Best Of

Best four-wheel drive (4WD) cars

Once upon a time, only farmers would consider a four-wheel drive vehicle, but now, there are four-wheel drive versions of pretty much every type of car. These are our favourites.

First published: 7th August 2017
No longer is four-wheel drive purely for those who wish to get from one end of the farm to another. Nope, nowadays it features in an incredible range of cars, from vehicles you use to get from one end of the aforementioned farm to the other, through sleek coupes, economical executives, thundering supersaloons, and now even plug-in hybrid vehicles.

This means there really is a four-wheel-drive vehicle out there for everyone, but it may take a bit of searching to find the ideal one. That’s where this top five will come in handy, because we’ve chosen vehicles that have a variety of abilities, and which are aimed at very different people. You’ll see there’s a luxury SUV, an SUV that will give hot hatches a scare, one of the coolest coupes available, the most versatile family SUV you can buy, and even a small car that thinks it's a mountain goat .

Our selection comprises:
  • Land Rover Discovery
  • Porsche Macan
  • Audi TT
  • Skoda Kodiaq
  • Fiat Panda 4x4
Best 4WD cars
Land Rover Discovery – the off-road one
The current Land Rover Discovery is a very different proposition from previous versions, because gone is the rugged, boxy styling of old, replaced with a chic look reminiscent of Range Rovers. What hasn’t changed is the fact that the Disco is supremely practical and comfortable. It will carry seven full-size adults with ease, and when you need to turn it into a van, you can fold down all five rear seats using the central touch-screen. The 2.0-litre turbodiesel may sound small for such a big vehicle, but in reality it hauls around the Disco without fuss, although it doesn’t do much in a hurry.
  • Our pick of the range: 2.0 SD4 SE
  • List price: £49,995
  • CO2 emissions: 171g/km
  • Fuel economy: 43.5mpg
  • Boot space: 258/2406 litres
Best 4WD cars
Porsche Macan – the sporty SUV one
As you would expect of a car from this manufacturer, the Porsche Macan is the sporting option among SUVs. In fact, it’s probably less of an SUV and more a hot hatch with loads of ground clearance. The 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine has 254bhp – enough to get the Macan from 0-62mph in just 6.3 seconds. That alone would be enough to worry most hot hatches, but where they’d leave most SUVs behind at the first corner, the Macan’s brilliant handling and grip will ensure it keeps up. The interior is of high quality, and roomy in most directions, with the slight exception of rear legroom. Best of all, the diesel is even reasonably economical to run (albeit pricey to buy in the first place).
  • Our pick of the range: Diesel St
  • List price: £48,289
  • CO2 emissions: 161g/km
  • Fuel economy: 44.8mpg
  • Boot space: 500/1500 litres
Best 4WD cars
Audi TT – the coupe one
Ever since the early 1980s, Audi has been synonymous with four-wheel drive, and now there’s a 'quattro' four-wheel-drive version of every one of its models, apart from its smallest, the A1. That’s why the Audi TT quattro really does give you the best of many worlds. It looks simply sensational, and the 2.0-litre turbodiesel gives it enough power to pass 60mph in just 7.1 seconds on the way to a 150mph top speed. The quattro system also gives the car great traction, and therefore extra security, when the conditions are a bit iffy; and, best of all, the presence of the four-wheel-drive system has no impact on cabin or luggage space.
  • Our pick of the range: 2.0 TDI quattro Sport
  • List price: £31,685
  • CO2 emissions: 124g/km
  • Fuel economy: 60.1mpg
  • Boot space: 305/712 litres
Best 4WD cars
Skoda Kodiaq – the brilliant all-round one
Skoda is brand that’s definitely on the up and up, and the loudest expression of its burgeoning confidence is this, the Skoda Kodiaq SUV. In our preferred SE L trim, it’s a large SUV that can seat up to seven people in a high-quality interior, and everyone will have fun playing with the standard 'toys', such as the heated seats and sat-nav. The driver will also be having a hoot, because the Kodiaq is genuinely good fun to drive, with decent pace and tight handling. In even better news, the Kodiaq is available for a price much lower than those of its rivals.
  • Our pick of the range: 2.0 TDI 150 SE L
  • List price: £30,725
  • CO2 emissions: 141g/km
  • Fuel economy: 52.3mpg
  • Boot space: 270/2005 litres
Best 4WD cars
Fiat Panda 4x4 – the bargain off-road one
You don’t really expect to see the worlds ‘rugged’ and ‘Fiat Panda 4x4’ in the same sentence together, but that’s exactly what the Panda 4x4 is – a genuinely hardcore off-roader. It will go places that bigger, heavier SUVs simply can’t consider, such are its tiny dimensions and light weight. Even better, that long-travel suspension designed for skipping over rocky terrain is actually a benefit on the road, because it gives the car a comfortable ride. The petrol engine has an eager, responsive feel that’s entirely in keeping with the car’s character, too. Finally, having standard kit including climate control, alloy wheels and remote central locking merely seals the deal.