownership a little lower than the price suggests.

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