Ever since all-wheel drive systems were introduced on passenger cars, they became known as ultimate driving dynamics aid. Even in modern vehicles, filled with all kinds of electronic stability systems, four-wheel traction is still reigning when it comes to road holding. Simply, you can’t beat modern AWD systems and in almost every car, this is the preferred option. However, most potential buyers don’t know the difference between different all-wheel drive systems and there are a couple which can be found in passenger cars. To be clear, not all AWD systems are equally good or offer the same level of traction.
The best all-wheel drive systems are mechanical ones or ones that feature Torsen type of differentials. Those AWD systems are capable of transferring all torque to only two or even one wheel in order to keep the car going forward. The amount of power sent to the wheels is limited only by the road surface and those AWD systems in combination with modern electronic sensors and aids are really capable of tackling even the most demanding conditions. On the other hand, we have Haldex type AWD systems which are far less capable but still safer than just front or rear wheel drive layout. Those systems are cheaper to produce and easier to design so they are much more common. The Haldex type all-wheel drive is mounted on existing front wheel drive layout and sends up to 50% power to the rear wheels in case the front wheels needs help. This system is somewhat limited since it cannot send all power to just one wheel and in extreme conditions it can disappoint you with lack of traction. However, in most cases and normal conditions, Haldex AWD systems can be equally usable as more expensive and complicated mechanical or Torsen all-wheel drivetrains.
So, before we present you 15 best currently available AWD sedans for under 35K, we feel you should know the basics of all-wheel drive construction and the difference between the systems. By reading this you will be able to differentiate cars not only by looks or price, but by technology and components underneath the bodywork. So let’s get straight to it.
As you might know, there are two distinctive Subaru features. One is the boxer engine and other is all-wheel drive. Fortunately, Subaru is always using the more advanced mechanical systems which mean that the WRX is a really capable car ready for any weather conditions there is. The WRX comes in few different flavors and models with AWD system as standard through the range. With the base price of $26,595 MSRP, WRX is a really capable and affordable compact sedan. If you are looking for more power and performance, you can always opt for WRX STi version which costs just a little north of $35,000 and comes with numerous performance upgrades, AWD system, and a 306 hp turbocharged engine.
Buick Regal AWD
Mid-size luxury sedan in form of Buick Regal proved very popular and a good value for money. In base trim, it comes with front wheel drive, but for a little extra, you can get an all-wheel drive sedan. To be exact, for $32,392 MSRP you will get a 259 hp sedan with various luxury features, great performance, and sleek design. However, since the new 2018 Buick Regal is on the way and it will be on sale later this year, dealers are offering all kinds of discounts on 2017 models so you may find a real bargain with all-wheel drive and a powerful 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine.
Ford Taurus SEL
The full-size Ford Taurus is one of the most popular cars in its class due to its great price and lots of interesting features. Of course, Ford knows that you need an AWD model to be a player in the highly competitive market, so it introduced an all-wheel-drive option starting from SEL trim level. For as low as $29,500 MSRP you can get a full-size sedan equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission, AWD system and a 3.5-liter V6 engine producing 288 hp and 254 lb-ft of torque. Ford’s signature EcoBoost engine is also available, but for an extra cost.
Dodge Charger SE AWD
If you are looking for a real American sedan with lots of space, power and ride quality, but with AWD traction and safety, there is no better choice than Dodge Charger. Despite being one of the oldest models on the market, Charger is pretty appealing due to great styling and price. The SE version comes with all-wheel drive option and it is available from $30,235 MSRP. For that kind of money, you will get plenty of space, a big trunk, and a powerful 3.6-liter V6 engine with 288 hp and 8-speed automatic gearbox. It is a pretty good offer and very capable family sedan.
Audi A3 Sedan
The Audi A3 Sedan is an interesting car and it is a new entry to the compact luxury segment. The name Audi symbolizes style and comfort, as well as fantastic all-wheel drive system in form of race proven Quattro. But, we have to disappoint you since A3 Sedan only gets the Haldex type of AWD system, not the Quattro, which is less capable and somewhat limits the traction of the car. Still, A3 Sedan is pretty stylish and elegant, and with a 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine (220 hp), it is capable of decent performance. The base price for A3 Sedan with AWD is $34,200 MSRP.
