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Best 4×4 cars 2021

The best 4x4 cars are in fact fantastic all-round cars. Sitting high up, you get a great view out driving through city streets which is why you see so many 4x4 cars in towns and cities. Head away off the beaten track and their go-anywhere capability can be astounding, and when nasty weather hits they really come into their own. Throw in their spacious interiors, practical storage and big boots and you get great family cars.

Best large 4×4 cars

Large 4x4 cars have it all. The ability to take your 4x4 just about anywhere is a given, but large 4x4 cars have the high-seating position and great view out that they make secure cars for driving around in towns and cities too. Throw in great practicality - big boots and space for five to seven people - and you have an all-round great car. Here, our experts pick out the best large 4x4 cars.

Cheapest 4×4 cars

If you live in a rural area or frequently face tricky weather conditions, a 4x4 will give you the peace of mind you need to get home without issue. Some big, plush 4x4s are very expensive but there’s also a range of cheap 4x4 cars on sale that you won't mind getting muddy. Here’s a selection of the cheapest 4x4 cars our experts recommend.

Most economical 4×4 cars

You might think that buying a 4x4 car will result in high running costs but that’s not necessarily the case. Thanks to advancements in hybrid, gearbox and 4x4 technology, you can have all-weather grip without a massive fuel or road tax bill. Here’s a selection of the most economical 4x4 cars our experts recommend

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More advice on 4×4 cars

Frequently asked questions about 4×4 cars

The most common layout for modern road cars is to have an engine fixed in the front of the car powering just the front wheels. In a four-wheel drive car (sometimes called all-wheel drive), power is delivered to both the front and the rear wheels, hence ‘four-wheel drive’. The major use for four-wheel drive is to provide grip – especially off road. Vehicles like the original Jeep and Land Rover were ideal in rugged terrain. If one wheel became stuck in snow, mud or sand, rather than just the other wheel moving things along, all three could help out. Some sports cars come with four-wheel-drive too, where all four wheels providing grip and traction, helping power the car off the line from standing starts, and being able to drive faster around corners.
In a permanent four-wheel-drive car, power is sent through the gearbox to a centre differential. This splits the power to the front and back axles where it meets differentials at the front and rear. These distribute power between the rear wheels as well as the fronts, hence ‘four-wheel drive’. You do get other types of four-wheel drive, however, for example the Fiat Panda’s engine powers the front wheels only, but if they slip power is sent to the back wheels via a viscous coupling.
Essentially yes. A 4×4 car is a 4-wheel drive car. However, these days some cars can look like a 4×4 – high ground clearance and chunky styling – but they aren’t actually 4x4s. They are commonly known as SUVs and they can come with either four- or two-wheel drive.
The Suzuki Jimny is generally regarded as the smallest 4×4. This is a small 4×4 that has been around since 1998. It is one of the more basic 4×4 cars on sale today. Alongside this is the Fiat Panda 4×4, another of the smallest 4×4 cars. It is probably less capable off-road than the Jimny but it is more comfortable on road, better equipped and more spacious.
4wd is shorthand for four-wheel-drive. This means the engine drives all four wheels. In most cars, the engine drives just two wheels (usually the front two). A 4wd drive car is also known as a 4×4 car.

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