Many people who live in the snow belt, or who live in areas often hit by rain and flooding, feel they have only two options when looking for a new vehicle. They can either buy an SUV, or buy a “regular” car and risk getting stuck in the snow or mud every once in a while.
However, there’s a third option for those who don’t need the extra size and storage that come with an SUV and don’t want to pour a large percentage of their salary into an SUV’s gas tank, while preferring the comfort and handling of a four-door vehicle: an all-wheel drive sedan. Most of the best AWD sedans send the rear wheels 60% of the engine’s power, with 40% going to the front; this combines the best of both worlds, providing nimble handling but also reliable stability and traction on wet or slippery roads.
The AWD sedan segment has expanded rapidly in the last few years, and there are now a large number of terrific mid-sized and full-sized cars to choose from. They have all the advantages of a traditional four-door automobile, but won’t leave you stranded in a storm when you’re trying to get to work or pick up the kids at school.
All-wheel drive sedans don’t come cheap. There are, however, several outstanding choices if you’re looking for an AWD sedan under $30,000. And if you’re able to spend a bit more, you can find an AWD luxury sedan that will be reliable and comfortable transportation twelve months a year, and also make the neighbors jealous when you pull into your driveway.
Here’s our look at the 10 best all-wheel drive sedans for 2017.
1. Audi A4
Audi has one of the best selections of all-wheel drive sedans, all featuring its Quattro AWD system, but we’ve decided to go with the entry-level A4. This mid-size vehicle is nowhere the automaker’s most expensive offering; that would be the sizzling-hot RS 7 AWD sports sedan with 560 horsepower and a twin-turbo V8, which sells for an equally sizzling $108,900. But the A4 offers plenty of luxury and strong performance along with its all-wheel drive, and you can pick one up for just under $35,000.
You won’t be sacrificing much at that price. The Audi A4 has a 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that pushes 220 hp while getting up to 23 city/35 highway depending on transmission (six speed manual, variable automatic or eight-speed automatic). All that, plus leather seats, auto climate control and a full-featured entertainment system – it’s almost enough to make you wish you were stuck in the snow for a little while so you could fully enjoy the experience. The Audi AWD is the top under-$35,000 choice at one of the most reputable automotive resources, Edmunds.com, and it’s easy to understand why.
2. BMW 320i xDrive
You can get BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system on all three models in the automaker’s 3 Series, the 320i, 328i and 335i, simply by adding the “all-weather security” package to the car for about $2,000. We’ve chosen the 320i xDrive for our list of best AWD sedans because it’s the least expensive of the three, at around $35,000 total. You’ll have to pay an extra ten grand for the 335i.
One of the great things about xDrive is that in normal conditions, most of the engine’s power goes to the rear wheels for the sporty feel and handling you’d expect in a BMW. In bad weather, though, the intelligent AWD system quickly shifts torque to any wheels (front or back) which begin to spin unexpectedly. You can get 180 hp from the 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine (if you want more oomph, the 340i will move you up to a 3.0 liter turbo six), with 23/35 mileage numbers and lots of trademark BMW luxury.
3. Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4MATIC
When talking luxury German automobiles we certainly can’t avoid bringing up Mercedes, which has expanded the number of models which can be fitted with its 4MATIC all-wheel drive option. The CLA250 is the least-expensive of those models, and is a great option for those who want Mercedes quality in a smaller AWD vehicle – without spending a fortune. This entry-level model looks more like a coupe than a sedan, and is priced at just $34,000 (without options). If you don’t mind a small back seat, and 2.0 liter 4-cylinder performance that won’t fully measure up to that of higher-level Mercedes-Benz models, this is a great way to get both AWD and a Mercedes hood emblem for less than 35K.
We can’t end the Mercedes discussion until we mention the AMG E63 S which is not only the best sports AWD sedan available, but also the fastest AWD sedan you’ll find, thanks to its twin-turbo V8 which is hand-assembled and will push 577 hp and an incredible 590 lb-ft of torque. You get every feature you can imagine, options galore – and all for just $101,577.
4. Volvo S60 T5
Now we move north from Germany to Sweden, where we find the less-flashy but solid and safe Volvo S60 four-wheel drive sedan. Once again, we’re selecting the least-expensive model, the T5, which costs a little over $35,000 (before options) but comes with Volvo’s often-heralded safety features like automatic braking and advanced stability control, plus more style than you might expect in a S60 if you only remember the models from ten or even five years ago; the T5 is actually billed as an AWD sports sedan.
