While there are many SUVs available, not all come with four-wheel drive. If you live somewhere isolated or which suffers from bad winters, a 4×4 can often be a must.

Cheap 4×4 cars are available from around £3,000, so choosing a more capable off-roader vehicle doesn’t have to be expensive.

Though some 4x4s are expensive to run, this doesn’t have to be the case, so we’ll help pick out some more cost-effective options, as well as reliable choices that should prove dependable.

When it comes to cheap 4×4 cars, you’ll see some common names come up, including from brands like Suzuki and Toyota. But there’s a range of firms that have made four-wheel drive cars over the years, including those you might not expect.

Whether it’s something small or large, efficient or powerful, capable of climbing mountains or occasional 4x4s better suited to road use, let’s take a look at some of the best used choices.

1. Suzuki Jimny (1998-2018)

Suzuki’s Jimny has become an icon in the small 4×4 world, with the latest version especially being a huge hit. But if you’re looking for something a little cheaper, it’s worth searching for the version for. Sold for 20 years between 1998 and 2018, given the minimal changes made to it over the course of its life, you won’t be majorly penalised for going with an older car instead.

Renowned for its go-anywhere ability, the Jimny is remarkably capable in tough conditions, and is a popular choice in mountainous regions. It’s quite no-frills in terms of driving manners and equipment, but is ideal if you do mainly local miles and want a cheap used 4×4 that has genuine off-road capability.

Best Features

  • Selectable four-wheel drive gives the Jimny impressive off-road talent.
  • Good reputation for reliability.
  • Small dimensions.

Things to consider

  • The Jimny is compromised for on-road use. Not a great choice if you do a lot of miles.
  • Look out for any signs of corrosion underneath – it’s common on cars that have been used off-road where mud has been left on components.
  • There aren’t all too many differences between early and late Jimny models of this generation.

2. Skoda Yeti (2009-2017)

The Yeti arrived in 2009 as Skoda’s first SUV, and quickly developed quite a following. Applying Skoda’s key strengths – value and versatility – into a compact 4×4, it is one of the best used SUVs on the market.

The boxy design has aged very well, and is arguably more interesting than the firm’s latest SUVs. This square shape also gives the Yeti a very roomy interior, while plenty of practical touches like hidden storage areas and sliding rear seats make it a great choice. Not all Yetis were sold with four-wheel drive, so make sure to search specifically for 4×4 cars if that’s what you require.

Best Features

  • Models equipped with four-wheel drive are very capable.
  • Great reliability reputation
  • Impressively practical interior

Things to consider

  • Not all used Yetis feature four-wheel-drive.
  • Facelifted model in 2014 gave the Yeti a more modern face, but less character.
  • The oil for the Yeti’s four-wheel-drive system needs changing every 40,000 miles, so make sure this has been documented in the history.

3. Dacia Duster (2013-2018)

Ever since Dacia touched down in the UK in 2012, it’s been renowned for offering money-savvy drivers affordable cars. This applies to its Duster too – the brand’s budget 4×4. Introduced in 2013, it’s quite rough and ready around the edges, but if you want something cheap and talented off-road, it doesn’t get much better than the Dacia Duster.

Used prices start from a few thousand pounds, which will get you a reliable workhorse but little in the way of creature comforts. It’s also far roomier than you might expect, and would make the perfect cheap family used 4×4.

Best Features

  • Four-wheel drive Dusters are far more capable than their price suggests.
  • Great value for money.
  • Interior is roomier than you might expect.

Things to consider

  • Only a fairly small percentage of Dusters were sold with four-wheel drive when new.
  • Duster was always sold as a budget product, so there’s little in the way of luxuries.
  • Cheaper build quality so make sure everything works as it should.

4. Toyota RAV4 (2013-2019)

Toyota is renowned for making some of the most reliable cars around, and if that’s a top priority when shopping for a cheap 4×4, you should take a look at the RAV4. This mid-seat SUV is an ideal size for families, and it’s the fourth generation model we recommend, sold between 2013 and 2019.

Look out for a four-wheel drive model and you’ll have something that’s very useful in all weathers. It’s not a proper off-roader, but will certainly get you further in the snow or mud than other cars of this class. You can also choose a RAV4 of this age with a more efficient self-charging petrol hybrid setup.

