4x4s are big. Often, but not always, literally. As people move away from gas-guzzlers the 4x4 is a prime target. But given a few years of testing weather conditions, the Great British public is in no mood to risk being stranded on a road due to some light frost. What to do? Crossover SUVs and more compact models have started to replace the traditional image of the big 4x4 - but is it really possibly to get a four-wheel drive model for less than £20,000?
While mechanical four-wheel drive set-ups are complicated and expensive, new-fangled torque-on-demand systems send drive to all four wheels when required, providing some extra grunt on tricky terrain or in difficult driving conditions.
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The result? That extra sensation of security and safety when the going gets tough.
But cars are changing. Cars that look like 4x4s may be front-wheel drive only. Cars as aggressive-looking as the Nissan Juke and Qashqai, Ford Kuga, Volkswagen Tiguan and even the Range Rover Evoque are available in two-wheel drive format only.
So you need to figure out which car you want, then price up the 4x4 option. Unfortunately the added benefits of all-wheel or four-wheel drive can carry a stiff financial penalty - often several thousand pounds more expensive than two-wheel drive models.
As a result we've unearthed a selection of new cars that offer the security of a 4x4 without the crippling price tag. And there's quite a range of cars that fit that description for under £20K. From the Suzuki SX4 to the Ssangyong Korando - here are five 4x4s that cost less than twenty grand.
Suzuki SX4 - £15,600
The Suzuki SX4 isn't strictly a 'let's go off-road weekend' type of car. It is more of a chunky supermini that comes with 4WD as a bit of a bonus.
The cheapest 4x4 model is matched with a 118bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine, matched with a six-speed manual gearbox.
This can be specified on the SZ5 trim level. The best attributes of the SZ5 trim include 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning and an i-AWD (intelligent All Wheel Drive) system, which distributes power to the wheels that need it most.
Suzuki Grand Vitara - £15,995
The Grand Vitara 4WD comes in both two and three door variants, with the latter bumping up its price from £15,995 to £19,290.
The cheapest 4WD three-door variant uses a 105bhp 2.4-litre petrol which is matched with a six-speed manual transmission.
Features include Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) and a towing capacity of 550 kg, which is pretty low. Its 184 litres of storage space also disappoints a little.
Skoda Yeti - £18,365
The Yeti is another compact off-roader. The 4WD Skoda Yeti comes with quite a wide engine range, but the cheapest 4WD variant is the 108bhp 2.0-litre TDi diesel.
Along with its large cabin, the Yeti offers up to 1,760 litres of stowage space.
The £18,365 4WD is available on the Yeti S trim, which is the second of five trims and features a trip computer, black roof rails and ESP as standard.
Toyota Urban Cruiser - £18,525
The five-door Urban Cruiser comes available with a 90bhp 1.4-litre diesel, which only comes in a 4WD variant.
The Urban Cruiser comes with a fair bit of boot space at 750 litres, which is useful if you plan to pack bikes.
However, its standard specification is a little basic, with features like sat nav and leather upholstery available at an extra cost.
Ssangyong Korando SX - £18,795
To get the edge over competition, Ssangyong has recently released a new trim level, SX, for its Korando model, which subsequently means its cheapest 4WD model has been lowered from £21,445 to £18,795.
The Korando SX uses a 147bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel which is matched with a six-speed-manual transmission.
Standard off-road features of the Korando SX include hill start assist, ESP and a power distributing Torque on Demand 4x4 system.
Fiat Panda 4WD - around £12,000
The Fiat Panda is one of the only off-road city cars.
The obvious advantage with the Panda is that it has both off-road and city functionality, with a compact shape, 4WD system and 870 litre stowage space.
The 4WD Panda is being released later in 2012 and is expected to make use either a 75bhp 1.3-litre MultiJet or a 69bhp 1.2-litre petrol powertrain.
Dacia Duster - around £12,000
The Dacia Duster is being launched at the end of 2012 and is expected to send a shiver up the spine of 4x4 competition like the Nissan Juke and Kia Sportage with its low price.
Upon launch, the Duster will be available with either a 105bhp 1.6-litre petrol or a 1.5-litre diesel, which comes with both 85bhp and 110bhp outputs.
Although prices have not been announced, it is unlikely that the £10,000 price tag will stretch to anything more than £15,000 for a 4WD model.