Winter is a troublesome time of year for us drivers. The car struggles to start in the mornings, the windscreen is always covered in ice, and slippery roads really put your car's grip to the test. You need a car that can really withstand everything the elements will throw at it during this time of year, so here are the best SUVs and 4x4s to get you through these cold, wet, challenging months.
Nissan Qashqai SUV
Rather than being a full-blown SUV, which can be quite big and bulky, the Qashqai is a crossover between a standard car and an SUV. It's ideal for anyone who doesn't feel completely comfortable getting behind a huge SUV, but wants the practicality and characteristics of one. Despite its stature, the boot boasts plenty of space, so you'll easily be able to fit all the family's Christmas presents in there. There's more than enough space for kids too, and the four-wheel drive means it's more than capable of coping with slippery conditions. Plus, that price tag is pretty darn attractive compared to some of the other models on our list.
BMW X3 xDrive20d SE
The X3 was the overall winner in the 4x4 and SUV section of WhatCar's Car of the Year 2013 awards, and it's easy to see why. This particular model has four-wheel drive and averages 50.4mpg, so for such a powerful car it's surprisingly efficient. As well as being powerful, the engine is whisper-quiet, giving you a relaxing ride even when the roads are gridlocked.
Although it's a family car, the spacious cabin makes it feel just as luxurious as BMW's executive saloon models, so you don't lose out on that sumptuous quality BMW is famous for. When the weather is bad, it copes well; when the weather is good, it thrives.
The Volkswagen Tiguan does pretty much everything a good family SUV should. It's stylish, high in quality, massively practical and easy and relaxing to drive. It's not the cheapest car of its type, but the plush inside and outside of the vehicle mean you needn't worry about not travelling in style.
Range Rover Sport
The Range Rover Sport is a full-size SUV that offers luxury cruising, but can also handle almost any driving conditions you throw at it. There's plenty of space inside for five passengers, and although there is a seven-seat model, it's a bit of a squeeze for the poor people sat at the very back. The Terrain Response System sets the standard air-suspension according to what type of surface you're driving on, which makes the ride comfortable whether you're driving on snow, tarmac, gravel, sand or rocks.
It may be a bit on the expensive side, but the Range Rover Sport sure is a great all-rounder.
The Mercedes GLC has all the styling, tech and driver appeal you would expect from a premium brand. The four-cylinder diesels offer as much performance, economy and refinement any driver could routinely require, while the high-performance AMG models add serious punch. In terms of practicality, the GLC is pretty much a match for its rivals when it comes to passenger and boot space, and although adding option packs and features can get expensive, an efficient range of engines means mainstream models offer reasonable running costs.
The Audi Q5 has long been one of the most popular large SUVs out there, which is no surprise, given that it sits in a sweet spot when it comes to size, has a great interior and gives you a good mix of sportiness and everyday usability. In fact, the Q5 (which sits between the smaller Q3 and the larger Q7 and Q8 in the Audi range) has the potential to be an attractive prospect to almost every car buyer.
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