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Published February 29, 2024

The best all-wheel drive cars you can buy

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Nissan Rogue

The quest for the perfect all-wheel drive (AWD) car is a journey marked by a commitment to traction, handling, and the sheer joy of driving. AWD technology has steadily evolved over the years, becoming a coveted feature that enhances performance across various terrains and weather conditions.

This article is your comprehensive guide to some of the finest AWD vehicles available. We’re covering sedans, SUVs, and trucks, and highlighting some budget-friendly options as well. From top-rated AWD systems to the latest and greatest safety features, we explore the criteria that define excellence in AWD automobiles.

Join us as we take on the AWD landscape, unveiling some standout features, expert insights, and valuable tips that will empower you to make an informed decision on your next automotive investment.

Everything you need to know about all-wheel drive (AWD)

All-wheel drive (AWD) is a vehicle propulsion system that powers all four wheels simultaneously. This enhances traction, vehicle stability, and driving control in all conditions. The significance of AWD lies in its ability to improve vehicle performance even in the most treacherous road conditions. By distributing power to all four wheels, AWD provides superior grip and reduces the likelihood of wheel slippage on slick surfaces.

Often confused with four-wheel drive (4WD), AWD is different in a couple of key ways. While 4WD is typically manually engaged and designed specifically for off-road use, AWD operates automatically, adjusting power distribution between the front and rear wheels as needed. AWD is more common in everyday vehicles, providing a seamless transition between different driving scenarios without driver intervention.

AWD systems come in various types, and each caters to a specific driving situation or preference. Symmetrical AWD, for instance, is commonly found in many Subaru vehicles. It evenly distributes power to all wheels, enhancing stability and traction.

On-demand or “part-time” AWD systems, like those found in crossover SUVs, activate the rear wheels only when additional traction is required. Furthermore, torque vectoring AWD intelligently distributes power to individual wheels, further optimizing performance during cornering.

In short, AWD is a versatile system that automatically adjusts power to all wheels to improve a vehicle’s performance in diverse driving conditions. The comparison with 4WD and different AWD types showcases its adaptability and the widespread application of this technology. But what’s the best AWD car on the market?

The best AWD sedans

A dependable AWD sedan combines advanced AWD technology with a robust design that provides excellent traction and driving stability. Key attributes include a well-rated AWD system, ensuring optimal power distribution, and a focus on other useful safety features. Ground clearance also has an impact on how well your vehicle performs on various terrain types.

Reliable all-wheel drive sedans also feel good to drive. The EchoPark selection of AWD sedans encompasses these qualities, providing customers with dependable options that prioritize safety, performance, and adaptability.

Subaru Legacy

Subaru Legacy
Subaru Legacy

The Subaru Legacy stands out as a reliable and safe sedan that emphasizes Subaru’s commitment to performance in diverse driving conditions. With a top-rated AWD system, advanced safety amenities, and compatibility with rain/snow tires, the Legacy provides drivers with a confident and secure driving experience.

  • AWD system configuration – The Subaru Legacy boasts a highly acclaimed symmetrical AWD system. This contributes to optimum power distribution and enhanced handling capabilities.

  • Overall safety features – Like most Subaru models, the Legacy is equipped with a comprehensive suite of safety features. Standard features generally include adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and pre-collision braking.

  • Ground clearance – The Subaru Legacy offers commendable ground clearance when compared to other popular sedans. At 5.9 inches, this elevated clearance enhances the car’s capability to navigate disparate terrains and weather conditions.

  • Rain/snow tire compatibility – The Legacy is well suited for rain and snowy conditions. Its robust AWD system, when combined with appropriate tires, will ensure a reliable grip on slippery surfaces.

Whether you’re facing challenging weather or navigating through varied terrains, the Subaru Legacy’s design and features contribute to its reputation as one of the most reliable AWD cars.



The Mazda3 is an eye-catching sedan designed for safe, family transportation and features a spacious, impeccably-designed interior. Its handling is responsive but stable. It also offers a quieter and smoother ride than previous models. Overall, the Mazda3 is considered a top-of-the-line sedan for its elegant design, distinctive style, and robust safety features.

  • AWD system configuration – The Mazda3 relies on an evolution of Mazda’s all-wheel-drive system that they’ve used in their CX models. It relies on sensors throughout the vehicle to determine exactly how much torque to use on each tire in order to ensure a safe and responsive driving experience. On the Mazda3, they have introduced their G-Vectoring Control (GVC) system that improves handling and ensures a smoother ride in all kinds of conditions.

  • Overall safety features – When it comes to safety features, it’s hard to beat the Mazda3. Sensors all around the vehicle whenever the vehicle is moving. Alerts that are both audible and visual can be activated for parking, rear crossing, traffic, and smart braking. Automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and active lane control are all features that ensure you have a safe and enjoyable ride. The Mazda3 also includes a driver-attention monitoring system that can be used to monitor the driver’s face for signs of fatigue. In the event fatigue is detected, alerts will go off to warn the driver to rest before continuing on.

