SUVs and crossovers aren’t your only options for winter driving. A wide variety of all-wheel-drive, or AWD, sedans and wagons are every bit as foul-weather capable as lumbering SUVs — and will burn less fuel in the process.
AWD transfers power from wheels that are slipping to those that have traction, thus improving a vehicle’s ability to maintain forward motion.
Not long ago, drivers who wanted the peace of mind only AWD can provide on snowy, icy roads had only SUVs and Subarus from which to choose.
Not so today. Several carmakers have at least one passenger car in their lineup with AWD — the key ingredient for earning a spot on this list.
We’ve assembled our 10 favorite AWD sedans and wagons — many boasting other cold-weather features, such as heated seats and mirrors, that enhance their winter acumen.
Price: $34,375 Overview: Audi designs and assembles what are arguably the best interiors among mainstream luxury automobiles. A 211-horsepower, 2-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine powers the A4 and is mated to one of three transmissions. Specifics: Quattro is Audi-speak for AWD. In the A4 Quattro, a six-speed, driver-shiftable transmission transfers power to the wheels. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 21 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. Standard features include leather seating, eight-way power front seats, power accessories, heated outboard mirrors, tilt-telescoping steering wheel and automatic climate control.
Price: $32,570 Overview: Redesigned, LaCrosse is better in every way than last year’s version. The interior is roomier, it’s more luxurious and the engines more powerful. A somewhat firmer suspension delivers sharp handling and a pliant ride. Specifics: Only the midlevel CXL is available with AWD. It uses a 255-horsepower, 3-liter, V-6 to turn all the wheels. Acceleration is more than adequate with fuel mileage estimated at 16 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. Standard features include a tilt-telescoping steering wheel, leather seating with heated front seats, heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, full power accessories and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Price: $34,700 Overview: From the curb, the 300 looks substantial and that translates into gobs of interior space. Even rear-seat passengers enjoy plenty of leg and knee room. The controls are simple and easy to use. This isn’t a fancy cabin, but it is attractive and comfortable. Specifics: The 300 Touring is the least expensive 300 trim level offering AWD. The Limited and 300C also offer it. A 250-horsepower, V-6 drives all four wheels via a five-speed, driver-shiftable automatic transmission. The EPA rates fuel economy at 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. Standard features include power accessories, dual-zone automatic climate control, tilt-telescoping steering wheel and heated outboard mirrors.
Price: $29,845 Overview: The styling inside and out of the new Taurus is dynamic and compelling. All trim levels except the base SE are available with AWD. The cabin is inviting and the trunk will hold more than 20 cubic feet of winter gear. Specifics: The Taurus SEL has a 263-horsepower, 3.5-liter, V-6 under the hood bolted to a six-speed automatic transmission. The EPA fuel economy rating is 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, remote keyless entry, power accessories, heated outboard mirrors, tilt-telescoping steering wheel and dual-zone climate control.
Price: $36,615 Overview: Infiniti offers the G37 as a coupe, sedan and hardtop convertible. The taut independent suspension blends spot-on handling with a remarkably smooth ride. The trunk is smallish at 14 cubic feet. Specifics: The G37x uses a seven-speed, driver-shiftable transmission and all versions get a 3.7-liter, V-6. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. The eight-way-power and heated leather front seats provide plenty of lateral support. Other standard features include heated outboard mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, power accessories, tilt-telescoping steering wheel and dual-zone climate control.
Price: $68,225 Overview: A 380-horsepower, 4.6-liter, V-8 matched to a driver-shiftable, eight-speed automatic transmission powers the LS 460. Although some argue it does too good a job isolating the driver, its quiet cabin and ultra-smooth ride are legendary. Specifics: The EPA-estimated fuel economy numbers are 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. Among the standard features are 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, power accessories, keyless ignition/entry, adaptive Xenon headlamps, heated outboard mirrors and heated front seats.
Price: $51,975 Overview: The 2010 E-Class has been improved across the board, drawing on a V-6 and a V-8 for power. A seven-speed, driver-shiftable automatic transmission moves power to the wheels. The cabin is roomy with firm and supportive seats. Specifics: The E350 4Matic employs a 3.5-liter, V-6 for power. It delivers 268 horsepower, and is EPA-rated at 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, power tilt-telescoping steering wheel, eight-way-power front seats, heated outboard mirrors, power accessories and eight airbags.
Price: $25,990 Overview: Growing in size in its 2010 redesign, the new Outback is roomier than last year’s. It relies on either a four-cylinder or V-6 engine for propulsion. Excelling in cargo-carrying capacity, the Outback can hold more than 71 cubic feet of stuff with the rear seat folded down. Specifics: This version of the Outback comes with the 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine. At this price point, it uses a continuously variable automatic transmission, or CVT, to distribute engine power. The CVT helps maximize fuel economy to an EPA-rated 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. Among the standard features are 18-inch alloy wheels, tilt-telescoping steering wheel, eight-way-power driver’s seat, power accessories, cruise control and six airbags.
Price: $40,550 Overview: Practically every component in the CC is carried over from the Passat. That includes the V-6 and turbocharged four-cylinder engines and the three transmissions. The basics of the cabin are also imported from Passat. AWD is available only with the V-6 engine. Specifics: The VR6 Sport motivates itself with a 280-horsepower, 3.6-liter, V-6 and a six-speed automatic transmission. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, power accessories, leather seating, tilt-telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, adaptive bi-Xenon headlights, eight-way-power and heated front seats, and heated outboard mirrors.
Price: $43,650 Overview: XC is Volvo-speak for “Cross Country.” It offers more ground clearance than some crossovers. There is a choice of two engine-based trim levels. Both are inline six-cylinder engines. A six-speed, driver-shiftable automatic transmission is bolted to each. Generally, the interior is comfortable with plenty of headroom. Maximum cargo space is a whopping 72 cubic feet. Specifics: A 3-liter, turbocharged six-cylinder in the T6 generates 281 horsepower. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, tilt-telescoping steering wheel, power accessories, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated outboard mirrors, leather seating and eight-way-power front seats.