Do I need a 4x4 in Iceland

If you plan to drive around Iceland during the wintertime, drive on the F-roads in Iceland, or on gravel roads in Iceland, then we recommend a 4x4 vehicle.

When planning a visit to Iceland it is important to understand the roads and conditions before travelling. Many travellers underestimate Iceland and do not prepare for their trip to Iceland. When choosing your car rental in Iceland it is important to keep a few things in mind. When you wonder if a 4x4 rental car is necessary for Iceland you need to consider many factors such as what time of the year you will visit, weather conditions, road conditions, destinations you would like to see, and your driving experience.

 Winter road in Iceland

Driving in Iceland during the winter 

While travelling to Iceland in the wintertime, you can expect unpredictable weather, short days, and adventures. We have a saying in Iceland „If you do not like the weather, wait five minutes“ and this saying is truly real. The weather conditions can change rapidly and you can even experience all weather types in one day. So what can we do to prepare for the weather conditions in Iceland? We always recommend to all of our customers and everybody who plans on visiting Iceland during the winter to monitor the weather forecast. Taking a look at the weather forecast in the morning will help you to understand in what conditions you will be driving. The Icelandic Met Office has a great web that will show you the weather forecast as well as displays warnings in case of a storm, earthquakes, or even volcanoes. One amazing feature on their webpage is the Aurora forecast.

The days are shorter in the winter months in Iceland. You will find that the shortest days are in December and January. The ring road in Iceland does not have any street light and neither do many roads that lead to must-see places in Iceland like waterfalls, Black Sand Beach, Snæfellsnes peninsula. So you if do not feel comfortable driving in darkness it is good to plan your driving with the daylight in mind.

 Rent a Suzuki S-Cross in Iceland

Do I need a 4x4 in Iceland during the winter?

We strongly recommend renting a 4x4 vehicle for your trip to Iceland during the winter months. If you are planning on going to the ring road, Snæfellsnes peninsula, or East to the Glacier Lagoon a 4x4 is a must. However, if you are only planning on staying near Reykjavík and driving the Golden Circle and to the Blue Lagoon a 2wd car will suit your trip. We recommend you take a look at our selection of 4x4 rental cars for your trip to Iceland. We at Icerental4x4 specialize in 4x4 vehicles and have them available in all sizes.


Here are a few 4x4 rental cars we recommend for winter travel in Iceland

Dacia Duster – The Dacia Duster is a fuel-efficient car with high ground clearance. It has the option to choose 2WD or 4-wheel drive mode. This vehicle is highly recommended for people looking for a manual rental car in Iceland on a budget.

Suzuki Vitara – If you are looking for a budget car rental in Iceland, the Suzuki Vitara will be the car for you. It comes both with manual and automatic transmission and all the latest features including Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and USB. It includes 398-litre luggage space.

Suzuki Grand Vitara – The Grand Vitara has great luggage space, a total of 750 litres. It has a high ground clearance and a powerful engine. It is available both with manual and automatic transmission.

Toyota Rav4 - The RAV4 runs on a powerful diesel engine. It accommodates five passengers and offers a convenient 5-door design. The luggage compartment measures 85 x 85 x 130 cm. In addition to Toyota’s reliability, you get an AM/FM radio, USB/AUX plugin, and Bluetooth connectivity.

Ford Expedition – If you are travelling with a large group, then this is a perfect 4x4 rental car for you. Designed for comfort, this 5-door model is suited for travelling with 7-8 people. It is renowned for its performance and space. The rear seats fold to fit as many as five bags. An included AUX port suits your audio needs 

Jeep Grand Cherokee -: Our off-road vehicle rental options include a Jeep with a generous amount of cabin space. The 5-door Grand Cherokee seats five passengers and fits five suitcases. It also ranks high in performance, dependability, and comfort. It has a high ground clearance and a powerful petrol engine designed for the Icelands toughest roads.

Driving in Iceland during the summer 

When visiting Iceland during the summertime it will depend on your itinerary if a 4x4 is a must for your trip or if it will be enough to have a 2WD car in Iceland. If you are planning to stay on the ring road in Iceland then you may find it enough to have a 2WD car. But if you would like to go to the highlands in Iceland or simply drive some gravel roads then a 4x4 with higher ground clearance is a must. To be able to drive on the highland roads in Iceland you have to have a 4x4 vehicle. While selecting your 4x4 vehicle for a trip to the highlands it is important to keep in mind what F-roads you plan to drive, do they have rivers, how are the road conditions. If you plan to go on a road that requires a river crossing it is important to choose a 4x4 car that has high ground clearance. For this, we recommend vehicles such as the Suzuki Jimny, Dacia Duster, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Jeep Grand Cherokee, or the Ford Expedition. If you will not do any river crossing, then the ground clearance will not be as important and most all 4x4 car rentals will do the job for you.

Mt. Kirkjufell in Iceland 

Rent a 4x4 camper in Iceland

You can also drive on the highland roads in Iceland on a 4x4 camper. We at Icerental4x4 have a great selection of 4x4 camping vehicles. Renting a 4x4 camping car in Iceland will give you the freedom to explore all of the highlands without worrying about accommodation. You will find camping grounds at many places in the highlands, at places like Kjölur Route, Landmannalaugar, and Askja. If you are looking for adventure around the Icelandic highlands you will find freedom with these 4x4 rooftop tent vehicles.

 Dacia Duster 4x4 camper in Iceland

We would like to mention that no insurances in Iceland cover water damages. This means that the driver is always responsible when crossing a river. Here are a few great tips to keep in mind when crossing a river in Iceland.

  • There are no insurances that cover water damages. Meaning that the risk is always on the driver when crossing a river. Water damages can easily cost over 10.000 EUR / 11.000 USD
  • Always stop before crossing a river, go outside and take a look at the conditions
  • If you are unsure or do not trust yourself to cross a river don't turn around is our advice
  • Drive slowly but steady when entering the river, do not change gears, and do not stop while driving through the river
  • Always go down the stream when entering the river. 
  • Do not go where the water is completely still, it may be the deepest part of the river. 
  • Inspecting the river is important, if the river is deeper than your knee we recommend not to take the risk. 

Driving on gravel roads in Iceland

There are many gravel roads in Iceland, and when going to many popular tourist attractions you will need to cross some gravel roads. For some of the many gravel roads, it can be better to have a 4x4 vehicle. The 4 wheel drive system will provide you with more stability when going into turns, it can also make a difference on very bumpy roads. So in conclusion we do recommend a 4x4 for your trip to Iceland if you will need to drive on many gravel roads.

To sum up, in the end, we strongly recommend a 4x4 for your trip to Iceland if you are coming during the winter, driving on many gravel roads, or want to explore the highlands of Iceland. For travel in the vicinity of Reykjavík and the Golden Circle, a front-wheel-drive car can be best suited.  

Book your 4x4 car rental in Iceland today with Icerental4x4 

You can find 4x4 rental cars in all sizes and ages with Icerental4x4. Book your 4x4 in Iceland with Icerental4x4. 

Stay up to date

Newsletter signup

Subscribe to Icerental4x4 newsletter