We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.

Best cars

Best large SUVs and 4x4 cars for 2019

By Daljinder Nagra

Article 8 of 16

Our best SUVs and 4x4 cars are refined, efficient and practical – and a used best 4x4 needn’t cost you a fortune.   

Put us to the test

Our Test Labs compare features and prices on a range of products. Try Which? to unlock our reviews. You'll instantly be able to compare our test scores, so you can make sure you don't get stuck with a Don't Buy.

Large SUVs and 4x4 cars are 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. 

Large SUVs are also practical, with comfortable and spacious interiors. And – on most large models at least – you get four-wheel-drive and the ability to venture off road. Few do, but beefy suspension and large tyres also do a good job of smoothing out rough roads and squashing speed bumps. 

The large SUV and 4x4 car class includes luxury models, as well as more affordable mainstream offerings. If you want a high-riding model that puts opulence before off-roading, we've separated luxury SUVs, both new and used, into their own category. This will help you find the best model for your needs.

But whatever class you want, you need to choose carefully. 

Our testing has found SUVs and 4x4 cars 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. 

You'll find our top recommendations for the best large SUVs and 4x4 cars, including used SUVs, in the tables below. Plus we reveal some models that aren't worth your money. 

Alternatively, you can use the links below to jump to our large SUV and 4x4 car buying tips:

Best new and used SUVs and 4x4 cars

Only Which? members can view our expert impartial reviews in the tables below. 

Log in now to see which large SUVs and 4x4s we recommend. If you're not already a member, join Which? to unlock our Best Buys and Don't Buys.

Best new SUVs and 4x4 cars

Below our experts reveal the very best SUVs and 4x4s available to buy new, which have excelled at our rigorous lab testing.

Best new medium and large SUVs

77%
£27,222
Reviewed

An outside choice to many, but this large car is unique in its adventurous styling and strikingly distinctive cabin. It's spacious, refined, extremely comfortable and has many features to surprise and delight you.

76%
£69,495
Reviewed

This large SUV proves you can have it all - a practical family car that's well made, nice to drive and gets around the limitations of battery zero-emissions cars. It's currently being held back by a lack of a refuelling infrastructure, but in itself it’s a deserved Which? Best Buy.

75%
£29,177
Reviewed

The latest version of this popular model ditches diesel altogether and is available solely as a petrol hybrid. That’s no bad thing at all. Not only is quiet and effortless to drive, it’s also proved very economical, with improved fuel consumption on the motorway – typically a weakness for hybrid models. Only a clunky infotainment system lets it down slightly.

73%
£30,635
Reviewed

If you're in the market for a full-size seven-seat SUV, this model has a lot to offer. It's extremely spacious for passengers and luggage, very well equipped and comfortable to drive. The grumbles we have are minor. This is a top SUV.

71%
£19,476
Reviewed

This mid-size crossover is now in its fourth generation and a popular model in the UK. It’s not hard to see why – it’s spacious, well-equipped and backed by a lengthy warranty. Some engines are thirsty and it’s not the most exciting model to drive.

The best new luxury large SUVs and 4x4s

Looking for something more premium? We've got you covered, with some of the best high-end models on the market.

Best new luxury medium and large SUVs

83%
£46,423
Reviewed

If you’re looking for an extremely well-made luxury hybrid SUV, this model is our highest scoring new hybrid overall. It’s not much of a mud-plugger, but it’s spacious, comfortable and incredibly refined. SUVs aren’t known for their fuel economy, and this SUV hybrid is no different. However, while it uses a lot of fuel on motorways, it can be surprisingly economical in town. Factor in excellent reliability, based on our in-depth survey of owners, and it’s a cracking hybrid car.

81%
£73,309
Reviewed

Imposingly large, yet with an agility that belies its enormity, this large SUV pulls off a seemingly impossible feat. It's not just super-fast in a straight line, it also 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. With such a diverse range of talents, it’s a definite Best Buy.

81%
£62,398
Reviewed

This is an exceptionally refined strong-performing luxury SUV that’s expensive but well-equipped, with a spacious interior. It’s a worthy Best Buy. It makes sense to choose this hybrid if you do a lot of short journeys. Our tests show that you can travel around 28 miles in electric-only mode with zero tailpipe emissions - plenty for quick trips around town. It’s a superb all-rounder, worthy of the plug-in hybrid crown.

76%
£47,254
Reviewed

This model is as close as you'll get to sports car performance and handling in a mid-size SUV. Its agility really does belie its size and weight, but it’s not the most spacious or practical SUV available.

76%
£53,727
Reviewed

This new premium SUV pushes the levels of luxury, technology and driving agility into new territory. It’s a superb example of a full-fat luxury SUV, that’s available with a range of powerful (and relatively efficient) six-cylinder engines.

