You don't need a high-riding SUV or crossover to get the winter traction benefits of four-wheel drive. There are a myriad of sedans, wagons, coupes, and even convertibles that offer four-wheel drive (usually called all-wheel drive in passenger cars) either as standard or optional equipment. We've gathered up a complete list of AWD passenger cars; the list is long and the choices are many. Although the advantages of four driven wheels are obvious in slippery road conditions, the technology comes at a cost. There is usually a cost premium associated with all-wheel drive, and almost always a fuel economy penalty as well. So for each car listed, we've indicated the extra cost of the all-wheel-drive option, or the cost differential compared with the equivalent two-wheel-drive model, as well as its EPA gas mileage ratings, and the fuel economy penalty versus the two-wheel-drive version of the same car.
Acura's top sedan, the RL, has always come standard with all-wheel drive. The TL gained an all-wheel-drive model with its 2009 redesign. The TL SH-AWD also has a larger, more powerful V-6 engine than the front-wheel-drive TL. The "SH" in TL SH-AWD stands for "Super Handling," which denotes Acura's torque-vectoring active rear differential technology. It can send engine torque not only to the front or rear wheels but also to one specific rear wheel or the other, which aids even dry-road cornering. The same system is on the RL as well.
When you think of all-wheel-drive passenger cars, Audi is one of the brands that immediately comes to mind. Audi has been building all-wheel-drive cars since the 1980s, and today the technology is available in every Audi car line. Audi's Quattro system has evolved, and the latest version (in the A4, A5/S5, A6/S6, TT/TTS, and R8) attempts to imitate the feel of a rear-wheel-drive car by sending more power to the rear axle than the front. In models that offer a choice of powertrain, all-wheel drive usually comes standard with the more powerful engine and is optional with the lesser engine. The A4 Avant (wagon) comes only with the 2.0-liter four and all-wheel drive, and the sporty S4 is likewise AWD only. All-wheel drive is now standard on the TT/TTS coupe/roadster. In the A6 mid-size family, the base, 3.2-liter V-6 drives the front wheels, but the supercharged V-6, the V-8, and the V-10 (in the S6) all come standard with all-wheel drive. Both the six-cylinder A5 coupe and its V-8 counterpart (the S5) are all-wheel drive only, as is the A8. Finally, the R8 supercar comes standard with all-wheel drive.
All three members of the Continental family, the Continental GT coupe, the GTC convertible, and the Flying Spur sedan, come with all-wheel drive. But with machines this fabulously expensive - the cheapest, the Flying Spur, starts at over $180,000 - you really might not want to take it out in the slush and salt.
BMW, more so than nearly any other brand, is committed to rear-wheel drive, but it does offer the option of all-wheel drive (denoted with the quirky "xDrive" suffix) fairly extensively throughout its 3-series, 5-series, and 7-series model lines. The 3-series offers it on coupe, sedan, and wagon, with either the standard six or the turbocharged engine. The upcharge is $2000 on the four-doors and wagon, $1900 on the coupe. You can get all-wheel-drive on the outgoing 528i or the 535i, for $2300; it's standard on the 535i wagon while they last. Although production has haulted for the current generation, dealerships may still have inventory. The new 5-series goes on sale in the fall. The 5-series GT model will offer all-wheel-drive variants of the 550i, 535i and 528i, also on sale this fall.
Buick's history isn't exactly stuffed full of all-wheel-drive vehicles, but with the recent redesign of the LaCrosse, Buick added an AWD option. Opting for the CXL trim is the only way to get all-wheel-drive in a LaCrosse as the less expensive CX and more expensive CXS (with a 3.6L V-6) only come with front-wheel-drive.
In recent years, Cadillac has refashioned its cars and reworked its lineup to make itself a direct competitor to the German luxury makes. With regard to all-wheel drive, it has patterned its offerings after BMW. So Cadillac offers all-wheel drive with either engine on the CTS (Cadillac's 3-series competitor), although you lose the option of a manual transmission. On the STS (Caddy's 5-series rival), all-wheel drive is available with the V-6 or the V-8.
Chrysler quietly dropped its all-wheel-drive option for the Sebring sedan back in 2009, but for 2010 the company still offers it for the rear-wheel-drive 300. It's available with the larger, 3.5-liter V-6 (in Touring or Limited trim) or the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8.
As one might expect, Dodge's offerings mirror those of its sister brand, Chrysler. The Charger is the only sedan with an all-wheel-drive option. The Charger offers it with the larger, 3.5-liter V-6 and with the 5.7-liter V-8, each in two trim levels.
Ford offers all-wheel drive in both of its mainstream sedans, the Fusion and the Taurus, but you don't hear much about it. That's surprising. In the case of the Fusion, for instance, the availability of four driven wheels is something that neither the Toyota Camry, the Honda Accord, the Nissan Altima, nor the Chevy Malibu can boast. The Fusion offers all-wheel drive on its V-6 models only. The Taurus offers it on the two higher trim levels.
Honda has many vehicles with all-wheel-drive, like Element, CR-V, Pilot, but they are mostly SUVs: While the Crosstour is more of a crossover, it offers more car-like comfort and driving dynamics.
