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Best Cars

Best Large SUVs and 4x4s for 2017

By Martin Pratt

Article 8 of 15

Our best 4x4 SUVs are refined and efficient, offering practicality and four-wheel drive security – and a used best 4x4 needn’t cost you a fortune.   

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Large SUVs and 4x4s are now one of the most popular types of car in the UK. Favoured for their rugged good looks and the confidence they inspire, thanks to their raised driving position and perceived safety.

4x4s are also pretty practical, with large, comfortable interiors. And – on most models at least – four-wheel-drive and the ability to venture off road. Few do, but those large tyres also do a good job of smoothing out rough roads and squashing speed bumps. 

The 4x4 class includes everything from luxury models, such as the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Range Rover. To more affordable mainstream offerings, including the Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander and Nissan X-Trail. 

But popularity is no guarantee that a large SUV will be good to drive or own. Our testing has found SUVs that are a nightmare to drive anywhere other than a muddy field. Long braking distances, wide turning circles and harsh suspension may be fine on a dirt track, but they become significant problems on a motorway or in town.

Below, you’ll find Best Buy 4x4s and large SUVs that have aced our rigorous tests, and some models that aren’t worth your money. 

Which? members can log in now to see the large SUVs we recommend. If you’re not already a member, take out a £1 Which? trial to unlock this table and read our expert impartial reviews.

Best new large SUVs

Lexus RX (2015-)
Typical price £40,126
Brand score 79%
Reviewed Apr 2016
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

The unusual design won't be to all tastes, but this SUV is a very impressive luxury 4x4. There’s plenty of space for passengers front and rear, plus a decent-sized boot. It's well made and comfortable, and has lots of advanced technology.

Audi Q7 (2015-)
Typical price £47,836
Brand score 79%
Reviewed Mar 2016
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
5 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

A new standard for luxury SUVs. This model impresses across the board, managing not only to be refined and well-constructed, but more engaging to drive than a car this large has any right to be. It pushes the boat out with high levels of safety and entertainment kit, too.

Volkswagen Touareg (2010-)
Typical price £34,689
Brand score 77%
Reviewed May 2010
Best Buy
Driving stability:
3 out of 5
Ride quality:
5 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This large SUV was built to last and it's full to the brim with the latest technology that enhances the comfortable drive.

Audi SQ7 (2016-)
Typical price £70,736
Brand score 76%
Reviewed Apr 2017
Best Buy
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Ride quality:
5 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

Imposingly large, yet with an agility that belies its enormity, this sporty model pulls off a seemingly impossible feat. It's not just superfast in a straight line, but corners with precision and confidence. It can also seat up to seven passengers in one of most comfortable, high-quality cabins we've come across.

Volvo XC90 (2015-)
Typical price £45,079
Brand score 74%
Reviewed Dec 2015
Best Buy
Driving stability:
3 out of 5
Ride quality:
5 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

Comfortable and loaded with safety technology, this is a standout car in the large 4x4 class. With seven seats and a large towing capacity, it's as practical as they come. The only real niggle is that it feels very wide on the road.

Toyota RAV 4 (2013-)
Typical price £22,802
Brand score 73%
Reviewed Jan 2013
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Model reliability 0-3 years:
5 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This SUV is big, comfortable and a pleasure to drive, thanks to plenty of on-board tech and a spacious boot. It’s got a strong reputation for reliability, too.

Best used large SUVs

Lexus RX (2009-2015)
Typical price £12,584
Brand score 75%
Reviewed Jul 2009
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Model reliability 3-8 years:
5 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This hybrid wants to combine economy with space and comfort, and it succeeds. Its design is pleasingly different from the SUV norm, too.

Mercedes-Benz M-Class (2012-2015)
Typical price £22,419
Brand score 72%
Reviewed Mar 2012
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This SUV is in its element as a cruiser, thanks to its soft suspension and refined cabin. It's also an excellent choice if you ever need to tow anything or venture off-road.

BMW X5 (2007-2013)
Typical price £11,091
Brand score 70%
Reviewed Apr 2007
Best Buy
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Model reliability 3-8 years:
3 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This confident seven-seater SUV is an easier drive than you might think thanks to its terrific diesel engines and sure-footed handling.

Mercedes-Benz GL (2013-2015)
Typical price £39,103
Brand score 69%
Reviewed Apr 2013
Best Buy
Driving stability:
3 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

It isn't the sportiest steer but it boasts stability, smoothness, high safety and superb refinement. All seven passengers have sufficient seat space and there's loads of cargo-carrying capacity. You'll need the extra-cost ’On & Off-road’ package for any serious mud-plugging activity, though.

Mazda CX-7 (2007-2011)
Typical price £4,163
Brand score 68%
Reviewed Sep 2007
Best Buy
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This chunky-looking SUV is comfortable and it handles well. But it's more at home on the road than a muddy field.

Not found the car for you? Browse all our large SUV and 4x4 reviews

Three large SUVs to avoid

4x4s and beefy SUVs have a certain image to uphold. They look strong and durable - surely a car that can barrel across frozen tundra and rutted fields won’t break down, right? 

Sadly not, our survey has found high-profile 4x4s that regularly suffer from brake and electrical faults leading to multiple breakdowns and garage visits – hardly expected of a rugged off-roader.

There’s also the matter of fuel consumption. No one is expecting a hulking SUV to be as efficient as a Toyota Prius, but people’s expectations aren’t an excuse to produce cars that do less than 20 miles to the gallon. We’ve tested non-hybrid SUVs that achieve over 40mpg, so it’s not as if it can’t be done.

We’ve rounded up three unreliable, gas guzzling 4x4s that you should avoid.

Which? members can log in now to see the cars you should avoid. If you’re not already a member, take out a £1 Which? trial to unlock this table and all our expert, independent reviews.

Large SUVs to avoid

Land Rover Discovery 3 (2004-2009)
Typical price £5,461
Brand score 51%
Reviewed Nov 2004
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Boot space:
5 out of 5
Brand reliability 0-3 years:
3 out of 5
Brand reliability 3-8 years:
2 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

This is one full-size off-roader that you should avoid, despite its desirable image and useful practicality. There's a question mark over its reliability and we can't recommend it.

Jeep Wrangler (2007-)
Typical price £32,068
Brand score 48%
Reviewed Apr 2007
Driving stability:
3 out of 5
Ride quality:
3 out of 5
Boot space:
3 out of 5
Brand reliability 0-3 years:
3 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

Off-road prowess at the expense of nearly all road manners. Unwieldy, crude and thirsty, this model is one for the farm track only.

Land Rover Discovery 4 (2009-2017)
Typical price £15,656
Brand score 45%
Reviewed Sep 2009
Don't buy
Driving stability:
3 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Boot space:
5 out of 5
Brand reliability 0-3 years:
3 out of 5
Brand reliability 3-8 years:
2 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

This full-size off-roader has always had a lot of appeal - stacks of off-road ability, comfort and a refined image. However, high ownership costs and a woeful reliability record mean that we simply can’t recommend it.

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