Acura TLX Sedan
Acura`s reputation for perfect build quality and performance engines in combination with luxury features and lots of space is very appealing in form of the TLX Sedan. Starting at $32,200 and equipped with a 2.4-liter engine, TLX can be bought with AWD system for just $2,200 more, giving the already great handling sedan some more usability and road holding. The new 2018 model is on the way so if you are looking for a good deal on all-wheel-drive Acura TLX, you might have to hurry up.
Mercedes CLA 250 4-Matic
For just under our $35,000 limit, there is a Mercedes CLA 250 with 4-Matic all-wheel drive option. Similar to the A3 Sedan, this is a compact luxury offering from Germany with great potential in a small package. For exactly $34,400 MSRP you will get 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder unit with 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. In comparison to some other models on this list which are much bigger, CLA 250 lacks in space but has loads of style and fabulous road holding as its main attributes.
Chrysler 300C Limited AWD
It is hard to believe, but Chrysler 300C has been present on the market for a full 13 years! Introduced in 2004 and thoroughly refreshed in 2011, 300C is still capable of fighting much younger and better-prepared competition. This model still offers great comfort, elegant design, powerful engines and a load of luxury features. The all-wheel drive option is available from the baseline (Limited) model and it starts at $34,840 MSRP. For that money, you will get a luxury formal sedan with 8-speed automatic transmission and 3.6-liter V6 engine which produces 292 hp.
BMW 320i xDrive
For just $450 above our $35,000 limit, you can get a quintessential performance sedan in form of BMW 3 Series with xDrive AWD system. This is quite a bargain since the 3 Series is one of the best compact luxury cars, and in this trim level it’s a perfect combination of driving dynamics and decent performance. The 320i comes with 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder engine with 180 hp.
Infinity Q50 AWD
In the last couple of years, Infinity has really been trying hard to establish itself as one of the world’s top luxury brands. One of the main models is Q50, an elegant and versatile mid-size luxury sedan which comes with different engines and flavors. Of course, there is an AWD option and for $35,900 MSRP ($900 above our limit), you can get a fresh 2017 Q50 with a 2.0-liter four cylinder engine with 208 hp. The power is not so spectacular, but it is enough to allow this all-wheel drive sedan pretty decent acceleration and top speed.
Volvo S60 AWD
Synonymous for safety and stability, Volvo is back with a whole new lineup of models. Mid-sized S60 is the most interesting model since it combines Volvo’s signature features and modern design with 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and optional all-wheel drive system. For $35,950 MSRP, Volvo fans can enjoy 240 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque as well as perfect all weather handling and safety of intelligent and advanced AWD system.
Audi A4 2.0 Quattro
Despite being significantly more than our $35,000 limit, we have to mention the Audi A4 Quattro. The design is not much different than the A3 Sedan we featured on this list, and neither is the power. The real difference is the AWD system which is in this case the mighty Quattro, one of the best intelligent all-wheel drive systems available. If you value substance more than form, be ready to pay $39,400 MSRP for a 2.0 liter turbocharged A4 with 220 hp and famous rally-proven Quattro.
Jaguar XE 2.0d AWD
The new Jaguar XE is one of the best looking cars in its class and it managed to steal the spotlight from German competitors. Interestingly enough, Jaguar offered XE with the diesel engine as an option and all-wheel drive system. For $38,900 MSRP you will get a leaping cat which runs on diesel fuel and delivers its power to all four wheels. The pretty interesting combination is worth spending $3,900 more over our price limit.
If you need a little bit more space and practicality than in the Subaru WRX, but you are a big fan of boxer engines and symmetrical all-wheel drive systems, then you should check out the Legacy. It is a mid-size sedan with all features expected from the vehicle in this class, but with a low price and AWD as standard. For just $21,995 MSRP you can get the baseline Legacy, but we suggest you to pay extra for a more powerful engine and some additional interior features.
Mitsubishi Lancer ES 2.4 AWC
Despite the fact that Mitsubishi as a brand is not doing so well on the market, the company still has a lot to offer. The perfect example is the Lancer ES with 2.4 liter engine with 168 hp and AWC system (All Wheel Control) which is Mitsubishi`s way of saying all-wheel drive. For just $20,250 MSRP this is the cheapest AWD sedan on the market and if you are looking for decent performance and features in compact body style with all advantages of AWD and want to save a few bucks, this could be the perfect car for you.