With 4×4 cars growing increasingly popular in the UK and many car manufacturers already having 4×4 models, you can expect competition to be on its way.
Two consecutive snowy winters has brought 4x4s back to the fore and with increasingly low emissions and improved fuel economy, buying a practical, versatile 4×4 is not the socially frowned-upon thing it once was.
Now, you can find cheap 4x4s, compact 4x4s, stylish 4x4s and even a few 4x4s designed for their original purpose – to go off-road and take the worst UK terrain and weather can throw at them.
Some manufacturers are new to the 4×4 market such as Fiat, whereas others are a better established like Land Rover. With this in mind, here is a list of the top ten best 4×4 car for 2012:
The Fiat Panda isn’t really like any other 4×4, because it’s a city car. It’s pretty much a ‘baby 4×4’.
The best thing about the Panda is the fact that it has the practicality of a city car, but the extra grip and traction of a 4×4. Meanwhile, a compact but punchy 1.3-litre turbodiesel engine goes hand in hand with its 4×4 ability.
It has the small convenient body of say a hatchback or a supermini but has plenty of space for luggage and other things. A roof rack is also an optional feature.
The new 2012 Fiat Panda also has economic vales of a city car with Start and Stop technology and emissions as low as 109g/km.
The actual four-wheel drive version of the Panda has not been released but is expected around the same time as the next generation 2012 Panda release.
Prices for the current Fiat Panda start from £9,865. The new Fiat Panda, including a 4×4 option, will be released in spring 2012.
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The Sportage has great sporty appeal and as a crossover, mixes chunky SUV looks with practical hatchback space.
The good thing about the Sportage is the fact that is a crossover and therefore has the capability to go off-road, but also has practicality of a family car.
These family qualities are also reflected in its maximum boot space of 1,353-litres and comfy interior with things like air conditioning, cruise control and great sound system with iPod compatibility.
All of these family qualities just scream weekend away, which is enhanced further with a convenient roof rack.
The Kia Sportage is out now and prices start from £17,295.
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Range Rover Evoque
The Evoque is without a doubt an expensive luxury option when it comes to 4x4s but at the same time, it represents a cheap option in terms of Range Rovers, the peak of luxury 4×4 cars.
It has the 4×4 capabilities just like any other Land Rover vehicle – widely regarded as the best around – but the Evoque definitely adds a premium edge with a touch of style.
This is also reflected in the fact that Victoria Beckham was brought in as a guest designer when it was in the production process.
The Evoque has three different trim levels, each trim available in four-wheel drive. Some of the luxurious features that highlight the Evoque’s premium feel are things like its three interior ‘themes’, array of body colours, HDD Premium navigation system, climate control, and leather steering wheel.
The Range Rover Evoque is available from £27,995 and is on sale now in three-door (coupe) and five-door versions.
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Land Rover Freelander 2
Alternatively, if you want to keep to the off-road basics of a great 4×4, the Freelander 2 is a worthy option.
With the ability of matching any other off-roader, if not bettering it, the Freelander has also been updated with a new diesel engine, which has made it the most economic Land Rover ever built.
The Land Rover Freelander 2 has very impressive emissions of just 158g/km and does 47.2mpg in two-wheel drive option – the first Land Rover vehicle to do so.
However, the Freelander 2 is much more plausible in 4×4 specification, where it is just as home on the road as off.
When it’s off-road the Freelander shines. It can handle anything, just type in the correct terrain into its little computer and just watch it go. With its off-road ability and raised ground clearance things like hills and water filled ditches will seem effortless.
The Land Rover Freelander 2 is available now and prices start from £22,005.
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The Mazda CX-5
The CX-5 is a compact crossover that will definitely impress in 2012. Its distinctive features not only include a slick exterior design, but with its economical SKYACTIV engines, gearbox and chassis.
This economical engine will be made available on all Mazda models (instead of eco-signature ones) and will increase efficiency which, when it comes to 4×4’s and their bad reputation for CO2 emissions, is crucial.
But the CX-5 will be the first Mazda model to be made from scratch with the new SKYACTIV technology; this includes a new engine, chassis and transmission.
