Best Off Road Compact Suv

  
  • Our pick of the best small off-roaders on the market
  • Practical town runabouts to serious off-roaders
  • Real bargains to be had at the lower end of the market

There was a time when opting for a four-wheel drive vehicle meant heavy penalties in fuel economy, performance and drivability. But not any more – the latest crop of off-roaders can be great to drive and surprisingly cheap to run.

Currently one of the best-selling Volvos, the XC60 is also one of the most off-road-worthy in its class thanks to 9.1 inches of ground clearance and an available Haldex-based all-wheel drive. While there are other vehicles that are totally capable of getting you out into the wilds beyond, we believe these are the best SUVs and crossovers that offer not only the most off road ability, but also the most practicality for adventurous people, their dogs, and their families. Compact SUVs tend to offer a high seating position, which provides a vast view of the road in addition to an easier step-in height than smaller cars or larger SUVs. These SUVs can be equipped with a variety of powertrains to fit your driving priorities, be they fuel economy, daily comfort, or rugged off-roading.

Best of all, there’s loads of different small 4x4s to choose from, so you’re not limited to a large, bulky SUV or old-fashioned off-roader. Buying a true 4x4 means you'll get more off-road ability than your standard SUV, meaning you can cope with all the mud and slippery stuff those off-road tracks can throw at you - but these cars are also super capable when driving on normal roads too. These cars need to be practical, sturdy, and solid - for whatever your lifestyle brings.

We’ve rounded up some of the best small 4x4s, which offer all-wheel drive but are compact, cheap to buy and will return great fuel economy. They won't give you the massive running costs that a large SUV would, while still being practical and capable. Make sure you check out our Cars for Sale section too, and get a free valuation of your car. If you're thinking about financing your new car rather than buying outright, then check out the information in our finance advice section.

Scroll down to find out more about all our favourites, or click on the quick links below to jump to yours:

Suzuki Vitara
Dacia Duster
Mazda CX-3
MINI Countryman
BMW X1
Suzuki Jimny
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
Jeep Renegade
Hyundai Kona

Suzuki Vitara


2020 Kia Sportage - Find the best Kia deals! The 2020 Kia Sportage compact SUV seats five and offers two powertrain options. The base engine is a 181-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, while the up-level engine is a 240-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. Both engines are backed by conventional 6-speed automatic transmissions. Another model ideally suited for the off-road adventures is the 2021 Suzuki Jimny. A recently redesigned, compact, two-door SUV is extremely capable off-road thanks to its truck-like chassis, part-time four-wheel drive with low range gearing and solid axles.

It’s a bit of a hidden gem, the Suzuki Vitara. The brand actually has a lot of experience when it comes to making small SUVs – it started way back in 1970. The Vitara is a world away from those early models, but it’s a tempting proposition, with a roomy interior, brilliant petrol engines and tidy handling thanks to its light weight. All models get Bluetooth, climate control and 16-inch alloy wheels, but stepping up further will bring sat-nav, a parking camera and privacy glass in the rear.

New price: £16,999 - £22,499
Leasing price: from £253 per month
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Used price: £6,650 - £19,950
Fuel economy: 44 - 70 mpg

Dacia Duster


Opting for the cheapest SUV on sale in the UK today doesn’t have to be a compromise any more. Sure, the Dacia Duster isn’t as plush as some of its rivals, but it’s just as capable, and offers absolutely brilliant value. The ultra-efficient diesel engine commands a premium over the petrols, so think carefully which you choose – but opting for four-wheel drive is a no-brainer if you intend to use the Duster off-road. If you do, you’ll find it as capable as many machines costing two or three times as much.

Road

New price: £10,995 - £19,955
Leasing price: from £201 per month
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Used price: £7,230 - £16,585
Fuel economy: 40 – 64 mpg

Mazda CX-3


Keen drivers ought to think about choosing the Mazda CX-3. The Japanese firm is one of the best at making mainstream vehicles feel really great to drive, and its compact SUV is no exception. The CX-3 is grippy, well-balanced and has nicely weighted and direct steering. The 1.8-litre diesel is a new engine, and offers decent economy – but consider opting for the wonderfully smooth 2.0-litre petrol unless you do lots of annual miles.

