Over the past decade, AWD cars have become far more affordable and thus much more popular.
Today’s market is full of AWD sedans with a sticker price of under $20k.
But, which are the best all-wheel drive sedans to consider?
This is a comparison of the best AWD sedans with a starting price of under $20k and what there is to like and dislike about each.
1. 2022 Kia Rio
For affordable AWD sedans, the Kia Rio is at the front of the pack, with sports car styling, a user-friendly interface, and a comfortable interior.
Gas mileage: The estimated fuel economy on the Kia is 41 highway / 31 city.
Ride: It does provide a nice, nimble, and smooth drive and ride.
Power: It has a very efficient powertrain that has been completely fine-tuned.
Safety: There are several quality features, such as the Driver Assistance features.
Engine: No hybrid engine option.
Acceleration: There is a lack of get-up and go with this car.
Space: The rear seat was a bit of an afterthought.
2. 2022 Subaru Impreza
The Subaru Impreza epitomizes much of the best that you can get in cars under $20,000.
All-wheel drive paired with safety is the hallmark of the Subaru.
However, its fuel economy is simply below class.
But nevertheless, the Subaru Impreza is still a quality pick.
AWD: This is a real all-wheel-drive vehicle; it is not optional.
Features: Driver assist is standard and is excellent in its functionality.
Engine: No option for a hybrid.
Gas mileage: Well below others in the class at 31 highway / 23 city.
Acceleration: Somewhat lagging, lacks the get-up and go.
3. 2022 Nissan Versa
It is nothing short of incredible that a compact sedan with this fuel economy is under $20,000.
Among the list of best AWD sedans to send your kids off to college with, you should have the Versa near the top.
Simply put, there is a lot to love.
Gas mileage: Among the best in class with 40 highway / 32 city.
Price: Though not the lowest sticker in the group, with all things considered, a base of under $19,000 is very appealing.
Comfort: A legit 5-passenger car and the seats are probably the most comfortable in its class, especially up front. But overall, among the most comfortable interiors in the class.
Safety: Safety is not an option, but standard with this car. Driver Assistance is standard.
Space: Things get a bit tight in the back seat.
Acceleration: Not built for speed, the engine lacks a bit of vigor.
4. 2022 Hyundai Accent
Even the high-end trim levels or Limited model of the Accent still keep you under $20,000.
If you are looking for an all-wheel-drive car as a first car or a workhorse for the home, the Hyundai Accent could be one of the best AWDs for the job.
Value: A 60-month / 60,000-mile standard warranty and a 5 years / unlimited mileage roadside assistance warranty paired with a base MSRP price of under $17,000.
Gas mileage: Its fuel economy is near the top of the class with 41 highway / 33 city.
Safety: Some of the safety features offered on other models are not available on the lower end of the Accent price points.
Space: Though it is a legitimate 5-seater, the cargo space is sacrificed to get that.
5. 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage
An old-timer in this class, the Mirage has been around for decades.
It is still going strong, which is a testament to its popular style and feel for this class.
Gas mileage: Among the best all-wheel drive sedans with 40 highway / 33 city.
Price: The MSRP is under $17,000.
Value: The price along with the warranty makes for a very good deal.
Drive: At highway speeds, the interior gets noisy.
Features: The interior has a cheap styling and feel.
Engine: The engine is in serious need of fine-tuning.
6. 2022 Kia Forte
A more sophisticated feel with a sharper interior than the Rio.
Not the fastest or the largest in this class, but definitely has an appeal all its own.
Features: There are a few technology features, such as the Infotainment, that are decent.
Performance: The performance, especially for city driving, is very satisfying.
Gas mileage: Among the worst in class at 41 highway / 31 city.
Safety: It has many low-cost polymers that are concerning from a safety perspective, and the Driver Assistance feature needs a bit of upgrading.
Engine: The base engine leaves much to be desired.
