- Our pick of the best small four-wheel drive vehicles on the market
- Practical town runabouts to serious mud-pluggers all available
- Real bargains to be had at the lower end of the market
There was a time when opting for a four-wheel drive vehicle meant heavy penalties in fuel economy, performance and drivability. But not any more – the latest crop of 4x4s can be great to drive and surprisingly cheap to run.
Best of all, there’s loads of different small 4x4s to choose from, so you’re not limited to a large, bulky SUV or old-fashioned off-roader.
We’ve rounded up some of the very best small 4x4s here, which offer that handy all-wheel drive system but are compact, cheap to buy and will return great fuel economy. Make sure you check out our Cars for Sale section too, and get a free valuation of your car. Should you want to make a purchase, check out our Finance section to help you fund your new car.
Scroll down to read our top ten, or click on the model names to read the full Parkers verdict.
- Suzuki Vitara
- Dacia Duster
- Mazda CX-3
- MINI Countryman
- BMW X1
- Suzuki Jimny
- Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
- Jeep Renegade
- Toyota RAV4
- Hyundai Kona
It’s a bit of a hidden gem, the Suzuki Vitara. The brand actually has a lot of experience when it comes to making small SUVs – it started way back in 1970. The Vitara is a world away from those early models, but it’s a tempting proposition, with a roomy interior, brilliant petrol engines and tidy handling thanks to its light weight. All models get Bluetooth, climate control and 16-inch alloy wheels, but stepping up further will bring sat-nav, a parking camera and privacy glass in the rear.
New price: £17,004 - £25,654
Lease this car from new: From £140 per month
Used price: £6,650 - £19,950
Typical used monthly cost: £164 - £492
Fuel economy: 44 - 70 mpg
Opting for the cheapest SUV on sale in the UK today doesn’t have to be a compromise anymore. Sure, the Dacia Duster isn’t as plush as some of its rivals, but it’s just as capable, and offers absolutely brilliant value. The ultra-efficient diesel engine commands a premium over the petrols, so think carefully which you choose – but opting for four-wheel drive is a no-brainer if you intend to use the Duster off-road. If you do, you’ll find it as capable as many machines costing two or three times as much.
New price: £9,995 - £18,700
Lease this car from new: From £130 per month
Used price: £7,230 - £16,585
Typical used monthly cost: £178 - £409
Fuel economy: 40 – 64 mpg
Keen drivers ought to think about choosing the Mazda CX-3. The Japanese firm is one of the best at making mainstream vehicles feel really great to drive, and its compact SUV is no exception. The CX-3 is grippy, well-balanced and has nicely weighted and direct steering. The 1.8-litre diesel is a new engine, and offers decent economy – but consider opting for the wonderfully smooth 2.0-litre petrol unless you do lots of annual miles.
New price: £19,395 - £27,045
Lease this car from new: From £185 per month
Used price: £8,550 - £22,800
Typical used monthly cost: £211 - £562
Fuel economy: 40 – 70 mpg
Translating the handling of the MINI hatch into a bulkier SUV body was no doubt a tough job, but the British brand has managed it with the MINI Countryman. Four-wheel drive is available on all models, but even front-wheel drive brings fantastic handling. And those who like to stand out will be overjoyed by the sheer level of personalisation on offer – there’s no reason your Countryman has to look like anybody else’s.
New price: £23,390 - £36,195
Lease this car from new: From £242 per month
Used price: £13,085 - £31,610
Typical used monthly cost: £323 - £780
Fuel economy: 38 – 65 mpg
The first-generation BMW X1 sold very well, but the current model is a far superior car. It’s based on the same underpinnings as the MINI Countryman (above) but has more mature styling. It’s tuned for more comfort than the MINI, but still handles well. We recommend the four-wheel-drive 18d model, which manages to offer fuel economy in excess of 60mpg.
New price: £28,215 - £36,975
Lease this car from new: From £307 per month
Used price: £13,735 - £29,220
Typical used monthly cost: £339 - £721
Fuel economy: 45 – 61 mpg
The Suzuki Jimny is a proper old-school off-roader, but on a miniature scale. The end result is a small 4x4 that can outclass almost anything when it comes to the rough stuff. The Jimny is packed with charm, too, and surprisingly good to drive around town. Admittedly, you won’t want to take it on too many long journeys, but stick to slower roads and muddy tracks and this dinky 4x4 will do you very well indeed.
New price: £15,514 - £19,014
Lease this car from new: From £193 per month
Fuel economy: 37 – 41 mpg
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
Mitsubishi’s line-up of SUVs can, at times, be confusing , but the Eclipse Cross is the newest and probably the best of the bunch. It’s offered with a single engine – a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol – that offers good performance. Equipment levels are strong too, and Mitsubishi’s taken the bold step of eschewing a factory sat-nav system – assuming instead that most drivers will use smartphone connectivity such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
New price: £21,930 - £30,640
Lease this car from new: From £223 per month
Used price: £12,375 - £24,135
Typical used monthly cost: £305 - £595
Fuel economy: 36 – 42 mpg
Chunky retro styling really marks the Jeep Renegade out from the crowd, while also ensuring it looks cohesive next to its larger SUV peers. It’s more rugged than some so-called ‘soft-roaders’ , and there’s even a bespoke off-road trim level, named Trailhawk. Mechanicals are shared with Fiat, so there’s an excellent 1.3-litre petrol engine on offer as well as an efficient diesel option.
New price: £19,705 - £31.440
Lease this car from new: From £221 per month
Used price: £7,125 - £22,175
Typical used monthly cost: £176 - £547
Fuel economy: 40 – 64 mpg
Hybrids are a Toyota specialty, but the previous RAV4 Hybrid was pretty poor. Thankfully, the all-new model is far, far better – in fact, it’s a genuinely appealing SUV. The hybrid system mates decent performance with stellar fuel economy, and if you can get past the challenging looks you’ll find a crossover that’s good to drive, spacious, and well-equipped.
New price: £29,640 - £38,290
Lease this car from new: From £202 per month
Used price: £23,920 - £30,140
Typical used monthly cost: £590 - £743
Fuel economy: 51 – 64 mpg
Hyundai offers its smallest SUV as the brilliant Kona Electric, but petrol and diesel-powered models are worth a look, too. The Kona offers striking styling and a practical interior, plus Hyundai’s straightforward trim structure means it’s easy as pie to pick the right model. Four-wheel drive is offered with the powerful 1.6-litre petrol, too – so you might surprise some people with your turn of pace.
New price: £17,105 - £28,000
Lease this car from new: From £199 per month
Used price: £10,895 - £23,955
Typical used monthly cost: £269 - £591
Fuel economy: 50 – 67 mpg
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*Prices correct at the time of publishing and are all subject to change