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What is a commercial 4×4? We explain what they are, which are best and why you should consider one for your business

  • What makes a commercial 4×4 different to regular vans and pickups?
  • What they can do and why they might make sense for your business
  • All current models rated, plus some classic and future examples

Written by Luke Wilkinson Published: 22 February 2024 Updated: 22 February 2024

The commercial 4×4 sector consists of passenger off-roaders that have been converted for light commercial vehicle (LCV) use. In this sense, they’re similar to car-derived vans (which are also based on ordinary passenger cars) – but they’re generally much larger and offer far greater off-road capability.

The entire purpose of a commercial 4×4 is to transport tools, equipment and goods over rough terrain. Their ability to easily access the most remote building sites elevates them above pickup trucks and four-wheel drive versions of conventional vans.

The most obvious and famous example of a commercial 4×4 is the old Land Rover Defender. It was loved by farmers, electrical engineers and utility companies alike – all of which have a need to access remote locations to retrieve stray sheep or service electrical pylons. The latest version, called the Land Rover Defender Hard Top, was launched in 2021.

How is a commercial 4×4 different to a regular SUV?

It’s a straightforward conversion. A commercial 4×4 is mechanically identical to a passenger SUV, but its rear seats have been removed and replaced by a large load bed. Any rear side windows are blanked out, too, to keep your tools and equipment out of sight from opportunistic thieves.

To meet commercial vehicle tax regulations, the a commercial 4×4’s rear seat mounting points must be disabled and the removed seats must be destroyed. This is so you can’t put the rear seats back and take unfair advantage of cheap van tax rates while using the 4×4 as a family car.

These days, most commercial 4×4s are fitted with a sturdy bulkhead between the load space and the remaining front seats for added safety – and they often have a mesh portion at the top that allows the driver to see out of the rear windscreen. The rear screen is also typically left in clear glass rather than replaced by a solid panel.

Typical commercial 4x4 load space conversion
Commercial 4×4s are vans based on off-road passenger cars.

The SUVs opening rear side doors also normally remain to provide more convenient access to the load space. Often, you’ll find the now redundant interior trim still attached to these, only without the window switches (as the glass has been replaced by solid panels).

Depending on the vehicle, the rear doors sometimes offer access to additional storage under the load bed. The Land Rover Defender 110 Hardtop and Land Rover Discovery Commercial both have excellent examples of this.

What are the advantages of a commercial 4×4 compared to a van or pickup?

In addition to their off-road prowess, commercial 4×4s benefit from being based on passenger vehicles in three main areas.

First – and this sounds stupid and obvious – but they don’t look like traditional vans. That means they’re less attractive to criminals who target commercial vehicles for tool theft. Commercial 4×4s also have more secure load beds than pickup trucks. Plus, many buyers simply prefer to have something that doesn’t look like a van parked outside their house.

New Land Rover Defender off-roading with conviction
You can’t do this in a Transit.

Secondly, they still drive like the cars they’re based on. In the old Defender’s case, this probably wasn’t such a good thing but, when it comes to modern SUVs, this generally means much greater comfort, refinement and performance than you’ll get out of a modern van – let alone pickups, which are typically cruder still.

Thirdly, since the only changes inside are behind the front seats, the actual driving environment is far better appointed than even a very posh van. Creature comforts and safety equipment abound, and longer journeys stop requiring earplugs and anti-inflammatories.

What are the disadvantages of a commercial 4×4 compared to a van or pickup?

Remember – commercial 4×4s are passenger cars with some of their seats removed. That means vans and pickups can outclass them in some respects to practicality.

So, because they’re basically cars, commercial 4×4s carry lower payloads and have less load space inside (admittedly more so if you’re comparing them against vans). They also have tall loading heights, which means you’ll need to heave whatever you’re carrying a long way off the ground to place it in the back.

New Land Rover Defender Hard Top - towing
Commercial 4×4s aren’t as convenient as vans for carrying stuff.

Commercial 4×4s might not be as robust as a van or pickup, either. They have interiors and components that may not have been engineered for heavy-duty commercial use, and thus may wear out faster, incurring additional costs. Service intervals may also be less convenient.

If these disadvantages have put you off the idea of owning a commercial 4×4, but you still need a workhorse that can go off-road, why not opt for a mud-plugging van such as the Iveco Daily 4×4 and the Vauxhall Combo Cargo 4×4?