New price: £22,095 - £25,395
Leasing price: from per month
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Used price: £8,550 - £22,800
Fuel economy: 40 – 70 mpg

MINI Countryman


Translating the handling of the MINI hatch into a bulkier SUV body was no doubt a tough job, but the British brand has managed it with the MINI Countryman. Four-wheel drive is available on all models, but even front-wheel drive brings fantastic handling. And those who like to stand out will be overjoyed by the sheer level of personalisation on offer – there’s no reason your Countryman has to look like anybody else’s.

New price: £23,350 - £36,195
Leasing price: from £261 per month
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Used price: £13,085 - £36,660
Fuel economy: 38 – 65 mpg

BMW X1


The first-generation BMW X1 sold very well, but the current model is a far superior car. It’s based on the same underpinnings as the MINI Countryman but has more mature styling. It’s tuned for more comfort than the MINI, but still handles well. We recommend the four-wheel-drive 18d model, which manages to offer fuel economy in excess of 60mpg.

New price: £28,795 - £37,025
Leasing price: from £351 per month
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Used price: £13,735 - £29,220
Fuel economy: 45 – 61 mpg

Suzuki Jimny


The Suzuki Jimny is a proper old-school off-roader, but on a miniature scale. The end result is a small 4x4 that can outclass almost anything when it comes to the rough stuff. The Jimny is packed with charm, too, and surprisingly good to drive around town. Admittedly, you won’t want to take it on too many long journeys, but stick to slower roads and muddy tracks and this dinky 4x4 will do you very well indeed.

New price: £15,999 - £18,499
Leasing price: from per month
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Used price: £13,470 - £17,815
Fuel economy: 37 – 41 mpg

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross


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Mitsubishi’s line-up of SUVs can, at times, be confusing , but the Eclipse Cross is the newest and probably the best of the bunch. It’s offered with a single engine – a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol – that offers good performance. Equipment levels are strong too, and Mitsubishi’s taken the bold step of eschewing a factory sat-nav system – assuming instead that most drivers will use smartphone connectivity such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

New price: £21,930 - £31,040
Leasing price: from per month
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Used price: £12,375 - £24,135
Fuel economy: 36 – 42 mpg

Jeep Renegade


Chunky retro styling really marks the Jeep Renegade out from the crowd, while also ensuring it looks cohesive next to its larger SUV peers. It’s more rugged than some so-called ‘soft-roaders’, and there’s even a bespoke off-road trim level, named Trailhawk. Mechanicals are shared with Fiat, so there’s an excellent 1.3-litre petrol engine on offer as well as an efficient diesel option.

Best Off-road Compact Suv

New price: £19,745 - £31,655
Leasing price: from £267 per month
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Used price: £7,125 - £22,175
Fuel economy: 40 – 64 mpg

Hyundai Kona


Hyundai offers its smallest SUV as the brilliant Kona Electric, but petrol and diesel-powered models are worth a look, too. The Kona offers striking styling and a practical interior, plus Hyundai’s straightforward trim structure means it’s easy as pie to pick the right model. Four-wheel drive is offered with the powerful 1.6-litre petrol, too – so you might surprise some people with your turn of pace.

New price: £17,305 - £26,630
Leasing price: from £248 per month
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Used price: £10,895 - £23,955
Fuel economy: 50 – 67 mpg

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*Deals are correct at time of publication. Everyone’s financial circumstances are different and credit is not always available – Parkers cannot recommend a deal for you specifically. These deals are indicative examples of some packages available this week. Bauer Consumer Media Limited is an appointed representative of ZenAuto Limited for the broking of regulated hire agreements. ZenAuto Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. ZenAuto Limited's registered office is Number One, Great Exhibition Way, Kirkstall Forge, Leeds LS5 3BF. ZenAuto Limited's company registration number is 10967345. ZenAuto is the trading name of ZenAuto Limited. Terms, conditions and exclusions apply.

Best Suv For Off Road

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