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Best small 4x4s 2024

  • What are the best small 4x4s?

  • We test and rate the contenders

  • Find a small 4x4 car for sale

If you're looking for a car with the ability to tackle tough terrain, but you also want something nice and compact, then you'll be wanting to pick from one of the best small 4x4s.

True, many of the best 4x4s can be pretty large cars, but the fact is that not everyone needs something with 7 seats or a huge boot. The good news is that there are some cracking small off-roaders out there, and the best small 4x4s are perfect if you're looking for a car that's easy to park in town, but capable of getting out into the wilderness when the mood takes you.

This list of the best small 4x4s for off-roading includes genuinely capable small 4x4 off-roaders that can deal with rough tracks, boggy terrain, and more. Keep reading for heycar’s guide to the best small 4x4s.

If you're looking to save money on a small 4x4, check out the best new and used car deals we've found online.

Best small 4x4s 2024

  1. Suzuki Jimny
  2. Fiat Panda 4x4
  3. Dacia Duster
  4. Suzuki Ignis
  5. Volkswagen T-Cross

1. Suzuki Jimny

Used price from £23,000

Suzuki Jimny Front View

If you’re looking for the best small 4x4, the Suzuki Jimny is our top choice. It has permanent four-wheel drive and a low-range gearbox to help you keep moving on slippery ground, and it also has plenty of clearance for tackling rocks and ruts.

The Tonka toy style that you see on the outside is continued inside. The dashboard is chunky, and there are cool toggle switches and circular air vents, as well as a colourful infotainment screen. The two back seat are tight on space, but you can fold them away to make the Jimny a spacious two-seater.

Do be warned, however, that the same things that make the Jimny so good off-road are the very same things that the car feel quite wayward on it. The body leans over a lot in bends, while the power-sapping four-wheel drive makes the car quite slow and quite expensive to run. If you’re being charitable, the Jimny is certainly ‘characterful’, but do makes sure you test drive before you buy to make sure you can live with its clumsy road manners.

2. Fiat Panda 4x4

Used price from £10,000

Fiat Panda 4x4 Review 2023: Offroad

Based on its cutesy design and diminutive dimensions, it would be easy to write-off the Fiat Panda 4x4’s off-roading credentials, but it's a lot more capable than it might look. Yet it’s also practical for its size, relatively cheap-to-run and easy to drive on-road, too. 

The Panda’s four-wheel-drive only engages when it’s needed, sending power to the back wheels when the front wheels slip. But, aided by the Fiat’s light weight, impressive approach and departure angles, and Terrain Select system – which lets you set the car up for different types of surface – it all works a treat.

Mind you, it’s innovative twin-cylinder petrol engine gives it decent performance and cheap running costs, and in town, the Panda feels like any other city car to drive. Its interior is good to look at – with its cheery 'squircle' design motif and two-tone colour scheme – and relatively practical for its size, plus you get five-door access.

3. Dacia Duster

Used price from £11,000

Dacia Duster Review 2021: Side photo

The Dacia Duster is another small car that’s excellent off-road when specified in four-wheel drive form. It uses old Renault parts to keep prices low, but it feels less bargain-basement than other Dacias and it looks pretty good on the outside, too.

Inside, the Duster has a simple but inoffensive design, with plastics that are a little bland but hard-wearing and robust. There's space inside for four tall adults to get comfortable, and the boot is very large for a small SUV.

You can have the Duster with a 115PS 1.5-litre diesel engine which gives it all the grunt you need for off-roading and also doesn’t cost a fortune to run. Don't expect the last word in refinement, though.

4. Suzuki Ignis

Used prices from £10,000

Suzuki Ignis Review 2023 Front Side View

The Suzuki Ignis is a cheekily styled city car that’s available with four-wheel drive if you need some extra grip to tackle slippery roads and tracks. Its tiny size makes it easy to drive, easy to park and cheap to run.

It comes fitted with a 1.2-litre petrol engine that has a mild hybrid system to help it return good fuel economy. Take it off-road and the Ignis can send power to the back wheels if it detects the fronts slipping.

Its interior reflects the smart-looking exterior thanks to its two-tone colour finish and you also get a little infotainment screen on the dashboard. Its upright seating means the Ignis can carry four adults, but the boot is rather small.

5. Jeep Renegade

Used prices from £10,000

Jeep Renegade Review 2023: exterior front three quarter photo of the Jeep Renegade on the road

The Jeep Renegade looks as chunky and as brash an any of the American brand's other cars, with its circular headlights and seven-slot grille, but it sits on a much more compace footprint. That makes it a doddle to drive in tight urban areas, and it's helped further on that score by light steering and good visibility. Choose a version fitted with four-wheel drive, and you get a car with several decades of Jeep know-how when it comes to off-roading, too. It doesn't feel quite to impressive out on the open road, though, with lots of body lean in corners and a bouncy ride.

The cabin materials feel a little cheap, but there's lots of space for tall adults to get comfortable, and the infotainment system is easy to find your way around. The boot isn't especially big, though, and there's a lip at the entrance that gets in the way when you're loading heavy items.


Best Small 4x4 FAQs

Written By Ivan Aistrop

The Suzuki Jimny is the best small 4x4 you can, which also means it’s not that great on road. Its high ground clearance, low-range gearbox and permanent four-wheel drive mean there’s not much that will stop it.

The Suzuki Jimny is the best small SUV for off-roading. Its permanent four-wheel drive and low-range gearbox give it lots of traction and its high ground clearance helps it clear tricky obstacles.

The small car with the highest ground clearance is the Suzuki Jimny. Its height makes it easier to get in and out of and also gives it genuine 4x4 looks. The Jimny is a proper off-roader and its clearance helps it deal with rough and uneven terrain.