Balmoral heaven: 10 of the best 4x4s for ability and comfort
The Balmoral Show reminds us of the need for capable, practical vehicles like 4x4s. But the best ones are comfortable as well. Here are some of the best.
It's that time of the year again when country comes to town (well near town, anyway these days) - the Balmoral Show.
And along with the champion livestock, agricultural equipment and farm families, there's another tradition you may have noticed.
Balmoral is a brilliant opportunity to go 4x4 spotting. Because many of the folk who make up most of the Balmoral Show audience are likely to be the very folk who drive 4x4s.
And not in a 'Chelsea Tractor' kind of way either. Whether it's for towing trailers, or horseboxes, or equipment, or navigating country lanes or heading off-road for farming reasons, or to pursue lifestyle sports; the Balmoral audience is the quintessential 4x4/large SUV audience.
So we thought we'd serve up ten of the best of the larger SUVs around.
You'll see in our list that the 4x4 market has everything from monster mud-pluggers big on conquering terrain to luxury premium SUVs with all the comfort and driving ability of an executive saloon.
And it's grown more sophisticated too, because even the dedicated off-roaders these days come with increasingly plush and premium cabins.
The inverse is also true: many of the more comfortable 'soft-roaders' now come with some genuine terrain ability, too.
And in between those two genres is all manner of 4x4s; it's a segment as diverse and competitive as any other these days.
Residual values hold up well, so 4x4s make a great second hand purchase as well.
Here's a quick rundown of some of our favourites. The list is not exhaustive as there is so much choice these days and other manufacturers also build great vehicles.
All prices are approximate and do not include special offers. As always, the best advice is to shop around for what suits you and your lifestyle.
The large Edge is a relative newcomer this side of the Atlantic. It’s a big family-sized SUV with a quality cabin and excellent driving ability.
Its large dimensions give it plenty of space inside, and there’s a massive boot as well. There are two engines: both diesels a 2.0-litre turbodiesel and a 2.0-litre twin turbodiesel.
If the Edge is too big for your requirements, below it sit the mid-sized Ford Kuga and smaller Ford EcoSport models.
The Edge costs from around £34,900.
Hyundai Santa Fe
Korean brands like Hyundai and Kia are light years away from where they were when they first entered the European market as value competitors. Now they build sophisticated and stylish cars including the Santa Fe, a very well appointed large 4x4 which is better styled and kitted out than its predecessor and features a very tasty 2.2-litre diesel engine choice.
It’s great for families, is a good tower, and there is a seven seat option.
Jeep has a reputation for building tough vehicles that perform very well off-road. The Cherokee is no exception, giving a smooth ride on road, and a very strong performance in all kinds of terrain.
There’s an all new 2018 revamped model going on sale in the autumn, which looks very tasty indeed.
Land Rover Discovery Sport
All Land Rovers are brilliant off-roaders, but the new Discovery Sport has been making headlines for both its usability and its luxury. There’s a 5+2 seats option as well.
Whilst not built as a farm vehicle – you wouldn’t want to ruin the premium interior – it may as well have been, with its excellent all-terrain ability and practicality. Balmoral Show devotees will know there is a now a mouth-watering array of other Land Rovers/Range Rovers for almost any task.
The Discovery Sport retails from around £28,400.
Refreshed less than two years ago, the Shogun is loaded with rugged, reliable technology, an enviable towing capacity and a diehard work ethic. Available with a short or long wheelbase, it is great for loading, lugging and pulling heavy objects and absolutely unstoppable in the wild.
With its enormous pulling power and excellent terrain ability, the Shogun is the vehicle of choice for many who need a reliable workhorse. If the Shogun is too big a beast for you, Mitsubishi also offers the smaller Shogun Sport, Outlander, ASX, and Eclipse Cross models.
The Shogun is priced from around £33,000.
The old X-Trail’s rather boxy design wasn’t very modern, but Nissan has now repaired this rather obvious gap in its line-up with a stylish makeover of the X-Tail.
The new model is a great leap forward, featuring excellent build quality, great looks and a clean, modern design.
For all its handsome looks, it is very practical, for example it has a towing capacity of up to 2,000kg.
Priced from £28,000.
Peugeot’s 5008 model is a luxurious large SUV with a distinctive and eye-catching design.
It’s had a complete overhaul from the previous model, which was more people carrier in orientation. Now it’s got full SUV looks, a seven-seat version, and an impressive and refined diesel engine that delivers excellent fuel efficiency.
Subaru’s doughty Forester has been around for a while, and is undoubtedly a proper off-roader. If you need something roomy, rugged, reliable and for use as a good tower, look no further. The Forester has had a loyal band of followers for many years now, not least due to the impressive all-terrain capability of its standard Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system.
If you want something smaller, the mid-sized Subaru XV has just been brilliantly revamped; it’s better looking, roomier, and sharper than before.
Subaru Forester is priced from £25,510.
Toyota Land Cruiser
If you need space, big pulling power and incredible off-road ability, the Toyota Land Cruiser might be what you need.
What it lacks in cabin refinements, it makes up with personality and ability – and it’s terrain ability is massively helped by a big ladder chassis that is tough and near indestructible.
If your needs are very large or heavy duty, consider a pick-up. Pick-up trucks are rapidly becoming as luxurious as 4x4s.
The Volkswagen Amarok is a pick-up that drives like a 4x4, even though it consists of a loading bay and a double cab up front. It is by powered by turbocharged petrol or turbocharged direct injection (TDI) diesel engines and comes in rear-wheel drive or 4motion four-wheel-drive options.