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Best cheap 4x4s

  • Our pick of the best small and economical 4x4s
  • Up to 67mpg on offer with low VED tax bills too 
  • Diesel is still the king when it comes to fuel choice

While you’re unlikely to see a tall SUV with a heavy four-wheel drive system winning awards for fuel economy, 4x4s aren’t anywhere near as expensive to run as they used to be.

Pick wisely and you’ll find that small modern all-wheel drive cars can be nearly as efficient as their hatchback relatives.

To help you find a fuel-efficient small 4x4, we’ve done the leg work for you by selecting our favourite small 4x4s that work off-road but still promise at least 50mpg and are relatively cheap to buy.

Make sure you check out our Cars for Sale section, plus get a free valuation of your car. Also, head on over to our Finance section for information on funding your purchase.

Scroll down for the best cheap 4x4s

Suzuki Vitara

High quality, dependable choice

Small economical 4x4s - Suzuki Vitara

Suzuki is synonymous with off-road prowess and the improved on-road manners of this new Vitara make it a tempting proposition as an economical small 4x4.

The Allgrip 4x4 is a capable off-road system with a choice of driving modes, including a differential lock and sport setting.

Safety is well taken care of with seven airbags, stability control, tyre-pressure monitoring, Isofix child seat mountings and hill hold control as standard. Choose SZ5 like we have and you add a radar braking system which will stop the car if it senses an imminent crash and hill descent control to that list too.

Need to know

  • Parkers rating: 4 stars
  • New price: £14,999 - £24,899 
  • Used price: £8,425 - £20,000
  • Our choice: Suzuki Vitara 1.6 DDiS SZ5 Allgrip 5d
  • Running costs: 67mpg and 111g/km of CO2

Read our full Suzuki Vitara review 
View the latest Suzuki Vitara cars for sale

Dacia Duster

Great value, rugged and good fun

Small economical 4x4s - Dacia Duster

As well as offering up to 60mpg, the Dacia Duster works out as seriously good value per mile thanks to a low asking price.

A mid-spec Ambiance Duster with the superior 1.5-litre diesel engine will only cost you £13,995 and this gains a few niceties like central locking and alloy wheels.

The four-wheel drive system is from Nissan and apportions grip between the two axles according to the road conditions. A great small 4x4. 

Need to know

  • Parkers rating: 3.5 stars
  • Our choice: 1.5 dCi Ambiance 4x4 5d
  • New price: £9,495 - £18,395 
  • Used price: £3,905 - £16,225
  • Running costs: 60mpg and 123g/km of CO2

Read our full Dacia Duster review
View the latest Dacia Duster cars for sale

Mazda CX-3

The driver's choice

Small economical 4x4s - Mazda CX-3

Pick a Mazda CX-3 for its excellent on-road handling, grippy all-wheel drive system and generous kit levels.

All cars come with alloy wheels, air-conditioning, DAB radio, Bluetooth, cruise control, push button start and a seven-inch colour multimedia screen, but you’ll need top-tier Sport Nav to unlock the all-wheel drive option. This also gets you sat-nav, LED headlights, Bose stereo, and a reversing camera.

Best of all, the 1.5-litre diesel engine offers impressive economy of up to 60mpg - a really economical small 4x4.

Need to know

  • Parkers rating: 4.5 stars
  • Our choice: Mazda CX-3 1.5d Sport Nav AWD 5d
  • New price: £18,495 - £25,195 
  • Used price: £10,195 - £19,365
  • Economy: 60mpg and 123g/km of CO2

Read our full Mazda CX-3 review
View the latest Mazda CX-3 cars for sale

MINI Countryman

Quirky and full of character

MINI Countryman

Stylish and surprisingly economical, the MINI Countryman trades outright off-roading ability for on-road handling, but if you only plan on traversing the odd campsite it will be ideal.

Powering the ALL4 all-wheel drive version is an uprated 1.5-litre diesel engine, which provides 112bhp rather than the two-wheel drive’s 90bhp for more muscular performance.

There’s a bit of body-lean when driving fast but the hallmark MINI agility is still there with plenty of traction too thanks to the all-wheel drive.

Need to know

  • Parkers rating: 4 stars
  • Our choice: 1.6 D Cooper ALL4 5d
  • New price: £16,995 - £30,730 
  • Used price: £4,840 - £21,225
  • Economy: 60mpg and 123g/km of CO2

Read our full MINI Countryman review
View the latest MINI Countryman cars for sale


The serious choice

Small economical 4x4s - BMW X1

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thought the original BMW X1 was a good-looking car – yet the company sold more than 40,000 of them in the UK.

