When it comes to choosing a car to lease, you may be interested in picking a vehicle that is well suited to driving in the countryside.

For country lanes and off-road conditions, a 4×4 may be ideal. But what exactly are these vehicles, and could they be a good choice for you? In this blog, we explain what 4×4 vehicles are and the criteria you can look at if you’re thinking of leasing a 4×4 in the future.

 What is a 4×4 car?

A 4×4 is different to other types of vehicle because of the way in which the engine powers the wheels. In other cars, the engine provides power to the two front or back wheels, but with a 4×4, all four wheels of the vehicle are powered. Although four-wheel drive was previously associated with larger vehicles, manufacturers now also produce smaller cars with this feature. 

Both two-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles have advantages and disadvantages. For example, 4×4 vehicles are less likely to get stuck in mud or ice because they provide more grip while accelerating. They are also better suited to towing other vehicles. However, they can be less fuel efficient than other models and are often more expensive to buy.

a 4x4 SUV vehicle parked on a suburban street

What is the best 4×4?

With many makes and models to choose from, it’s important to know what you’re looking for in a 4×4. These vehicles can appear similar in design, but as each model is different, the best option for you will be based on your own personal preferences.

Things to consider include:

  • Size
  • shape
  • weight and capacity limitations
  • number of seats and doors
  • wheels and tyres
  • fuel efficiency
  • capabilities on snow and ice
  • potential for modifications
  • availability of spare parts.

If you’re looking for help with choosing a 4×4, WhatCar recently assessed the best 4×4 vehicles on the market in 2020. It gave the top spot to the Audi Q7, applauding its luxury design, decreased fuel consumption through hybrid assistance and the option to drive manual or automatic versions of the vehicle.

Other cars listed as reliable by WhatCar included the Skoda Karoq, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Land Rover Discovery, Volvo Xc40, Seat Ateca, Hyundai Santa Fe, Dacia Duster and Volvo Xc90. All of these cars are available for lease on the LeaseCar website.

Is an SUV a 4×4?

You’ve probably come across the term SUV. An SUV – or sports utility vehicle – is typically a tall, wide vehicle that is suited to driving on rough terrain without damaging the underside.

The raised, broad layout of SUVs allows the driver to see more of the road, facilitates up to seven seats to be fitted and caters to larger, thicker tyres. It’s often assumed that all SUVs are four-wheel drive, when in fact, while many of them are 4×4 to help with driving off-road and through rural areas, not all SUVs are four-wheel drive.

Manufacturers sometimes omit this feature due to the increase in weight and fuel costs it can cause. In summary, it’s useful to bear in mind that four-wheel drive is a feature in a vehicle’s design, whereas an SUV describes a type of vehicle design more generally.