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  2. Best AWD SUVs of 2021 & 2022

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Overview

All-wheel drive (AWD) is an essential item in an SUV of any market category. Not only does it bring extra capability to deal with mud, sand, snow, and even rocks that might be in the way, but it also makes the vehicle easier to control. As a result, your trips will become safer and more predictable. That is why this is an essential item in any model which intends to be the best AWD SUV of the market.

The compilation below only shows vehicles equipped with AWD – some do not offer it as a standard item, so the text only considers trim levels which feature the item. You are going to see examples of different brands, sizes, engines, energy source, price ranges, market portions, and even body styles to some extent. But they all share the fact that they are the best AWD SUV 2021 and 2022 has brought into the market.

10. 2022 Hyundai Kona

Class: Generalist subcompact, Type: 2-row, Price: $22,545

Source: www.hyundaiusa.com

Why We Picked It: Entry-level models are often overlooked because people tend to think their low price comes at the expense of being poorly equipped and underpowered. The Kona is the best AWD SUV 2022 in the subcompact category mostly for shaking that reputation away: it has inspired style, value-oriented versions, efficient engines, and a performance flair which makes it hard not to think of it as the reinterpretation of the hot hatch concept in the era of sport-utility vehicles.
Pros
External design with sporty inspiration
Turbo engines are fast and fuel-efficient
Excellent equipment lists and warranty
Cons
Steering could be more responsive
Tiny cargo volume even for a compact
Standard engine is slow and thirsty
AWD System: While the standard Hyundai Kona has front-wheel drive, all the non-sporty versions can be equipped with an automatic full-time all-wheel drive system. The N version is the only exception to that.
 

2022 Hyundai Kona Specs

  • Engine: Base trims use a four-cylinder 2.0L good for 147 hp of power and 132 lb-ft of torque. Intermediate versions upgrade that with a turbocharged 1.6L unit which reaches 195 hp and 195 lb-ft. The sporty N impresses with the 286 hp and 289 lb-ft of its turbocharged 2.0L.
  • Fuel economy: The most efficient version is the 1.6L, which makes 29 mpg in the city, 35 mpg on the highway, and 32 mpg combined according to the EPA.
  • Cargo space: The available volume is 19.2 ft³. Folding down the second row of seats takes that figure to 45.8 ft³. The Hyundai Kona has been criticized for its small cargo volume.

9. 2022 Mazda CX-5

Class: Generalist compact, Type: 2-row, Price: $27,125

Source: www.mazdausa.com

Why We Picked It: Since this category has so many competitors, they try to earn your attention by offering something different, such as better performance, true off-road capacity, or a fuel-efficient powertrain. Mazda, in turn, made the CX-5 the best AWD SUV among its rivals by excelling at the core characteristics. With handsome design, refined dynamic behavior, sophisticated cabin, AWD as standard, and an efficient yet perky turbocharged engine, it is simply difficult to resist this model.

Pros
Handsome and athletic external design
Elegant and sophisticated cabin
Refined dynamics with a premium feel
Cons
Standard engine is only average
Cargo space could be better for a 2-row
No electrified options whatsoever
AWD system: An interesting point where the CX-5 stands out in its market category is the fact that it offers all-wheel drive as standard – most of its rivals keep it as an expensive item on the options list. The system has automatic full-time operation.
 

2022 Mazda CX-5 Specs

  • Engine: The standard engine is a four-cylinder 2.5L which makes 187 hp of power and 186 lb-ft of torque. There is also a turbocharged version of the same engine size which elevates those figures to 227 hp and 310 lb-ft, respectively.
  • Fuel economy: The best figures come from the naturally aspirated engine. It makes 24 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined, according to EPA estimates.
  • Cargo volume: You will find 30 ft³ in the CX-5’s trunk. Folding down the rear seats increases that volume to 59.3 ft³.

