There are more 4x4s in the world than grains of sand on a beach.
There are more 4x4s in the world than grains of sand on a beach. That makes picking the best rather hard, so here goes... Different 4x4s excel in different areas, after all. A popular Budget Buy, for example, is the Kia Sportage KX-2 2.0 AWD. Why? Because it only costs £21,535 including its seven year warranty. That should minimise repair bills. Furthermore, the Sportage is available in two-wheel-drive form for £17,300 and even the top-spec only costs £28,500. Not a lot of money for the class, particularly considering its pleasing on-road performance. Alternatively, the Range Rover Evoque eD4 Pure is our Affordable Buy (i.e. great value not budget). This costs £29,195 which is very low considering its prestigious badge, supreme off-road capability, excellent specification, and refined on-road handling. Even the high-end trim only costs £44,920 which is less than parking at Bournemouth Beach. All right, made-up the last bit.Now, sand lovers take note. The Skoda Yeti Elegance 2.0 TDI CR is our Fuel Efficient Buy. As such this £23,980 workhorse averages a pleasing 47.9mpg, returns 53.3mpg on the extra-urban cycle, and manages 40.9mpg in town. Carbon emissions are therefore 155g/km which ensures it can be taxed annually for only £170. Not bad for a 4x4. The Yeti is also available in two-wheel-drive Greenline II S 1.6 TDI CR form for £17,345. This averages 61.4mpg and can be taxed for £30 as its emissions are only 119g/km. That brings us to the Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi Style which is our Practical Buy. Why? Because despite only measuring slightly more than the Ford Focus Estate this £28,095 beauty has seven seats and a very large boot. Cargo capacity is, in fact, 516-litres when the third row of seats is folded flat. This can be increased to 1,615-litres by folding the middle row too. Plenty of room for buckets and spades, then. Alternatively, motorists can have the entry-level five-seater two-wheel-drive Santa Fe for £25,495 or the top-spec for £34,395. The Mazda CX-5 2.2 Sport AWD is our Intelligent Design Buy. This is for several reasons. Firstly, unlike some cars its functions are easy to understand. Not too much time reading the manual, then. Secondly, it has a number of features that although small make life easier than a week at the beach. As such, the three rear seats fold flat individually rather than splitting 60/40. This maximises flexibility. They fold completely flat too, which increases cargo capacity from 503 to 1,620-litres. That is more than some estates. Finally, the CX-5 has a boot tonneau that moves automatically to shelter the cabin from the elements when the tailgate is open. Not bad for £28,395. That brings us to the BMW X3 which is our Award Winning Buy. Why? Because it claimed the What Car? Best 4X4/ SUV title. This lifestyle statement - which is available in both rear/four-wheel -drive - has a prestigious badge and a premium feel. This complements its confident on/off road handling, fair equipment specification, and rock-solid build. All from £28,580 to £42,540. Our Best Off-Road Buy is the Land Rover Discovery 3.0 SDV6 HSE Luxury. This has a Terrain Response System which – among other things – changes the ride height and the throttle/transmission response to suit conditions such as snow, mud, and boulders. The result is that it can plough through virtually anything (even sand castles). The Toyota Land Cruiser V8 also deserves a mention as it is supreme off-road and lasts forever. All for £57,750 and £65,195, respectively. Our Performance Buy is the BMW X5 M. This £83,290 beast has a 4.4-litre 555bhp V8 that propels motorists to 62mph – and towards the beach – in only 4.7 seconds. That is remarkable for such a huge machine. Also, this six-speed auto's top speed is 155mph which complements its classy cabin, sky-high image, and supreme handling. Clearly, this beast is more hard-core than a 10' sand castle. Our Premium Hybrid Buy is the Lexus RX 450h Premier that costs £55,495. This has a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and an electric motor which together produce 295bhp. That is enough for 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds and it averages 44.8mpg. Very impressive considering its size and performance. The Lexus can also cruise at low speed using only its electric motor which - of course - saves fuel and eradicates emissions. The petrol engine then kicks-in for faster driving. This process is seamless and complements the cosy cabin, big boot, and nice looks. Finally, we should consider our Luxury Buy which can only be the Range Rover 5.0 V8 Autobiography. Why? Because for £98,395 sand castle lovers benefit from its powered tailgate, panoramic roof with electric blind, television, soft close doors, and the surround camera system. This, of course, complements the supremely refined ride and its 510bhp supercharged engine that propels it to 62mph in 5.4 seconds. Fantastic machine, then - but never drive it over another bloke's sand castle.