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Top 10 4x4s

Sun Motors used car category guides - to help you find the perfect motor

By Russell Bray Published

4x4 | advice | top 10 | Top 10 category guides

Top-10-4x4s_3x2

FAMILIES love the style and the better vision from the high-up stance of 4x4s. And the all-weather ability can be useful too.

Space for carrying stuff is also a plus, and for pursuing some outdoor sports a 4x4 is near a must.

Make sure you use the correct tyres if you do attempt serious off-roading and be warned, even 4x4s need special kit for deep flood water.

The good news is that the relentless march of technology has made the more reasonable sized 4x4 significantly cheaper to run.

One of Britain’s cheapest cars, the Dacia Duster, is even available as a 4x4. How times change.

Here we list the Sun Motors Top 10 4x4s. We've included our expert's ratings and reader ratings. We also want to know which of these 4x4s you think is the best. So get voting, and we'll print the results in Sun Motors in the coming weeks.

Don't forget, you can click through to read fuller reviews, or see how much used models are for sale near you.

More Top 10 guides:  City - Electric - Hatchback - Saloon - MPV - 4x4 - Crossover - Estate Sport - Convertible

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used 4x4 on sunmotors.co.uk


Audi Q5

Aud-acious ... drivers will clamour for the Q5
Sun rating: 4/5
THE GOOD
  • Handsome
  • Great cabin and big boot
  • Refined turbo diesel engines
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Ride too firm, especially with some wheel options
  • Very hard to grab a bargain

Read the full Audi Q5 review


Sophisticated, elegant styling and a more manageable size than its big brother Q7 slot the Audi Q5 into a sector of the SUV market with few rivals.

Handling is more like a hatchback than a 4x4.

There are two petrol engines with 178 or 222bhp or a 3-litre with 268bhp, but even that power pales next to the top of the range SQ5 diesel with 309bhp.

Most buyers go for one of the smoother and surprisingly quiet 2-litre diesels with 141 or 175bhp. If you tow heavy loads there’s also a 3-litre V6 with 242bhp.

Solidity and image means strong second hand prices.

Watch out for: Problems reported on some high mileage (80k) S-Tronic automatic gearboxes. Electronics can play up.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Audi Q5 on sunmotors.co.uk


BMW X5

BMWX5
Sun rating: 4/5
THE GOOD
  • Aggressive styling not to all tastes
  • Great to drive
  • Strong engines
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Car very popular with thieves
  • Run flat tyres pricey to replace
  • Difficult to trace battery discharge

Read the full BMW X5 review


Road handling matters to BMW drivers so for the agile X5 the company coined the tag Sports Activity Vehicle rather than Sports Utility Vehicle.

Launched in 2007 the car weighed around 300kg less than a Range Rover Sport and even today only a Porsche Cayenne will deliver a more dynamic drive.

There was a styling makeover in 2010 with minor engine efficiency improvements. The third generation X5 debuted in 2013.

Over the years the 3.0 V6 diesel has been the best seller. Most popular was the 232bhp but there are also 282bhp versions. All are automatics and you should expect 26 to 38mpg.

Most resaleable package, if you look that far ahead, would have leather seats, metallic paint and 19in alloy wheels, though 18in wheels deliver a better ride.

Petrol models were 3.0i (27mpg) and 4.8i (23mpg).

Watch out for: Paint scratches easily - some colours ‘orange peel’ rather than smooth.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used BMW X5 on sunmotors.co.uk


Dacia Duster

daciaduster.1000x667

Sun rating: 4/5
THE GOOD
  • Exceptional value for money
  • Spacious and economical
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Feels old to drive
  • Only three stars in EuroNCAP crash tests

Read the full Dacia Duster review


You don’t have to spend pots of money for a 4x4 if you aren’t fussy about the badge on the car.

Around £11,500 will get you a Dacia Duster.. and that’s a new one.

Made by Renault’s Romanian arm it uses proven Renault petrol and diesel engines.

Feels like a traditional 4x4 of old with soft suspension, vague steering and lots of body roll which shows up a lack of sideways support from the seats.

The 1.6 petrol in 2WD versions is noisy on motorways and needs revs.

Expect 32 to 35mpg from the petrol and a frugal 43 to 47mpg from the 1.5dCi turbo diesel all-wheel drive versions. This engine is also used by Nissan.