You’ll get good performance from the 250 hp turbo five (and decent gas mileage at 19/28), although you can also select a 325 hp turbo inline six for an extra cost if you want more get-up-and-go. Either way, you’ll not only be all set in bad weather, but you’ll be as safe as you could be in any sedan on the road.
5. Chrysler 300
“Aren’t there any American-made all-wheel sedans on the list?” we hear you ask. Absolutely, but we’ll start with one that may push your budget a bit. People usually have definite opinions – positive or negative – about the look of the Chrysler 300, but what’s not up for discussion is that it’s an excellent full-sized sedan with more power than you might expect.
The 300 comes standard with a 3.6 liter V-6 and an eight-speed automatic transmission, which can push 300 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, and you can upgrade to a Hemi V-8 for extra bucks. This car is seriously powerful, but is still relatively gas-efficient (18/27); it’s also expensive at $38,500, but the best of the bunch if you want to buy American.
6. Ford Fusion SE
It’s taken us a while to get here, but here’s a very good AWD sedan under $30,000. The mid-sized Ford Fusion won’t wow you with its specs when compared to some of the luxury or sports models we’ve looked at, but the all-wheel version of Ford’s best-selling model may surprise you with its power, performance and standard features.
Fusion AWD models come with a standard 141 hp 2.0 liter four-cylinder with EcoBoost, giving you good pickup combined with 22 city/31 highway gas mileage. In the past, you had to upgrade to the Titanium model and pay more than 30K in order to get all-wheel drive on a Fusion. But it’s now available on the SE model, giving you the option of a strong AWD sedan that’s more affordable than most all-wheel drive choices. Of course, if you want to spend a little more, you can; the Ford Fusion Sport is new for 2017 with updated styling, 325 horses and 350 lb-ft of torque for around 35K.
7. Infiniti Q50
Another great AWD sports sedan, the Q50 features optional all-wheel drive on all three of its models, base, premium and sport. If you don’t need the prestige of a BMW this may be where you want to look, as the performance of the Q50 matches well against the top-of-the-line BMW 335i xDrive at a much lower price point, around $40,000.
Infiniti’s AWD sedan features a 2.0 liter direct-injection turbo four-cylinder with a seven-speed automatic kicking out 280 hp with 258 lb-ft of torque, numbers that may not be mindblowing but are actually a little better than the 335i’s. There’s new digital adaptive steering for a better road feel and a new digital suspension system for comfort, backup collision intervention and lane assist, and the Q50 is well-equipped even without extra options packages.
8. Subaru Impreza
You won’t find many compact sedans available with all-wheel drive, which means the Impreza is your best bet if you want something small and affordable that is still one of the best AWD sedans on the market. It’s not going to knock you out with its power or performance, but it more than does the trick when it comes to great mileage and reliable performance – and it’s an AWD sedan under $30,000, a relative rarity.
The Impreza AWD comes standard with a 2.0 liter engine that maxes out at 148 hp, and will get you 28 mpg in the city, 37 on the highway. This is a roomy compact sedan with a comfortable ride, it handles well, and it’s the least expensive AWD sedan on our list, in the mid-$20,000 range well-equipped. Don’t expect to gets lots of “oohs” and “ahhs” when you pull up in this car – but if it’s snowy or messy out, expect to get there without a problem.
9. Ford Taurus SHO
Ford has done more with AWD technology in its sedans than any other U.S. carmaker, and the Taurus SHO does an admirable job of adding it to a family-sized car with impressive power. Taurus and power? You bet – the SHO may be full-sized, but it acts more like it’s got a sports personality inside.
This all-wheel drive model features a 3.5 liter twin-turbo Ecoboost engine, which can hit 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque while still giving you decent gas mileage of 17 city/25 highway. Not a bad combination. It’ll run you a little north of $40,000, probably more than you’d ever anticipate paying paying for a Taurus, but this car offers more than you’d probably anticipate in a Taurus.
10. Lexus IS 350
We considered several candidates for the last spot on our list of the top 10 best all wheel drive sedans for 2017, including the Buick Regal, Dodge Charger, Acura TLX and Ford Taurus. But we settled on the IS 350 because of its comfort and the long Lexus history of reliability.
This car isn’t shy, with a 3.5 liter V-6 pushing 306 hp with a six-speed automatic, and you’ll get decent fuel economy of 19/26. But the IS 350 AWD combines the luxurious experience of driving a Lexus, with the reassurance that your $40,000 ride won’t be stuck in a snow drift when the weather gets bad.