Best off-roaders 2022

Rory White

07 Dec 2021

It's that time of year when you open the door, wince and immediately head back in to grab an extra layer. You might also be thinking about a 4x4 for more confident driving this winter. Here are some of the best off-roaders on sale.

1. Jeep Wrangler

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The Jeep Wrangler is one of the most iconic off-roaders in the world but backs up its rugged looks with serious off-road ability.

It comes in two sizes - two or four doors - but all get switchable all-wheel-drive and impressive ground clearance and wading ability. The range-topping Rubicon also gets more aggressive tyres and the ability to decouple parts of its suspension to keep its wheels on the ground in the most challenging conditions.

2. Land Rover Defender

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The Land Rover Defender used to be a back-to-basics machine that used simple mechanicals to get across rough terrain. It's now a much more luxurious SUV available in short and long wheelbases, but also in a commercial van version.

However, it's even better than the old Defender off-road, thanks to an array of clever electronics that can jack it up and keep its wheels on the ground when it's needed. The Defender is also a better car to drive on road in just about every regard.

3. Toyota Land Cruiser

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The Land Cruiser is one of the biggest names in the off-road scene, loved for its extremely tough build and dependable reliability.

Like the Defender, you can have it in long or short wheelbases and it can be a luxurious SUV if you want it to be, but also a commercial van version as pictured here. All have all-wheel-drive, differentials and the option of more aggressive tyres if you want to use your Land Cruiser as intended.

4. Mercedes G-Class

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Don't be fooled by the fact the Mercedes G-Class spends most of its time in Premiership football club car parks. It's a serious bit of kit away from the Tarmac.

You need to avoid the AMG version, mind, which has less ground clearance and performance tyres, but stick with the diesel and you'll find its all-wheel-drive, differentials and ground clearance will embarrass plenty of 4x4s on the rough stuff.

5. Land Rover Discovery

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Another Land Rover, but that's no surprise given Land Rover designs all its models to be the best off-road from the start. The Discovery is one of its most popular.

It'll seat seven people, look great outside Waitrose, but will also tow the largest trailers and wade through deep water with the best of them. Like the Defender, its Terrain response technology means it'll do everything for you off-road if you want it to, letting you sit back and watch the countryside go by.

6. Ford Ranger Raptor

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The Ford Ranger pickup truck is one of the best of its kind around, but with the Raptor, Ford actually reduced its carrying ability in the name of off-road prowess.

The Raptor gets Ford's more powerful diesel engine and unique suspension, tyres, wheels and styling, combining to make it the most capable version of the Ranger off-road there is.

7. Suzuki Jimny LCV

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The Suzuki Jimny LCV might be the smallest car here, but it packs a punch when it comes to scrabbling through the countryside.

Its low weight actually works in its favour, as its skinny off-road tyres have less to haul along, plus its switchable all-wheel-drive and low and high range gearboxes help give you more precision in tricky situations. Just remember the Jimny no longer comes with rear seats.

8. Range Rover

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The Range Rover is been combining luxury with off-road ability for decades. In its latest form, it truly is one of the most rounded vehicles it's possible to buy.

Inside it's essentially a luxury limo, especially if you buy the longer wheelbase version, but Land Rover's clever Terrain Response tech is on hand to make sure you get to that charity function, even if it happens to be on the summit of Ben Nevis.

9. Dacia Duster

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Dacia builds some of the best value cars in Britain and its Duster is no different. You can have great space, standard equipment and off-road ability for very sensible money.

You'll need the all-wheel-drive version rather than the front-wheel-drive model, which is a bit more expensive, but next to 4x4s of the same size it remains a bargain.

10. Range Rover Evoque

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The Evoque might be seen slinking about the city most of the time, but this stylish SUV is actually extremely competent off-road too.

That's because Land Rovers have to be, and with all the bells and whistles fitted including Land Rover's superb off-road tech, the Evoque will jack itself up and control its all-wheel-drive automatically at the press of a button to make sure you get where you need to go.

Things to consider when buying a 4x4 or an off-roader.

Type of all-wheel drive: Some off-roaders come with permanent all-wheel-drive which is effective on the rough stuff but not great for fuel economy. More modern systems offer an on-demand all-wheel drive that's just as effective but more fuel-efficient when you're cruising on the road in two-wheel drive mode. It's worth checking which yours has.

Off-road angles: If you're really serious about your off-roading you'll want to know what your car's approach, ramp and departure angles are. In that order, that's how aggressive an angle your 4x4 can drive at without its front bumper hitting the ground first, how much ground clearance it has between its wheels and how aggressive the angle can be before its rear bumper catches on the way out. The better thee are, the better your car is off-road.

Tyres: Any seasoned off-roader will tell you that, you can have every trick bit of tech going, but if you don't have the right tyres your 4x4 will go nowhere. There are hundreds of different tyre designs, some better for mud, some for gravel and some for sand, but there are good all-rounders too. Just keep in mind that knobbly tyres mean higher fuel bills on the road, plus lots more road noise.

Frequently asked questions about 4x4s and off-roaders.

Q: What is the most reliable 4x4?

A: Lexus and Toyota have some of the best reliability ratings in the UK. Lexus doesn't have a proper off-roader, although its RX does have all-wheel drive. However, the Toyota Land Cruiser is famous worldwide for its 4x4 status and has one of the best reliability ratings of any SUV.

Q: What is the best 7-seat 4x4?

A: Not only is the Toyota Land Cruiser one of the most capable and reliable 4x4s, it also comes with seven seats. The rearmost set will take adults easily too. For a bit more luxury the Land Rover Discovery is every bit as good on the rough stuff, will seat seven adults, but it is a bit more upmarket inside at the same time.

Q: What is the most affordable 4x4?

A: Among the most affordable 4x4s is the Suzuki Jimny, but you'll have to be quick because there's a limited number going on sale in the UK and they no longer have back seats as they are now classed at LCVs. Also very good off-road, but with five seats and an even keener price is the Dacia Duster. Dacia also scores well for reliability in the UK.

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Rory White

07 Dec 2021