Sales of medium-sized off-roaders are rocketing, as more and more families turn from hatchbacks and estate cars to 4x4s. While off-roaders used to be crude and expensive gas-guzzlers, the latest breed is often 4×4 in name only – doing without heavy and uneconomical four-wheel drive systems and instead sharing their oily bits with ordinary hatchbacks.
We’ve rounded up five of the most appealing medium off-roaders that give you the chunky off-road styling, but offer strong value and good fuel economy too. All of these cars do offer the option of four-wheel drive, so if you do actually take your car off road, or often face snowy and muddy roads, you should be able to keep driving this winter, while others get stuck and spin their wheels uselessly.
Nissan Qashqai DIG-T 163 2WD N-TEC – £23,200
The Qashqai has been one of the country’s favourite cars for a number of years and the company has just given the car a new lease of life with a more punchy motor.
This ‘163’ engine may drink from the petrol pump, but fuel economy is strong, with the car returning 48.7mpg and CO2 emissions low enough to warrant £130 car tax. The engine also has the muscle needed to cart around the Qashqai and a full complement of luggage – taking a brisk 9.1 seconds to accelerate to 62mph.
Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi 150 FWD Zetec – £22,695
Ford has also been at work making the Kuga more economical and the 2.0-litre 148bhp diesel now returns a strong 60.1mpg. Acceleration is also reasonably sprightly, with the car taking 10.1 seconds to canter up to 62mph.
Even in entry-level Zetec trim the Kuga has a long list of standard equipment, including air conditioning, a digital radio, cruise control and a heated front windscreen. If you don’t cover many miles the new 1.5-litre petrol could be a better value option, weighing in at £20,995.
Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI Match – £25,150
Okay, the Tiguan may blow the £25,000 budget – just – but in exchange for the highest price here you get a punchy diesel engine and plenty of equipment to play with. In two-wheel drive diesel form the Tiguan returns 53.3mpg and £130 road tax, while getting from a standstill to 62mph in a reasonable 10.2 seconds.
Standard kit includes a touchscreen sat nav system, front and rear parking sensors and Bluetooth, along with handy front seatback tables and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Honda CR-V 1.6 I-DTEC 2WD SE – £25,060
Honda is known for making sensible, sturdy machines and this is exactly where the CR-V comes in. It may not be the most stylish off-roader, but if offers a solid, spacious interior, plus a very economical engine in 1.6-litre diesel form. This motor is capable of 62.8mpg while car tax is a mere £20 per year.
Despite its eco credentials this motor is strong enough to carry the CR-V to 62mph in 11.2 seconds, while it doesn’t skimp on equipment either. Front and rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, automatic lights and wipers and climate control all come included.
Skoda Yeti 1.2 TSI 105 SE – £18,225
The Yeti may undercut all of its rivals here on price, but you won’t feel shortchanged with a punchy but economical petrol engine under the bonnet and all the essential kit you need. Dual-zone air conditioning, a touchscreen media system, cruise control and rear parking sensors all feature as standard.
The engine may be small, but it pulls strongly, powering the Yeti to 62mph in a reasonable 11.4 seconds. Trips to the petrol station shouldn’t be too regular either, with the Yeti returning 46.3mpg and car tax bills of £145 per year.