The sports utility vehicle and crossover revolution shows no sign of abating. They are popular both with families on the school run and outdoors types who like to venture out into the wild blue yonder. Not all SUV’s are the same though; some are two-wheel drive only and can be categorised as soft-roaders rather than off-roaders. If the intention is to drive on rougher terrain or on challenging road conditions then that is when four-wheel drive comes into its own. Buyers can always opt for hard-core pickup trucks and the like but most will prefer the perhaps more comfortable ride found in most cars today.
The old days of locking differentials manually and the like are long gone. 21st Century four-wheel drive SUV’s can cope with nature’s bad temper automatically. Some, inevitably, are better than others when the going gets tough or when the country is, as recently, covered with a layer of snow. So here’s our selection of five rugged motors that mean business in bad conditions.
The name Jeep is synonymous with driving off the beaten tracks. The brand offer various types of two and four-wheel drive vehicles but when heavy duty is called for then it is to the Wrangler that buyers turn. With superb off-road ability the Wrangler is the motor to cope with terrain that would have other contenders running for the safety of tarmac. These days the vehicle is available in two or four-door guise with many of the dashboard extras drivers have come to expect. That off-the-beaten-track ruggedness comes with a catch though. On the road the Wrangler has rather vague steering thanks to the four-wheel drive system. If you need a better all-rounder then look elsewhere, Particularly if on a budget, in which case try this…
The Duster is the cheapest new SUV on the market today, but cheap doesn’t mean bad. This is a very well specified car, even at more basic trim levels and there is a choice of petrol or diesel engines including a new turbo-charged 1.2L motor. Obviously, for the purposes of off-road ability, the four-wheel drive versions are the ones to go for and, over time, the trusty Duster has developed a firm following from buyers who appreciate good value and solid dependability. Those with deeper pockets might prefer to visit the other end of the scale like the prestige off-road master that is the…
Huge inside and out the Range Rover always has exemplified prestige motoring. It just oozes real luxury albeit at a really luxurious price. More to the point, with four-wheel drive, like an SAS soldier in a sharp city suit, this vehicle is hard to outclass on rough terrain. Supremely comfortable on the road it’s good to know that this car also has the capability to take to the hills. Land Rover’s Terrain Response 2 system allows the driver to select what type of terrain the car is on and it tunes all the various systems accordingly. Better still this magnificent car can set itself up automatically. Meanwhile, back in the mainstream world sits the …
Toyota Land Cruiser
This is a vehicle that has been a mainstay in more remote parts of the world for years. It has an almost legendary go-anywhere reputation. On the latest Grand Tour TV show for example, the film crew were using this very vehicle. On tough terrain it is a hugely impressive vehicle, helped by sophisticated and genuinely useful off-road systems, allowing it to tackle seemingly impassable ground. In some ways, it is getting a little dated but that hasn’t dampened opinion. One to watch out for as is our final selection the much loved…
This big motor is one of the last of its kind. An off-roader that has served with distinction many motorists and country dwellers who needed a true four-wheel drive automotive leviathan. It is big yet surprisingly easy to park. The Mitsubishi Shogun eschews trends and shrugs off swooping modern design; remaining at heart a workhorse. It has all the aerodynamics of 1½ house bricks with a no nonsense approach to what a 4x4 should be. This means a real centre differential lock and a low range transfer box for extreme conditions. It might not be the last word in refinement but it's ideal for towing caravans and horseboxes literally anywhere.
Of course, if your main concern is safety first for the family on rain-soaked roads then there’s always a selection here on eCars247 of suitable motors
with on-demand four-wheel drive and all at affordable prices.