The best used large SUVs and 4x4s

Get a great car for less with our top selections for the best models to buy used.

Best used medium and large SUVs

75%
£17,329
Reviewed

This hybrid model is easy to drive around town and the silent electric motor also boosts the car’s level of refinement. It can get noisy when worked hard, though, and our tests (which are tougher than the official ones) revealed some emissions issues.

71%
£10,886
Reviewed

This SUV exhibits its maker’s strengths: it’s exceedingly robust and reliable, efficient and practical, and newer models will still be under warranty. The flip side is that it’s very dull to drive and rolls about a lot in the corners.

61%
£9,886
Reviewed

With vastly improved levels of quality and refinement over the brand’s earlier large SUV offerings, this SUV is a credible family car. It’s spacious, well-equipped and comes with the option of seven seats. It does feel slightly cheap inside and it’s rather cumbersome to manoeuvre.

61%
£3,010
Reviewed

This model is a rare sight on the roads, but shouldn’t be overlooked if you want a good value and solid large SUV. Our main criticisms were its high fuel consumption and somewhat uncomfortable seats.

The best used luxury large SUVs and 4x4s

Make a saving on a premium model by buying used - below we reveal the very best models to choose.

Best used medium and large SUVs

76%
£7,954
Reviewed

This seven seater that drives well and has decent off-road credentials. It’s also comfortable and roomy, making it a good choice if you’re buying a family car. It’s got an attractive interior, too.

75%
£13,564
Reviewed

Its styling may have been controversial but there was no doubting the substance under the metalwork. This model introduced us to the idea of a coupe SUV, and backed its sporty styling with an engaging driving experience, a comfortable ride and refined cabin.

73%
£12,221
Reviewed

What it lacks in choice of engines, this SUV makes up for with superior build-quality and comfort, and plenty of space for people and luggage. Just don’t expect it to mud-plug like a real off-roader.

72%
£20,140
Reviewed

Coupe styling in a high-riding mid-size SUV package. Whether that sounds like your kind of thing or not, there’s no doubting this mid-size model is an impressive bit of kit. It’s agile and sporty to drive, yet remains comfortable on long journeys. It’s also available with some impressive technology.

70%
£3,949
Reviewed

Imposingly large and with a classy image, there’s plenty to like about this SUV. It’s as comfortable and built to the same standard as the brand’s luxury limousines, yet offers plenty of boot space, too. It’s a complex machine, though, and will prove expensive to run.

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

Three large SUVs and 4x4 cars to avoid

Beefy SUVs and 4x4s 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? 

Sadly not. Our survey has found high-profile 4x4 cars 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 or 4x4 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.

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

Large SUVs to avoid

46%
£44,762
Reviewed

Stunning off-road performance counts for nothing when poor reliability means you'll be spending more time on a garage ramp than forging through the wilderness. It’s also quite thirsty.

39%
£30,494
Reviewed

This SUV is more upmarket than the model it replaces. It gives buyers a classier experience, while staying true to the brand's roots of properly go-anywhere off-roaders. That focus means it isn't the most agile or car-like SUV to drive, and rivals offer a more convincing blend of luxury and technology. It also hasn't stepped out the shadow of the brand’s renowned reliability problems, and has proved to be a big headache for buyers. So it's a Which? Don't Buy.

34%
£15,145
Reviewed

This proper SUV is near unstoppable off-road, but it’s this single-mindedness that mars its on-road driving experience. Having not been updated in so long, it’s also way behind rivals in almost every measure. In particular it’s crude, unrefined and likes to drink fuel.

How to buy the best large SUV or 4x4 car

From whether to buy a hybrid, diesel or petrol SUV to how to check for enough boot space for your luggage and shopping. We tell you what you need to know in order to buy the best large SUV or 4x4 car.

The large SUV and 4x4 car class includes luxury models, such as the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Range Rover. Plus 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 on the road or the best SUV for your money.

Should you buy an SUV or a car? 

If you live on a farm, the answer is probably SUV. A large off-roader with four-wheel drive and high ground clearance is recommended if you need to cross muddy fields, or regularly travel across difficult terrain or in particularly adverse weather.

However, if your driving life largely consists of commuting or school runs, and you simply want four-wheel-drive for added security in slippery conditions, you can save money by opting for another car class.

Selected medium and large car models are available with four-wheel-drive and muscular diesel engines for improved traction and towing ability, as well as mildly raised ground-clearance. They retain the benefits of a regular car - namely being more fun to drive and easier to manoeuvre.

Models such as the Audi A4 Allroad, Volvo V60 Cross Country and the Skoda Octavia Scout will go further off the beaten track than the conventional versions they’re based on, but won’t eat parking spaces for breakfast.

Hybrid, diesel or petrol SUV? 

Most large SUVs sold in the UK are diesel, as they normally offer more reasonable fuel economy over the big petrol engines needed to power these large cars.

