Best cars with AWD

Want four-wheel-drive, but don't fancy a big SUV? We have you covered with eight all-wheel-drive cars - from city cars to hot hatchbacks

Matt Rigby
Sep 30, 2021

Four-wheel-drive is a great way to improve the grip your car generates in slippery conditions, whether it’s snowy, icy roads, muddy fields, or simply wet country roads. You don’t have to buy an off-roader to enjoy 4x4 security, either; there are family hatchbacks, hot hatches, estate cars, and even superminis that offer the option of four-wheel-drive.

Do be aware that there are certain disadvantages with four-wheel-drive hardware, however. The extra mechanical parts needed to drive the rear wheels can eat into boot space and passenger space, while the extra friction and weight of those moving parts tend to mean that AWD cars do sacrifice a little fuel economy compared with similar two-wheel-drive cars.

Best cars with all-wheel drive

1. Fiat Panda Cross

Best AWD car for the city

Used deals Limited stock

City cars and four-wheel drive aren’t the most common bedfellows, but the chunky little Panda Cross 4x4 bucks the trend. Not only is it tiny, but it has a full four-wheel-drive system under the skin.

With tough-looking 4x4 styling cues, it looks like it’s ready to off-road. And unlike many small SUVs, it can actually back up those looks with surprisingly impressive off-road ability.

FIAT PANDA BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Subaru XV

Best AWD crossover

Used deals Limited stock

There are more economical crossover SUVs out there, there are ones that are more lavishly appointed, and there are ones with a more upmarket feel. But if you’re after a compact SUV with four-wheel-drive - which isn't that common in cars of this size - that you can genuinely rely on come rain, shine, snow, or mud, then a Subaru XV is a fine choice.

Just as with many other crossovers, it looks like little more than a toughened-up family hatchback. Unlike most crossovers, though, this one has real full-time four-wheel-drive capability. Being a Subaru it should prove faithfully reliable whatever you throw at it - there’s a reason that many farmers and other country folk swear by their Subarus.

3. Dacia Duster

Best AWD car for value

Used deals from £8,999
Monthly finance from £171*

With most bargain car brands having gone upmarket (think Kia, Hyundai, and Skoda), there’s not much choice out there these days for the genuine bargain hunter, unless you fancy an MG. There is Dacia, though.

Dacia is responsible for selling the cheapest brand new car in the UK - the Sandero. And although the larger and more rugged Duster SUV, is a little more expensive, it still represents astonishingly good value, whether you’re buying new or used.

DACIA DUSTER BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Skoda Octavia Estate vRS 4x4

Best AWD car for practical performance

Used deals Limited stock

How do you find a car with a good balance between space for all the family, all-weather capability on slippery surfaces, fuel efficiency, and driving fun? Well, you’d better ask Skoda, because they’ve found it with the 4x4 diesel version of the Octavia vRS.

It’s economical, spacious, fun to drive and the all-wheel-drive version has all the grip you need on less-than-brilliant surfaces. A winner all round, really, making it a top family car choice.

2013-2020 SKODA OCTAVIA ESTATE BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Suzuki Swift

Best AWD supermini

Used deals from £8,000
Monthly finance from £156*

We’re going to be perfectly honest here - most supermini drivers don’t really need four-wheel-drive. It’s not normally crucial for a quick zip up the bypass to Asda. On the other hand, there are people - particularly residents of more rural communities or those who live in mountainous areas - for whom local road surfaces get wet, muddy, snowy, and generally sketchy on a regular basis.

These people might not want a full-on off-roader SUV, but there are many reasons for them to want a four-wheel-drive car. And the cute little Suzuki Swift is pretty much unique among conventional superminis in offering just that: the added security of four-wheel-drive without the fuss and extra cost of a full-on SUV.

SUZUKI SWIFT BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Tesla Model 3

Best AWD electric car

Used deals Limited stock

Not all Model 3s get all-wheel-drive. In fact, only the top-spec Long Range and Performance models with their dual motors (one working on the front axle and one working on the rear) get the traction and security of four-wheel-drive.

But if you want an AWD electric car with a decent range that has all the latest self-driving technology and offers plenty of interior space, then a Tesla Model 3 is an excellent option. Especially if you don’t have the budget to stretch to an electric SUV such as the Mercedes EQC.

7. Volkswagen Golf R

Best AWD car for driving fun

Used deals from £17,271
Monthly finance from £307*

As well as providing general driving security in slippery conditions, four-wheel-drive can also make for a car that’s fun to drive, when it's paired with a powerful engine and a decent suspension setup.

And if you’re looking for an enjoyable driving experience without compromising everyday usability, then look no further than the 300hp four-wheel-drive Volkswagen Golf R. It's fast, handles corners well and is easy to live with.

2013-2020 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Jeep Wrangler

Best AWD car for off-roading

Used deals from £36,995
Monthly finance from £522*

Even if they do get four-wheel-drive, many SUVs aren’t really intended for any sort of off-roading more strenuous than escaping a slightly muddy field after a summer festival.

The Jeep Wrangler is not like that. Jeep is proud to declare that every vehicle that it makes is ‘trail-rated’ meaning that if you are after proper off-road adventures, you’d need a seriously tough off-roader like the Land Rover Defender or Toyota Land Cruiser to match the off-road ability of the Wrangler.

JEEP WRANGLER BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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