Best Small Cars With 4 wheel Drive

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Best Vehicles With Four Wheel Drive

Photo Credit: SubaruBy Cherise Threewitt

There are generally a couple schools of thought on the purpose of equipping a compact or small car with all-wheel drive. Most of the vehicles on this list offer 4-corner power to enhance sportiness or to appear more upscale. Others provide all-wheel drive as an option just because the manufacturer happens to have a good system available, and it can help an otherwise nondescript model stand out from the crowd. Regardless of intent, a car with all-wheel drive will get a little more attention from shoppers, and its enhanced functionality will increase a model’s overall value (while also increasing its overall price). Let’s take a look at 10 compact cars with all-wheel drive.

Photo Credit: Audi

2016 Audi A3

Audi’s A3 is available as a sedan, a convertible, and a plug-in hybrid hatchback, but stick to the higher trim levels of the sedan and convertible (with the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine or better) to get the brand’s quattro all-wheel drive system. It’s well worth the splurge; quattro helps the A3’s handling immensely on dry roads, giving it a very sporty personality, and also makes the car a competent all-weather commuter. The A3 sedan seats five and the convertible seats four, and all occupants are likely to be pleased by its interior fit and finish. Audi’s entry-level model is well established as a great option for a compact car with all-wheel drive.

Photo Credit: BMW

2016 BMW 2 Series

The base versions of the 2016 BMW 2 Series come with rear-wheel drive instead of the more common front-wheel drive usually found on less expensive cars. We get it, it is tempting, especially since the rear-drive 2 Series handles pretty well. But to turn the sporty 2 Series from a flight of fancy into a well-rounded entry level luxury car, the optional all-wheel drive system is just the thing. The 2016 BMW 2 Series is offered in a lot of trim levels, but look for xDrive in the model name to score a good compact car with all-wheel drive—this smart option is available on the convertibles as well as the coupes.

Photo Credit: Ford

2016 Ford Focus RS

The eagerly anticipated Ford Focus RS finally lands on this side of the Atlantic for 2016, bringing with it unique styling, a ton more power, and all-wheel drive. The Ford Focus is a great little compact car, even if its standard front-wheel drive leaves much to be desired sometimes. The Focus RS, however, is ready for rallying. The car’s all-wheel drive was selected by none other than celebrated driver Ken Block, who consulted on the Focus RS and helped ensure it was ready for its Stateside debut. Make no mistake, though; while the plain Focus is known for its affordability, this all-wheel drive compact car costs as much as the luxury options we’ve discussed.

Photo Credit: Lexus

2016 Lexus IS

For a safe and reliable compact luxury car with all-wheel drive, take a look at the 2016 Lexus IS lineup. This compact sedan offers accommodations for five passengers, and though Lexus killed off quite a few trim levels this year, the 300 and 350 IS are still offered with 4-wheel power. Powerplant options and available features make the IS a good alternative to the German heavyweights, even if its handling is tuned more for the benefit of the passengers than the driver. The all-wheel drive Lexus IS offers a stable and composed ride, glides smoothly over rough road surfaces, and takes corners with ease. It’s a mature take on a compact all-wheel drive car.

Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz

2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

Skip over the front-wheel drive version of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class four-door coupe and go straight for the 4MATIC—that’s what Mercedes calls its all-wheel drive system. The CLA-Class is a recent addition to the brand’s lineup, offered in only a few trims; basically, there’s no middle ground between the entry-level engine and the AMG high-performance one. That said, those who are content with less power will find that the CLA-Class is a relatively affordable way to get keys to a new Benz. If you can’t decide between a coupe’s styling or a sedan’s practicality, the 2016 CLA-Class might be the small all-wheel drive car for you.

Photo Credit: MINI

2016 MINI Cooper Paceman

This small all-wheel drive car is an eye-catching hatchback, as so many MINI Coopers are, but the 2016 Paceman offers something a little different from the regular MINI, with its more aggressive styling. The Paceman’s affordable base price is tempting, but it doesn’t offer all-wheel drive; instead, buyers have to pony up for one of the top two trim levels. That means that more powerful engines are on tap to put that increased horsepower to all four wheels. Potential buyers should give the MINI Paceman a thorough test drive before committing, because this all-wheel drive compact hatch is known for its stiff and uncomfortable ride as a side effect of its great handling characteristics.