Modern diesels are generally very refined and offer plenty of torque (pulling power) – which is great for towing. Our petrol vs diesel calculator will help you work out the relative costs of petrol and diesel engines.

There's also a trend towards large hybrid SUVs fitted with electric motors as well as conventional engines. These often claim to have better fuel consumption and emissions than diesels, though in reality this will depend largely on the type of driving you do. 

In our tests, both conventional self-charging hybrids (which charge using energy recuperation, such as from the brakes, rather than needing to be plugged in) and plug-in hybrid SUVs often outperform comparable petrol or diesel models in stop-start city driving. This is where hybrid systems are at their most effective. 

However, this advantage is often lost in higher speed driving, such as on the motorway.

Examples of SUV hybrids:

  • Petrol-electric, self-charging hybrids include the Lexus RX and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid 
  • Porsche offers a plug-in hybrid version of its Cayenne 
  • Peugeot's 508 RXH estate car is a mildly-lifted, diesel-electric hybrid with four-wheel drive.

Boot space is not a given 

Not all large SUVs are the practical workhorses you might imagine. Having lots of four-wheel-drive kit under the car's floor can lead to compromised interior space. Boot space, in particular can be quite limited. And the fact SUVs sit so high off the ground can make them difficult to get in and out of.

On the other hand, some large SUVs are genuine substitutes for an MPV. Off-roaders available with seven seats include the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento.

Luxury SUVs as an alternative to premium saloons 

The days of ultra-basic off-roaders that you could hose out after a day's work are all but over. Modern large SUVs are much more like conventional family cars, with premium models encroaching into the space of the traditional luxury limousine.

The Range Rover family of cars sums this category up well. Each model has serious off-road hardware but it’s their styling, opulence and tidy road manners that have seen them become a hit with buyers.

In this regard, choosing the right options is important. Large alloy wheels and styling upgrades are less useful than advanced driver aids, but will appeal to style-conscious buyers when the time comes to sell.

Off-road SUVs and 4x4 cars compared 

If you’re serious about going where few cars have gone before, then there is no real substitute for a large SUV. However, while most talk the talk, you need to ensure it has the right off-road hardware.

The main thing to consider is a low-range gearbox, which allows the car to crawl very slowly, and minimises the risk of wheel-spin. Locking differentials (which force two wheels on the same axle to move in unison) are also useful for not getting stuck.

One of the easiest ways of improving a car’s off-road ability is to fit it with proper all-terrain tyres. The sporty road tyres fitted as standard to most models might benefit handling on Tarmac, but are a serious limitation in the rough stuff.

‘Proper’ off-road models to consider include the Jeep Wrangler, Land Rover Discovery and Toyota Land Cruiser.

4x4 vs 4x2

There's an increasing trend towards off-road-style cars that only have two-wheel drive. It's not only crossover models like the Nissan Qashqai that can be bought with front-wheel drive; some more traditional-style 4x4s, such Volvo XC60 and even some Land Rover cars, are available as 4x2s. 

Of course, some benefits of a 4x4 remain in two-wheel-drive SUVs, including the high seating position and ground clearance. But you won't benefit from improved traction. On the other hand, the price is usually lower and fuel economy is often significantly better.

Four-wheel-drive vs AWD

There is also all-wheel drive (AWD) rather than 'permanent' four-wheel-drive. This means power will only go to the second axle (either front or rear, depending on model) when the car decides it is needed. In normal operation, such cars are two-wheel-drive. 

Increasingly, SUV models that aren’t specifically designed for off-road use (such as the latest Toyota RAV4), will have AWD, as it has less of an impact on fuel consumption. 

Best large SUVs and 4x4 cars for road travel 

Since you'll probably be spending most of your time on tarmac, it's important to consider how your off-roader behaves on the road. 

Our comprehensive reviews cover important dynamic traits such as braking, suspension and how cars behave in emergency manoeuvres - particularly important in high-sided vehicles such as SUVs.

We test cars more thoroughly than anyone else

Our tests go further than those carried out by other organisations, and because Which? is independent and doesn’t accept advertising or freebies, you can trust our reviews to give you the full, honest and impartial truth about every car we test.

Every car we review is subjected to more than 100 individual tests in a lab, on a test track and on real roads – and we really clock up the miles, driving around 500 miles in every car that we test.

Testing in controlled lab conditions means that the results we collect are directly comparable between different cars, helping us determine exactly which models are better and why, and helping you find the perfect car for your needs

And so you know which cars are likely to prove reliable for years to come, we also gather feedback from thousands of UK car owners through the Which? Car Survey, using it to generate detailed reliability ratings for the cars we test.

To take the guesswork out of choosing your next car, join Which? and you’ll receive access to all our expert reviews and advice.

SHARE THIS PAGE