If you're looking for 4x4 traction in an SUV, but have one eye firmly on the budget, you don't have a great deal of choice in the UK market. In truth, most of the smaller SUVs have front-wheel drive only, but some manufacturers do offer AWD as an option. What are some of the best 4x4 cars available in 2021, with a price tag lower than £30,000?
"You do the math," suggests the Dacia press blurb, and with good reason. You won't find many cheaper 4x4s in the UK marketplace, and this Romanian company is part of the Renault group, with plenty of tech to back up that claim.
Inside, there's lots of room for up to 5 adults. You'll find a functional if somewhat plain interior, but upgraded infotainment and a lot of storage space in the back.
Dacia offers several different engine types with the Blue dCI available in 4x4 configuration, starting from £19,095. This "Prestige" model also has 17-inch alloy wheels and climate control as standard.
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross
This small family SUV features selectable four-wheel-drive and petrol, diesel or hybrid systems. It may not be the most exciting vehicle to look at, and the interior is also quite uninspiring, even though laid out well.
Nevertheless, the S-Cross has been reasonably well-equipped by the design team and has a good crash test safety review. It handles quite nicely, even if the ride is quite firm.
If you're looking for some additional power, you'd need to choose the largest engine (1600 cc diesel), and you can upgrade to leather upholstery and other goodies should you wish.
Prices start at £26,380.
Journalists at 4x4 Magazine named the Rexton "Best Value 4x4" for three years on the trot. While you may have never heard of this manufacturer, it's worth taking a look at its well-equipped 4x4, which has a 150,000 mile/seven-year warranty as standard.
Equipped with a 2.2 L diesel engine, the Rexton may not be the niftiest 4x4 around, as it is certainly large and heavy. You can expect a relatively stiff ride, but if you tow a large trailer or caravan around, it's more than capable in this department.
Inside, you have a choice of four different trim levels, with good connectivity and infotainment at the top end. You can choose the seven-seater version and will still get plenty of room in the cargo area.
Rexton starts at £28,090.
Until recently, the Jimny could lay claim to the title of cheapest 4x4 for sale in Britain, but Suzuki has chosen to remove it from showrooms until further notice. Instead, you can have a look at the Vitara, with the company's ALL GRIP four-wheel-drive system available on top of the range SZ-T and SZ5 models.
This 4x4 car is a compact, five-seater, powered by a 1.4 L petrol engine and some hybrid technology. You'll get a firm ride on those 17-inch alloy wheels but will get a touchscreen infotainment system and good onboard connectivity to take your mind off it.
There's a reasonable amount of space inside too, and a panoramic sunroof on top to shed more light on proceedings.
Expect an RRP of £26,065.
Fiat Panda 4x4
Fiat's Panda has been around for almost 40 years, but FCA has just come out with an upgrade for the 2021 model year. You'll find new colour options, a revised exterior, and many different trim levels. The Wild and Cross versions feature 4x4 capability, with a 0.9 L, 85 hp petrol engine.
Of the two 4x4 versions, the Cross has elevated ride height and is, perhaps, the more serious off-roader here. Still, there's not much room inside, although some of the interior styling is quintessentially Italian.
If you plan a mix of city and off-road driving, this Fiat will serve you well, and you should be happy with the price at just under £15,000.
Apparently, Dearborn's designers based this small SUV on Ford's ultra-successful Fiesta, so they could serve the hungry crossover market. While there are many different variants in the range, only one has four-wheel-drive. This version features a 120 hp diesel engine, with a six-speed manual 'box as a standard fitment.
There are several different trim levels with reasonable technology, and the obligatory touchscreen control system. If you have a large group, you may want to look elsewhere, however, as interior space leaves a lot to be desired.
The 4x4 version also has sports suspension, nifty alloy wheels, style upgrades and, if you want to stretch your budget even more, a premium audio system from B&O. Prices start at £22,000.
The 2020 version of Kia's successful SUV aims to build on the company's solid reputation in the sector. While most of the new models are two-wheel drive, you can choose a 4x4 with a 1.6 L turbocharged petrol engine. They only offer this version with a manual gearbox. Alternatively, you can pick the "GT - Line S" with a 1.6 L diesel and mild-hybrid technology.
Inside, the Sportage is well-equipped as standard with a good sound system, and you can choose from an impressive array of upgrades with different trim levels. Interior space is average for the class, while the boot is ample and easy to access.
Kia is also well known for their class-leading seven-year warranty and prices start from £25,900.
MINI Countryman Cooper
The original MINI was the ultimate small, manoeuvrable and fun car. If you were to place the MINI Countryman Cooper next to it, you would quickly see just how far the company has come in its quest for practicality and space. This new version is the epitome of a crossover and, onboard, you can easily seat five adults.
Expect good handling and traction from the electronically controlled 4x4 system with plenty of kit as standard within. Sporty consumers can choose the pricey John Cooper Works version at the top of the range, or the entry-level Cooper. This 4x4 has a manual, or automatic gearbox and prices start at £24,300.