It offered a raised ride height with the ability to tackle rugged tracks and muddy campsites, plus decent on-road handling and this second-generation car looks to build on that solid foundation.

We'd recommend the four-wheel drive 18d model which claims fuel economy of 60mpg, and produces 124g/km of CO2.

All BMWs come with sat-nav now but pick xLine trim like we have and you’ll get LED headlights, heated front seats, 18-inch alloys and off-road styling additions to the bodywork.

Need to know

  • Parkers rating: 4.5 stars
  • Our choice: BMW X1 SUV xDrive 18d xLine 5d
  • New price: £28,460 - £37,780 
  • Used price: £17,570 - £30,975
  • Economy: 60mpg and 124g/km of CO2

Read our full BMW X1 review
View the latest BMW X1 cars for sale 

Fiat Panda Cross

Funky and absolutely unstoppable

Fiat Panda Cross

Unlike other cars on our list, the Panda Cross has four-wheel drive as standard across the range, whether you pick standard trim, Cross or Cross 4x4.

Cross cars gain chunkier bumpers, a differential lock and hill descent control, and that’s where we’d spend our money.

Obviously this is quite a small car so you only get a 225-litre boot, but the compact Panda makes up for it with surprising off-road capability.

Vital statistics

  • Parkers rating: 4 stars
  • Our choice: Fiat Panda 0.9 TwinAir (90bhp) Cross 4x4 5d
  • New price: £14,605 - £18,155 
  • Used price: £4,280 - £13,735
  • Running costs: 57mpg and 114g/km of CO2

Read our full Fiat Panda 4x4 review
View the latest Fiat Panda cars for sale

Mitsubishi ASX

Reliability assured

Small economical 4x4s - Mitsubishi ASX

Mitsubishi made its name with tough 4x4s and off-road commercial vehicles so it’s no surprise that the ASX is pretty handy when things get muddy.

Flying under the radar a bit, the Mitsubishi ASX may not be the first car you think of when shopping for an SUV but it comes with a huge amount of kit for the money.

For a four-wheel drive version you’ll need to pick the more efficient diesel engine (the better unit on offer) and top-spec ZC-H trim, which comes with climate control, sat-nav and leather trim. The new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross will replace this once stocks run down.

Need to know

  • Parkers rating: 3.5 stars
  • Our choice: Mitsubishi ASX 1.6 ZC-H 4WD 5d
  • New price: £16,254 - £28,904 
  • Used price: £4,040 - £21,640
  • Economy: 56mpg and 132g/km of CO2

Read our full Mitsubishi ASX reviewView the latest Mitsubishi ASX cars for sale

Nissan Qashqai

The popular choice

The Nissan Qashqai has been the default answer to the family car question for nearly ten years now. A high ride-height makes installing child-seats a doddle and there’s plenty of interior space, plus a big boot to store bulky pushchairs in.

Pick one with four-wheel drive and you’ve also got a capable car for when things get slippery too, whether during bad weather or while trying to get across a muddy field.

N-Connecta trim get you alloy wheels, cruise control and an around-view camera, which gives you a bird’s eye view of the car when trying to negotiate a tricky parking manoeuvre.

Need to know

  • Parkers rating: 5 stars
  • Our choice: Nissan Qashqai 1.6 dCi N-Connecta 4WD 5d
  • New price: £18,955 - £30,235 
  • Used price: £8,435 - £21,810
  • Economy: 55mpg and 133g/km of CO2

Read our full Nissan Qashqai review
View the latest Nissan Qashqai cars for sale

Kia Sportage

Kia Sportage

The new Kia Sportage looks set to improve the old car’s refinement and running costs with more economical engines, even for the all-wheel drive version.

Most eye-catching of all is the seven-year/100,000-mile warranty you get with a new Kia, plus impressive levels of equipment.

GT-Line gives you a sporty look without the associated costs, plus 19-inch wheels, front parking sensors, heated front and outer rear seats and LED headlights.

Need to know

  • Parkers rating: 4.5 stars
  • Our choice: Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDi GT-Line (AWD) 5d
  • New price: £18,795 - £32,525 
  • Used price: £11,775 - £27,665
  • Running costs: 54mpg and 139g/km of CO2

Read our full Kia Sportage review
View the latest Kia Sportage cars for sale

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