Top 10 best 4x4s and off-road cars 2024

1. Land Rover Defender


Having switched from a ladder-frame construction to a monocoque, and for plenty of reasons otherwise, this Land Rover Defender is more of a successor than a direct replacement for the old model – and some feared that it wouldn’t have quite the same kind of mud-plugging, rock-hopping, water-fording, slope-scaling and axle-twisting prowess as a result.

The Defender can do almost all of that and more, however. With approach and departure angles of around 40deg, and ground clearance of as much as 291mm thanks to its height-adjustable air suspension, this car has all of the right vital statistics. And yet it’s the style in which is tackles off-road driving, and the way it eases the load on the driver to select just the right transmission mode, to maintain just the right amount of forward momentum, and to keep to just the right line through those ruts, that really impresses.

And while its square-rigged predeccessor’s all-wheel drive system was simplicity itself, the latest car’s is the height of sophistication, with the brand’s trick Terrain Response system allowing even offroad novices to tackle the most challenging off-road obstacles.

Land Rover now offers four-, six-, and eight-cylinder engines for the car, but the P400e plug-in hybrid has become the only four-pot available, while all the diesels are now in-line sixes. The range-topping P525 V8 version certainly has performance and presence to spare, but the D300 diesel is our pick of them all because it combines plenty of torque with respectable fuel economy, drivability and refinement, and needn’t cost as much as some of the other versions of the car.

For fleet users and urban dwellers, of course, the P400e plug-in hybrid (which has a claimed electric range of 27 miles) will have its own particular lures.

The Defender’s available in both three-door 90 and five-door 110 and 130 bodystyles (that latter featuring a long rear overhang that slightly impairs its departure angle), as well as as a Hardtop commercial if you prefer – and whichever you go for, you’ll find it’s a wide, tall and heavy car that isn’t ideally suited to the narrowest of tracks or green lanes. But that acknowledged, this 4×4’s capabilities remain beyond question, and the way in which it sets about its work off road makes it seem like a car built for people who don’t even like off roading.

Offering all that in a car that also rides and handles so well on the road is the icing on the cake, and makes this car stand head and shoulders above its rivals. ‘The best 4×4 by far’ has been given a whole new lease of life.

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