MANY owners of large SUVs like to know they have all that metal around them, but if you need the 4x4 capability in a smaller and more car-like package, the Subaru Forester could be just what you're looking for.
Large 4x4s are thirsty and slow, so although many of us have fancied one at some time we never get further than looking.
But this good looking estate is easy to drive and to handle in confined spaces and, should you need the towing or off-road ability, it's well ahead of any two wheel drive car.
Also, Subaru has consistently been among the top marques for reliability throughout the world, which is always good to know.
The most recent model has been around since 2013, but it's been extensively updated ever since.
There are three engine options and all come with that four wheel drive (4WD) security. I'll start with the 2.0-litre turbo diesel, which is likely to be the most common secondhand.
It has 147bhp and takes 9.9 seconds to cover the 0 to 62 miles an hour sprint.
It's lovely and flexible with plenty of power from low revs so that there's no need to change gear too often.
Like the petrol models, it comes with the choice of six-speed manual or Subaru's ‘Lineartronic' CVT automatic gearboxes.
Petrol's start with a 150bhp 2.0- litre that comes with start/stop and covers the 62mph sprint in 10.6 seconds.
Although it's available with the CVT automatic, this really blunts the performance and because the engine operates at higher revs much of the time, it's more noisy.
Top performer is the Direct Injection Turbo (DIT) 2.0-litre that's only available in top models and that sprints to 62mph in 7.7 seconds, through the standard Lineartronic automatic.
It has no less than 240bhp, which is enough for excellent acceleration from any speed whenever it's needed.
The diesel gives best economy, at 47mpg average, but all suffer from the permanent 4WD they use, so that the 2.0i is only capable of 40.9 and the DIT of only 33mpg.
This is an SUV that strikes a good balance between on- and off-road ability. Out on the road, there's less body roll than in most large 4x4s, and this makes it more comfortable through the corners.
This is partly due to the flat four engines being mounted low in the chassis, giving a better centre of gravity. The steering is direct and reasonably informative but can take some acclimatisation as it is pretty light.
Despite it being so road friendly, the Forester is much better off-road than many other SUVs and has excellent ability to handle the worst of winter conditions on the road.
Lineartronic automatic models are all fitted with Subaru's ‘X-Mode' offroad driving system, which sets up the engine, gearbox and traction control to best handle the rough or slippery stuff.
Comfort is better than many SUVs, and very good road-holding is helped by the 4WD.
Mid-range XE spec includes parking sensors, climate control, alloys, alarm, traction control, headlight washers, audio remote controls, heated seats with electric adjustment for the driver and an electric sunroof.
And with a five star safety rating, it will also take good care of you if the worst comes to the worst.
Pay about Â£11,750 for a '14 14-reg 2.0i XE, or Â£13,450 for a '16 16-reg 2.0D turbo diesel XC.