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Best 4x4 cars 2024

Many of the SUVs and crossovers we see today are inspired by off-road vehicles, but which ones can actually cut it in the rough?

Erin Baker

Words by: Erin Baker

Dan Trent

Additional words by: Dan Trent

Last updated on 24 April 2024 | 0 min read

Once upon a time the term 4x4 only applied to genuine off-road vehicles like old-school Land Rover Defenders, Toyota Land Cruisers or the utilitarian pick-up trucks used by farmers, construction workers or others with an actual need to go off the beaten track. But the popularity of high-riding SUVs and crossovers has blurred the lines somewhat, and now a significant number of everyday cars look like they’re built to go wading through mud or scrambling up mountains. When in fact they’re no more capable in the rough stuff than any normal hatchback. Possibly less so, given the real difference is often down to tyre choice and a ‘regular’ car on winter tyres will go further in the snow than an SUV on conventional rubber.
It's not made any easier given the many and various mechanical ways in which modern cars can send power from the engine, electric motor or combination of the two to all four wheels for improved traction in slippery conditions, be that a muddy field or just a wet road. Without getting, ahem, bogged down in the technicalities, marketing jargon or any of the rest of it here’s our selection of the most capable and credible four-wheel drive cars currently available. Some you’ll expect to see, others may surprise you. Read on to find out more!

Land Rover Defender

Originally developed in the late 1940s as an affordable, utilitarian vehicle the original Land Rover evolved over the decades to become a British icon popular with farmers, families and even the late Queen Elizabeth. Rebranded as the Defender in the 1980s and reborn more recently into the modern SUV we know today, the current Land Rover is a clever blend of sophistication, style and the legendary off-road performance that made its name. The one thing it’s missing? The old “Best 4x4xFar” window sticker once worn by Land Rovers back in the day!
Read the review and browse Land Rover Defenders on Auto Trader
Land Rover Defender off-roading in mud
Land Rover Defender

Toyota Land Cruiser

Out in the wilds where reliability is a matter of more than just convenience there’s an old joke that if you want to go anywhere you take a Land Rover, but if you want to come back you choose a Toyota Land Cruiser! And from Africa to Australia it’s fair to say Toyota’s legendary 4x4 has a reputation for unstoppable toughness, with decades-old versions still plugging away doing their thing. Beyond a small but loyal customer base it’s never quite had the same popularity here, though that may be about to change with confirmation the new Land Cruiser 250 will be coming to the UK. Like the Defender it’s been designed to celebrate the traditions of its predecessors, the cool blend of retro and modern looks likely to go down well while the introduction of mild hybrid technology should help keep running costs somewhere near manageable.
Read the review of the current model and browse Toyota Land Cruisers on Auto Trader

Ineos Grenadier

Petro-chemical billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is a man used to getting his own way, and when Land Rover declined his offer to keep building the old Land Rover Defender under his own Ineos brand he decided to create his own modern version of it from scratch. And where the new Defender identifies more as a luxury SUV the Ineos Grenadier – named after the London pub in which the plan was hatched, and that Ratcliffe subsequently bought – stays true to the utilitarian, proper 4x4 ethos. As such it’s not especially refined on the road but, once off it, the combination of Land Rover, Land Cruiser and Mercedes G-Class influence results in perhaps the purest off-roader you can currently buy. And there’s an electric version on the way, too!
Read the review and browse Ineos Grenadiers on Auto Trader

Bentley Bentayga

Following the lead of the original Range Rover, British manufacturers have demonstrated a particular talent for building luxurious 4x4s, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan perhaps the ultimate example while the Bentley Bentayga combines epic performance with surprising off-road ability. Recently benefitting from a comprehensive update, the new Bentayga has new tech and a convincing a plug-in hybrid option as well.
Read the full review and find the Bentayga of your dreams on Auto Trader here.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

True, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio isn’t really built for serious off-roading. But where the related Giulia saloon, especially in its most powerful Quadrifoglio form, can struggle for traction on a greasy road the Stelvio deploys its all-wheel drive to incredible effect. Of all the sporty car brands to ‘go 4x4’ we’d argue the Stelvio is still one of the sexiest looking as well, recent updates meaning it now has the tech to keep up with its German rivals. Buy it in red, naturally. And, if you can afford it, go all-in with the Ferrari-engined Quadrifoglio version!
Read the review and browse Alfa Romeo Stelvios on Auto Trader

Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler is the fun 4x4 and a true slice of rugged Americana, with massive exposed hinges and bolts, squared-off wheel arches, and a roof that comes away completely, leaving a roll cage for the kids to swing from. It feels underpowered with a lot of body roll and noise, but despite its many weaknesses, we absolutely love it and have massively enjoyed living with it the last few months.
Read the review and browse Jeep Wranglers on Auto Trader

Skoda Kodiaq

Crossovers and SUVs have become the dominant format for family cars in all categories in recent years, but not all are as off-road capable as their looks might suggest. And while it is, admittedly, based on shared Volkswagen foundations used on all sorts of cars the Skoda Kodiaq is, perhaps, the most credible of them all in 4x4 terms. Fair to say that only applies to certain models, given there are front-wheel drive and hybrid versions in the range. But if you still need some of that old-school off-road ability, or the pulling power for towing boats, caravans or whatever, the diesel 2.0 TDI 4x4 has carried over into the new, second-gen Kodiaq and is ready to keep it real.
Read the review and browse Skoda Kodiaqs on Auto Trader

Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo

From a brand with a tradition of building sports cars Porsche has gone a bit off-road crazy of late, whether that be with its big-selling Cayenne and Macan SUVs or with its Dakar version of the iconic 911. The latter complete with an optional lightweight shovel to dig yourself out of trouble if you get a bit carried away in the sand dunes. But our favourite off-road Porsche has to be the Cross Turismo version of the all-electric Taycan. The combination shouldn’t work, but with the more practical estate body, some plastic cladding to protect against mud, gravel and branches, a bit more ground clearance and a dedicated ‘gravel’ mode the Cross Turismo is fast, stylish, practical and, most of all, huge fun.
Read the review and browse Porsche Taycans on Auto Trader

Mercedes-Benz GLB

If we’re talking 4x4 Mercedes we should really be featuring the mighty G-Class, or G-Wagen as it’s known among its fans. Off-roaders don’t come much more imposing, capable or, it’s fair to say, expensive. So, we’ll look a little further down the range and instead focus on the more attainable GLB, which has a more upright and traditionally 4x4 vibe than the GLA on which it is based. And, perhaps, just a sense of G-Class toughness in a more exploitable package. That may be projecting a little bit, but for its seven-seater practicality and more useful shape we much prefer it to the GLA. Also available in related all-electric EQB form as well.
Read the review and browse Mercedes GLBs on Auto Trader

Aston Martin DBX

It was a long time coming but this is Aston’s crossover SUV, with Aston design and performance but raised ride height and all-wheel drive. It’s a crossover so no mud-plugging Land Rover, but it should be capable enough for towing boats and horse boxes across wet grass. The power split can send power in any percentage between the front and rear wheels, depending on grip loss. A plug-in hybrid and electric versions are sure to follow pronto.
Read the review and browse Aston Martin DBXs on Auto Trader

Suzuki Ignis

In some places the stereotype of big, aggressive SUVs and 4x4s has become somewhat toxic. So, what if you still need that all-wheel drive ability but want it in a smaller, less ostentatious package able to slip under the radar? Enter the Suzuki Ignis, an already charming and tiny little hatchback with a twist thanks to the option of an all-wheel drive version. Perfect for narrow country lanes and getting about in remote places in all weathers, the Ignis is affordable to buy, great fun to drive and way more capable off road than many more imposing SUVs or crossovers. Need something similarly affordable but a bit bigger? The Dacia Duster is another favourite, surprisingly capable in its all-wheel drive versions.
Read the review and browse Suzuki Ignis models on Auto Trader