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Top 10 AWD Sedans

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If you’re shopping for a new car, check out this list of the top 10 AWD sedans that offer up a strong combination of performance and value.

When Sending Power to Two Wheels Isn’t Enough

Sedans were once a mostly rear-wheel drive (RWD) breed, touted for their superior load transfer under acceleration and more balanced handling in the bendy bits. Over the years, those driven wheels have increasingly been up front under the auspices of tidier packaging and better fuel efficiency. Lately, all-wheel drive (AWD) sedans have been popping up across the board thanks to slick technologies that offer improved performance and efficiency along with the safety benefits of all four wheels under power. Let’s look at the top 10 AWD sedans offering the best combination of performance and value.

Acura TLX

2021 Acura TLX - acura.com
2021 Acura TLX - acura.com

The Acura TLX makes this list thanks to its value when compared to German competitors, but also because of the Super Handling-AWD (SH-AWD) system’s technological prowess. (Brownie points are also given here for best AWD name). On the value front, TLX buyers can expect to save more than $10,000 versus a similarly equipped BMW 530i xDrive, for a comparable level of luxury amenities. Performance-wise, SH-AWD will run 90% of the power to the front wheels during straight line driving while shifting it to 45% rear wheel power under hard acceleration. Add in torque vectoring capability across the rear axles and the Acura TLX easily earns a top 10 AWD sedan spot.

Mazda3

2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo - mazdausa.com
2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo - mazdausa.com

Mazda is part of the AWD sedan discussion with their compact sized, and newly turbocharged, Mazda3 running the i-Activ AWD system. Though you are going to pay more than a competitive Honda Civic, Mazda appears to be targeting would-be Audi buyers with the upscale appointments available in 2.5 Turbo trim. Speaking of that turbo, this new motor cranks out 250 horses and 320 lb-ft of torque which should get the blood pumping. Unfortunately, the 6-speed manual is not available in AWD configuration but such is the price of progress.

Audi S8

2021 Audi S8 - audiusa.com
2021 Audi S8 - audiusa.com

Audi is well known for their Quattro AWD model-wide platform, so they’re always in the AWD sedan conversation. But for fans of Ronin, or just the best in understated excellence, an Audi S8 is the vehicle of choice. These days, the S8 is packing a 563 horse, twin-turbo beast of a V8 mated with the aforementioned Quattro AWD plus a torque-vectoring rear differential AND rear-wheel steering – giving new meaning to all-wheel drive. Granted, this biggest of Audi sedans is priced deep into six-figures but within its circle of competitors you’ll struggle to find an equal.

Alfa Romeo Giulia

2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia - alfaromeousa.com
2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia - alfaromeousa.com

The only Italian on this list, Alfa Romeo’s Giulia sedan offers fresh styling, acclaimed handling and the option of AWD. Opting for Sprint level trim with AWD, the MSRP on this Giulia starts at $41,450 for 2021, which is right in line with a C300 4MATIC Benz. But thanks to the Giulia’s relative newness on American shores, you won’t be driving around in a sea of sameness. The Giulia is normally running power through the rear wheels while the Q4 AWD system adds power to the front wheels as necessary, in real-time. Combining this with its near 50/50 weight distribution means you get all the benefits of RWD handling with the extra sense of security an AWD sedan brings to the table.

Subaru WRX

2020 Subaru WRX STi - subaru.com
2020 Subaru WRX STi - subaru.com

No AWD sedan comparison would be complete without the Subaru WRX and its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system. Subaru has been honing their AWD vehicles for decades and the WRX gives you the option to play rally-hero hoon to boot. You’ll also be working with Subaru’s Active Torque Vectoring tech, which can focus on individual wheels to improve steering feel and raise handling limits. Combine that with the sub-$30K starting price, standard 6-speed manual and 268 horse turbo-4, and you’ll be a rally-hero indeed.

Volvo S90

2021 Volvo S90 hybrid - volvocars.com
2021 Volvo S90 hybrid - volvocars.com

Volvo has quietly gone from delivering basic boxes to Scandinavian stunners, just look at the S90 sedan. Touches like a Bowers & Wilkins audio system and Orrefors crystal gear shifter put the Volvo S90 squarely in the high-end luxury crosshairs. Stepping up to the T8 eAWD trim brings a mildly hybridized four cylinder that, thanks to turbo- AND supercharging, punches out 400 horses and a claimed 4.8 second sprint to 60 mph. That’s a performance and value equation you can get behind in an AWD sedan.

Mercedes-Benz A220

2021 Mercedes-Benz A220 - mbusa.com
2021 Mercedes-Benz A220 - mbusa.com

As the smallest member of Mercedes’ sedan family, the A220 represents a solid steppingstone into the MB luxury lineup. The 4MATIC AWD system on the midlevel A220 monitors conditions in real-time and can instantly send up to 50% of available torque to the rear wheels for an assist in slippery conditions. As well, this AWD A-class comes with standard luxury features like a panoramic sunroof and LED lighting for around $36,000. Anyone looking for an AWD sedan with luxury cachet would be remiss to not start here.

Genesis G70

2021 Genesis G70 - genesis.com
2021 Genesis G70 - genesis.com

If you’re looking to step outside the pack of usual suspect sport sedans, check out a twin-turbo AWD G70 from upstart lux-brand Genesis. Designed as a RWD platform, the addition of AWD with available torque vectoring control, quickly elevates the handling prowess of this sharp looking 4-door. A fire-breathing 365 horse V6 doesn’t hurt either. The value proposition of the G70 AWD sedan is in knowing you’ll be driving the only one in your neighborhood.

Cadillac CT5

2021 Cadillac CT5 - cadillac.com
2021 Cadillac CT5 - cadillac.com

Thanks to continuous refinement of their Art & Science design language, no one will mistake the CT5 for your father’s Cadillac. Classic RWD proportions are complemented by distinctive vertical blade-style headlights and a muscular stance. Conveniently, AWD is available on all trim levels from the base Luxury model to the V-Series with its 335-horsepower twin-turbo V6. Price starts around $37,000 and can move past 50 large on a loaded model, giving buyers a wide variety of AWD sedan options depending on their definition of value.

Porsche Taycan Turbo S

2021 Porsche Taycan Tubro S - porsche.com
2021 Porsche Taycan Tubro S - porsche.com

Ok, yes, the Turbo S Taycan easily jumps the $200,000 figure, but that is mostly because of the $5,000 “Deviated Stitching Interior Package”. The value of the Porsche Taycan lies in how simply awesome it is. Check the Turbo S box for a fully electric, AWD road-rocket, dialing up 750 hp in Overboost mode and an alleged 2.6 second blast to 60 – that’s officially FAST. Instantaneous torque meets AWD, torque vectoring and four-wheel steering to create a wild and wooly beast that belongs on any “Top AWD Sedan” list.

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Niel Stender

Niel got his start in the car world as a vehicle dynamics engineer with SVT at Ford. He still has dreams of running figure eights on the wet pad in an S197 GT500. These days, when not fending off karate kicks from the 3 tiny humans that run his household, he can be found on St. Louis backroads pretending to be Ken Block in his 6-speed Mazda 6.

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