Best Features

  • Great reliability reputation.
  • Hybrid version available on later models.
  • Spacious interior.

Things to consider

  • Used RAV4s tend to hold their value well.
  • Not as ‘off-roader’ as some other cars here.
  • If less than 10 years old, the RAV4 might still be under warranty if serviced annually with Toyota.

5. Honda CR-V (2012-2018)

Honda was fairly early to the SUV party back in the late 1990s with the CR-V and even several generations later remains hugely popular and is one of the world’s best-selling cars. Many versions also come with a useful four-wheel drive system. Again, this is not a full-blown off-roader, but it brings plenty of extra capability to this SUV.

Like Toyota, Honda has a great reputation for reliability, and the CR-V should represent a trouble-free ownership proposition. This SUV is well-built and offers a great deal of cabin space as well. The best used option is the fifth-generation version, sold between 2012 and 2018, which still gets plenty of modern features but at an affordable price.

Best Features

  • Great reliability reputation.
  • Very practical.
  • Fantastic build quality.

Things to consider

  • Four-wheel-drive isn’t fitted to all models.
  • Some rivals are better when it comes to fuel economy.
  • The CR-V is a popular tow car, so be aware of vehicles that might have been used regularly for this.

6. Fiat Panda 4x4 (2012-2023)

The Fiat Panda might be better known for buzzing around narrow Italian city streets, but this compact model has also been offered as a 4×4 over the years. Underestimate the Panda’s ability at your peril, too, as it’s monstrously capable off-road or in challenging conditions. The fact it’s a popular choice of vehicle in Alpine ski resorts says a lot about how talented it is.

It manages to retain the Panda’s dinky dimensions too, while you’ll find it’s cheaper to run than many other 4x4s, albeit not quite as frugal as standard versions of this Fiat. We’d recommend the latest generation of Panda, which has been on sale since 2012.

Best Features

  • Impressive off-road ability.
  • Dinky size makes the Panda very easy to drive.
  • Relatively frugal compared to other 4×4 vehicles.

Things to consider

  • The Panda could be a bit small for your needs.
  • The Panda didn’t perform well in Euro NCAP safety tests.
  • Fiat hasn’t always had the best of reputations for reliability.

7. Suzuki Ignis (2017-present)

As we’ve mentioned, Suzuki is well-known for producing small 4x4s, and if you’re looking for something a bit newer and modern-feeling than the Jimny, it’s worth taking a look at the Suzuki Ignis. It rivals the Fiat Panda 4×4, and uses a lightweight and compact four-wheel drive system to help in challenging conditions.

It’s not as capable as the Panda, but makes up for that when it comes to creature comforts, with plenty of the latest technology and equipment available on the Ignis. It’s highly efficient, too, with Suzuki claiming more than 50mpg, which should be achievable with careful driving.

Best Features

  • Lightweight off-road system makes Ignis surprisingly capable.
  • Very fuel efficient.
  • Fun design.

Things to consider

  • Ignis is by no means a Land Rover-rivalling off-roader.
  • Generally very reliable, but cabin is quite cheaply-built.
  • AllGrip four-wheel drive system was an option when new, and not all that many chose it.

8. Land Rover Discovery 4 (2009-2017)

No list of the best 4×4 cars could be complete without a Land Rover. This brand’s SUVs remain as capable as ever, being able to go further than almost any other cars on the road. One of the top picks is the Discovery 4, which was sold between 2009 and 2017. It’s a hugely practical seven-seater that’s ideal for larger families, with room even in the rearmost seats for taller passengers.

Equipped with Land Rover’s Advanced Terrain Response system, the Discovery 4 is useful in a variety of conditions, whether it be ice, snow or mud, for example. While used prices for a Discovery 4 start from around £5,000, and you get a lot of car for your money, you need to consider that maintenance costs could potentially be quite high.

Best Features

  • Impressive off-road ability.
  • Seven seats and hugely practical.
  • Fantastic towing ability; up to 3.5 tonnes.

Things to consider

  • Land Rovers of this era don’t have the best reputation for reliability.
  • Running costs and tax could prove fairly expensive.
  • Discovery is a large car and requires plenty of space to park.