Watch out for: Early signs of rust in body seams. Some radios and speaker faults.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Dacia Duster on sunmotors.co.uk


Skoda Yeti

Yeti.28.620x413
Sun rating: 4/5
THE GOOD
  • Solidly built
  • Impressive petrol engines suit town drivers
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Rattles after time
  • Expensive faults with air conditioning
  • Rear coil springs break

Read the full Skoda Yeti review


Radically different good looks, good value, practicality and enjoyable handling made the Skoda Yeti a sales hit as soon as it hit the streets in 2009.

The cabin is huge but the seats heavy to hump in and out if you want to use it as van.

A wise move for town users is the lively 1.2 litre turbocharged petrol with 33mpg round town, 44mpg on a run.

Turbo diesel power comes from 1.6 or 2-litre engines with choice of three power outputs. Also a rapid, 27 to 33mpg,1.8TSI petrol.

For 2014 the Yeti’s been given a styling refresh with a suave city version and a chunkier Outdoor model with four-wheel drive.

Watch out for: Check engine oil level every 1,000 miles. Preventative maintenance: change water pump too when cam belts are changed.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Skoda Yeti on sunmotors.co.uk


Honda CR-V

A touch of class ... Honda's CR-V
Sun rating: 3.5/5
THE GOOD
  • Excellent reliability
  • Strong resale values
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Dull to drive
  • Avoid slow responding five-speed automatic gearbox

Read the full Honda CR-V review


Honda’s softest of the soft roaders, the CR-V, isn’t really intended for anything rougher than a farm track.

Yet by our figures it is the UK’s top selling SUV with sales approaching 200,000 since 1996.

It’s pricey too, quite noisy and not that well equipped for the money, but there’s lots of passenger and boot space and near bullet-proof reliability.

The 2014 Which? Car survey said the CR-V 2.2 i-DTEC was the UK’s most reliable 4x4 up to three years old.

It has zero reported breakdowns and an average annual repair of just £10. Overall reliability score 98.5%.

The 1.6 diesel has just enough power; 2.2 is better, gives 40+mpg. SE spec is lowest you should go.

Watch out for: Worn brake discs, some problems with particulate filter on diesels, stop-start doesn’t always operate.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Honda CR-V on sunmotors.co.uk


Kia Sportage

KiaSportage620

Sun rating: 3.5/5
THE GOOD
  • Clean, modern looks
  • Less feminine than a Range Rover Evoque
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Kia recalled Sportages for a possible fault with the seat belt pre-tensioners

Read the full Kia Sportage review


With its sleek, modern looks it’s hard to believe the Sportage has been with us since 2010.

It’s built in the same factory in Slovakia as the Hyundai ix35 and is essentially the same vehicle.

The good quality feel is backed up by a seven year/100,000 mile warranty compared with five years unlimited mileage for the Hyundai.

Unusually, diesel power isn’t the obvious choice. There’s a good 1.6 litre petrol engine and a reasonably slick manual gearbox front-wheel drive choice. Fuel thirst goes up with the 2-litre petrol and 4WD.

The 1.7 litre diesel could be quieter but is still a better bet than the 2-litre.

The Sportage is well equipped but rides lumpily on poor surfaces.

Watch out for: Check everything electrical works. There have been some niggles.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Kia Sportage on sunmotors.co.uk


Nissan Qashqai

qashqaiiiii.28.620x413

Sun rating: 3.5/5
THE GOOD
  • Huge choice out there so don’t buy the first one you see
  • Very well suited to family life
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Not as reliable as that Japanese name suggests
  • Rear shock absorber failures
  • New model much better

Read the full Nissan Qashqai review


Most of them aren’t all-wheel drive, and they don’t look much like true SUVs, but the Sunderland built ‘crossover’ Nissan Qashqai has been the surprise sales success story of the last seven years.

A sexier version has just been launched but last year alone more than 50,000 of the previous model were sold in the UK. That’s amazing for a hatchback on stilts that delivers little excitement for drivers.

The Qashqai comes as a five-seater, or the seven-seater +2 with its two extra rear seats for children.

