Superstorm Sandy, “Snowmegeddon,” El Nino. You need a safe car or crossover SUV when that 100-year storm hits. These new all-wheel drive (AWD) cars, crossovers, and SUVs have the best AWD mileage in the United States in 2013. They range from fun, yet thrifty, from Subaru to Audi luxury turbo diesels, to Toyota hybrids. We’ll also give you a peak at future plug-in hybrid AWD wonders from Tesla, BMW, and Mitsubishi.
AWD Vehicles with Best MPG in USA
Subaru Impreza delivers the best mileage of any all-wheel drive vehicle sold in the U.S. with 27 miles per gallon (mpg) city, 36-mpg highway, 30 combined – better than any hybrid AWD. The Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and balanced weight results in handling designed to get you to winter resorts, off-road hike and bike spots in the summer, and get to school and work when the rain is pounding. Remember last winter’s miserable roads and high gas prices. Available as either a compact 5-door hatchback or 4-door sedan, the Impreza has a base price of about $18,000 for the sedan with a five-speed stick. A hatchback with automatic starts at about $1,500 more (all prices in this article are starting points for negotiation, are subject to change, and can be higher due to destination, handling, and options). Subaru Impreza Details
Audi A6 Quattro TDI conveys prestige and elegance in this luxury sedan that seats 5. German engineering now brings the efficiency and performance of turbo diesel to deliver an expected 30-mpg. Audi 2014 TDI models will soon be on sale, with prices and mileage to be announced.
Lexus RX 450h AWD delivers safer driving in the snow, a roomy SUV, and 29 miles per gallon combined miles per gallon (mpg) thanks to the same hybrid technology in 3 million Prii and Lexus hybrids. The hybrid drive system is smart enough to know when to only use the electric motors, when to engage the 3.5-liter engine, and when to use both. This Lexus hybrid gets 30-mpg highway and an impressive 28-mpg around town. The RX450h seats five in comfort with a back seat that lowers for up to 80 feet of cargo, or 40 cu-feet cargo with 5 passengers. The RX 450h AWD starts at about $47,000.
Toyota Highlander Hybrid 4WD can seat 7 people in 145 cubic feet in comparison to the 5 seat alternatives on this list. The Highlander Hybrid 4WD uses two electric motors and a 3.5L engine to get you through a wide range of conditions. This 4WD delivers 28 combined, 28 city, 28 highway. Starting at about $40,000, you get more room than the other cars and SUVs on this list. With 7 people you have little cargo room, start collapsing seats and you have up to 94 cubic feet of cargo.
Audi A8 Quattro TDI conveys prestige and elegance in this larger luxury sedan that seats 5 with comfort. German engineering now brings the efficiency and performance of turbo diesel to deliver an expected 28-mpg. Luxury and great handling have a price, which is expected to be north of $100,000.
Subaru XV Crosstrek looks like it is on an adventure, even when parked. It is bigger than the Impreza, has hot styling for a crossover, and more space for 5 people or cargo. The Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and balanced weight helps in downpours, icy starts, and dirt fire trails. The XV Crosstrek delivers 25-mpg city, 33 highway, and 28 combined, with good value starting around $22,000.
Mazda CX-5 AWD brings affordability to the AWD Crossover SUV segment by starting at about $23,300. This 5-door, 5-seater delivers 28 mpg combined, 25 city and 31 highway with a 6-speed automatic transmission and a 2L DOHC engine. With the room of a small SUV, this crossover offers 103.8 cu-feet passenger, 34.1 cargo, or drops the 60/40-split back seat for up to 65 cu-feet cargo.
Nissan Juke AWD delivers good mileage in a 4-door crossover. Some find the styling fun and hip, others don’t like the looks. Because of the slopping roof, the back seat will not be popular with anyone over 5’10”. The cargo is limited to 10 cubic feet, but you can lower the backseat for 36 cubic feet. The Juke AWD, starts at around $20,500 and is rated at 27 mpg combined, 25 city, and 30 highway.
Subaru Legacy AWD is a popular sedan designed to deliver mileage without being a hybrid and safe handling on icy roads. Subaru includes AWD in every vehicle it sells. This sedan has been popular in colder climates for two decades. This sedan configured with a 2.5L engine and automatic delivers 27 mpg combined, 24 city, and 32 highway. Starting at $19,995 this 4-door, 5-seat midsized sedan makes all-wheel drive affordable for more people.
Mitsubishi Outlander Sport AWD is a 5-door, 5 passenger SUV that makes four-wheel drive affordable and delivers 26 mpg combined, 24 city, and 29 highway. The Outland offers 97 cu-feet for passengers and 20 cu-feet luggage. The Outlander Sport SE AWC starts at about $21,800.
MINI Cooper S Countryman All4 is a compact sports wagon, 4-door, 4-seater, that delivers 28 mpg combined, 25 city, and 31 highway. Drive this 6-speed stick and enjoy the sporty-feel. With an automatic 6-speed you can still get 26 mpg combined. Fit in tighter parking spaces and still get 87 cu-feet passenger and 16 cu-feet cargo starting at $27,050.
Audi Q5 Hybrid Quattro demonstrates that while German engineers can build great turbo diesels, they can also deliver elegance, performance, and fuel economy in a crossover SUV gasoline hybrid. The 2-liter engine, 44-hp electric motor, and 1.3 kW lithium-battery all work together to deliver 24-mpg city, 30 highway, 26 combined. Luxury has a price, with the Q5 Hybrid with AWD starting at about $51,000.
