THE choice of 4x4s these days is quite amazing. From the lumbering big beasts of the jungle, to smaller compact SUVS not much bigger than a family hatchback, new or used, there’ s something for every taste.
You even get decent off-road ability in most ranges nowadays—although some marques are much more sophisticated and genuine mud-pluggers.
Others are less robust, but will still get you off a snowy back road in sub-zero temperatures.
Ironically enough, it is often the very features that 4x4s evolved to help them out of muddy tracks that have endeared them to family buyers in our towns and cities.
Particularly appealing is the high driving position, loads of interior space and ingenious cubbyholes and other design features that make them very usable.
There is basically a 4x4 to suit everyone these days: whether that be new, approved or used. The choice is vast, but our favourites include a range of brands and of specific models. Land rover of course, particularly the sport, the discovery and smaller but very tidy Evoque.
If you fancy something tough on the inside and the outside, Isuzu and mitsubishi have a suite of capable do-anything, go-anywhere models — the former’s D-maxis a real force in the pick-up business and the latter’ s mighty shogun needs no introduction.
And don’t forget Subaru with its symmetrical all-wheel drive (the new Forester is great) and the multi-purpose Ford Ranger.
The latest member of this sector is the sports utility vehicle or as they have come to be known as — SUV’S.
These vehicles, as their name would suggest, offer a more sporting flavour in their design and performance than the st and ard 4x 4 and are epitomised by models like the Ford Kuga, Nissan Juke, Nissan Qashqai, Suzuki SX4 and the up market Range Rover Evoque. SEVEN OF THE BEST LAND ROVER DISCOVERY: All Land Rovers are brilliant off-roaders, but the new Discovery has been making headlines for both its useability and its luxury. There’s a 5 + 2 seats option as well. The fifth generation Discovery model will be on sale soon. VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN: The tiguanhas been a hardly foot-soldier for VW for some years now, but it lacked a little bit of pizazz. All that has changed with the introduction of a new model that looks great, is packed with extras and drives fantastically on the road. MITSUBISHI SHOGUN: The Shogun is loaded with rugged, reliable technology, an enviable towing capacity and a diehard work ethic. Available with either a short or a long wheelbase, it is great for loading, lugging and pulling heavy objects—and absolutely unstoppable in the wild. FORD RANGER: Ford says its Ranger pick-up 4x4 has been ruthlessly tested in some of the most hostile environments and across the harsh est terrain on earth. A new line-up of advanced Duratorq diesel engines, offers a payload of up to 1,340 kg and tow up to 3,500 kg. SUBARU FORESTER: Subaru’s doughty Forester has been around for a while, and is undoubtedly a proper off-roader. If you need something roomy, rugged, reliable and for use as a good tower, look no further. The Forester has had a loyal band of followers for many years now. ISUZU D-MAX: If a modern, lifestyle pick-up is your requirement, the Isuzu D-max, introduced in 2013, is a great choice. If comes in a range of choices, including a utility truck and luxurious double-cab versions that will suit the family at the weekend. There’s a fiveyear warranty. KIA SPORTAGE: The Sportage is one of those all-rounder compact SUVS that looks great, has bags of technology and drives really well on tar mac. At the top of the range, there’s a tasty all-wheel drive model that gets our vote and should see you and your family home in all but the most challenging of Northern Ireland conditions.