9. Jeep Renegade (2015-present)

Jeep is another top name when it comes to off-roaders, and though you might imagine something like a Wrangler, if you’re looking for something cheaper to buy and own, we would recommend a Renegade. Up until recently, it was Jeep’s smallest SUV, yet still brought legendary 4×4 talent, though only on models equipped with four-wheel drive.

Jeep also offered a ‘Trailhawk’ version, equipped with various additional off-roading features and underbody protection to make it remarkably talented. The Renegade’s fun styling and generous equipment levels make it a particularly appealing used 4×4.

Best Features

  • As capable as other Jeeps off-road, especially the Trailhawk version.
  • Practical interior considering its fairly compact size.
  • Fun styling with lots of different versions and customisation on offer.

Things to consider

  • Four-wheel drive Renegades are fairly rare on the used market.
  • Some quality concerns, so make sure any example you’re looking to buy feels solid.
  • It’s worth having a look at the underside of the car for any signs of damage from previous off-roading.

10. Volkswagen Tiguan (2008-2016)

Volkswagen might not be the first car firm you think of when it comes to cheap 4x4s, but thanks to the ‘4Motion’ system in the mid-size Tiguan crossover, there’s surprising levels of all-weather capability on offer. We recommend the first-generation Tiguan, sold between 2008 and 2016, which still feels fairly modern yet is now available at a fairly affordable price.

Four-wheel drive versions of the Tiguan are available with both petrol and diesel engines, while this Volkswagen has the firm’s renowned high-quality feel. Even as this SUV goes past 15 years old, early examples still feel remarkably solid.

Best Features

  • Electronically-controlled four-wheel drive system is very useful in poor weather.
  • The Tiguan has a very solid-feeling interior.
  • Diesel models can be great on fuel, though might not be compliant with ULEZ or similar restrictions.

Things to consider

  • The Tiguan shares many components with the Golf, so parts are in good supply.
  • Be aware of cambelts needing replacing every 80,000 miles.
  • Tiguan is fairly compact but offers plenty of interior space.

Why should you buy a 4×4 or off-roader?

Greater driving confidence

If you don’t have all that much confidence driving in winter or poor weather, a 4×4 can most certainly help you feel more secure.

With all wheels driven, the car will have greater traction on the road, which can help in snow and ice, but also in heavy rain, which we’re susceptible to a lot of here in the UK.

Winter driving

But a 4×4 can also be useful if you live somewhere that’s not particularly accessible, especially during the winter months.

If you’re worried about being ‘snowed in’ or have an essential job that requires you to be out and about, these models will most certainly help you out. Granted, there are some winter weather conditions that even the best 4×4 can’t assist in.

What should you consider before buying a cheap 4×4/off-roader?

Before you settle on a 4×4, however, there are a few things you should consider.

Do you need the 4×4 ability?

While you might think you need a 4×4, it’s worth considering how often you would need a four-wheel drive system, especially if you live in a town or city.

These 4x4s are often more expensive to buy, fuel and service than a two-wheel drive car, so it’s worth weighing up if you really need one.

Are there signs of off-roading damage?

Just because a car is a 4×4 it doesn’t mean it’s an ‘off-roader’, which some previous owners might not have realised. Before buying any used 4×4, we recommend inspecting it thoroughly for signs of damage that might have come from extreme off-roading.

If a 4×4 has also had mud on the underside for a period of time, it can cause corrosion, so look out for this too. If there’s the option to get the car on ramps or take someone with greater knowledge than you, both are worth doing.

Tips for finding and buying a cheap 4×4/off-roader

At Motors.co.uk, we list thousands of cars every month, and a good percentage of these are 4x4s, some of which start from just a few thousand pounds. It means there are plenty of options, depending on the type of used 4×4 you’re looking for.

We also offer extensive written reviews and video reviews, providing plenty of assistance to help find the right 4×4 for you. But this should only help form part of your opinion, as it’s important to get your own feel for a vehicle.

Go and view the car, inspect it for any damage as we’ve already mentioned and make sure you can get comfortable behind the wheel as well. On the test drive, while making sure you like the 4×4, also listen out for any noises as this could point towards potential issues with the vehicle.

Frequently asked questions