Mazda has said that the CX-5 will deliver CO2 emissions of less than 120g/km and this will make it one of the most efficient compact crossovers on the market.
In terms of 4×4 availability the CX-5 will be available in four-wheel drive and also two-wheel drive, which is most likely to appear on the entry-level model.
It’s also not bad to look at, with design inspired by the stunning Shinari supercar concept unveiled in 2010.
The Mazda CX-5 will be available in the UK in June 2012. Prices have not yet been announced.
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Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4
The Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 is the UK’s first diesel hybrid and will be a 4×4 with a great CO2 emission figure – 99g/km to be exact – and as such, will be free from UK road tax.
Not only is the five-seat crossover economic, it can pretty much handle all different types of terrains. This is aided by its control selector that allows the driver to choose between four different driving modes: Auto mode, ZEV all-electric mode (which is zero emissions), four-wheel drive mode and Sport mode.
These different modes give the Peugeot more of a universal compatibility than most other 4×4’s. This means that as well as being able to go off-road, it can quite easily function as a family car you can take your kids to school in.
The 3008 Hybrid4 also delivers when it comes to power with 163bhp; giving it a top speed is 118mph and zero to 62mph capability of 9.1 seconds.
The Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 will be on sale in the UK sometime in 2012. Prices start from £26,995.
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The new DS5 is yet another economical edition to the 4×4 range for 2012.
It will use the same hybrid engine as the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 crossover, which means it will use both a diesel engine and an electric motor powered by a battery pack.
It will also use a feature that allows it to run on electric power alone for short distances, which is great if you’re making short journeys in a city environment. The DS5, just like the DS3 and DS4, will feature a nice interior with a premium feel, although not as premium as the Evoque.
Although it is a hybrid, this engine will still pack plenty of punch with 200bhp. Citroen predict that the DS5 will have emissions less than 100g/km, which will put it in the bottom band of road tax.
The DS5 will be available in four-wheel drive but this option is more likely to feature on higher trim-levels.
The DS5 will be on sale in the UK sometime in 2012. Prices have not yet been announced.
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The new Vauxhall Antara is more enhanced and updated as opposed to new. That’s not to say the new Antara isn’t a great SUV.
The new Antara offers the option of either two-wheel or four-wheel drive models. The new Antara’s highlights have got to be its large interior and its smooth drive and handling.
The Antara delivers when it comes to handling with features like a new revised suspension and stiffer body roll, meaning it has better balance and stability, however, it also indicates the true use of this large SUV – on the road.
The higher up the trim-levels you go the better equipment, but with the new Antara you don’t really need to think about that because its standard specification is luxurious and fancy enough. It includes things like air conditioning, good sound system, roof rails and alloy wheels.
The new Vauxhall Antara is out now and its four-wheel drive models start from £22,345.
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The Chevrolet Captiva is another model that has been updated as opposed revamped.
First of all, the Captiva has quite a simple design, which makes it an appealing option for4x4 buyer who is just looking for a simple option.
The Captiva has also got quite a high level of speciation on its entry-level models considering the low entry-level price. This includes features like 17″ alloy wheels, tinted windscreen, centre arm rest with storage capabilities and a 12v power socket in the load area and back seat.
The Captiva is pretty much a ‘soft roader’ and is purely practical with plenty of storage and luggage space. To call it an all off roader would be a little ambitious, though it has got the ability to do so.
The new Chevrolet Captiva is out now and cost £21,995.
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The Ford Ranger is a bit of a different one because it is a pickup truck. But it still has the four-wheel drive option.
The best thing about the Ranger is its pure power. Not engine power but general pickup truck power. This comes in the form of its huge towing ability of 3,350kg and its maximum load capacity of 1,340kg.
Its more 4×4 based qualities are reflected in its water depth ability which is 800mm, very useful for an off-roader. The Ranger also offers great traction control.
It’s safe to say that the Ford Ranger is meant more for the all terrain/off road environments because of its size.
The Ford Ranger is on sale from November 2011 and prices start from £15,515.
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