Best used family off-roaders

  • Safe, capable 4x4s for you and your family
  • Top tips to buying sophisticated, luxury SUVs
  • Latest used prices and cars for sale on Parkers

Looking for an all-rounder family 4×4 car that will cope with all the demands of a young family? We’ve picked our favourites that will suit your family car needs from start to finish. 

Our site has a massive range of family SUV reviews for you to read, to help you choose the best 4×4 for your needs. Here are our favourite affordable family 4x4s, from the most reliable to the best all-rounder, plus top tips to buying your dream off-roader.

Volkswagen Tiguan (2016 on) – Best All-Rounder Family 4×4

VW Tiguan - best family 4x4

Pros: Neat, robust, comfy
Cons: 1.4 TSi engine sluggish

The VW Tiguan has always proved a popular seller thanks to its high driving position, being well equipped and well built. It may be a 4×4 but it drives like a conventional car with little body roll in corners and it doesn’t feel wallowy over bumps.

It also comes with some great driver aids including parking sensors, parking assist (steers the car into a parallel parking space) and stability control as standard. There’s a choice of two-wheel as well as four-wheel drive, plus VW offers an ‘eco’ version dubbed ‘Bluemotion’ for improved fuel consumption and lower emissions.

We’d recommend going for the 2.0TDi 140 diesel SE as the best compromise between performance and good fuel economy, plus the SE spec delivers a lot of kit for the money.

Anyone planning more extreme cross country routes should consider the ‘Escape’ model, which has been specially adapted for serious off-roading.

Star rating: 4.8
New price: £23,485 – £40,285
Used price: £15,205 – £32,170
Fuel economy: 38 – 60 mpg

Read our full review of the Volkswagen Tiguan
To view the latest Volkswagen Tiguan cars for sale click here

Ford Kuga (2008-2012)

Ford Kuga - best family 4x4s

Pros: Stylish, refined, economical
Cons: No off-roader, poor engine choice

Another tarmac focused ‘off-roader’ but all the better for it thanks to a driving experience more akin to a conventional family car than lolloping 4×4. Launched back in 2008 the Kuga quickly established itself as a class act from its more hum drum rivals.

The interior is spacious, classy and comfortable. Its on-road driving manners are smooth and it’s perfectly suited to family motoring, not least thanks to a large-sized boot.

The only downside is a lack of engine choice so diesel is the way to go and in particular the 2.0TDCi with two-wheel drive as the reductions in emissions and improvements in fuel consumption over the four-wheel drive version is worth having.

Avoid the 2.5-litre petrol version as fuel consumption will hit low 20mpg on average and road tax is expensive. Trim to seek out is Titanium though entry level Zetec won’t disappoint either.

Star rating: 4
New price: £21,348 – £29,705
Used price: £3,685 – £9,995
Fuel economy: 27 – 47 mpg

Read our full review of the Ford Kuga
To view the latest Ford Kuga cars for sale click here

Land Rover Freelander (2006-2014) – Best Family 4×4 for Off-Roading

Land Rover Freelander - best family 4x4s

Pros: Off-road ability, practical, premium
Cons: Expensive

Regarded by many as a ‘proper’ off-roader and with good reason. It’s abilities on the rough stuff are truly impressive thanks to tall suspension and clever electronics.

What’s more, it’s one of the most cavernous mid-sized 4x4s thanks to its boxy shape. Boot size wades in at 755 litres (even more if you fold the rear seats flat) and there’s plenty of room in the back for two adults.

Downsides are kit is sparse on base models and reliability on early Freelander IIs is questionable (auto gearboxes and steering racks main culprits). We’d recommend a 2009 on model and the SD4 (the more powerful version of the diesel engine) in a mid-spec trim such as GS. The 2WD version offers some fuel savings but it isn’t ideal if you are going to venture off-road or regularly use it for towing.

