Today's Most Fuel-Efficient AWD Vehicles
Just because you want to save fuel doesn’t mean you want to give up any safety or security – especially if you live somewhere in the U.S. where the winters bring snowy, icy roads. Fortunately, if you want the stability, confidence, and traction of all-wheel drive, but still want great fuel economy, there are plenty of choices on the market. And the most-efficient all-wheel drive vehicles are some of the least-expensive as well – despite all offering impressive space, performance, and capability. Here are six of the most efficient vehicles with standard all-wheel drive, powered by internal combustion. Broaden your search to hybrid vehicles and the range of options becomes much larger – and the fuel economy gets better too!
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice the safety or security of all-wheel drive. The Impreza is Subaru’s least-expensive vehicle, and it still comes with the company’s famous symmetrical all-wheel drive system, one of the best on the market, and it delivers impressive fuel economy. We really like its practical, upright package, which liberates plenty of interior room, and its controls are intuitive and easy to use. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard. Subaru’s EyeSight driver assistance suite is one of the best on the market as well, with automatic emergency braking and other useful safety features.
- Starting MSRP: $19,795
- EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 28/36
A whole size and class up from the Impreza is the Legacy, Subaru’s midsize sedan, powered by a 2.5-liter, 182-hp four-cylinder. Feeling almost limousine-spacious inside, the Legacy’s roomy, boxy cabin is well-made and well-equipped, with great seats that make it a pleasure to drive long distances. Adaptive cruise control, automatic lane centering, and automatic pre-collision braking give safety and peace of mind, while a dual 7.0-inch multimedia system features CarPlay and Android Auto. Even the entry-level Legacy, at less than $24,000, has the refinement and excellent ride quality of a luxury sedan – and all versions provide you with the security and confidence of all-wheel drive.
- Starting MSRP: $24,395
- EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 27/35
The Audi brand has been synonymous with its quattro all-wheel drive system since the 1980s, and for good reason. Audi was one of the first companies to realize that four driven wheels wasn’t just a great feature for trucks – they helped give sedans incredible traction and stability in winter conditions, and gave them sporty handling characteristics on difficult roads. The latest A4, redesigned for 2021, is the latest in a long line of excellent all-wheel drive Audi sedans. It is sharply designed and beautifully built inside and out. Its 2.0-liter turbo engine and eight-speed automatic give it sporty performance as well as impressive frugality, and it’s terrific fun to drive. Inside, it’s packed with the latest tech including a digital dashboard and a large touchscreen infotainment system. A wide range of driver assists comes standard, but it’s that quattro all-wheel drive that is its best safety feature.
- Starting MSRP: $40,300
- EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 24/33
An Impreza with a hatchback, raised ride height, and some outdoorsy body cladding, the Crosstrek shares many of its sibling Subaru’s great traits. It’s roomy, ruggedly made, and reliable. It is impressively economical for a vehicle with all-wheel drive and light off-roading capability. It has intuitive controls, standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as Subaru EyeSight, with adaptive cruise control, automatic lane centering, and automatic pre-collision braking. And it has Subaru’s awesome all-wheel drive system. All of that, plus you get the practicality of a hatchback body, and the choice of some very cool exterior colors. What’s not to like?
- Starting MSRP: $23,465
- EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 28/33
The Kia Seltos is the very definition of a “crossover.” Not an SUV, but not really a sedan (or wagon, or hatchback), it combines the best attributes of all of them into an appealing, economical all-wheel drive package. A torquey 2.0-liter engine and continuously-variable transmission give sure-footed driving in every situation as well as 31 highway MPG, and it’s an easy vehicle to maneuver in the city despite its roomy interior. Additional safety comes from driver assist technology including lane keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, forward and collision assist with pedestrian detection. We also really like the Seltos’ interior, which in addition to having plenty of space for your family, has a high-end feel, with great features like an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, CarPlay, Android Auto, and more.
- Starting MSRP: $23,340
- EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 27/31
Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic
Compact but luxurious, the Mercedes-Benz GLA is the perfect entry-level luxury crossover: it has dashing good looks, a luxurious interior, and a sophisticated drivetrain, with 221 turbocharged horsepower and a 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that delivers impressive economy while powering all four wheels when needed. As you would expect from Mercedes, it has great safety features and is sure-footed in any situation. But what’s most impressive about the GLA is its interior – a luxurious, high-tech oasis that includes high-end finishes and twin widescreen displays that are highly customizable, highly intuitive, and highly connected. Indeed, the tech inside the GLA’s is on par with many luxury vehicles that cost twice as much.
- Starting MSRP: $37,500
- EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 24/34