Photo Credit: Mitsubishi

2016 Mitsubishi Lancer

Mitsubishi might be winding down the Lancer’s reign, but the 2016 edition of this five-passenger sedan is still a strong contender for one of the best compact all-wheel drive cars, particularly at its price point. Equipping a Lancer with all-wheel drive requires ordering the larger of the car’s two available engines, which is more fun to drive, anyway. It also offers good fuel economy for an all-wheel drive car. The 2016 Lancer, when ordered in the top-of-the-line GT trim, features a performance-oriented suspension system, which enables the sedan to handle very well—too well, perhaps, for the average consumer, because with that strong handling comes a firm and unforgiving ride.

Photo Credit: Subaru

2016 Subaru Impreza

Subaru’s 2016 Impreza is one of the few affordable compact cars that comes with all-wheel drive right out of the box—this feature has long been one of the brand’s calling cards. The Impreza is oriented more toward comfort than athleticism, but this compact’s abilities really shine during bouts of bad weather. Even aside from its all-wheel drive benefits, the Impreza is a completely practical choice for a commuter car or daily driver; both the sedan and hatchback body styles seat five passengers and can haul a reasonable amount of cargo. Order the 2016 Subaru Impreza with its available continuously variable transmission to get fuel economy numbers that are strong even against front-wheel drive competitors.

Photo Credit: Subaru

2016 Subaru WRX

The 2016 Subaru WRX is known for having the same basic benefits as the Impreza—standard all-wheel drive and a practical design—and in fact, up until recently the WRX was actually considered a trim level of the Impreza. This all-wheel drive compact car was redesigned just last year, and with it came a new turbocharged engine and a bunch of new convenience and safety features. If the WRX’s 268 horsepower isn’t enough, there’s always the high-performance version, the WRX STI, which pushes 305 horsepower from its larger turbo 4-cylinder. A blast to drive on twisty roads and a competent all-weather commuter, Subaru’s sportiest sedan shows that practicality and fun can cheerfully coexist.

Photo Credit: Volkswagen

2016 Volkswagen Golf R

For as long as the Volkswagen Golf’s been around, it’s sporadically been offered in limited editions with all-wheel drive (although they weren’t always shipped over to North America). And understandably, they’ve been in hot demand (especially for Stateside VW fans who badly wanted what they couldn’t have). For the past few generations of the Golf, though, VW’s been playing nice. The 2016 Golf R is the latest such version of the all-wheel drive compact hatch, and it’s a lot of fun. Volkswagen took a 4-door Golf, dolled up the exterior with exclusive styling touches, stuffed in a 292-horsepower turbo engine (borrowed from the Audi range), and added all-wheel drive as a standard feature.

Best Small 4×4 off-Road

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SMALL CARS

After a small four-wheel-drive car to tackle those sticky situations while out on the road? Here are some affordable and capable options

The thought of a small four-wheel drive car might seem slightly odd. Generally, you think of a 4×4 and you think of a Land Rover Discovery or a Toyota Land Cruiser, but while these are the ultimate when it comes to off-road capability, they’re also very expensive and cumbersome to drive on-road.

If you are in need of something with a rugged edge and the capacity to go off-road, but you don’t want to spend upwards of £50,000, these smaller four-wheel-drive alternatives with their unassuming looks and manageable size might well be just what you’re looking for.

If you live a particularly rural lifestyle, your need for four-wheel drive is likely to be more pressing than an office worker in central London. Even if you rarely venture beyond the boundaries of the tarmac, a period of bad weather could well cause a problem if you often travel through the countryside.

None of these smaller models listed here are likely to cope very well if you ask them to scale a mountainside, but if you require a car that will manage the odd muddy field or country track then these are the best small four-wheel drive options for the job.

Best small 4x4s

1. Suzuki Swift 4×4

Suzuki has carved itself out a nice niche over the last few decades by selling tough small cars that often offer a little extra off-road ability and, in a number of cases, the option of four-wheel drive. Despite being an ordinary small hatchback, the little Swift is also available in four-wheel-drive form.