Price: 34,730 (EX-L)
AWD cost: $1450 (vs. EX)
City/Hwy MPG: 17/25
AWD penalty: 1 mpg city, 2 mpg hwy
Infiniti makes all-wheel drive available on its G37 and M35/M45 models, and, like BMW, designates it with an "x". In 2009, the option was expanded to the G37 coupe as well as the sedan. In the G37, buying all-wheel drive also nets you heated seats and mirrors, but you can't get a manual transmission. Not much has changed for 2010.
Lamborghini has offered all-wheel drive as far back as the Diablo days, to tame that wild beast's power oversteer. Today, both the Murcielago and the Gallardo, coupe and Spyder, come standard with the technology, but that doesn't exactly make them snow machines.
Lexus makes all-wheel drive available on its IS, GS, and LS sedans. Taking the last first, all-wheel drive can be had on both the regular LS460 and the extended-wheelbase LS460L; it's standard on the LS600hL hybrid. Curiously, with the LS460, the AWD variants' 4.6-liter V-8 is down 23 hp compared to the same engine in the rear-wheel-drive models. In the GS series, only the six-cylinder GS350 offers it; the V-8 and hybrid versions do not. For the IS, all-wheel drive is available only on the smaller engine version, the IS250, and it can't be combined with a manual transmission.
Both of Lincoln's front-wheel-drive sedans offer the option of all-wheel drive. The price difference is $1890 in the case of both the mid-size MKZ and the full-size MKS.
Mercedes-Benz has been expanding the availability of its all-wheel-drive system, which it calls 4Matic. First offered only on the mid-size E-class, it has since spread to the compact C-class and the large S-class. Recently, the big CL coupe has added 4Matic, and it's standard equipment on the CL550. The S-class offers awd as an option with this same "550" engine (a 5.5-liter V-8), but as with the CL, the V-12 and AMG versions are rear-drive only. The E-class has the most extensive offerings, with 4Matic available in the sedan with either the V-8 (E550) or the gasoline V-6 (E350), but not the diesel engine or the AMG V-8. All E350 wagons have 4Matic, but the E63 AMG wagon is rear-wheel drive. Finally, the C-class sedan offers 4Matic with the smaller engine (C300) only.
Mercury's all-wheel-drive entry mirrors that of Ford's. The mid-size Milan offers all-wheel-drive on its V-6 models, just like its sister, the Ford Fusion.
There are a couple clues that Mitsubishi's all-wheel-drive sedans are more rally-inspired racers than all-weather machines. First, there's the all-wheel-drive system itself, which takes a page from rallying with its driver selectable center differential that offers settings for tarmac, snow, and gravel. Then there are the cars on which it appears. Both are turbocharged, high-performance variants of the small Lancer four-door. The Evolution (or Evo) is a legendary hot-rod, and it comes standard with all-wheel drive in both trim levels, GSR and MR. The third offering, again with all-wheel drive standard, is the Lancer Ralliart, which is, in a way, the understudy to the Evo, with less power and a lesser price.
Nissan has only one all-wheel-drive car offering: its ultimate sports car, the GT-R. Here, all-wheel drive helps put the GT-R's 480 horsepower to the pavement. The system prioritizes a sporty, rear-wheel-drive feel, however, with as much as 100 percent of the torque going to the rear wheels.
Porsche makes all-wheel-drive versions of its iconic 911 - but not its Boxster or Cayman - in a wide variety of the sports car's iterations. The mighty Turbo and the glass-roof Targa both include all-wheel drive as standard. The Carrera and wide-body Carrera S offer the choice of rear-wheel drive or four driven wheels - both in coupe and convertible body styles. Porsche's first-ever sedan, the Panamera, is available with all-wheel drive in base S trim; the Turbo comes only with awd.
Saab has been committed to front-wheel drive since the brand first started in Sweden. But last year, Saab finally added an all-wheel-drive option to a passenger car: the 9-3. Saab calls its all-wheel-drive system Cross Wheel Drive, because it can distribute engine power across the rear axle as well as to the front or rear wheels. In keeping with the Cross Wheel Drive name, Saab's uses XWD, rather than AWD, as its shorthand abbreviation. The XWD system is available with two different engines on the 9-3: a turbocharged four (the 2.0T) and a V-6 (the Aero). Each model comes as either a sedan or a wagon (SportCombi, in Saab-speak).
Subaru has been associated with all-wheel drive since the mid 1970s. Today, all-wheel drive is standard equipment on every Subaru.
New for 2010, Suzuki's mid-size, front-wheel drive sedan is also available with all-wheel-drive.
Despite its large number of models, Toyota offers all-wheel drive in only one passenger car, the Matrix. The compact hatchback pairs AWD with the larger, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a four-speed automatic only.
Volkswagen used to offer all-wheel drive versions of the Passat sedan and wagon, but the company has trimmed the Passat model line, and all Passats are now front-wheel drive. The only VW with available all-wheel drive is the new CC sedan, which offers 4Motion (VW's term for four-wheel drive) with the VR6 engine.
Volvo makes all-wheel drive available on every one of its passenger cars with the exception of the compact C30 hatchback. All of the company's sedans and wagons offer it; often it comes bundled with a larger or more powerful engine.