With reports of more snow and extremely cold weather due to hit the UK shortly (even if it’s summer!), it’s worth bearing in mind a four wheeled drive vehicle if you’re after a new set of wheels.
More grip, stability and ability to cope with the weather are all promised by a vehicle that puts power down via all four wheels. It’s therefore unsurprising that we’re seeing more and more of them on the road.
1) Generally speaking, there are two four wheel options to go for. Dedicated 4×4 or SUV vehicles or standard cars that come with four wheel drive. A Subaru Impreza WRX has four wheel drive, but it doesn’t have the ground clearance or fat tyres.
2) Off roader or soft roader? A ‘proper’ off roader will have all sorts of trick diffs, better tyres for loose surfaces etc – whilst a soft roader will be much more competent on the road. Few manufacturers have managed both, so which do you really need?
3) Permanent or electronically controlled four wheel drive? Many soft roaders these days have an electronics system fitted that kicks in all wheel drive when slip is detected from either of the front wheels. This is good for fuel economy, but not necessarily the best in really poor conditions.
4) Insurance – this can be quite high for a lot of soft and off roaders, even though they aren’t sports or performance based. Get a few quotes before you put pen to paper.
5) Diesel – get it if you can for your four wheeled vehicle. Manufacturers still do petrol engines, but they’re likely to be much thirstier than their diesel counterparts.
However, they are initially cheaper to purchase, including on the second hand market. Think carefully before you choose. Few miles means petrol could be the better option, but it provides less torque. Remember, whether you’re going for a four wheel drive car or any other kind of vehicle, it’s hugely important to test drive at least one other alternative (if not two or three). The reason being, many cars are similar these days, but similar is not the same. You might find that performance is comparable, but the driving position is better for example, or one might have a lesser blind spot than the other.
A test drive should include the types of driving that you’re going to be doing on a regular basis with the car – whether that is motorway driving, country lanes or cruising the suburbs will largely depend on you, but the more you’re behind the wheel the better feel you’ll get for just how the car (and the four wheel drive system) copes with a variety of conditions.
It’s worth remembering that the poor weather doesn’t last forever but few have the luxury of changing their car every six months. Bear this last fact in mind when it comes to setting your heart on a particular model.
Here are some picks to consider when looking at a four wheel drive vehicle:
Top off road vehicles:
- Land Rover Discovery
- Land Rover Defender
- Range Rover
- Toyota Hilux
- Toyota Landcruiser
- Mitsibushi Shogun
Top soft roaders:
- Nissan X Trail
- Honda CR-V
- Toyota Rav 4
- BMW X5
- Mazda CX-7
- Ford Kuga