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Off-Road Adventures: The World’s Finest 4x4s

October 1, 2014

There are two types of 4×4 owners – those who genuinely require the off-road capabilities and those who just prefer them for their looks, space and driving characteristics. 4x4s are generally considered an expensive investment, and running costs are rarely cheap – so it’s important to nail down your needs before making a decision.
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Carefully assess your off-road requirements

If you do a lot of driving off-road or regularly tow caravans, horseboxes or trailers, then a full-blown 4×4 is a justifiable expense. However, if you’re buying a 4×4 for its look and feel over any actual need to drive off-road, you’re likely to end up incurring unnecessary expenses. We’ve broken things down into two sections, depending on what kind of driving you do and the reasoning behind your 4×4 needs.

The true 4×4 off roader

Image source: Land Rover Our Planet

Image source: Land Rover Our Planet

If you’re after true off-road capabilities, there are a number of specific factors to consider when making a decision on which make or model to go with:

  • Many of the best off-roaders come with a low-range gear box, allowing you to slow down the wheels when tackling tricky off-road situations.
  • The vast majority of true 4x4s are fitted with diesel engines for UK markets. This is primarily due to the high cost of fuel and strict emissions ratings in the UK. However, there are also additional benefits to diesels when it comes to off-roading. Their higher torque output makes them ideal for towing and powering up steep inclines. 4x4s are generally much larger and heavier than their road-going counterparts and therefore much less fuel efficient. An economical diesel engine will also reduce running costs on longer or rural journeys.
  • Ensure you budget for the increased running costs of a 4×4. With off-road capabilities comes complex transmissions, gearing and suspension systems. Servicing and repairs can be a great deal more expensive than that of a regular car. Check out Cap.co.uk to get an estimate of your next 4×4’s running costs before you commit to a purchase.

Unsurprisingly, Land Rover have perfected the off-road formula, with the indestructible Land Rover Defender and comfortable yet capable Land Rover Discovery taking the title as two of the best true off-roaders money can buy. And if luxury is top of your list, you can’t beat the Range Rover – both the original, Sport and Evoque editions offer unparalleled comfort and quality, while maintaining competency both on and off-road.

The suburban SUV

Nissan Juke

Original image by Kārlis Dambrāns

Featured Expert: The car scrapping, recycling and all around motoring experts at MotorWise.com share the benefits of the crossover.

The rise of the ‘soft roader’ such as the Audi Q3 has increased the accessibility of off-road adventure cars by combining the everyday features of normal road driving with the capabilities of a four wheel drive.

Manufacturers have cottoned on to the fact that many people are drawn in by the appeal of a 4×4, but don’t actually need the off-road capabilities of a true 4-wheel-drive. 4x4s today are no longer the utilitarian bare-bones vehicles they used to be. Today, the vast majority of 4x4s on the market are both stylish and comfortable and it’s this which is responsible for the increase in demand. In recent years, there have been a number of SUVs and crossover vehicles like the Nissan Juke (pictured) which offer the looks and space of a 4×4, but without the expensive running costs.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that an SUV or crossover is just a sheep in wolf’s clothing – these vehicles genuinely do have some off-road capabilities. Many SUVs and crossovers are available with a standard 4-wheel-drive system, which is plenty to keep you out of trouble on rougher surfaces or in wintery conditions – however, they don’t have all the unnecessary add-ons only required in extreme off-road situations.
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About The Author

Jon Le Roux is co-founder and company director of The Car Loan Warehouse. Being a mad engineering and motorsport enthusiast, I spend more hours than is healthy, watching, reading or talking about cars, boats, motorbikes…..basically anything with an engine.