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7 of the best small 4x4s to buy right now

We have compiled a list of the best small 4x4s available right now, taking into account price, features, engines, reliability and economy.

The ŠKODA Yeti is in our list of the top small 4x4s to buy in 2015

The ŠKODA Yeti is in our list of the top small 4x4s to buy in 2015

Mazda CX-5

A compact SUV that’s perfect for families, the CX-5 has proven to be one of the most capable new releases of the year. Combining looks, economical engines and style, Mazda has delivered a 5-star compact SUV that ticks all the boxes.

Features: 7-inch touchscreen centre console, DAB radio, two USB ports, MZD Connect system for pairing your smartphone with your car, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, parking sensors, rain-sensing windscreen wipers and more.

Reliability: 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating. Mazda ranked 8th out of 33 manufacturers in the Driver Power 2014 satisfaction survey.

Engines and economy: For all-wheel drive, the 2.2-litre 148bhp diesel engine is your only choice, although you can opt for this with manual or automatic transmission. With the 6-speed manual transmission, combined MPG is 54.3 and CO2 emissions are 136g/km. This increases to 144g/km with the 6-speed auto transmission, and combined mpg drops to 51.4.

Price: £22,995–£30,595 (AWD models)

Volkswagen Tiguan

The Volkswagen Tiguan is a popular offering in the crossover SUV market thanks to its usability and smooth ride. It looks smart, too, and is able to compete with premium rivals thanks to its classy chassis and spacious interior.

Features: The entry-level S model comes equipped with DAB radio, 16-inch alloys, air conditioning and ISOFIX among other expected standard features. For a more extensive package, opt for the Match version, with colour touchscreen sat-nav, climate control and front and rear parking sensors. Escape models have more off-road capability and R-Line models have bi-xenon headlights, 18-inch wheels and two-tone sports seats.

Reliability: The Tiguan shares components with the Volkswagen Golf, which is considered a ‘consistently solid’ car. The Tiguan also scored a 5-star Euro NCAP rating.

Engines and economy: For four-wheel drive, you have the option of the 2.0-litre TDI 150PS 4Motion engine or the 184PS version. Both are available with either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed auto DSG transmission. Combined MPG is 53.3 with manual transmission, 49.6 with auto, and CO2 emissions are 140g/km (manual) and 150g/km (auto).

Price: £25,030–£29,795 (4WD models)

Dacia Duster

The Dacia Duster is the cheapest 4x4 on this list, and while that instinctively makes you suspicious, it shouldn’t. The Duster is serious value for money, although it is worth pointing out that the entry-level price is for the basic model, which doesn’t have four-wheel drive (you have to pay £2000 extra for that).

Features: Standard equipment is very minimal, but optional extras include radio, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, fog lights, body-coloured bumpers and nicer interior fabrics.

Engines: The 1.5-litre four-wheel drive engine achieves 53.3mpg and emits 137g/km CO2.

Reliability: All Dacias come with a respectable three-year, 60,000-mile warranty. Safety-wise, the Duster only has a three-star Euro NCAP rating as a result of poor performance in the pedestrian protection test and the lack of safety features provided on the entry-level model.

Price: £11,488–£15,995 (4WD models)


The ŠKODA Yeti is a small SUV that’s decent to drive, practical and great for families. Although we’re talking about small 4x4s here, don’t underestimate the amount of space the Yeti has to offer. There are seven seats and tonnes of head-room and leg-room that can be increased considerably by shuffling the rear seats around.

Features: Full-on 4x4 styling, chunky roof rails and large boot. The entry-level S model is basic in terms of kit, but all cars get air-conditioning and electric front windows. The popular SE model adds dual-zone air-conditioning and some extra practical touches. The higher-spec SE L gets heated leather seats that are worth splashing out on.

Reliability: The ŠKODA Yeti has been voted the most satisfying car to own in the UK for three years running. If that wasn’t enough to convince you, the Yeti also has a 5-star Euro NCAP rating.

Engines and economy: Four-wheel drive is available with the larger engine option – the 2.0-litre TDI 150PS diesel. The engine manages 51.4mpg and emits 144g/km with the DSG gearbox, 55.4mpg and 134g/km without.

Price: £19,505

Hyundai Tucson

This compact crossover offers a smooth ride and an abundance of space. The styling is on-point, and with curvaceous lines and distinctive features, the Tucson certainly stands out on the road.

Features: All models get alloys, automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights and steering wheel controls.

Reliability: Hyundai offers an unlimited mileage five-year warranty, which is still one of the best in the business. While reliability of the new Tucson will remain unknown for a while yet, there’s plenty of safety kit to keep your mind at ease, such as six airbags, child locks on rear doors, hill-start assist and more as standard.

Engines and economy: There are three engine options if you want four-wheel drive: 2.0-litre CRDi 136PS diesel (manual/automatic), 2.0-litre CRDi 185PS diesel (manual/automatic), and 1.6-litre T-GDi 177PS petrol (manual/automatic). The 136PS 2.0-litre diesel with manual gearbox is the most efficient, with 139g/km of CO2 emissions, managing 54.3mpg combined.

Price: Enquire

Jeep Renegade

The Jeep Renegade combines agile city size with real SUV power. Don’t be fooled by its toylike dimensions; the Renegade is best in class for off-road capability.

Features: Satellite navigation, dual-zone air conditioning, DAB radio, 6.5-inch touchscreen, and a handy 351 litres of boot space that swells to 1,297 litres with rear seats folded.

Reliability: Jeep attained a 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating with the Renegade. The car comes with safety aids such as trailer sway damping and hill-start assist. For more advance safety features such as lane departure warning and forward collision braking, you’ll have to opt for the range-topping ‘Limited’ specification.

Engines and economy: There are six petrol and Multijet diesel engines available, however not all of them are available with four-wheel drive. 4WD is available with Jeep Active Drive on Sport, Latitude and Limited models and Jeep Active Drive Low on Trailhawk® models. Both systems switch seamlessly between two-wheel and four-wheel drive to reduce emissions. The two available engines are the 1.4-litre I4 MultiAir® Turbo and 2.0-litre I4 MultiAir®. The most economical 4WD option is the 2.0-litre diesel with Limited trim and manual transmission. It achieves 55.4mpg combined and emits 134g/km CO2.

Price: £22,795–£27,760 (4WD models)

Fiat Panda Cross 4x4

The Fiat Panda Cross has gained a lot of positive press, and we love it too. It’s an affordable small car full of big surprises. Fiat has struck the perfect balance between city car fun and elements-smashing off-roader.

Features: Folding seats, 15-inch alloys with mud and snow tyres, air conditioning, remote central locking, electric heated mirrors and Bluetooth connectivity as standard.

Reliability: Euro NCAP hasn’t tested The Panda 4x4, but its city-car sibling scored a 4-star rating. This lags slightly behind most of the cars on this list but it was a result of ESP not coming as standard on the normal Panda; it does on the 4x4.

Engines and economy: The 0.9-litre petrol TwinAir engine returns 57.6mpg and emits 114g/km of CO2. The 1.3-litre Multijet diesel manages 60.1mpg and 125g/km.

Price: £16,225–£17,225

About the Author

Sophie McGraw

Staff writer at Arnold Clark