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Car news | 06.01.2014 - 08:44

Should I Buy a 4 x 4?

Many buyers assume that a 4 x 4 is a workhorse, a labourer, a fusion of metal and drive that will always plough on through the rough

If you’re considering buying a new vehicle, then your eyes may have strayed towards the section of the forecourt that plays host to every environmentalist and Tory MP’s pet hate – the notorious 4 x 4.

 

To say that 4 x 4’s, off-roaders, or SUV’s (as they’re also known) split opinion is a huge understatement – these broad and bulky beasts are the automotive equivalent of marmite. For the average person, the size of the machine and the size of the price tag aren’t worth the investment, especially given that almost 85% of the UK population live in urban zones. If you live in a built up, inner-city area, yet ardently desire to lord it over the local community with the ‘road-safe’ equivalent of a tank, then you may want to read this article first. Here are a few things to consider before you risk the wrath of infuriated safety campaigners!

 

The Need

 

Perhaps the most obvious question one needs to ask before buying a 4 x 4 is quite simply, ‘Do I need it?’ For some, a 4 x 4 is a genuinely helpful utility – if you live on a farm or in secluded rural town/village a 4 x 4 will out-perform most other vehicles in such terrain, and could help you out of many a tricky situation (adverse weather and subsequent driving conditions, for example). Similarly, if you are required to tow caravans, trailers, horseboxes – or any other vehicle – then a 4 x 4 is probably the most reliable vehicle for the job. However, if you only want one to impress the neighbours, and only plan on using it to drop the kids off at the school gates before you go shopping, then you’re better off spending your money elsewhere. Think seriously about why it is you want a 4 x 4.

 

The Cost

 

4 x 4’s aren’t cheap. They’re not cheap to buy, and they’re certainly not cheap to run. The cost will far exceed a conventional saloon or estate, and that’s before you’ve even subscribed to any of the optional extras. Even though you’re able to buy a new car with bad credit, car finance packages won’t help you when it comes to the maintenance costs - fuel, insurance, tax, servicing, and parts; everything is more expensive for a 4 x 4. Can you afford it?

 

Reliability and Practicality

 

Many buyers assume that a 4 x 4 is a workhorse, a labourer, a fusion of metal and drive that will always plough on through the rough. The truth is, that due to the complexity of 4 x 4’s, their track records for reliability really don’t compare to smaller cars, such as hatchbacks or saloons. There are those that fair better in the survey results, but don’t assume that your investment will work forever without needing a fair amount of maintenance. Similarly, these vehicles aren’t as practical as one may imagine – they may look spacious from the outside, but often the large, heavy, expensive four-wheel drive kit can greatly reduce the amount of interior space available. Bear in mind that 4 x 4’s exceed smaller cars in height, so if you’re planning on using the car for transporting items/objects/goods/luggage or whatever, you’re going to be exerting a great deal of effort.

 
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