RAC Cars News


Winter Is 4x4 Season

By raccars Published

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You might be desperately clinging on to the last vestiges of summer but the encroaching winter is making its presence felt. This is the time of year when 4x4s come into their own, navigating inclement weather and the resulting poor road surfaces, without ruffling a feather. If you're buying for everyday rugged practicality rather than hairy off roading adventures, SUVs are more family friendly than ever. This is what £5,000 will buy you.


BMW made luxury SUVs more accessible to the mass market than they had previously been and provided a great combination of sporty drive, sophisticated interior and beefy exterior. Diesel engined models are, of course, the most economical choice but for this budget, you'll be looking at high mileage, lower spec models - although even basic X5s come with cruise control, air conditioning and leather seats.

Suzuki Jimny

The Jimny might lack badge prestige and butch attitude but it's a genuinely entertaining and very capable little 4x4. The compact footprint also makes it more manageable in car parks and urban environments than larger SUVs. It's also economical, reliable and very agile when the going gets tough.

Hyundai Tucson

What the Tucson lacks in glamour it makes up for in reliability and value for money. There are plenty of tidy, low mileage examples around if practicality is your priority over sophistication, and it's tough enough to stand up to some harsh treatment.

Land Rover Discovery

The Discovery is a great all rounder with genuine off roading ability, a spacious interior and a rough and tough image. It handles both the school run and a weekend mudplugging with equal gravitas. It can also be a seven seater if that option was taken, which makes it very practical and more versatile than a lot of the competition. The Discovery is solidly built but suffers from some mechanical weaknesses, so test drive it rigorously and insist upon a full service history.

Subaru Forester

The Forester isn't the traditional 4x4 and occupies that middle ground between SUV and estate car that's fast becoming trendy territory. For many buyers, this is a more manageable and useful format but the Forester is far from docile. It's formidably tenacious and reliable, able to get you out of tough spots, both on road and off. The Forester's petrol engines aren't the most economical and the interior is rather basic but it's a friendly and dependable vehicle.

Suzuki Grand Vitara

The Grand Vitara has suffered from image problems over the years but its compact footprint and user friendly controls make it a handy little urban runaround - which also enjoys a gallop through the fields at weekends. As a Suzuki, it's also reassuringly reliable. The interior is a little low rent but the Grand Vitara is relatively economical to run and makes a sensible used buy.

Toyota RAV4

The term 'soft roader' was coined for the RAV4, which introduced the idea that off road agility didn't have to mean vast, butch and clumsy. £5,000 should get you a smart third generation example with a diesel engine or, if you stretch the budget a bit, a tidy petrol model. This is low maintenance SUV ownership - easy to live with and very dependable.

Honda CR-V

The CR-V is a little too civilised for either the 'S' or 'U' parts of the SUV tag. What it does offer is Honda's traditional build quality, reliability and relaxing driving dynamics in a smart, spacious and comfortable form. It is a 4x4 but isn't really designed for off roading and most used models have been well cared for. Diesel versions have usually worked harder than the cheaper petrol models.

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