Engine choice is 113bhp 1.6 or 139bhp 2.0 petrol and 104bhp 1.5 or 148bhp 2.0 turbo-diesels.

The smaller petrol is best for low mileage users but the 2-litre is so much smoother and sharper.

The smaller diesel copes well most of the time, can give 44mpg.

Watch out for: Damp round/under the dashboard could mean a new windscreen. Check service history as if timing belts not changed they can snap and destroy the engine. Air conditioning system can corrode after four/five years. Expensive to replace. Cylinder head cracks seen on 1.6 petrol engines.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Nissan Qashqai on sunmotors.co.uk


Range Rover Sport

Heart and Sol ... Phil Lanning drives the new Range Rover Sport
Sun rating: 3/5
THE GOOD
  • German rivals don’t have the same charismatic image
  • Superbly comfortable long distance cruiser
  •  Great driving position and feeling of safety
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Problems with electrics, engine timing belt, gearbox, suspension, brakes
  • More than half over three years old break down at least once a year

Read the full Range Rover Sport review


To create a sportier, more affordable Range Rover, Land Rover took the ladder chassis of the Discovery and fitted it with a sleeker body, a swept-back windscreen and lower roof line.

It wasn’t that sporty but as with the all-new Sport launched in July 2014 (with a massive price hike) for younger/trendier buyers it is the Rangie to have.

Debuting in 2005 it had a 2.7 V6 turbo diesel or a 4.4 litre petrol or truly thirsty supercharged 4.2 litre petrol engine under the bonnet.

A 3.6 V8 diesel, then a 242bhp 3.0 TDV6 diesel engine followed.

The new 3.0 diesel of 2010 saw power up 36% and fuel consumption improved nine per cent compared to the 2.7. A more economical 208bhp engine was also introduced.

Watch out for: Failed rear air springs, knocking from worn suspension bushes (speed bumps are a good test).

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Range Rover Sport on sunmotors.co.uk


Land Rover Discovery

discovery.28.620x413

Sun rating: 3/5
THE GOOD
  • Amazing capability off road
  • Great long distance cruiser
  • Strong image so good residual values
        THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Not cheap to run
  • General reliability still a worry
  • Electronic parking brakes fail

Read the full Land Rover Discovery review


Some people find the Discovery’s styling more ‘genuine’ as the Range Rover has gone more bling and Knightsbridge.

You can tackle off-road terrain so steep and slippery you would need ropes and climbing boots to get down on foot.

Long motorway journeys are a breeze.

Space for seven people and lots of bags, though in the US they reckon the boot still isn’t big enough.

Between versions II and III the Discovery put on a lot of weight, which means you will struggle to beat 27mpg even on long cruisy journeys.

Later cars get twin turbo 3-litre V6 diesel replacing 2.7 litre single turbo engine.

Watch out for: Turbo failure on V6 engine is major, body off, repair job. Same for engine timing belt replacement. Make sure all warning lights go out and autos change gear correctly.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Land Rover Discovery on sunmotors.co.uk


Range Rover Evoque

British jobs boost ... new Evoque will be built at Land Rover's Halewood factory
Sun rating: 3/5
THE GOOD
  • Great in the city
  • Vast selection of colour/trim options
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Feels too posh and cultured in the country
  • Creaks/rattles difficult to locate and stop

Read the full Range Rover Evoque review


Rakish lines and more attention to styling than usual with a 4x4 have made the Range Rover Evoque, launched late 2010, a huge and profitable hit for Land Rover.

Crucially for big sales the car also appeals to women drivers, especially in three-door form.

It’s not that spacious, oddment storage is poor and the boot small.

You can get the look for less with the 148bhp two-wheel drive diesel, but the 187bhp 4WD is peppier and also rides more comfortably.

Real world fuel consumption is 27 to 42mpg. Nine-speed auto gearbox has been available since March 2013.

There’s also a hilarious 247bhp petrol that feels like the GTI of off-roaders.

Watch out for: Stop-start foibles. Possible fuel leak from Ford-Peugeot sourced engine which is also fitted in Freelander and Jaguar XF and XJ.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Range Rover Evoque on sunmotors.co.uk


Vote for your favourite

More Top 10 guides:  City - Electric - Hatchback - Saloon - MPV - 4x4 - Crossover - Estate Sport - Convertible
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