What are the best commercial 4×4s available today?

After the original Defender died, there was a bit of a lull in the commercial 4×4 market. Happily, it’s now bounced back – and we’ve seen a healthy influx of talented vehicles in recent years. Here’s a quick rundown of all the new models available now, complete with a short summary of their capability and links to our full reviews.

A no-nonsense off-roader with an industry-leading warranty

The Toyota Land Cruiser is about to be replaced by an all-new model, which means production of the current version is ending. But dealers still have some examples of the outgoing car kicking around their forecourts – and they’ll want the space for the new car, so they’ll be flogging the older cars at knockdown prices.
Don’t think you’ll be short-changed by opting for old version, though. The Land Cruiser is a staggeringly capable commercial vehicle. You can have in either short or long wheelbases, it’s outstandingly effective off-road and it also has rather charming on-road manners. The 2.8-litre motor also makes them hilariously quick, and an interesting alternative to the Toyota Hilux pickup if you don’t need 1,000kg (one-tonne) payload capacity. Oh yeah, and it has a 10-year warranty if you get it serviced at an official Toyota dealer.
Read our Toyota Land Cruiser Commercial review


  • Proven off-road ability
  • Surprisingly comfortable
  • Excellent reliability


  • Low payload
  • Hilux tows more

Best commercial 4×4 for all-round ability and image

The Defender made a triumphant return to the commercial 4×4 sector in 2021 with this all-new Hard Top model. Unlike its predecessor, the roof isn’t actually removable, but it does still come in two sizes – a short-wheelbase Defender 90 Hardtop (based on the three-door passenger car) and the long-wheelbase Defender 110 Hardtop (based on the five-door).
The retro-tastic design inside and out may seem a bit kitsch at first, but they’re both great fun to drive on-road and virtually unstoppable off-road. Practicality is first-rate, too. The Defender is the only commercial 4×4 with a three-seater cab option, it has loads of storage options and a 3,500kg towing capacity. Cargo space is 1,355 litres in the 90 and 2,059 litres in the 110, while maximum payload is 888kg. It’s not cheap but feels worth every single penny.
Read our full Land Rover Defender Hard Top review


  • Great to drive
  • Well-equipped
  • Clever load space


  • Expensive
  • Will it be reliable?

Best commercial 4×4 for limited access job sites

The passenger-carrying version of the Suzuki Jimny was on sale in the UK for a few scant years before emissions regulations kicked it out of the showrooms. But the commercial vehicle world cares less about such things, which allowed the Jimny to return to the UK, albeit with a few crucial tweaks.
Suzuki junked the (admittedly useless) rear sears and installed a bulkhead to allow the Jimny to be reclassified as an LCV. It’s very small, though – there’s barely enough room for a toolbox in the back and it can only carry a payload of 150kg. Still, its compact dimensions make it ideally suited for those working in difficult to access areas.
Read our full Suzuki Jimny Commercial review


  • Well priced
  • Great off road
  • Neat conversion


  • Payload is just 150kg
  • Tiny load bed

Unstoppable off-road, but compromised on it

Ineos Automotive is a fresh face in the 4×4 game, but it adopted an incredibly old school design approach for its first car. The company’s founder, Jim Ratcliffe, mourned the death of the original Land Rover Defender, so he embarked on a mission to create an off-roader that could pick up where the Defender left off.
So, the Grenadier is a rugged (and rather agricultural, if we’re being brutally honest) 4×4 built on a ladder chassis and loaded with off-road equipment such as locking differentials and hill descent control. It is a little too biased towards off-road performance, however – its steering system is a little too imprecise for Tarmac. It’s also nowhere near as refined as the Defender, despite costing a similar amount of money.
Read our full Ineos Grenadier Utility Wagon review


  • Strong towing capacity
  • Lots of adventuring kit
  • Designed to get dirty inside


  • Utilitarian interior
  • Agricultural road manners

Dacia Duster Commercial

A great commercial 4×4 at a staggeringly low price

We love the standard Dacia Duster, so it should come as no surprise to hear that we like the commercial variant, too. It’s an incredibly tough and capable off-roader at an attractively low price. Plus, the whole vehicle is so light that it technically qualifies as a car-derived van, which means it isn’t restricted to heavy commercial vehicle speed limits.
Like the other vehicles in this list, the Duster has a partition between the front seats and the load space – and it can carry up to 1,559 litres of stuff. Because it’s based on a car platform, its payload capacity is compromised at around 500kg, but that should be more than enough to handle all the tools and equipment of your average engineer or farmer.
Read our Dacia Duster Commercial review


