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One for the Road: An off-roader that's good for the school run


Adam Hinton wants to tow his large horsebox. He does 50 miles a day on the school run for his three children, shopping and his commute, and has up to £4,000 to spend.

A Car for the Head

When it comes to towing, especially a horse box which will involve off-road excursions, the vehicle must have four-wheel drive. It also needs to be a reasonably economical family vehicle, which is a difficult combination, especially as the budget is tight. The safest and most reliable choice would be a Japanese-made vehicle. I would recommend a Mitsubishi Shogun, which is as spacious as a Land Rover Discovery, except that it won't break down as much. Obviously there is a usefully commanding driving position, with the benefit of a well-laid-out dashboard and fairly light controls, making it no more difficult to drive than a family hatchback. Best of all, the interior trim is decent quality and soaks up abuse well. A 1998 GLS model with seven seats and a 2.8 diesel engine which should return around 30mpg will go for £4,000.

A Car for the Heart

Tempted as I am to suggest a Discovery, I would like Adam's budget to go a little further to buy something a little more contemporary. The Jeep Grand Cherokee (below) was one of the most important 4x4s to arrive in the UK, because it gave buyers a real alternative to the upmarket Range Rover. The Jeep name had credibility and has always offered great value for money, with just about everything you'd need as standard. The Grand Cherokee is also easy to drive and the power plant is more than adequate. Petrol bills are suitably high, although a 2.7 diesel would offer an overall return of 34.9. It is possible to find 2002 and 2003 examples in Limited trim, but it has leather, climate control, CD player and automatic gearbox, with 90,000 miles.

Looking to buy?

Email James Ruppert at carchoice@ independent.co.uk, giving your age, address and phone number, details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested, and your budget.