Off-road 4x4 mega test

Ten of the most capable four-wheel-drive SUVs go toe-to-toe to establish what you should be driving when the going gets rough...

Off-road 4x4 mega test

The contenders

Dacia Duster Blue dCi 115 4x4 Comfort

List price £17,995
Target Price £17,824

Dacia Duster off-road

Suzuki Jimny 1.5 Allgrip SZ5

List price £18,499
Target Price £18,499

Suzuki Jimny off-road

Subaru XV 2.0i SE Premium Lineartronic

List price £28,525
Target Price £27,363

Subaru XV off-road

Jeep Renegade 2.0 170 4WD Trailhawk ATX

List price £31,230
Target Price £30,248

Jeep Renegade off-road

Mitsubishi Shogun Sport 2.4 Diesel 4WD 4 auto

List price £32,499
Target Price £32,499

Mitsubishi Shogun Sport off-road

Toyota Land Cruiser 2.8 Diesel 177 AWD Utility 3dr

List price £35,295
Target Price £33,088

Toyota Land Cruiser off-road

Jeep Wrangler 2.2 Multijet-II 200 Rubicon 4dr

List price £49,455
Target Price £47,111

Jeep Wrangler off-road

Land Rover Discovery SD6 Landmark Edition

List price £59,995
Target Price £56,072

Land Rover Discovery off-road

Range Rover SDV6 Vogue SE

List price £90,225
Target Price £87,162

Land Rover Discovery off-road

Mercedes G-Class G350d 4Matic AMG Line

List price £96,180

Target Price £96,180

Mercedes G-Class off-road

While we appreciate the appeal of a lofty driving position and rugged styling in an SUV, we don’t often recommend one with four-wheel drive if it’s available with just two driven wheels. That’s because most people only drive on the road and despite what you might think, would rarely benefit from having four-wheel drive. It also makes cars heavier, more complex and pricier to buy and run, while suspension systems that work well over rough terrain don’t usually offer a comfortable ride on the road.

But what if you need something that can plough through mud or climb a steep, rock-strewn hill? What’s your best bet then? To find out, we’ve gathered together 10 of the most capable four-wheel-drive SUVs you can buy and paired them up in five price brackets. 

The bargains of the group are the sub-£20,000 Dacia Duster and Suzuki Jimny. They may be similar in price, but they’re very different from each other under the skin. 

For those with up to £35,000 to spend, we’ve got two contenders from brands with loads of four-wheel drive experience: the Subaru XV and the Jeep Renegade, in its most capable Trailhawk trim. Push your budget to £45,000 and things get even more serious, with the rugged Mitsubishi Shogun Sport going up against the legendary Toyota Land Cruiser

In the £45,000 to £60,000 price bracket, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon tussles with the Land Rover Discovery, and if you’re lucky enough to be spending even more than that, we’ve got the ever-capable Range Rover and the mighty Mercedes-Benz G-Class.

Of course, such worthy 4x4s need a suitably challenging venue in which to test them. We’ve been to not one but two off-road courses – one at Millbrook Proving Ground and another at a disused quarry – where we’ve found out how they climb, crawl and wade through terrain that would stop lesser SUVs dead. 

We’re concentrating on a handful of obstacles, starting off with four relatively smooth gravel hills ranging from 26% to 35%. If each 4x4 can handle this, it’s on to sand and silt hills that are slipperier and far more rutted. Even trickier is the Horseshoe, a slippery, churned-up hill with a sharp bend at its peak. We also have offset ditches and humps to test suspension travel and a range of easier trails to assess driveability. The winner from each price band will go into contention to be crowned overall champion.  


Next: Dacia Duster vs Suzuki Jimny >>

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