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The Top Four Family 4x4 Vehicles
There are many different 4x4 vehicles to consider when you’re in the market for a family friendly four-wheel drive. The best ones have plenty of gadgets, lots of technologically advanced features, powerful engines yet still deliver excellent fuel economy figures for the type of vehicle.
The Landrover Discovery
The first vehicle worth considering is the Land Rover Discovery. Land Rover is steeped in off-road heritage, and the Discovery, or ‘Disco’ as it is affectionately known, is a combination of the rugged versatility of the Defender, and the practicality of the Range Rover. It's a 4x4 that features a 3.0L SDV6 diesel engine and runs with an automatic transmission. This 255 hp engine achieves around 32 mpg or 8.8L/100 km for its fuel economy.
The Discovery has 19-inch wheels with an option for larger, sportier 20-inch wheels. It's also extremely practical with a 13-pin towing ball and an optional Tow Assist feature that predicts the trajectory of a trailer so reversing is easy to manage. It uses cameras to create a better sense of vision from behind. The Hill Descent Control feature also improves the way the vehicle can be handled as it moves down a steep hill. There's even a hill start assist feature on the Discovery.
This also makes a great family car thanks to the many features inside the cabin. It has an automatic climate control system and electric windows as well as a Bluetooth system. An eight-speaker audio system is also included along with a CD player and digital radio.
The Discovery can be purchased for around £38,850 for the base model. A luxury option that includes a touch-screen dashboard control, a walnut wood finish with leather seats and a seven inch colour console among other high-tech gadgets can go for at least £55,000.
The Honda CR-V
The second in our list of family-friendly 4x4 vehicles is the Honda CR-V. It is manufactured with a 2.0L or 2.2L i-VTEC petrol or diesel engine depending on one's preference. The petrol engines offer around 39 mpg while the diesel engines deliver a higher 48 mpg in the manual transmission model, or 42 mpg in the automatic.
An optional satellite navigation system is available with a full-colour i-MID screen in the centre console. The Eco Assist feature also displays information on ideal speeds to use with fuel consumption in mind. The ECON button also adjusts the vehicle’s settings to minimize fuel consumption and hence save you money.
The Vehicle Stability Assist feature is a practical aspect of the vehicle as it analyzes the road and brakes individual wheels where it detects traction is reduced. The Motion Adaptive Electronic Power Steering feature also assists the driver in tough situations. The 60/40 folding back seat is also helpful for creating room in the back when carrying heavy loads. In fact, the vehicle can carry 558 kg of weight at a time.
It will cost £21,500 for a basic CRV model, which is excellent value for money when you consider all of the features and practicality it includes. A 2.2L automatic diesel version will cost closer to £33,000 and can include a panoramic roof and leather seats.
The BMW X5 4WD
The BMW X5 is the last in our list of the best 4x4 vehicles we will take a look at. The X5 has two engines to choose from. There's an in-line six-cylinder engine that takes an impressive 6.6 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph and a twin-turbo V8 engine that can reach 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. The six-cylinder engine has a fuel economy of 37 mpg while the V8 engine delivers only 23 mpg. If you’re choosing the V8 however then fuel economy probably isn’t your primary consideration.
The features and gadgets in the X5 include Active Steering, a feature that adjusts the steering force to suit the vehicle's speed. This makes it safer on all sorts of winding roads.
The Steptronic feature on the transmission is an attractive part of the car as well. This feature shifts gears quickly by reducing the rev intervals in-between shifts.
The car is very practical for off-road conditions thanks to the xDrive feature. It identifies unstable road conditions and adjusts the engine power delivered to individual wheels, thus keeping the vehicle operating within the correct parameters. It can comfortably carry a large amount of cargo thanks to its folding back row and its 680 kg weight capacity.
The BMW X5 is available for around £45,000, which is significantly more affordable than an Audi Q7, and still delivers a car with a feeling of luxury. It can cost £60,000, however, for a Sport version that features a professional navigation system, a DVD system and leather seating on the inside.
The Nissan Pathfinder
The Nissan Pathfinder is a great looking four-wheel drive vehicle that also offers a lot of space for carrying seven or eight people. It is available in both 7 and eight passenger varieties, and features a third-row of seating that can be folded when you require extra luggage space. When the seats are folded you have a vast area that can be used for transporting large and bulky objects.
In terms of the 4 wheel drive capability the Pathfinder has lots of power and is adept at getting out of tricky situations. As with many vehicles of this size it has a large towing capacity, and it would be perfectly at home towing a heavy trailer or caravan. In the UK the Pathfinder is available with a 2.5L dCi engine that delivers 190 horsepower and an average fuel economy of 28mpg. For a family four wheel drive this figure isn't really that impressive, as other varieties such as the aforementioned Honda CR-V deliver a much better fuel economy.
Visually however the Nissan Pathfinder has been completely restyled for 2013, and it has great looks for a large SUV. Internally, the different trim levels allow you to choose your level of luxury based on your budget, with the 'Tekna' trim being the most luxurious. The difference in price between the two. The price for the base level model starts from around £32,900 and goes up to nearly £38,000 for the top model.
These four 4x4 models are designed with large capacities and plenty of features alike. The most affordable yet still feature packed model is the Honda CR-V, whilst the BMW X5 offers the greatest feeling of luxury. If it’s performance you’re after then the X5 is also the most powerful.
Obviously these cars aren’t really suited to fully-fledged off-roading, however all will be perfectly capable of managing the wintry road conditions that can be experienced in the UK, Canada and some parts of the US. They’ll get you out of most sticky situations that would see a two-wheel drive flounder in the snow / mud.