With the explosive rise of the compact SUV on our city streets it is easy to forget that the first 4×4’s were actually designed for tackling challenging terrain.
With that in mind, we thought we’d take a look at the best 4×4 cars for an off-road adventure. So buckle up and prepare for a truly unique experience.
The Jeep Wrangler has maintained its position as one of the most impressive off-roaders on the market, thanks to its unbeatable and enduring off-road capabilities. It may not have the same interior luxuries as some of the city sleek SUVs however, off-road it comes to life.
It tackles ascents and descents admirably, allowing you to traverse hilly or mountainous terrain with as much effort as it takes to drive to the local shops – i.e. it is a complete breeze. The high-ground clearance ensures it is entirely capable scrambling on the roughest and most rugged terrain. While the outlandishly rugged Rubicon spec comes with whopping 33-inch tyres. Plus thanks to strong axle tubes, larger brakes and rugged steel skid plates you can travel further than you ever thought possible.
In addition, an advanced traction system enables you to handle some of the harshest and most unpredictable conditions. With precision steering and a tight turning radius mean you can adapt to changes in directions and unexpected turns.
With the Jeep Wrangler, it is possible to tackle bodies of water with absolute confidence. This is because the air intake is positioned high in the engine compartment, the electrical connections are sealed against moisture and the body opening close tightly.
Plus for a truly immersive off-road experience, you can completely remove the windows and doors to let the great outdoors in.
Land Rover Defender
No self-respecting list of the best 4x4s would be complete without the Land Rover Defender. Synonymous with the British countryside it has garnered success worldwide making it one of the most instantly recognisable four-wheel-drive vehicles in the world. From farm life to military workhorse, life has been far from ordinary for the robust Defender. If you want to make every journey feel like an adventure then this is the vehicle for you.
Thanks to a low-range setup you get much greater control over tricky terrain and when traversing downhill. It has unbeatable grip in wet and muddy conditions allowing you to escape the stickiest of situations. Plus with a legal tow limit of three and a half tonnes, you have plenty of pulling power.
Panels and parts are cheap, readily available and easy to replace meaning if you do find yourself in a spot of bother you can relax in the knowledge it won’t cost an arm and a leg to sort out. While the interior features materials that can be hosed down, so there’s no need to worry about how much mud you and your obligatory four-legged companion will be bringing into the cabin.
The utilitarian nature might not feature many mod-cons or luxuries but few other cars are as capable or as enduring as the Defender.
The Mitsubishi Shogun was one of the first vehicles to combine the ruggedness of a 4×4 with the sophisticated spec normally associated with top-end saloons. Plus as it is available with seven seats it is the ideal option for those with a busy and active family life.
With unbeatable loading, lugging and pulling power the Shogun is a real powerhouse that works just as hard as you do. While the lofty driving position gives you a great view of the terrain ahead so you can see exactly what you will be tackling.
Like any real 4×4, the Shogun comes to life when driving it across cross-country. With four selectable drive modes, it offers more versatility whether on or off-road. The 2H setting is ideal for daily driving, 4H distributes torque between the front and rear axles for on-road slippery conditions, 4HLc enhances traction on snow, sand and dirt while the 4LLc setting provides even greater torque for extreme off-road conditions. The addition of active stability control and traction control further stabilise the vehicle.
The Suzuki Jimny might not be the first vehicle you think of when you’re looking for an off-roader it is arguably one of the best small 4×4. Affordable to buy and cheap to run it puts in a commendable performance.
A back-to-basics off-roader it comes with a low-range gearbox, 19cm of ground clearance and short overhangs both front and rear ensure it will manage to deal with a variety of terrains. Plus thanks to its lighter footprint it is more nimble off-road and will have no problems tackling waterlogged terrain, as unlike heavier options it won’t get bogged down.
With a run forever quality, you can trust in the Suzuki Jimny to keep running even in the trickiest of situations. While the option of a petrol engine is a refreshing change in a sector still dominated by diesel engines.
The latest Jimny is due out in 2019 so it is possible to get behind the wheel of a new-look vehicle with as much style as it has substance.
While the Duster does not have quite the same toughness as some of the other vehicles mentioned we think it is still a pretty formidable vehicle. The 4×4 system might not traverse a mountain but it will manage all manner of conditions from mud and sludge to bumps, jolts and even obstacles in the road, providing a solid, steady and stable ride throughout.
The long-travel suspension setup makes light work of bumpy country lanes, while the 205mm of ground clearance allows you to cope with whatever is in its path. On top of that, there is a selectable traction control system allowing you to adjust from front-wheel drive, automatic or a half and half front and rear setup, to gain extra traction in the slipperiest situations.
A massive selling point of the Duster though is its ridiculously low selling price. You can pick one up new with warranty for less than many of the other listed examples second-hand.