If you live in an area prone to heavy snowfall, rain, or other inclement conditions, an all-wheel drive powertrain can offer added security and confidence. What’s more, all-wheel drive can help your car handle better when the pavement is dry too. The best small all-wheel drive cars benefit tremendously from this technology. In recent years, manufacturers have devised systems capable of making all-wheel drive cars feel like rear-drive cars until added traction is called for. The systems can also be configured to transfer power to an outside rear wheel in cornering maneuvers, or to wherever traction is most needed. What’s more, these sophisticated systems are also offered in popularly priced models.
All new for the 2015 model year, Audi’s A3 is the latest model from Ingolstadt to boast the company’s Quattro all-wheel drive system among its offerings. Whether buyers opt for the 220 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline powered models with 258 ft-lbs of torque, or the 150-horsepower 2.0-liter turbodiesel-powered models with 236 ft-lbs of torque, an all-wheel drive powertrain can be had. This, along with the exceptional fit and finish Audi applies to its automobiles—as well as the company’s emphasis on fuel efficiency and driving pleasure—makes the Audi A3 one of the most compelling new products for the 2015 model year. All-wheel drive Audi A3 models start at $32,900.
More of a sporty grand touring car than an outright sports car, Audi’s iconic TT model offers the benefits of Quattro all-wheel drive across the board—this, whether you go Coupe, Convertible, or with the high performance TTS version of the distinctively styled automobile. A 2.0-liter turbocharged engine making 211 horsepower and 258 ft-lbs of torque powers the base models. The higher performing TTS models get 265 horsepower and 258 ft-lbs of torque from a revised version of the same engine. The TT models get a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual, while the TTS gets a six-speed manual. The unique exterior styling of the TT is mirrored by the configuration of the interior. Pricing starts at $40,350 for the TT, and $48,700 for the TTS.
BMW 2 Series
Whether you go coupe or convertible with BMWs smallest US offering, all-wheel drive is available as an option. Power for the BMW 228i xDrive models comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine producing 240 horsepower and 255 ft-lbs of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission is the sole offering. Considered by many to be the contemporary reincarnation of the legendary BMW 2002 sport coupe, the BMW 2 Series cars offer outstanding handling, handsome interior treatments and of course the cachet of the blue and white roundel that is the BMW logo. For 2015, BMW 228i xDrive Coupe pricing starts at $33,900; while 228i xDrive Convertible pricing starts at $39,700.
BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo
For those looking to get a bit more utility out of BMW’s 3 Series, the company is offering the 2015 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo. The four-door, five-passenger hatchback can be had with a choice of two engines. The base 328i model is powered by BMWs turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 240 horsepower and 255 ft-lbs of torque. The 335i has a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine rated at 300 horsepower and 300 ft-lbs of torque. Both cars feature BMWs eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. If you need space to carry things from time to time, don’t want a Wagon, but do appreciate the feel of a responsive car, BMWs 3 Series Gran Turismo may well be what you’ve been seeking. 328i GT pricing starts at $41,850, while 335i GT pricing starts at $47,250.
As family sedans go, you’d be hard-pressed to find one in Fusion’s price range with more style, a higher tech quotient, and as enjoyable a driving experience. In addition to the all-wheel drive powertrain, the Ford offers an abundance of tech stuff, including smart cruise control, self parking, blind-spot monitoring, and the Ford Sync advanced driver interface system for secondary functions. To get the all-wheel drive powertrain, you’ll order your Fusion equipped with a 240-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 270 ft-lbs of torque. You’ll also get a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Pricing starts at $28,325 for the 2015 Ford Fusion with an all-wheel drive powertrain.
Mini Cooper Paceman ALL4
If you like the Cooper Hardtop, but wish it had all-wheel drive and a more spacious interior, perhaps you should be looking at the Mini Cooper Paceman. A larger, more capacious model, Paceman maintains the classic Mini silhouette and two-door body style. For all-wheel drive, your first opportunity will be with Paceman S. This model uses a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 181 horsepower and 177 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, a six-speed automatic is offered as an option. For more performance, go with the John Cooper Works Paceman at 208 horsepower and 192 ft-lbs of torque from a revised version of the 1.6. Pricing for Paceman ALL4 starts at $28,600; John Cooper Works Paceman ALL4 starts at $35,600.
The new entry-level Mercedes offering made a big splash when it was announced for the 2014 model year with a $31,500 starting price. Closely resembling the marque’s elegant CLS four-door coupe, the Mercedes-Benz CLA has infused the $30,000 price range with significant style. It also became the smallest Mercedes-Benz Sedan offering all-wheel drive. Both the CLA250 4MATIC, and the CLA45 AMG iterations of the car can be had with power routed to all four wheels. The CLA250 4MATIC uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 208 horsepower and 258 ft-lbs of torque. The CLA45 AMG uses a handbuilt version of this engine reconfigured to produce 355 horsepower and 332 ft-lbs of torque. CLA250 4MATIC pricing starts at $34,425, while CLA45 AMG pricing starts at $48,500.
Lexus IS 250/ IS 350
The Lexus IS 250 and IS 350 compact luxury sedans have two distinctly different personalities. The IS 250, with its 206-horsepower V6 making 185 ft-lbs of torque, is for those who love the look of the IS but care more about miles per gallon than smiles per gallon. Meanwhile, the IS 350 delivers a rousing 306 horsepower and 277 ft-lbs of torque for those for whom more power is required. Regardless of your engine choice, all-wheel drive is offered and paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. These are Lexus models we’re discussing here, so you know comfort and convenience are also paramount. IS 250 with all-wheel drive starts at $39,085, while IS 350 with all-wheel drive starts at $42,030.
The least expensive four-door sedan you can buy in America offering all-wheel drive; the Subaru Impreza is impressive for more reasons than those four. If you’re looking for a spacious cabin with a roomy back seat in a car of this size, the Subaru is also pretty much the best game in town. Further, the brand has a richly deserved reputation for both reliability and good resale value. Power comes from a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine with 148 horsepower and 145 ft-lbs of torque. The standard transmission offering is a five-speed manual, while a continuously variable transmission is offered as an option. Pricing starts at $18,195.