  • Ground clearance – The Mazda3 offers 5.5 inches of ground clearance, giving it a trim appearance while making it extremely easy and comfortable to enter and exit.

  • Rain/snow tire compatibility – The Mazda3’s wheels are fully compatible with the latest and greatest in rain/snow tires, giving you the full range of options available. The Mazda3’s innovative safety features and powerful AWD system configuration make it an excellent choice for wherever you’re going.

If you want a relaxing vehicle with an attractive interior and the latest and greatest in safety technology, look no further than the Mazda3.

Volvo S60

Volvo S60
Volvo S60

The Volvo S60 is one of the best, most luxurious, and safety-centric sedans in its class. With its advanced AWD system and comprehensive safety features, the S60 offers drivers a comfortable, carefree ride. Its elegant design and practical ground clearance make it a great choice for daily commuting and long-distance travel alike.

  • AWD system configuration – The Volvo S60 is now available with an AWD system that enhances vehicle traction and stability while driving. Volvo’s AWD technology ensures confident performance in changing driving conditions, delivering a smooth and controlled ride.

  • Overall safety features – Safety is a core component of what attracts buyers to Volvos, and the S60 has a range of features to back this up. It’s equipped with Volvo’s IntelliSafe suite of features. Notable safety technologies include City Safety collision avoidance, lane-keeping aid, and road sign identification.

  • Ground clearance – The S60 maintains a balance between sleek design and practical performance. 5.6 inches may not seem like much, but it’s enough to ensure smooth handling while providing utility for everyday driving.

  • Rain/snow tire compatibility – When paired with Volvo’s AWD system, the S60 is compatible with specialized rain/snow tires for improved traction in adverse weather driving conditions.

For those seeking safety and luxury in an attractive, capable vehicle—look no further than the Volvo S60.

Exploring the best AWD SUVs

SUVs with AWD provide enhanced traction and stability, making them ideal vehicles for diverse driving conditions. The AWD system optimizes power distribution to all wheels, improving control on slippery surfaces and challenging terrains. This capability ensures a safer, more confident driving experience behind the wheel.

Buick Encore

Buick Encore
Buick Encore

The Buick Encore stands out as a compact SUV with a focus on comfort, style, and adaptability. Its optional AWD system, coupled with a range of cutting-edge safety features, ensures a secure driving experience. The balanced design, which features practical ground clearance, makes the Encore suitable for both urban commuting and light off-road adventuring.

  • AWD system configuration – The Buick Encore is available with an intelligent AWD system that provides greater stability and driving control. This makes for a much more relaxed and responsive drive.

  • Overall safety features – The Encore is equipped with an impressive range of safety features, including advanced driver-assistance systems. Standard safety features usually include a forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and a helpful rear view camera.

  • Ground clearance – Without sacrificing safety or design, the Encore’s moderate ground clearance provides welcome versatility. While 6.2 inches of clearance is a bit less than other compact SUVs, it can still handle a bit of light off-roading.

  • Rain/snow tire compatibility – With the availability of AWD, the Buick Encore can be equipped with rain or snow tires for improved traction in inclement weather conditions.

Additionally, the Buick Encore’s AWD system is designed to seamlessly adapt to changing road conditions to provide optimal traction when it’s most needed. Its compact size and nimble handling make it a great choice for commuters, while the AWD capacity adds peace of mind.

With a stylish and modern exterior coupled with a comfortable interior, the Encore emerges as an appealing choice for those in search of a reliable AWD-equipped compact SUV.

Kia Telluride

Kia Telluride
Kia Telluride

The Kia Telluride is another standout option in the SUV market, offering a combination of advanced AWD capabilities and a strong focus on safety. The well-rated optional AWD system ensures confidence in handling, while the extensive safety features keep drivers and passengers safe and secure.

  • AWD system configuration – The Kia Telluride features a highly-rated AWD system that optimizes power distribution to the wheels no matter what the driving conditions are like.

  • Overall safety features – Safety takes center stage in the Telluride. It’s equipped with a stunning array of the latest safety features. Kia’s commitment to safety includes features like blind-spot monitoring, forward collision avoidance, and smart cruise control.

  • Ground clearance – The Telluride boasts substantial ground clearance at 8.4 inches. This enhances its ability to navigate uneven terrain while maintaining a smooth, comfortable ride.

  • Rain/snow tire compatibility – Yes, the Telluride can be fitted with rain/snow tires for improved traction in changing seasons.