8. 2021 Ford Bronco

Class: Generalist midsize, Price: $29,995, Type: 2-row

Source: www.ford.com

Why We Picked It: Ford knew the Wrangler is hard to beat. The reinvented Bronco comes in two and four doors and is packed with killer style and off-road capabilities. While the Bronco Sport spin-off takes care of families, the regular version focuses on enthusiasts by offering multiple levels of items and price and a long list of options. All of them with excellent handling even on a highway.
Pros
Simply no heads are left unturned
Many off-road-focused items available
Excellent handling for an off-roader
Cons
Manual ‘box only comes with the 2.3L
Main competitor offers hybrid versions
The best versions are very expensive
AWD system: Being a dedicated off-road vehicle, it is not surprising that all-wheel drive is standard here. The system is paired to an independent front suspension and there are a lot of options to order if you want your Ford Bronco to be even more capable: 35” mud tires, beadlock-capable wheels, electronic locking front and rear differentials, and a function to disconnect the sway bar.
 

2021 Ford Bronco Specs

  • Engine: The base option is a turbocharged, four-cylinder 2.3L engine capable of 275 hp of power and 315 lb-ft of torque. If you want more, you can opt for the turbocharged V6 with 2.7 liters and enjoy 315 hp and 410 lb-ft.
  • Fuel economy: Neither option is actually fuel-efficient, but the best one is the four-cylinder 2.3L: 20 mpg in the city, 22 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg combined; if you want your Bronco to sip fuel, you have to order it with the automatic transmission.
  • Cargo space: The two-door version offers 22.4 ft³ as the base volume and 52.3 ft³ if you fold down the rear seats. The four-door Bronco increases those figures to 38.3 ft³ and 83 ft³.

7. 2021 BMW X2

Class: Luxury subcompact, Type: 2-row, Price: $39,945

Source: www.bmwusa.com

Why We Picked It: If you are looking for practicality, take the X1. The raked-roof sibling is excellent for people who chose form over function. In that context, you will be delighted by its coupé-like style, the cabin’s premium feel, and its refined dynamic behavior. Now, if you really want to take the sportiness up a notch, you should spring for the M35i version: it justifies the Motorsport initial with an upgraded version of the base 2.0L engine and a class-leading performance standard.
Pros
One of the most stylish in its category
Excellent dynamics even in the 28i trim
M35i is truly sporty, even for an SUV
Cons
No electrified powertrains whatsoever
Raked roof takes up some headroom
Cabin doesn’t match exterior’s verve
AWD system: The X2’s base layout uses front-wheel drive, as it is mechanically similar to the X1 sibling. That can be upgraded with AWD in the base version, which is renamed to xDrive28i, while the sporty one comes with all-wheel drive as standard.
 

2021 BMW X2 Specs

  • Engine: The base option uses a turbocharged, four-cylinder 2.0L engine good for 228 hp of power and 258 lb-ft of torque. If you choose the sporty M35i, you will get a tuned-up version of the same engine which generates 301 hp and 331 lb-ft.
  • Fuel economy: The xDrive28i is the most fuel-efficient version among those equipped with all-wheel drive. It makes 23 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway, and 26 mpg combined.
  • Cargo space: The base volume is 21.6 ft³. You can increase that to 50.1 ft³ by folding down the rear seats.

6. 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

Class: Generalist midsize, Type: 3-row, Price: $45,520

Source: www.jeep.com

Why We Picked It: While the arrival of an all-new generation is always interesting to see, the fact that this one came with a seven-seater version for the first time really deserves a detailed look. The long-wheelbase model is the best AWD SUV in its class for making a wonderful adaptation of the original concept, which is not easy: the elegant design and the off-road capabilities were preserved, so the L is prepared to make Jeep’s top seller just as attractive to many new customer profiles.
Pros
Elegant and sophisticated feeling inside
True off-road capabilities available
Tasteful adaptation of the original style
Cons
Thirsty V6 and V8 and no electrification
All-wheel drive is not a standard item
High-end versions can be expensive
AWD system: While the standard version is equipped with rear-wheel drive, Jeep offers three options of all-wheel drive systems according to the trim level. Quadra-Trac I offers part-time operation while Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II offer enhanced off-road capabilities.
 

