/ Travel & Leisure

What’s in a 4×4?


Our Conversation on 4×4’s from Which? Car editor Claire Evans was divisive. Some of you were in favour of the cars, but others where averse to them. Which side of this car debate do you sit on?

Which? Convo commenter Dave thinks most of us don’t really need 4x4s:

‘Clearly the army and folk who need to earn a living by motoring off road need to have four wheel drive vehicles.

‘As for most of the rest of us, we really don’t need them and we could save a lot of CO2 production if we stopped using them or converted them to two wheel drive.’

Fans of 4x4s

Michael Keen bought his first Discovery in 1995 having first seen the car at the London Motor Show when it launched:

‘235,000 miles later I reluctantly decided to part with it because of rust and replaced it with a second-hand, low-mileage series 2 TD5 model. I tried a series 3 but found it a bit of a “tank”. (Incidentally, my old Discovery is still going strong as an off-road special with more than 250,000 miles on the clock!)

‘I have no experience of other 4x4s, but with Discoverys, you either love them or hate them – and I love them.’

ESPUK says that his home location necessitates a 4×4:

‘I am very happy with my Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0 crd. A Mercedes engine and gearbox mated to Jeep suspension allows me to live in the deep campo for three months every year which pleases my doctor as well.

‘Non-4WD visitors have to park at the entrance to the valley where I live having previously arranged a pickup time, which is ideal for ensuring only welcome visitors arrive.

‘They are simply the appropriate vehicles for this region and cope with flash-flooded river bed roads as well as motorways. Having bought a four-year-old it has cost less than 400€ in repairs over the last 4½ years with low fixed costs for this 67 year old.’

Not a fan of 4x4s

Pretium doesn’t hold much of a candle for 4×4 reliability:

‘Having owned a Freelander I would say that the major requirement that seems to be missing is reliability. A head gasket blew at 70,000 miles and throughout its life with me the electrical connectors were anything but! Apart from the above, it was a nice 4×4. I will not be buying another.’

Figgerty doesn’t have much regard for 4x4s:

‘I have never owned a 4×4 as I live in the city and a normal car suits me just fine. I do however find 4×4′s a real hindrance to my comfort and safety. In car parks they take up more than a fair share of a parking space and overflow into mine. I then find that I’m unable to open my door fully so entering or exiting my car, with a sometimes dodgy back is almost impossible. They reverse without thought to smaller vehicles and use their size to dominate.

‘If I follow a 4×4 in traffic I have no idea what is happening ahead as they block my view. The same applies if we are side by side and they are waiting to turn right, I can’t turn left until they move as again I can’t see when it is safe to move. If I’m in a collision with a 4×4/urban tractor, I know I or my supermini will not come off best.’

Chris used to be a fan, but is no longer:

‘I had a 4×4 a couple of years ago. I quite liked it at first but eventually realised the thing had abilities I simply didn’t need 99% of the time and, it had a drink problem, got though tyres quicker than I liked and because of the complexity of the transmission was more prone to going expensively wrong.

‘If you live on a hill, it’s great you can get up that hill on the few days a year it’s covered in snow and ice. However, I found most winters “going” wasn’t really the problem with any car, “stopping” was the problem and 4×4′s are really no better at that than any other car.

‘Don’t think I really need or will get another. I’ll spend the petrol savings, the repair savings and the tyre cost savings afforded by my mid sized hatchback on me (or the gas bill).’

Would you buy or have you bought a 4×4? Is this because you felt it was required for where you live, or you just liked the look of them?


Its important to separate the completely separate issues of 4WD and ” hefty cars” .
They might often go together but they are completely separate.

Indeed. Many models of Lamborghini are 4×4, but you can see over the top of them even more easily than a mainstream car.

davidbob says:
10 December 2013

People seem overly obsessed by 4x4s and those that drive them. Does anyone complain about sports car owners or people carrier owners? Both have similar mpg to most 4x4s, so whats the issue? Is it merely envy or NIMBYism? Surely what you drive is your personal choice? I live in the country and although most of the time 4 wheel drive isn’t that important, the additional ground clearance is very helpful. Currently I own an estate (which is considerably larger than my previous Jeep!) and have regretted not buying another 4×4, regularly scraping and denting the underside on rutted, pot holed roads.

My biggest concern is that drivers of 4×4 vehicles often veer off country roads rather than slowing down when meeting oncoming vehicles. This can break away the edge of the tarmac, leading to potholes, which are expensive to repair and a potential danger for road users. This behaviour is certainly not confined to 4×4 drivers, but they seem to be the main culprits, since a driver of a vehicle with little ground clearance has to be careful. Having said that, there is a good case to protect the edges of country roads, so that this problem does not occur.

My experience is the opposite, owners of big shiny 4x4s ( as against working 4x4s) seem very reluctant to get their tyres dirty or get in close and it is the normal 2wd which has to get into the hedge or on the verge to get past.

I imagine that it depends on individuals. I regularly travel with two friends with fairly smart 4x4s, and they slow down rather than veering off the road when encountering oncoming traffic on narrow roads. I have been passenger in both their cars today, travelling across muddy fields for site visits – with permission from the relevant landowners – and they don’t seem to mind if the cars get mucky.

PeterM says:
24 December 2013

4 x 4 for road use has a very limited effect, so be careful! I have owned a Freelander 2 and it was very good as 4 x 4’s go. I have also owned a high-performance 4 wheel drive saloon which was fabulous, in the dry! In the wet or snow the low profile high performance tyres simply skated and it was very tricky and ruled out the performance. Perhaps if we all drive according to the conditions it would be much easier.

Marwa Jadalkareem says:
22 December 2014

I want Cadillac escalade new 2015 outside White inside cocao with red for free

I’ve recently bought my first 4×4 after many years of driving economically small hatch backs. It is a decision I am yet to regret. I love the high ride height. I never park selfishly, I have the economy of a diesel estate, I slow down and drive on the verge when meeting oncoming cars who do not show me the same courtesy. (including the people driving the big shiny ones) and every once in a while I take it on to grass and pot-holed country tracks. I even carry 2 tow ropes in the boot so as to help any small vehicle that decides I’m not giving them enough room, and drives off the road anyway. Or for the week long winter weather we have every 3 years. It is not the common 4×4 that is the problem, it’s the W@*”ERS that drive them. The kind that only use it to take the kids to school. Or use it to tow the £100,000 boat once a year.

And a message to those of you who complain you can’t see past my truck in traffic… Back The Hell Off!!! You shouldn’t be that close to begin with…

I should clarify. The issue of not being able to see past larger vehicles in front, lorries and vans etc. Even the 4×4 drivers have that problem. It is not a problem caused by us and us alone. And when I cannot see because I am to close, I back off. Its amazing what a few metres does…

Busy topic, this.