Star rating: 4
New price: £19,320 – £39,565
Used price: £3,060 – £19,815
Fuel economy: 25 – 47 mpg

Read our full review of the Land Rover Freelander
To view the latest Land Rover Freelander cars for sale click here

Honda CR-V (2007-2012) – Best Family 4×4 for Reliability

Honda CR-V - best family 4x4s

Pros: Build quality, excellent diesel, styling
Cons: Doesn’t off-road, firm ride

From launch the CR-V proved itself as an ideal family 4×4 with lots of passenger space plus a decent sized boot. It’s also very reliable and thanks to its popularity there are plenty of used ones to choose from.

Check the rear differential for noises, and some owners have had issues with cars that have been driven in flooded conditions.

A good level of standard kit is fitted to the mid-spec ES including dual-zone climate control and full parking sensors.

Avoid base SE (steel wheels), and the panoramic sun roof is worth having.

Star rating: 4
New price: £19,935 – £33,460
Used price: £2,630 – £12,225
Fuel economy: 33 – 43 mpg

Read our full review of the Honda CR-V
To view the latest Honda CR-V cars for sale click here

Volvo XC60 (2008 on) – Best Family 4×4 for Safety

Volvo XC60 - safest family SUV

Pros: Comfy, strong on safety
Cons: Diesels noisy, hesitant auto

Beloved by the school run set and for good reason: it’s spacious, practical and safe. There’s even a green version.

The XC60 is the safest car the Swedish company has made to date with a top five star Euro NCAP rating. 

All models feature ‘City Safety’ as standard and it’s designed to automatically stop the car if it detects an imminent collision with the car in front. The system is designed for urban traffc and works up to 19mph.

Avoid the high-performance, petrol T6 (which is rare anyway) and go for the D5 for a good blend of performance and economy. The entry-level S model is rare and most cars will be SE trim and are well kitted. SE Lux versions even better but command a premium though seeking out sat nav is worthwhile but don’t pay extra for it.

Star rating: 4 
New price: £24,040 – £42,860
Used price: £5,160 – £33,525
Fuel economy: 24 – 62 mpg

Read our full review of the Volvo XC60
To view the latest Volvo XC60 cars for sale click here

Nissan X-Trail (2007-2014)

Nissan X-Trail - best family 4x4s

Pros: Practical, well built, good off-road
Cons: Thirsty petrols, tight rear leg room

The model launched in 2007 may look similar to the previous one, but it was a major step forward. Interior quality improved massively, ride and handling are more refined and there’s a good choice of engines.

It’s also a car that is more than capable off-road thanks to decent ground clearance, is very reliable and deal for towing.

Avoid the petrols (poor fuel consumption) and go for the 173bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel with the six-speed manual with claimed average of 44mpg. Acenta and Tekna trims are the top picks.

Star rating: 4
New price: £19,035 – £31,225
Used price: £2,005 – £16,335
Fuel economy: 29 – 44 mpg

Read our full review of the Nissan X-Trail
To view the latest Nissan X-Trail cars for sale click here

Hyundai Santa Fe (2006-2012) – Best Family 4×4 for Peace of Mind

Hyundai Santa Fe - best family 4x4s

Pros: Attractive looks, seven seats, five-year warranty
Cons: Poor auto, vague steering.

Growing or large families need more space but without hefty running bills, so cue the Hyundai Santa Fe.

It packs seven seats, lots of space and is big on value. What’s more, it comes with a five year warranty for added peace of mind.

The Santa Fe was significantly revised in late 2009 so aim for a 59-plate on and the higher spec Premium to secure the most amount of family focused kit including full MP3 connection. There’s only one engine, the 2.2-litre diesel, but go for the manual.

Star rating: 4
New price: £20,800 – £29,100
Used price: £1,820 – £10,510
Fuel economy: 26 – 41 mpg

Read our full review of the Hyundai Santa Fe
To view the latest Hyundai Santa Fe cars for sale click here

Mitsubishi Outlander (2007-2013)

Mitsubishi Outlander - best family 4x4s

Pros: Seven seats, driver’s car
Cons: Rearmost seats cramped

One of Mitsubishi’s most successful cars that mixes people carrier practicality with 4×4 go anywhere ability.

