How Do I Choose the Best Small 4x4?

Dan Cavallari

A small 4x4 is a vehicle that is designed for off-road use, though it can often also be driven on-road legally and easily. When choosing such a vehicle, it is first important to decide how you will primarily use it. If the majority of your driving will be off-road, the criteria for choosing a small 4x4 will be different than if you will be driving mostly on-road and occasionally off-road. Some people choose to buy older 4x4 vehicles and restore them specifically for off-road use, while others will use the vehicles as a primary driving vehicle.

A small 4x4 may already come with all the components necessary for off-road use.
A small 4x4 may already come with all the components necessary for off-road use.

If you will be using the vehicle mostly for off-road use, you will need to consider a small 4x4 with certain features, such as oversized tires with aggressive treads, overbuilt suspension and axles, a lifted body for clearance, and so on. Jeeps are popular off-road small 4x4 vehicles because they are generally lightweight, easily customizable, and often built specifically for off-road use. Jeeps also feature removable doors and roof units, as well as roll bars for safety, which means these modifications will not need to be made after purchase. Jeeps do tend to be fairly expensive, however, so you will need to draw up a budget for purchase of such a vehicle.

The small 4x4 may already come with all the components necessary for off-road use, but if the vehicle is used, you will need to inspect it carefully for damage. 4x4 vehicles have a tendency to incur damage more than other types of vehicles because of the nature of off-road driving, so a thorough inspection will be necessary; even after a careful inspection, a vehicle can break down, so you should have money in your budget set aside for the inevitable repairs. If the vehicle already comes stocked with vital accessories such as a winch, oversized tires and suspension, and so on, be sure to inspect these components for proper function and any obvious damage.

It helps to buy a small 4x4 that is waterproof inside the cab. This will allow you to hose out the cab after driving through dirt and mud, which is likely to occur with most off-road driving. Waterproof upholstery will resist water damage and will dry out quickly. Drain plugs in the floorboards will allow you to drain water after hosing off the vehicle. Aftermarket parts can be purchased that are waterproof or water-resistant, but again, you will need to consider these upgrade costs before purchasing.

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Discussion Comments


Interesting angle on 4x4's. It's worth pointing out that for the last few years these sorts of cars are cheaper to run than they used to be. In fact, in terms of practicality, they are better than saloons and estates.

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