Here at MHH International we are fully aware of the continuing popularity of the Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) which shows no sign of abating. They are popular both with families on the school run and with outdoors types who like to venture out into the wild blue yonder. Not all SUV’s are the same though; some are two-wheel drive only and can be categorised as soft-roaders rather than off-roaders. If the intention is to drive on rougher terrain or on challenging road conditions then that is when four-wheel drive comes into its own. Buyers can always opt for hard-core pickup trucks and the like but most will prefer the perhaps more comfortable and luxurious ride found in prestige cars today.
The old days of locking differentials manually and the like are long gone. 21st Century four-wheel drive SUV’s can cope with nature’s bad temper and tough terrain automatically. Some, inevitably, are better than others when the going does gets tough. So here’s our selection of five rugged motors that mean business in bad conditions.
The name Jeep is synonymous with driving off the beaten tracks. The brand offer various types of two and four-wheel drive vehicles but when heavy duty is called for then it is to the Wrangler that buyers turn. Recently updated and with superb off-road ability, the Wrangler is the motor to cope with terrain that would have other contenders running for the safety of solid highways. These days the vehicle is available in two or four-door guise with many of the dashboard extras drivers have come to expect. That off-the-beaten-track ruggedness comes with a catch though. On the road the Wrangler has rather vague steering thanks to the combination of the four-wheel drive system and heavy duty tyres but for mixed conditions this legendary tough 4×4 is hard to beat.
Volvo continues to deserve the brand’s reputation for making premium, sensible, practical cars and it came as no surprise when it entered the SUV market with the first Volvo XC90. This quickly became one of the most popular big cars in the UK and remained on sale for a remarkable 12 years. That meant that subsequent XC90 models had big boots to fill. Fortunately, the latest incarnation is little short of brilliant. It delivers the passenger comfort and tranquillity on the inside that Volvo is known for. The XC90 is fully equipped with all the latest technology, including a large infotainment screen that’s as intuitive to use as any tablet. It is currently the safest car money can buy. Diesel engines are perhaps the best choice but petrol and hybrid variants are available. This car is a winner.
Huge inside and out the Range Rover always has exemplified prestige motoring. It just oozes real luxury, albeit at a really luxurious price. More to the point, with four-wheel drive, like an SAS soldier in a sharp city suit, this vehicle is hard to outclass on rough terrain and has virtually no peers. Supremely comfortable on the road it’s good to know that this big SUV also has the capability to take to the hills. Land Rover’s Terrain Response 2 system allows the driver to select what type of terrain the car is on and it tunes all the various systems accordingly. Better still this magnificent car can set itself up automatically. Remarkable motoring.
Toyota Land Cruiser
This is a vehicle that has been a mainstay in more remote parts of the world for years. It has an almost legendary go-anywhere reputation. With an off-road heritage spanning more than 65 years, the Toyota Land Cruiser retains its ability to combine outstanding quality, durability and reliability with amazing off-road performance and even greater levels of luxury, prestige and on-road comfort than on any previous models. The favourite of film crews for TV car shows, on tough terrain it is a hugely impressive vehicle, helped by sophisticated and genuinely useful off-road systems, allowing it to tackle seemingly impassable ground. In some ways, it is getting a little dated but that hasn’t dampened buyers’ opinions. The 4×4 legend goes on.
This big motor is one of the last of its kind. An off-roader that has served with distinction many motorists and country dwellers who needed a true four-wheel drive automotive leviathan. It is big yet surprisingly easy to park. The Mitsubishi Shogun eschews trends and shrugs off swooping modern design; remaining at heart a workhorse. It has all the aerodynamics of 1½ house bricks with a no nonsense approach to what a 4×4 should be. This means a real centre differential lock and a low range transfer box for extreme conditions. It might not be the last word in refinement but it’s ideal for towing caravans and horseboxes literally anywhere in the world.
There you have it: Five of the best true off-road vehicles money can buy. If there are any such vehicles that appeal that are not on this list then why not get in touch with MHH International?