Top ten: Cars for the big freeze

With the snow still piled up in most UK towns, Autoblog UK counts down the top ten cars best equipped to take on the big freeze. We've even done it in price order so there should be something to meet every one's budget.

10. Saab 900 – up to £2,000

An old car now, but this traditional Saab was thoroughly engineered for a life in snow, with good traction, predictable front-wheel drive handling and a powerful heater – it proves that you don't always need four-wheel drive to cut a path through the drifts. The 900 was built from 1979-93 and they're still quite plentiful, with good spares back-up. It even qualifies for classic car insurance.

A decent example can be yours for £2,000, and many usable examples come for well under this. We found a 1992 5-door Saab 900 XS in fine fettle for £1,895.

Search for Saab 900 on Auto Trader

9. Jeep Grand Cherokee – up to £3,000

If you're looking for the cheapest four-wheel drive way to tackle a school run blighted by snow, the Grand Cherokee is a good contender. The big Jeep is thirsty and not particularly refined, but it's still well equipped, relatively comfortable and completely unafraid of the slippery stuff.You can't argue at its current value for money either. Auto Trader turned up a 1999 4.0-litre petrol with all the toys for £2,691. Just be sure to check the history; Grand Cherokees aren't exactly built from granite and any significant problems could prove expensive to fix.

Search for Jeep Grand Cherokees on Auto Trader

8. Land Rover Defender – up to £6,000

If this countdown was about off-road ability alone, Land Rover's Defender would top the list. It's noisy and incredibly basic, but nothing else on 4 wheels conquers the great outdoors with the workmanlike panache of this British icon.

If the snow stopped you from getting to your lower field then the Defender is the only solution. But you probably knew that already. Reputation keeps used values solid, but we found a tidy Defender 90 TD5 Hard Top with 56k under its belt for £5,200.

Search for Land Rover Defenders on Auto Trader

7. Fiat Panda 4x4 – up to £11,000

These tiny 4x4s are as plentiful as stags in the Alps, and with good reason – they're excellent in snow, economical, good value, comfortable and convenient. A raised ride height and a four-wheel drive system that sends torque to the rear wheels keep this Fiat going on slippery Tarmac and even off-road, too. When conditions aren't testing, this Panda drives pretty much like any other so you won't be disappointed when summer comes.

The ultra-practical, all-weather Panda can be bought directly from Fiat for £11,000, but Autotrader revealed a 2008 1.2 4x4 model for a very reasonable £7,999.

Search for Fiat Panda 4x4s on Auto Trader

6. Land Rover Discovery – up to £15,000

The Discovery 3 is a testament to Ford's early investment in Land Rover. Large, practical and astonishingly capable, the Disco set a new benchmark for 4x4 refinement when it was launched in 2004. Half a decade has passed, but the Land Rover still impresses, both off-road and on.

Almost half way down our list and you're now looking at some serious outlay. Fortunately, the Discovery is good enough to reward the investment. We found a 2005 automatic 2.7 V6 diesel with 83k on for £14,990.

Search for Land Rover Discoverys on Auto Trader

5. Skoda Octavia Scout 4x4 – up to £20,000

A well-equipped, classily finished all-wheel drive estate, the Octavia Scout is similar in concept to the Audi A6 Allroad and the Volvo XC70, but costs thousands less. The Scout version offers small-scale off-roading ability thanks to its raised ride height, but if you don't need that, there are less elaborate four-wheel drive Octavias too. The interior is finished to an impressively high standard, and the Octavia drives like a car rather than a hefty 4x4 too, so its all-weather ability won't penalise you during the rest of the year.

Skoda will sell you a brand-new 1.8 TSI Scout for £19,640, but a quick search on Auto Trader returned a 2009 2.0 TDI model with just 6k for £17,995.

Search for Skoda Octavia Scouts on Auto Trader

4. Mercedes GL – up to £35,000

The big Merc makes it onto our list over the ML due to its snow-beating off-road potential (lockable diffs, hill descent system and low-range gearing) and sheer size. Body control is an issue on the road, but if you need to transport seven VIPs through the mush, it's a luxurious option.

Although smaller engines are available, it's the 4.0-litre V8 diesel which suits the GL's demeanour best. Auto Trader turned up a 2007 GL420 with only 8k and a price tag of £34,999.

Search for Mercedes GLs on Auto Trader

3. Toyota Land Cruiser – up to £50,000

For some people, the Toyota Land Cruiser is the definitive off-roader. The Range Rover might be able to match it when things get mucky, but the Toyota delivers its go-anywhere performance with the kind of gruff honesty that instils rock-solid confidence in a driver. If the big freeze has made you yearn for something utterly indestructible, look no further.

It might not have a glamorous image, but the Land Cruiser's dependability commands a serious premium. We found a 2009 3.0-litre D-4D model with 500 miles on the clock for £45,630.

Search for Toyota Land Cruisers on Auto Trader

2. Range Rover – up to £75,000

The best 4x4 by far. Indeed. The new Rangie has got it all; epic performance off-road, peerless refinement on-road, an opulent interior, superb engines and a chiselled image forged over four decades. Winter weather be damned; we'd buy one at the height of summer.

If we could afford it, that is. The new Range Rover is only in the grasp of the few. Auto Trader revealed a 5.0-litre V8 Autobiography edition for a £72,850. Good thing the previous generations are an absolute bargain. Happy hunting.

Search for Range Rovers on Auto Trader

1. Audi Q7 V12 – £80,000 and over

Ok, we cheated. The Audi isn't actually the best overall car to use in the snow – the Range Rover is undoubtedly better, and cheaper – but no other vehicle keeps a mischievous grin plastered across your face like the V12-equipped Q7.

The 6.0-litre diesel engine is capable of propelling the 2635kg Q7 to 60mph in 5.5secs, but it's the epic delivery of its 737lb ft of torque that takes your breath away. We wouldn't recommend assaulting any glaciers in it, but there isn't another car on this list which equals the sheer entertainment value of the big Audi once you've conquered the snow and ice.

It's rare, though. Auto Trader could only turn up one – a 2009 model with 17K behind it and yours for a cool £82,995.

Search for Audi Q7s on Auto Trader

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