7. 2021 Toyota Corolla
With its sports car styling, packed full of features, and a great price, the Corolla is a definite standout in this crowd.
Design: A standout in many ways. Great hatchback design, the Apex models are very well done. All models have great styling.
Value: Space, warranty, style, etc., and a sticker at under $20,000 – the Corolla is a good value.
Features: Good amount of cargo space, good warranty, Android Auto, and WiFi hot spot are standard.
Gas mileage: Not a good competitor for this class with 38 highway / 30 city.
Engine: Among the slowest in the class.
Comfort: The back seat seems forgotten; no USB ports in the rear.
8. 2020 Subaru Legacy
Subaru is the original to make the all-wheel-drive system a standard.
Like the Subaru Impreza, the Legacy is one of their success stories.
AWD: As with all Subaru models, AWD is standard.
Interior: There is a rather spacious and comfortable inside space.
Features: Subaru has packed the Legacy with a lot of tech as standard, including a High-Tech Multimedia System, Apple Pay, Andriod Auto, and their EyeSight Safety System.
Engine: While its 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder engine is big for this class, it lacks much of the power that some other models have.
Gas mileage: The Legacy’s fuel economy is nothing to brag about either, at 35 highway / 27 city.
Features: While Apple Pay and Andriod Auto are standard, the design of the multimedia system, such as its vertical layout and small icons, makes it clumsy and weird to use.
Safety: Though the car is full of Subaru safety tech features, there are a bit glitchy.
9. 2021 Volkswagen Jetta
For value, economy, and a sports car appeal, the Jetta is a satisfying and very enjoyable option in this class.
Space: Among the few in class that didn’t forget about the back seat, for a compact SUV, it is spacious.
Ride: A very smooth ride and comfortably enjoyable.
Engine: The base is very fuel-efficient, and the upgraded GLI 2 0-liter has some go in it.
Gas mileage: Competitive at 41 highway / 30 city.
Safety: Low-grade functionality, especially with the Driver Assistance.
Features: Just seems to have been done cheaply in many ways.
Engine: While the base is fuel-efficient, it is also missing the power.
10. 2021 Hyundai Veloster
A 4-seater and 3-door design is unique in this class, but there isn’t much more to make it stand out.
Design: Very sporty look and feel.
Engine: The turbocharged engines with either manual transmission or automatic are both excellent.
Price: It has a lot to offer for under $20,000.
Gas mileage: The worst for this class at 33 highway / 25 city.
Space: Typical of a sports car, the back seat is very tight.
Interior: Unlike the outside, the interior has a cheap feel.
Is a Kia Rio reliable?
According to Repairpal.com, the Kia Rio is considered a reliable vehicle.
In fact, they score the Kia Rio at 4.5 out of 5 for its reliability.
This places the Kia Rio sixth amongst the 21 subcompact cars the site rated.
The site bases its reliability rankings on the factors of cost, frequency, and severity of actual repairs.
Do all-wheel-drive vehicles use more gas?
Yes. All-wheel drive vehicles are notorious for eating gas.
They’re heavier than FWD and RWD vehicles and power all four wheels instead of one or two.
All-wheel drive cars have a lot more moving parts that require more fuel to run.
Do AWD cars wear tires faster?
Tires on an AWD tend to wear faster than those on other vehicles.
This is because all four tires are being powered and doing the same work.
It’s very common for the front tires on an AWD vehicle to wear faster than those on the rear.
However, you should always replace all 4 tires at the same time.
Is AWD worth the money?
It depends upon whether you use AWD.
Any option or feature is a waste of money if you don’t use it.
If the vast majority of your driving (85% or more) is on well-maintained paved roads (such as city driving), then the all-wheel drive is commonly not worth it.
All-wheel drive was once an expensive option, but now there are plenty of AWD vehicles under $20,000 to choose from – both new and used AWD models.
If you need or want an all-wheel-drive car, there are several that would qualify as the best AWD to buy, and you can get one affordably.