Record warm weather may have fooled us into forgetting it’s winter, but Mother Nature could bite back at any moment
2 February 2016

This winter has been unseasonably mild for much of the UK, with only isolated patches of snow and ice. Be wary, though, because Mother Nature could still bite back, and if she does, you'll be needing a reliable off-roader.

1 - Ford Kuga (2008-2013)

The Kuga is a popular crossover available with both two and four-wheel drive. Around £15,000 gets you a five-year-old diesel-powered 4x4 variant in Titanium spec, stuffed full of bells and whistles.

The Kuga is let down on practicality, especially cabin space and storage. However, it’s a good-looking car, is very well equipped and comes with a strong range of diesel engines, albeit only with a manual gearbox.

It excels on ride comfort and performs well when cornering, with body roll nicely contained. The Kuga won’t ascend rugged landscapes, but it’s a great everyday tool that has 4x4 ability at the ready for when the bad weather strikes.

2 - Toyota RAV4 (2006-2013)

The RAV4 is a great all-round SUV with a low purchase price and lower running costs. It’s good on the road, too, with car-like driving manners and a supple ride.

Inside, you’ll find a well-made, neat and tidy cabin. Being a Toyota, it’s reliable and robust enough to take the knocks from kids, dogs and luggage, although the side-opening tailgate is an opinion-divider because it can hinder access to the load bay in tighter spots.

Check for excessive stone chips at the front, and the clutch and flywheel may need replacing on higher-mileage cars, with costs running to four figures. Also check for difficulty in selecting a gear.

A 2.0 D-4D in XT5 spec, with less than 60,000 miles, can be yours for £5500.

3 - Range Rover (2002-2013)

The Range Rover exudes class, style and refinement and is the final word in off-road luxury - or at least it was until it was replaced by the latest version in 2013. It can carry you from Harrods to Harrogate in comfort and then conquer the Yorkshire moors all in the same day.

It’s expensive to run and the bills will be stately should anything major go wrong, so if you’re considering a used example, make sure yours has been well cared for and religiously serviced and, if possible, comes with a warranty.

A 2010, 60-plate Vogue SE with a 3.6-litre V8 diesel and about 60,000 miles on the clock can cost less than £25,000. That’s a lot of luxury for the price of a new, mid-range BMW 1 Series.

4 - Volvo XC70 (2000-2007)

What could tick the boxes more effectively than a safe and trusty Swede for those cold, damp and icy winter days? The XC70 offers an enhanced estate experience with a raised ride height and all-wheel drive traction without going down the full SUV route.

The XC70 is capable in the rough but limited by a lack of off-road systems and compromised ground clearance. It has a comfortable ride with a well-appointed, practical and roomy cabin. The steering lacks feel, however, and the car isn’t really designed with hard driving in mind.

About £9000 will get you an 06-plate, 55,000-mile 2.4-litre diesel D5 with an automatic transmission and in decently equipped Lux SE trim.

5 - Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin (2000-2006)

It may not win many beauty pageants, but the Shogun Pinin will prove mightily useful as it powers through ice and snow to deliver you safely home, while those in more glamorous cars slip and slither.

Available in three or five-door form, it’s a genuine off-roader with the added advantage that it’s relatively cheap to buy and run. Don’t expect a comfortable ride or engaging handling, though.

There’s not much to worry about mechanically, but keep an eye out for rust and bear in mind that if the car has spent its life towing things, it could have worn wheel bearings, suspension and transmission. We found a 2005 Equippe 3dr with a 1.8 petrol engine and 60,000 miles on the clock for £2400.

Matthew Griffiths

Our Verdict

Range Rover
Range Rover has a maximum wading depth of 900mm

The fourth-generation Range Rover is here to be judged as a luxury car as much as it is a 4x4

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Comments
15

2 February 2016

I would definitely recommend the last suggestion, the Shogun Pinin... had mine for 9 months now and I find it comfy and relaxing on road and pretty capable off road. I get 30-33mpg out of it which I think is really good for what it is- (they seem to get really bad reviews online for their mpg but really, what are people expecting from a 1.8 petrol 4x4, 50mpg?)- my only gripe is it feels like it needs an extra gear on the motorway, you certainly wouldn't want to drive it over 70mph for very long. But maybe that's a good thing as far as my license is concerned lol :) Mine is the MPi engine which is apparently better than the GDi engine. I'd definitely recommend it anyway, I wanted a Freelander or a Grand Vitara but saw mine by chance and I've never regretted it.

currently a happy owner of a Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin :)

2 February 2016

I would have added a Honda CR-V and, if you're really serious, a Suzuki Jimny although when I was looking at one the other day I couldn't believe how much they were going for, deprecation levels to rival a Porsche!

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

2 February 2016
xxxx wrote:

I would have added a Honda CR-V and, if you're really serious, a Suzuki Jimny although when I was looking at one the other day I couldn't believe how much they were going for, deprecation levels to rival a Porsche!

My thought too, although always sneered at by 'paper experts' who had never actually tried one in snow, mine never failed in the worst the UK (or Wales) could do without struggling. I hear the newer electronically coupled ones are not as good off road as the older hydraulically activated coupling.

2 February 2016
The Apprentice wrote:
xxxx wrote:

I would have added a Honda CR-V and, if you're really serious, a Suzuki Jimny although when I was looking at one the other day I couldn't believe how much they were going for, deprecation levels to rival a Porsche!

My thought too, although always sneered at by 'paper experts' who had never actually tried one in snow, mine never failed in the worst the UK (or Wales) could do without struggling. I hear the newer electronically coupled ones are not as good off road as the older hydraulically activated coupling.

The interesting thing about the Jimny is fact car 'paper experts' hate it, Whatcar gave it just 1 star, but the owners love them which is reflected in secondhand prices and the fact it's still in production. Suzuki need to do more to promote their cars: inflate the figures on paper, more journalist jolly'ies, more money on adverts etc

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

2 February 2016

If it is a simple case of genuinely staying mobile and safe... just fit a set of proper winter tyres to your existing fwd car and run rings round this bunch of 'Chelsea tractors' shod in joke 'M+S' labelled tyres!

2 February 2016

A 4x4 only helps when you are actually pressing the accelerator. What's the worst part of driving in snow - a bit of wheelspin going uphill or sliding into people/traffic when going downhill when a 4x4 makes no difference? A set of winter (or all season) tyres is a fraction of the cost and a much better option. I would have expected more from Autocar......

2 February 2016

What about a car with snow tyres and 4 wheel drive?

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

2 February 2016

xxxx...

...farmers and emergency service vehicles only.

289

2 February 2016

I disagree Ardvark, winter tyres are even more important on a 4x4 as firstly you are more likely to be out in bad weather, and secondly weight takes over when trying to stop the beast or on adverse cambers and downhill sections.
Its all very well using low ratio to descend a very slippery hill, but you can guarantee somebody coming the other way will slide all over the hill forcing you to brake with dire consequences.
With winter tyres only a 3 foot drift will stop you from reaching your destination....well that or if you are in an urban situation -other stranded cars and lorries!. The experience is absolutely amazing, which is why my ML's has a spare set of alloys with Vredsteins fitted. They are on their 4th season and still have nearly 6mm left.
I cant recommend them more highly.

2 February 2016

About 4 wheel drive and all Season tyres, the type 'Deputy' advocates.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

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