The best 4x4 vans x far

Utility meets off-road ability: the best 4x4 vans can do it all

Murray Scullion
Feb 28, 2019

Surfing. Mountain biking. Base jumping. Three extreme sports, and three activities that require participants to haul large and awkward loads to inhospitable places. The perfect suitors for a four-wheel-drive van then.

Alternatively, a 4x4 van is equally as useful to a carpenter who might regularly negotiate muddy paths. Or a plumber who lives in the Shetland Islands. Or a florist, who wants to attend farmers’ markets held on a pretty steep hill.

If you’re after a van with power being sent to all four wheels, there are three main options. Number one is a pick-up. These are rugged, but ultimately lack the space of a van.

We have a separate article on pick-ups here.

Next up, there are commercial SUVs. These are typically family off-roaders with the rear-seats ripped out, replaced with a flat loading area. These are useful, and even purveyors of properly posh off-roaders, Land Rover, has a commercial Discovery.

The final, and most spacious option, is the four-wheel-drive panel van. Quite a few mainstream vans, like the Volkswagen Transporter can be optioned with four-wheel-drive, and they typically come with raised ride heights and some fancy stickers letting people know about its gnarly go-anywhere abilities.

Alternatives to a 4x4 van

If you don’t necessarily need a full four-wheel-drive system, some vans offer alternatives. Renault offers a system called Grip Xtend. It doesn’t send power to all four wheels. It’s much more like an advanced traction control system.

Peugeot and Citroen offer a similar, but more advanced system. On models like the Citroen Nemo and Peugeot Boxer, it allows you to select different modes depending on what terrain you’re on.

And while we’re at it, switching to winter tyres in the winter, can provide more grip, even with a van that is front, or rear, wheel drive.

But if you’ve reached the bottom of this, you’re probably after a 4x4 van.

Best 4x4 vans 

Volkswagen Transporter 4x4

Latest Volkswagen Transporter 4x4 deals from £19,495
Finance from £401 per month

You’ll find the Transporter at the top of many of our lists, and with good reason too.

Transporters are reliable with a proven track record, and offer fantastic value for money considering they house a loadspace of 5,800 litres.

Volkswagen’s 4MOTION four-wheel-drive system is one of the most complex and complete systems available on a van too. It has a proper mechanical differential lock, and is also available with Volkswagen’s smooth seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox.

Loadspace 5,800 litres Payload 1022kg

   

Mercedes Sprinter 4x4

The four-wheel-drive version of the Sprinter promises to be the most gnarly spec on offer. It’s available with two engines, a 2.1-litre diesel making 143hp, and a 3.0-litre diesel V6 making 188hp.

Unlike other vans on this list, the four-wheel-drive can be operated manually via a button. Differential locks can also be optioned if you want to do some serious off-roading.

Prices are yet to be announced, but expect to see it in dealerships by the end of the year.

Loadspace 7,800 litres Payload 804-2547kg

Ford Transit 4x4

Even those not au fait with van nomenclature will recognise the Transit name. It’s dependable, and importantly, is sold in huge numbers. So it should be fairly easy to find one the used market.

The Transit’s four-wheel-drive system is operated via a switch on the dashboard. It’s available in L2 and L3 body lengths, and H2 and H3 heights, with either the 130PS or 170PS versions of the diesel engine.

Loadspace Up to 15,100 m3 Payload up to 2,169kg

Volkswagen Crafter 4x4

Crafter by name, grafter by nature. It’s VW’s biggest van and is a similar size to the Transit above. Expect an intelligent parking system, complete with electronic steering assist, emergency braking and the latest entertainment system.

Also expect to find VW’s 4MOTION four-wheel-drive system. It’s available in panel cab, single cab, and crew cab versions, plus, can be teamed with the twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel housing 175bhp.

Loadspace 11,300-16,400 litres Payload 735-2,573kg

Land Rover Discovery Commercial

Latest Land Rover Discovery commercial deals from £49,000
Finance from £770 per month

Land Rover penned the phrase, the best 4x4xfar. So it would be rude not to include it in a 4x4 related list.

The Discovery Commercial is much the same as a Discovery, albeit with the rear-seats ripped out in favour of storage space. It’s not as practical as the other vans on this list, but, it does have more go-anywhere ability. Plus, it looks much like a regular Discovery rather than a plain old panel van.

Loadspace 1,856 litres Payload 816kg

Toyota Land Cruiser Utility

Like the Land Rover Discovery Commercial above, the Toyota Land Cruiser Utility is essentially a Toyota Land Cruiser with the rear seats ripped out.

This means you get the mountain goat-like abilities of a regular Land Cruiser, albeit with a much larger payload.

It comes in long and short wheelbase models, plus, the 2.7-litre diesel engine is as strong as an ox. It’s even quite sprightly when not fully loaded.

Loadspace 1,574-2,216 litres Payload 593-796kg

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Commercial

Holy niche-filling Batman! Here we have an SUV-turned van, which is also a plug-in hybrid. The regular Outlander PHEV has rather won us over, with its clever use of space and even cleverer plug-in-hybrid system.

If you’re a person who wants to have a van, that will go off-road, plus, slide through busy cities using just electric power (while avoiding congestion zone fees), then this is probably your only option.

It’ll cover around 33 miles on just pure electricity (around town, not off-road) and has a load area of 1,600 litres, which is smaller than a Volkswagen Caddy, but larger than a Vauxhall Corsavan.

Loadspace 1,600 litres Payload 510kg

    

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