Manufacturers of compact 4x4s often like to perpetuate something of a fib. Their advertising often features happy families enjoying lifestyle activities but in truth if you need to haul the family and their accompanying paraphernalia, you need something a bit bigger than a Toyota RAV4 or a Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin. Break out the tape measure and you’ll discover the interiors of these cars are often smaller than your average Focus-sized family hatchback. Therefore you need something with a little more in the way of girth, presence and, consequently, running costs.
Of course there are Family-sized 4x4s that will fit the bill in this respect – and you don’t have to go into Luxury Range Rover or Mercedes M-class territory to find them. The names are pretty familiar too: Land Rover’s Discovery, Nissan’s Patrol and Toyota’s Land Cruiser Colorado to mention just a few. Assuming you go for the five-door long wheelbase versions, most offer many of the benefits of a large MPV, with up to seven seats and lots of storage space. But there’s a price to pay if you’re buying new, with well over £25,000 needed to secure a decent specification with the engine you really want.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that if, like many 4x4 customers, you’re buying your car to tow something substantial like a caravan or a horsebox, you have to start your search here. No matter what the dealer might tell you, there’s no point in trying to pretend that something smaller like a Freelander or a Toyota RAV4 will do the job day-in, day-out without long term problems. Go that route and you’re just storing up trouble for yourself.
As ever, there’s a huge choice of cars to consider, so it pays to do some homework beforehand and decide which part of this sector you’re going to choose to concentrate your search