Better Mileage for All-wheel Drive
For millions that face snow and icy roads 10, 20, or even 40 percent of the year, the all-wheel drive cars and SUVs listed about help you safely navigate dangerous conditions and still deliver good fuel economy. Winter storms and rising fuel costs are making these dual demands more important.
In addition to the best U.S. AWD mileage performing vehicles in our Best List, there are others that almost made the list including the Subaru Outback, Subaru Forrester, Volvo CX60, BMW xDrive, the Honda CR-V 4WD, the Toyota RAV4 4WD, and the Ford Escape SE AWD. Any Audi Quattro sedan, coupe, Cabriolet, and roadster will give you luxury, AWD handling, and relatively good mileage.
A four-wheel drive provides better traction on ice by delivering power to all four wheels when the driver selects 4WD. All wheel drive vehicles (AWD) automatically deliver power to all wheels. Winter and mountain safety is further improved with snow tires or good all-weather radials. Added vehicle weight can help. Now you can have AWD and 4WD cars and SUVs that still deliver good fuel economy. Whether you are taking your kids to school in Chicago, getting to work in Washington D.C., or running a taxi fleet in New York, an AWD may help you through the storm.
Yes, the best mileage was delivered by the hybrids, but you do not need to spend the extra dollars to get good mileage. Improved designs and more efficient gasoline engines give you a number of good cars, SUVs, and wagons to evaluate with rough winter driving.
The United States is finally importing less oil thanks to drivers getting better fuel economy. We are also reducing our need for expensive and risky ocean drilling off our shores, as people get smarter about transportation. Better mileage is helped with corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard for 2010 is 29.2 miles per gallon. For light trucks alone, it is 24.9 miles per gallon.
This list was developed by first searching the U.S. EPA and DOE’s valuable fueleconomy.gov, then reviewing details on the vehicle maker websites. The EPA combined miles per gallon rating is based on 45% highway and 55% city driving.
AWD Cars with 87 Miles per Gallon Can be Ordered in 2013
Next year, you can order some exciting all-wheel drive cars and crossovers that are plug-in hybrids getting the equivalent of 87 miles per gallon and one all-electric.
Tesla Model X can now be reserved with optional Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive. This luxury crossover is estimated to have an electric range of 250 miles. Your garage charging will cost a fraction of paying for gasoline or diesel at the pump. The second motor enables more than all-weather, all-road capabilities: it increases torque by 50%. When outfitted with AWD, Model X Performance accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds, outperforming the fastest SUVs and many sports cars. Reservations start at $5,000 for delivers in 2014.
BMW i8 wowed us in the final chase scene of Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol. Next year, BMW will start taking orders for the BMW i8 that will shift from concept to production sports coupe. To make sure that you don’t get carried away in this plug-in hybrid AWD the two electric motors coupled with a turbo diesel engine, BMW limits the speed to 155 miles per hour, yet projected to deliver the equivalent of 87 mpg. Audi is showing a similar turbo diesel plug-in hybrid concept, the Audi e-Tron Spyder.
Mitsubishi Outlander PX-MiEV is expected to go on sale soon in Japan, late 2013 in the U.S., and deliver plug-in hybrid AWD fuel economy at a more affordable price than the electric car alternatives from Tesla, BMW, and Audi. We expect this new SUV to have 2 powerful electric motors; one for front wheels, one for back, and a fuel-efficient gasoline engine that will engage after this plug-in hybrid exceeds its 30-mile electric range. When pricing is announced in late 2013, we expect it to less than Tesla, BMW, and Audi’s electric AWD wonders.
In 2-car households, one vehicle could even be an electric car and the other a larger AWD. You might be pleasantly surprised with how well some of the new electric cars handle snow and ice. Clarkson Cote when he drove his new Chevrolet Volt 400 miles from New York to northern New Hampshire. His Volt handled the snow better than his relative’s truck with snow tires.
Own or Rent an AWD
The average U.S. household has two cars. A growing trend is to put the most miles on the car with great mileage and have a bigger second vehicle for trips with passengers and tough road conditions. Bob and Weihong Eubank put the most miles on their Prius, but they are happy about having a Toyota Highlander Hybrid 4WD when heading for the mountains, or when loading 4 to 7 people in the SUV. Tim and Sandy Flood put most of their miles on commuter rail and on their Prius, but have a Honda CR-V AWD if they need more room or face bad roads.
Instead of spending a small fortune to own a vehicle that gets you through the worst day of the year, consider what best meets your needs 350 days per year. When I lived in New Hampshire, I got along fine without AWD, driving my Saab with good all weather radial tires. Now living in California, my Prius did surprisingly well during the few days each year that I was on bad winter roads in the mountain, although I sometimes went through the hassle of putting on chains. When we needed an SUV for the 2002 Winter Olympics, we rented a Ford Escape 4WD and were glad that we did. Consider renting an AWD if you rarely face icy roads.
A heavier SUV does not necessarily give better traction or safety on the ice than a sedan, but it may give you the necessary room for up to 7 people or lots of stuff. When that 100-year storm hits, relax. Schools are closed and you can work at home that day. Lots of room and premium comfort.