  • Very cheap to buy
  • Reasonable running costs
  • Quality conversion


  • Raised load area
  • Most models FWD

A commercial 4×4 that’s both comfortable and capable

The Discovery Commercial isn’t a cheap car – prices start from more than £60,000 – but UK buyers find them incredibly appealing. Land Rover says that one in four Discoveries sold in Britain are commercial variants. They look nothing like a van from the outside, but some clever adaptation from Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) department means they are remarkably practical inside.
The Discovery is also hugely luxurious, with an enormous amount of standard kit on even the most basic version – including a powered tailgate and a very fancy infotainment system. They are also highly capable off-road, and nicer to drive on-road than the Defender Hard Top (although there’s not much in it). It boasts an impressive 784kg payload and a maximum load space volume of 2,024 litres.
Read our full Land Rover Discovery Commercial review


  • Refined to drive
  • Very high quality interior
  • Outstanding off road


  • Expensive to buy and run
  • Legally restricted to van speed limits

What are the best used commercial 4×4s?

There are plenty of good, used commercial 4×4s for sale in the classifieds. Picking the right one for your business will depend on your budget, the job you need it to perform and your tolerance to discomfort.

If you want the maximum bang for your buck, we’d strongly suggest you check out the previous generation Dacia Duster Commercial. It has a powerful and reliable engine, loads of space in the cabin, a 1,150-litre load bed and a 550kg payload capacity. They’re incredibly cheap, too – prices start from around £5,000.

Dacia Duster Commercial 4x4
A used Dacia Duster Commercial represents excellent value for money.

The original Land Rover Defender is also a great choice for those working in tough conditions. It’s virtually unbeatable off-road and available in a broad range of body styles, but you pay penalties for its rugged capability in other areas. By modern standards, it’s very hard to drive, especially over long distances. Land Rover’s reputation for reliability isn’t exactly sparkling, either, but at least the Defender’s simple mechanicals should be easy to fix.

Mitsubishi might offer the perfect solution for you if you want a commercial 4×4 with some modern creature comforts, but don’t want to fork out the cash for a brand-new model. The firm withdrew from the UK market in 2021, but both the Outlander Commercial and the Shogun Sport Commercial were in its product line at the point it ceased trading over here.

That means there are plenty of used models to choose from and, because Mitsubishi shattered the trust of its customers by pulling out of the UK, they’re often cheaper than rival commercial 4×4s from brands such as Toyota and Land Rover.

Best commercial 4x4 - Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Commercial
Don’t be afraid of opting for a Mitsubishi, even if the brand has pulled out of the UK.

The Outlander is perhaps the more interesting of the two, but arguably the least sensible. It was only sold as a petrol plug-in hybrid, which means it has the most complicated powertrain of any vehicle on this list.

Fuel economy is excellent if you can maximise its pure-electric driving range but, since this is only around 30 miles per charge, longer journeys can become costly. The latest PHEV models have a payload rating of 510kg and a 1,609-litre load area (just over 1.6 cubic metres).

The Mitsubishi Shogun Sport Commercial was another oddity, as it’s a van based on an SUV based on a pickup. That’s right – underneath that smoothly finished bodywork lies the same platform as the Mitsubishi L200.

Best commercial 4x4 - Mitsubishi Shogun Sport Commercial
The Shogun Sport is a pickup truck under the skin, which means it’s tough.

This means a ladder-frame chassis instead of the unibody construction used by almost every other commercial 4×4 in this list. That’s good news for strength and towing, but not so great for refinement or suspension sophistication.

Still, it was fitted with lots of standard equipment and it has good off-road capability, including a 700mm wading depth. Payload is an improvement over the Outlander PHEV at 605kg, but cargo volume is lower at 1,488 litres (just under 1.5 cubic metres).

Luke Wilkinson is Deputy Editor of Parkers. He’s worked as an automotive journalist for five years, having started his career at Auto Express. He now spends his time writing news, reviews and features for Parkers and its sister site CAR magazine.