It used to be that you could only find four-wheel drive on trucks, but then automakers figured out that practically any vehicle can benefit from the application of some kind of four-wheel drive technology. Today, there are dozens of vehicles with available all-wheel drive, from sports cars to full-size SUVs and everything in between. All-wheel drive systems can greatly improve drivability in slippery conditions, but drivers find some of them to be better than others. Here are the top five AWD vehicles you should look for if you’re looking for something to get you safely through this winter and the next.
True, all Subaru are AWD, but Subaru Outback, Subaru Crosstrek, and Subaru Forester owners love how their wagons handle the snow. With Subaru’s award-winning symmetrical all-wheel drive, many drivers don’t even bother changing over to snow tires. Even better is the lightweight and convenient package it comes on, because these three wagons offer all the economy and comfort of driving a sedan with the capacity of a small SUV.
Less-known for utility than for sporty luxury, the Audi Q5 sports sedan offers exceptional handling with its sport-tuned AWD system. The modern interior favors the driver and front passenger, with high-tech infotainment and roomy front seats, while the rear seats and trunk are decidedly less so. Still, when the roads get slushy, what better way to enjoy a secure and quiet ride?
Definitely unspoken-of in fuel economy discussions, Chevrolet/GMC brings up the middle with its full-size SUVs, including the Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban, and GMC Yukon. They could never be considered commuters, but are nearly unparalleled in the snow, with robust AWD systems, big footprints, and the weight to hold down those footprints. Truck-based SUVs usually ride like trucks, but spring for an adaptive suspension system to calm things down a bit and you can still tow up to 8,500 pounds.
Practically no other brand is as well-known for off-road prowess, which typically translates to exceptional handling in snow, and Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Grand Cherokee do not disappoint when it comes to the slippery stuff. Wrangler definitely has the “cool” factor in spades, though some may balk at the noise and handling. Those looking for quiet and comfortable probably want to look at the Grand Cherokee, though both are available with pretty nice equipment packages.
This is the only part-time four-wheel drive vehicle to make it to the list, Toyota’s 4Runner. With a long history of 4×4 technology behind it, the 4Runner delivers great snow traction and getting “stuck” is probably nigh-impossible. Tragically, ride quality puts many off of this truck-based SUV, but the Limited edition offers slightly less roll.
Of course, there are a number of other AWD and 4WD vehicles on the market, but drivers really love these vehicles. On the other hand, there are a handful of vehicles that owners decidedly do not like to drive in the snow, the bottom of the list occupied by Nissan Juke, Nissan Rogue, and Nissan Pathfinder, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sorento, and the Mazda CX-5 and Mazda CX-9.Tags: top awd