Suzuki’s four-wheel-drive system is only available with the 1.2-litre engine. While the engine’s not bad, it’s important to remember that adding a heavy 4×4 system typically makes a car a little slower and less economical. In the case of the Swift, choosing four-wheel drive adds 0.7 seconds to the 0-62mph time. Mild hybrid technology in the latest-generation Swift does reduce the pressure on the engine somewhat, though.

2. BMW X1 xDrive

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The BMW X1 is the smallest car within BMW’s X range of SUVs. It’s well equipped, and surprisingly good to drive, while the ride is comfortable and smooth. In other words, a solid car, and a good all-rounder.

Not all models have four-wheel drive, so keep an eye out for X1s with xDrive in the name if you value the security of having extra grip. The X1 is no hardcore off-roader, however its raised ride height should enable you to drive down the odd rough track without scraping the bottom of the car as you might do with a lower car.

3. Fiat Panda 4×4

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Amazingly, there are actually two versions of Fiat’s little city car that send power to all four wheels. The Panda 4×4 is the basic version with four-wheel drive, but the Panda Cross is our choice because it’s the most rugged.

It has a special off-road mode for greater performance, as well as plates to protect parts underneath the car from scrapes plus tow hooks. Although it is significantly pricier than the 4×4, the Cross is the one you want if you value having maximum off-road ability in the smallest car.

The Trekking edition is worthy of a mention here too – it lacks four-wheel drive but it does have raised suspension as well as electronic traction control to make the most of the front tyres’ grip. So, if you only want a four-wheel drive car to benefit from the increased ground clearance or a higher driving position, why not ditch the four-wheel drive and go for the more economical Trekking?

4. Nissan Juke

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The Juke’s looks are a bit Marmite-esque in the sense that you either love it or hate it, but if you can stomach the exterior you’ll also enjoy a car that’s quiet and comfortable, with efficient diesel engines and a lofty driving position.

While it may look a bit like a Jeep that’s been shrunk in the wash, the majority of Jukes will be front-wheel drive only. So, keep a lookout for models with the ‘4WD’ badge tacked onto the rear end if you need to have four-wheel drive.

Incidentally, the Juke is only available with a 4×4 system when specified with the potent 1.6-litre DiG-T engine. This means that you get decent acceleration, but will have to pay more to purchase a four-wheel-drive Juke than with some other alternatives and will have to fill up the petrol tank more often than you might expect, especially if the one you go for is a performance-orientated Nismo RS model.

5. Audi A3 Quattro

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A high-quality interior, a smooth-changing automatic gearbox, and a badge with serious street credit. You’ll find all of these attributes with the Audi A3, plus Audi’s famous Quattro four-wheel-drive system, which should aid things when the weather gets bad.

You won’t find it on entry-level cars though; you’ll have to extend your horizons to thirsty petrol engines or higher powered diesels if you want an A3 with 4×4 capability. But this is only four-wheel drive in the sense that all four wheels are powered. It’s no off-roader beneath the skin.

So, as a result, don’t expect to go roaming over any harsh terrain in your A3, because it remains far too close to the ground to be clearing anything other than a fizzy drink can lying in the road. You’ll get more grip on mud, gravel and other loose surfaces, but that’s about it.

6. Mercedes A-Class A45 AMG

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The Mercedes A-Class has made a name for itself by being a posh hatchback, though it shares engines and other kit with far cheaper cars. If you like the look of it, though, you can’t beat the four-wheel-drive range-topping version of the previous-generation model.

If you want power going to all four of your A-Class’ wheels, you’ll need to opt for the mega-fast A45 AMG version. A whopping 376hp power output sees the A45 blast from 0-62mph in a supercar-like 4.2 seconds. Roadholding is good, aided by that four-wheel-drive system too, which maximises grip when accelerating, and its sporty body kit and spoiler are guaranteed to turn heads.

In terms of actual off-roading ability, the Mercedes A-Class won’t get far off-road. This sporty version is lower to the ground than the standard car, so while it may send power to all four wheels for better grip, you won’t want to take it any further off-road than parking on the occasional grass verge.

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