Its robust ground clearance, paired with the option for specialized tires, positions the Telluride as a versatile, capable SUV. With the Kia Telluride, you’re ready to tackle a range of driving scenarios with comfort and assurance.

Conquering treacherous roads and off-road conditions with AWD hatchbacks

When you think of a hatchback or a pickup truck, AWD might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Indeed, most modern pickup models have a wide range of drivetrain options. Traditionally, trucks have favored the rugged capability of 4WD, ideal for off-road adventures and challenging terrain. Hatchbacks, however, are a different story.

There are several hatchback models that have embraced the versatility of AWD. These hatchbacks offer a unique combination of practicality and performance, which makes them appealing to a wider range of drivers. With AWD capabilities, they excel in handling various road conditions, from city streets to rocky terrains.

As a result, these models stand out in the hatchback market, catering to consumers looking for agility and reliability in their vehicles.

Subaru Impreza hatchback (5-door)

Subaru Impreza hatchback
Subaru Impreza hatchback

The Subaru Impreza 5-door can be a versatile and attractive option in the hatchback segment. Its Symmetrical AWD system provides optimal traction and handling stability. This is complemented by advanced safety features for added peace of mind on the road. With decent ground clearance and flexibility regarding weather-specific tires, the Impreza can tackle just about anything.

  • AWD system configuration – The Subaru Impreza features Subaru’s signature Symmetrical AWD system. This provides incredible grip and handling to ensure confident performance in even the most precarious road conditions.

  • Overall safety features – Sensible safety considerations are a key component of the Subaru lineup, and the Impreza is no exception. In addition to Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, the Impreza also boasts pre-collision braking, lane departure and sway warning, and adaptive cruise control as well.

  • Ground clearance – The Impreza offers commendable ground clearance for its class. At 5.1 inches, it offers balance and is more suitable for light off-road adventures.

  • Rain/snow tire compatibility – Like other similar-sized hatchbacks, the Impreza can be equipped with rain or snow tires for improved traction in these conditions. This adaptability makes the Impreza a reliable choice in various climates.

The Subaru Impreza (5-door) offers both urban convenience and off-road compatibility.

Audi A5 Sportback

Audi A5 Sportback
Audi A5 Sportback

The Audi A5 epitomizes sophistication and performance in the hatchback class. Indeed, the A5 Sportback can hold its own against most other contenders. With Audi’s Quattro AWD system and advanced safety features, drivers can enjoy a secure yet exhilarating driving experience. The Sportback’s slender design and sporty handling make it a fun, adaptable vehicle that can handle city streets and meandering back roads.

  • AWD system configuration – The Audi A5 Sportback comes equipped with Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel drive system. Quattro technology ensures exceptional traction and handling, inspiring confidence to handle any road surface.

  • Overall safety features – There are dozens of useful safety features the A5 Sportback offers. Notable safety features include adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency braking.

  • Ground clearance – If the Sportback had any downsides, ground clearance is likely one of the only few. At around 5 inches (give or take, depending on other trim options), it’s enough to handle most roads and a little light off-roading.

  • Rain/snow tire compatibility – The adaptable nature of the Audi A5 Sportback extends to whichever tire you need. This ensures reliable performance in varying weather conditions.

With style and performance, the Audi A5 Sportback is a dream of a hatchback. This reliable ride can comfortably get you from A to B and anywhere outside or in between. And with brand recognition like Audi’s, drivers can rest assured knowing they’re getting a great deal and a vehicle that can handle whatever life throws at them.

Best AWD cars under $25K

When shopping for the best AWD used car, there are a couple of key things to keep in mind. First and foremost, evaluate the AWD system’s performance and reliability to ensure it meets your expectations for traction.

Check the vehicle’s safety features to identify essentials like ABS, stability control, and advanced driver-assistance systems. Additionally, assess the overall condition of the vehicle, including its mileage, maintenance records, and any signs of wear. EchoPark’s robust 190-point inspection offers buyers peace of mind when shopping for a pre-owned vehicle.

It’s also important to consider the cost of ownership, which includes maintenance and potential repairs. By thoroughly examining these and other factors, buyers can find a reliable and budget-friendly AWD vehicle that meets their needs for safety, performance, and practicality.

Nissan Rogue

Nissan Rogue
Nissan Rogue

The Nissan Rogue is a hugely popular—and affordable—compact SUV. It combines modern features with numerous practical design elements. Its intelligent AWD system ensures a secure and responsive drive that’s complemented by a suite of safety features.

  • AWD system configuration – With an advanced intelligent AWD system, drivers have the ultimate control even when road conditions are in flux. This provides added stability and peace of mind on the road.

  • Overall safety features – Safety takes precedence in the Rogue, featuring Nissan’s suite of safety technologies like ProPILOT Assist. Advanced safety features include automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, and rear cross-traffic alert.