Most come with seven seats with the two rear-most seats folding flat to the floor to create a huge boot space. The Outlander’s interior isn’t inspired, but it is practical, well thought out and durable.

Revised in 2010 to include Mitsubishi’s impressive 2.2-litre diesel in two power options. The best trade off between performance and economy is the 174bhp version with a six-speed manual.

Pick of the specs is the Warrior trim that includes leather seats, roof rails, cruise control and Bluetooth connection.

Star rating: 4
New price: £20,604 – £31,084
Used price: £1,820 – £10,510
Fuel economy: 30 – 46 mpg

Read our full review of the Mitsubishi Outlander
To view the latest Mitsubishi Outlander cars for sale click here

SsangYong Kyron (2006-2010) – Best Family 4×4 Budget Buy

SsangYong Kyron - best family 4x4s

Pros: Value, off-road ability, large boot, five year warranty
Cons: Styling, bouncy ride, drab interior

Not widely known, partly because there are so few franchised dealers, but don’t let that put you off because the Kyron delivers a lot of 4×4 for the money. Underneath the Kyron is a fair amount of Mercedes-Benz technology, too.

It is slightly bigger than a Freelander, available with either two- or four-wheel drive and is well equipped. Diesels are strong and economical and we’d go for the 141bhp 2.0 diesel with manual five-speed gearbox.

The SE trim delivers a lot of kit including leather seats, side airbags and climate control so is our pick of the range.

Star rating: 3
New price: £12,570 – £22,569
Used price: £585 – £3,170
Fuel economy: 29 – 37 mpg

Read our full review of the SsangYong Kyron
To view the latest SsangYong Kyron cars for sale click here

Jeep Compass (2011-2015)

Jeep Compass - best family 4x4s

Pros: Performance, economy, kit
Cons: Inferior interior quality

For those looking for something a bit different, with a solid image and a lot of equipment for the cash, the Jeep Compass has much to recommend it.

The Jeep brand is synonymous with off-roading in the same way that Land Rover is, and this DNA distils down through all its models.

The Compass doesn’t match its rivals for refinement and quality interiors but its upside is it costs significantly less. It shares a fair amount of engineering with the equally capable Mitsubishi Outlander, but with a transatlantic feel that has great kerb appeal.

We’d recommend the 2.2 diesel as it makes the most sense for its economy, plus the mid-spec Sport+ model as it features climate control as standard.

Star rating: 3
New price: £18,180 – £25,450
Used price: £3,520 – £14,170 
Fuel economy: 31 – 46 mpg

Read our full review of the Jeep Compass
To view the latest Jeep Compass cars for sale click here

Buying a family 4×4? Follow these top tips to make the right choice

Check the tyres

Off road tyres are expensive, especially dual purpose ones. Check tread depth and tyre condition and budget if they need replacing. Don’t forget the spare – a full sized one is worth having over a space saver.

Transmission service

The all-wheel drive systems are very expensive to replace so have they been serviced regularly? The service book should tell you and double-check when the transmission oil should have been changed.

Inspect the brakes

Off-roaders give brakes a hard time. Check discs for scoring and wear, plus the thickness of the pads. If the car has racked up more than 60k miles ask if discs and pads have been renewed. If not it’s a job that’s likely to be due so budget for it.

Towing tasks

If you see a tow bar ask what’s been hitched to the back and how often. The heavier the trailer the more strain on transmissions and suspension so make sure the car’s braked tow weight limit is up to the job. Likewise if you’re planning on towing.

Detachable extras

Some modern 4x4s come with a spare number plate and detachable tow bar so make sure they’re present before buying. 

Check trim and boot

Kids can stress test interiors like nothing else so make sure all handles, switches and trim are securely attached and work. Check boots for any signs of dog transporting – claws wear out boot floors and seat backs.