I've just spent a weekend driving the new Ford Kuga in the Alps. It coped superbly with the winding Alpine roads over the moutains from Geneva to Courmayeur and it is genuinely stable with some fun adjustability on the throttle.
What was almost more revealing was its performance off the main roads. We watched a Land Rover Defender scramble its way up a very steep gravel track and then promptly set off after it.
OK, there wasn't ever going to be any doubt that the Landie would race up and go much further than we would, but belting up the slope after it brought home just how enabling a 4x4 SUV is for families with an outward-bound lifestyle.
It also reminded me how much easier it is to drive a car with traction control. In a big, old 4x4 you spend your time waiting as the knobbly tyres suddenly dig in and grip, then have to fight the locked differentials, which ruin the steering. With traction control and modern hybrid tyres, you simply point and squirt, and the car does the rest. And the ride's better.