Off-roaders provide space, safety and style, making them a popular choice for a family car. Motoring journalist Tim Barnes-Clay looks at four of the best.
Volvo XC70: Solid and spacious
The XC70 looks at home in any environment, whether it's in the middle of the open country or at your place of business.
As with its V70 estate car cousin, the XC70’s rear bench can be folded down in three 40/20/40 sections.
Collapse all of the seats flat and the load space swells from 575 to 1,600 litres.
The Volvo’s seats are certainly among the most comfortable and the XC70 feels one of the best rides for keeping you protected.
Everything about the vehicle feels solid – from the reassuring “thud” the closing doors make to the quality cabin materials.
Off-road, it’s not as gallant as a pure mud-plugger, but the XC70 will shepherd the family safely along with aplomb.
Priced from £36,340.
Isuzu D-Max: Impressive pulling power
If you’re after a cheaper, tough-as-old-boots workhorse then look no further than the Isuzu D-Max.
The 4x4 pick-up is available with a car-like four-up cab, meaning you can actually use the vehicle as a tool as well as a family motor.
The Isuzu still offers respectable equipment. This includes air conditioning, daytime running lights and electric windows.
The diesel-powered D-Max is propelled by a farm-machinery sounding 2.5-litre twin-turbo lump, and is available with a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.
The motor has a “shift-on-the-fly” system, allowing you to adjust between two and four-wheel drive modes while travelling at up to 60mph.
That’s impressive, not to mention convenient, but its ace card is its load-lugging talent.
The towing capacity of the D-Max has been increased by 500kg – adding to its already colossal three-tonne pulling power.
Priced from £17,642.
Mitsubishi L200: Practical, comfortable and affordable
The equally affordable Mitsubishi L200 is practical, comfortable and, with 4x4 ability, it’ll handle dirt roads with ease should you choose to take the family for a day out in the country.
The L200’s looks aren’t bad either. It’s mean and handsome – in a craggy sort of way.
The double cab means there’s enough room for four, so when the vehicle isn’t tackling off-road areas, it’s a handy family machine, especially kitted out with a leather interior.
Pace isn’t an issue on the L200 and the Mitsubishi gathers momentum like an angry rhino or some sort of indestructible road-train.
Good job, then, that the pickup has decent brakes to scrub off any unwanted speed.
Priced from £17,678.
Range Rover Sport : Luxurious and sporty
The Range Rover Sport will be able to handle most driving conditions, but you’ll pay through the nose for it.
This sport utility vehicle has a more self-assured exterior and lavish interior than the outgoing Range Rover Sport.
It’s also more flexible as it now comes with the option of carrying seven people.
The comfy cabin mixes style and luxury with elegant lines, top quality materials and spoonfuls of sporting character.
The athletic air of the car’s cocoon is also reflected in the smaller steering wheel, higher centre console and generous seat bolsters.
The Range Rover Sport’s high driving position instils a sense of confidence and the steering feels light and direct.
Maximum ground clearance has been increased and the air suspension system automatically varies between ride heights,
Meanwhile, Land Rover’s Terrain Response 2 gadgetry chooses the most appropriate programme for whatever the wheels are driving over – or through.
Priced from £61,250.