  • Ground clearance – The Rogue might look smaller compared to other compact SUVs, but its comparative ground clearance is mighty. At 8.2 inches, there’s a lot to love and more wiggle room if you plan on doing a little off-roading.

  • Rain/snow tire compatibility – With the availability of AWD, the Rogue drives admirably with rain or snow tires equipped. This adaptability ensures reliable traction, making the Rogue well-suited for diverse climates and terrains.

Hyundai Kona

Hyundai Kona
Hyundai Kona

The Hyundai Kona is a dynamic and versatile crossover that offers optional AWD for enhanced performance. Its safety-centric design, coupled with Hyundai SmartSense features, provides a secure driving experience.

  • AWD system configuration – The Hyundai Kona offers an available AWD system for enhanced traction control. With AWD, drivers can navigate with confidence, even in challenging road conditions.

  • Overall safety features – Safety is paramount in the Kona. Equipped with the Hyundai SmartSense safety suite, advanced features include forward collision-avoidance assist, lane-keeping assist, and driver attention warning.

  • Ground clearance – At 6.7 inches, the Kona’s compact design is complemented by a ground clearance that’s suitable for urban and light off-road adventures.

  • Rain/snow tire compatibility – When fitted with weather-appropriate tires, the Kona’s AWD drivetrain provides remarkable traction in slick conditions. Drivers can maintain control and confidence even in challenging weather.

Drivers love the Kona because it’s a reliable choice that perfectly blends style, safety, and adaptability. If you’re in search of an affordable, capable crossover, the Hyundai Kona might be the ride for you.

AWD expertise at EchoPark

EchoPark Automotive is a bastion of expertise within the used-car market, offering a unique blend of value, variety, and automotive acumen. With a deep understanding of vehicle features, EchoPark ensures that each car, including those equipped with AWD, undergoes a thorough inspection and assessment. EchoPark’s unwavering commitment to quality extends to its comprehensive understanding of AWD systems, ensuring our vehicles meet high standards for performance, safety, and reliability.

EchoPark’s inventory showcases a diverse range of popular vehicles, providing customers with an extensive selection of AWD options. From compact sedans to mid-sized SUVs and everything in between; you’re sure to find a vehicle you love at an EchoPark location.

EchoPark prides itself on offering great value. The variety of models, coupled with the reliability of EchoPark’s selection, caters to diverse buyer preferences and budgets. Through transparent pricing and a customer-centric approach, EchoPark ensures that every vehicle purchase is a joyful experience.

Moreover, EchoPark’s commitment to excellence extends beyond the sale. With a focus on post-purchase satisfaction, the reliability of our vehicles is reinforced by a strong warranty program and a dedication to quality customer service. EchoPark’s unique position in the used car market emphasizes not only affordability and variety but also strives to ensure customers drive away with confidence in their purchase.

Additional tips regarding the best AWD vehicles

Maintaining your all-wheel drive vehicle is critical for optimum performance and longevity. Regularly inspect and rotate tires to ensure even wear, thus preserving the balance of the AWD system. Frequent fluid checks, particularly for the transfer case and differentials, are essential to keep components well-lubricated.

Expert insights on evolving AWD technology highlight steady advancements with some newer models employing predictive systems that adapt to driving conditions before slippage occurs. Electronic control systems are becoming increasingly more sophisticated, enhancing driving efficiency and responsiveness.

For comprehensive information and expert advice on AWD maintenance and technology trends, EchoPark’s blog, the Inside Track, is a valuable resource. EchoPark curates reliable tips for vehicle care while also diving into the evolving landscape of automotive trends and technology. Whether it’s understanding the latest auto gadgets or receiving practical maintenance advice, EchoPark’s blog serves as a go-to destination for an informed driving and car-buying experience.

Check out the EchoPark blog for in-depth insights and additional guidance to navigate the evolving world of AWD technology and maintenance practices. Learn more about how you can keep your AWD vehicle in peak operating condition.

Navigating the roads ahead with EchoPark’s expertise

We hope our exploration of the best all-wheel drive cars, SUVs, and trucks has highlighted the importance of superior AWD systems. Whether you are in search of a dependable everyday driving vehicle, a rugged SUV, or a robust crossover—the key lies in finding a vehicle that seamlessly integrates performance, safety, and adaptability.

EchoPark emerges as your ultimate destination for quality and used AWD vehicles. With an array of options that meet the highest standards, we have something for everyone.

Your car-buying journey is about more than just finding the right ride—it’s about discovering joy in every mile. We invite you to explore EchoPark’s extensive selection, where expertise, value, and variety converge.

Trust EchoPark to guide you toward the perfect AWD vehicle that aligns with your needs and preferences, ensuring every drive is an adventure filled with confidence and satisfaction. Find a location near you to begin your journey today.

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