5 off-roaders that show SUVs where to stick it
The perfect antidotes to school-run crossovers
These days it seems every car maker and their dog are making some sort of crossover-y SUV type thing and they all seem to look exactly the same. The small ones are just taller, more expensive hatchbacks (often without 4-wheel-drive!) and the big ones all seem to be somehow based on a VW Touareg. They have their place of course, but it’s not on my driveway.
Twenty years ago, if you wanted a big family car you either bought an estate or a proper 4x4. Think of Discoverys, Shoguns, and Isuzu Troopers. These were no-nonsense off-roaders, just softened up enough to drive every day. But what if you want some of that rugged, uncomplicated charm today? Well, don’t worry, as always I’ve got your back.
Here are my top 5:
5. Jeep Wrangler
Starting off this list we have a true, old-school off-roader. Unphased by any terrain you throw at it, the ancient formula of a big engine in a boxy body still keeps American buyers queuing down the block for their slice of retro nostalgia.
Available in the UK with either a 2.8 diesel or a whopping great 3.6 V6 petrol, it’s never been a big seller on this side of the pond. Coupled with its laughable £36,000 starting price (yes, really), it was always considered the perfect car for people that couldn’t find their local Land Rover dealership. But with the Defender no more, maybe it’s finally the Wrangler’s time to shine.
4. Dacia Duster
Good news! No, it’s not the Dacia Sandero but it is its big brother! Yep, officially the UK’s cheapest 4x4, the Dacia Duster is about as back-to-basics as it gets. In fact, the base model Duster starts at just under 10 grand.
Don’t think though that the low price means it’s low on talent. The Duster is genuinely capable in the rough stuff. With long travel suspension, decent ground clearance, and a range of torquey engines, you really can forgive the dated dashboard and the fact that a radio is an optional extra.
3. Fiat Panda 4x4
All together now, “Awwww”. Yes, it’s cute. And no, I haven’t taken leave of my senses. The Panda 4x4 is a proper little mud plugger! While it may look like your Gran’s Co-Op cruiser, this wonderful little nugget comes as standard with mud tyres and locking differentials. Absolutely outrageous.
No, it’s not the fastest car in the world but who cares when you have a capable 4x4 that you can park anywhere?
2. Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG
Bringing out the big guns now with by far the priciest car here. In fact, you could buy two of every other car on this list for the price of one G63 AMG. That said, this is quite a car. Originally designed for the German military in the 70s, the G-Wagen has been around forever.
While its basic, utilitarian roots are still there somewhere under all the leather, this current model is far from just an army truck. It is basically an off-road S-Class, every conceivable motoring luxury in a big square box. It has incredible off-road ability with impressive approach angles and a wading depth of over 27 inches. Oh yeah, and it has a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 churning out 576bhp. It is the absolute opposite of a Vauxhall Grandland X. Eurgh.
1. Suzuki Jimny
BOOM! It’s the Jimny! Obviously, this was going to make the top spot because it is undoubtedly the coolest car of 2018. I mean, look at it, it’s a baby G-Wagen! I won’t lie, it’s quite hard to justify exactly why this beat the Mercedes to the top spot but look at it this way; a G63 will set you back upwards of £140,000, the Jimny will likely be around a tenth of that.
Yes, it’s slower, less luxurious, and smaller but it’s so much cooler. Where a G-Wagen makes people hate you and assume you’re selling illegal substances, the Jimny makes people smile and ask if they can have a go.
The little Suzuki is also a bit more off-road focussed. It still uses a ladder chassis and it has proper off-road tech. The chunky interior is designed to work for people wearing gloves and all the seats fold down flat so you can sleep in it. What more could the budget-adventurer possibly want?
So there we have it, my favourite 4x4s currently on sale. Which one would you pick? Or do you prefer a fast SUV? Let me know in the comments!
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