Our cars are more than just a way to get to and from work or to make sure the kids get to school on time. They are our all-access pass to a world of freedom and adventure. Many people equate getting a driver’s license with entering adulthood, and, in a sense, they are right. They give you the ability to go wherever the road, and your gas budget, will allow you. However, they are still somewhat limited. After all, the roads don’t go everywhere.
When it comes to real automotive adventuring, you need something with a bit more versatility and capability. This is where off-roaders come in, and while AWD doesn’t always guarantee the ability to go wherever your whims may take you, it does broaden your horizons. If you’re interested in some of the best all-wheel-drive cars in terms of practicality, versatility, and value, click here.
These cars come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and sometimes their enhanced capabilities are used to bolster their innate strengths rather than add new ones. Such is the case in high-performance sports cars. So what are some examples of these cars that make the best use of their all-wheel drivetrains?
1. Land Rover Range Rover
The true king of the great outdoors, the Range Rover actually comes equipped with genuine 4×4, which is a bit different from the more common AWD. This, along with an impressive 11.7-inch ground clearance (with the air suspension raised), makes it more than capable of tackling harsh terrain. Of course, it’s nowhere near as nimble or engaging as something like a Jeep Wrangler, but it more than makes up for it in a number of other areas.
For starters, it’s an extremely luxurious vehicle, but you do have to pay for all that opulence. This is easily one of the most expensive SUVs out there, fighting for a hefty portion of your retirement fund alongside the Cadillac Escalade. Features like heated and ventilated seats are the norm, with genuine leather and wood trimmings all around the cabin.
But it doesn’t just look great; it feels great, too. This is thanks to spacious back seats and plenty of cargo capacity. This is something many luxury brands struggle with, but since Land Rover doesn’t try to force in seven seats, it can afford to give everyone a generous helping. Apart from the exorbitant price tag, the downsides of this land barge include a very thirsty V6 engine or an optional V8 that is downright lush, as well as a less than stellar ride on asphalt.
2. Kia Telluride
A far more affordable way of getting behind the wheel of an AWD SUV, the Telluride is one of the very best in the classification. It’s not the most luxurious, but it’s one of the very few sports utility vehicles that manage to do three rows of seating well. In most cases, only toddlers can be comfortably situated in the rear-most seats, but this chunky Kia can accommodate adults, albeit for short trips.
What’s even more impressive is that the trunk can stow a decent amount of cargo even with all the seats up. Fold them down, and you’re presented with a glorious storage area that can compete with the most accomplished midsize SUVs on the market. The V6 engine under the hood isn’t a powerhouse, but it is more than sufficient to motivate the vehicle, and it even imbues it with a reasonable 5,500-pound towing capacity.
The AWD is not essential to Telluride’s success, and it doesn’t give it any real off-roading capabilities. However, some light camping down established trails is definitely an option, and its on-road manners and safety are excellent. This is a case of all-wheel drive simply making a great car even better in ways you may not even realize.
3. Lucid Air
Electric vehicles are quickly becoming commonplace on the roads, but the Lucid Air is not a car we’d ever feel comfortable calling “common.” This luxury electric sedan is the product of a decade of research and development, and that level of commitment and focus is extremely clear. It’s gorgeous to look at, and the powertrain is truly marvelous. It’s available in multiple configurations, with the quad-motor setup boasting more than 1,000 horsepower and insane performance.
While EV fuel economy cannot be easily equated to miles per gallon, the Air boasts some impressive mileage and a total range that gives Tesla, the long-time champion of the segment, a real run for its money. The electric AWD is a little different from what you’d find on a gas-powered car since each axle, or even each wheel when there are four motors, is powered independently and equitably. This gives EVs some exceptional handling characteristics, which may be sorely needed considering some models can sprint from 0-60 mph in under two seconds.
It is worth noting, however, that even the cheapest model in the Air line is going to cost you close to what a top-tier trim from another brand would. On the plus side, you do get a lot for your money. The Lucid Air is truly luxurious and comes outfitted with almost every modern comfort and convenience you could want. Also, the MSRP is somewhat deceptive since many states offer tax rebates and other incentives when it comes to purchasing eco-friendly EVs.
These are just a few of the many capable and popular AWD vehicles available in the USA, and it doesn’t even include pickup trucks, which are almost synonymous with American culture. These are all 4×4 vehicles and include the likes of the Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado, and Ram 1500.
Luxury executive sedans are another segment where AWD is practically a given, even if it is optional. Leading models in this classification include the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the BMW 7 Series, and the Genesis G80.
Lastly, there are the muscle and sports cars that continue to be the poster children of the automotive industry. These are what so many first-time drivers aspire to own one day and include some gorgeous speedsters like the Porsche Taycan, the Audi e-tron GT, and the Acura NSX.