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Deep divers: the best cars for flooded roads

As parts of the UK struggle with flooding, retail website BuyACar has registered increased searches for off-roaders, notably flood-capable machines that can wade through deep water. And as we’ll discover, that doesn’t automatically mean large expensive trucks.

“As soon as the recent catastrophic floods in parts of the UK hit the headlines, we saw website traffic to our articles about driving in floodwater surge, along with searches for cars with off-road capabilities,” said Christopher Lloyd, editor of BuyaCar.

“The lesson is that a rugged image isn’t always the best indicator of a car’s capabilities and that some tough-looking models can barely cope with water any deeper than an ordinary hatchback. So, if you want an SUV that offers true ability in flooding and off-road, make sure you do your homework to ensure you pick a suitable model.”

10 of the best cars for wading depth

So without further delay, let’s take a look at 10 of the best cars for when the going gets nautical, from the Ford Ecosport to the Toyota Hilux.

Volvo XC40

We begin with one of our favourite compact SUVs. Lovable and lauded though the XC40 is (it’s a multiple award-winner), traversing rivers isn’t high on its expected list of talents. Yet with a wading depth of 450mm, it’s a capable family car.

Jeep Renegade Trailhawk

With a name like ‘Jeep Renegade Trailhawk’, you’d hope this little SUV would be able to traverse the seabed. So its actual wading depth of 480mm seems slightly disappointing.

Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk

The Cherokee betters that, with a wading depth of 508mm. It’s also larger and more practical than the Renegade.

Ford Ecosport

Prepare to be surprised: Ford’s dinky little crossover can wade to an impressive 550mm. The rest of the car isn’t so impressive, but a 2014-2017 model can be bought for less than £7,000.

Land Rover Discovery Sport

What kind of list would this be if it didn’t include a Land Rover? The Discovery Sport lives in the shadow of the full-size Discovery, plus various plusher Range Rovers. It’s still a comfortable and rugged SUV, however, with a wading depth of 600mm.

Toyota Hilux

The car that Jeremy Clarkson couldn’t kill is, of course, an off-road hero. The iconic Toyota Hilux will wade through 700mm of water, and is the first of a trio of Japanese models on this list.

Mitsubishi Shogun Sport

The next is the Mitsubishi Shogun Sport. Living up to its esteemed name, it’ll get through 700mm of water.

Toyota Land Cruiser

Further up the Toyota hierarchy is the luxurious Land Cruiser. But just because it has leather seats, that doesn’t make it a softie. It’ll wade up to 700mm, and there’s certainly less risk of being swept away.

Ford Ranger

The Ford Ranger is the default pick-up of the moment. It’ll wade to a very impressive depth of 800mm, which is the best you’ll get (on this list).

Land Rover Defender

Until Land Rover starts delivering these, anyway. The hotly-anticipated new Defender has a lot to prove, and muddy boots to fill. The figures are promising, with a best-ever wading depth of 900mm. We can’t wait to test that. Customers will start getting their cars early next year.

Honourable mentions

Although not on the BuyaCar list, you could also consider the Jeep Wrangler or Range Rover. The Wrangler betters its softer Jeep siblings, with a wading capability of 760mm. The big Rangie can handle more than 800mm, and tell you how deep the water is in real-time. Even the baby Range Rover Evoque is good for 600mm, which is equal to the old Mercedes G-Class, although not the new one’s 700mm capability.

Less honourable mentions

Not such a great performer in this respect is the new Suzuki Jimmy. Officially, it’s only good for 320mm. Proof it’s worth doing your homework when buying a flood-capable car.