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Specs

  • Engine: The entry-level option is a 3.6L V6 capable of 290 hp of power and 257 lb-ft of torque. If you want better performance, you can opt for a 5.7L Hemi V8 which is good for 357 hp and 390 lb-ft.
  • Fuel economy: Considering the versions equipped with all-wheel drive, the V6 engine makes the most fuel-efficient one reach 18 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway, and 21 mpg combined.
  • Cargo space: The least you will get is 17.2 ft³. Folding down the third row of seats increases that volume to 46.9 ft³ and doing the same to the second row takes the volume to 84.6 ft³.

5. 2022 Volvo XC60

Class: Luxury compact, Type: 2-row, Price: $46,045

Source: www.volvocars.com

Why We Picked It: Years ago, the Toyota Prius became people’s reference of eco-friendly cars, back when hybrid technology was scarce. However, that bubble-shaped body made it essentially a rational purchase. Nowadays, Volvo is on the forefront of modern electrification, but makes use of a highly attractive design language which makes people actually want its cars. The XC90 is the best AWD SUV 2022 for doing its part by emulating the XC90’s qualities in a smaller package.
Pros
Hybrid and all-wheel drive are standard
Exterior and interior design are stylish
Plenty of driver-assist tech as standard
Cons
Limited storage space in the cabin
Infotainment system is not so intuitive
Ride quality could be more composed
AWD system: The standard layout is of front-wheel drive only for the B5; all the others offer all-wheel drive as standard.
 

2022 Volvo XC60 Specs

  • Engine: All XC60 versions were electrified for 2022. The base B5 uses a mild-hybrid system with a turbocharged, four-cylinder 2.0L unit to generate 247 hp of power and 258 lb-ft of torque. The intermediate B6 pairs the same setup to a supercharger to reach 295 hp and 310 lb-ft. The T8 is upgraded with a plug-in hybrid system to make 400 hp and 472 lb-ft.
  • Fuel economy: The B5 is the most fuel-efficient of the regular ones, making 22 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 24 mpg combined. Going by EPA estimates, the T8 offers a combined 57 MPGe of equivalent consumption.
  • Cargo space: The base version offers 17.1 ft³ of trunk space. Folding down the rear seats increases that room to 63.3 ft³.

4. 2022 GMC Yukon

Class: Generalist full-size, Type: 3-row, Price: $56,695

Source: www.gmc.com

Why We Picked It: GM’s line of large SUVs has recently undergone a reinvention with aggressive design and all the latest technologies, but preserving characteristics such as cavernous cabins even at the short-wheelbase version and engine options for everyone. The GMC Yukon is the best AWD SUV 2022 because it is more handsome and refined than the Tahoe while asking for a little more money – and much less than what the Escalade does.
Pros
Enough room to get lost in the cabin
Available fuel-sipping diesel 3.0L engine
Little more expensive than the Tahoe
Cons
High-end versions reach Escalade prices
Excessively thirsty gasoline engines
Large enough to be hard to maneuver
AWD system: The standard setup is rear-wheel drive for almost all the Yukon’s versions, but they can all receive full-time all-wheel drive. The latter is only standard for the AT4 version.
 

2022 GMC Yukon Specs

  • Engine: The base unit is a 5.3L V8 capable of 355 hp of power and 383 lb-ft of torque. It can be upgraded with a 6.2L V8 good for 420 hp and 460 lb-ft. You can also opt for a 3.0L inline-six which burns diesel and makes 277 hp and 460 lb-ft.
  • Fuel economy: EPA estimates indicate that the 3.0L is the most fuel-efficient, although none of those options are particularly good at this: 21 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway, and 24 mpg combined.
  • Cargo space: The short-wheelbase Yukon offers 25.5 ft³ which can be increased to 72.6 ft³ by folding down the third row of seats and to 122.9 ft³ by doing the same to the second row. If you choose the extended XL version, those figures are 41.5, 93.8 and 144.7 ft³ respectively.

3. 2021 Genesis GV80

Class: Luxury midsize, Type: 3-row, Price: $55,695

Source: www.genesis.com

Why We Picked It: Just like any emerging brand, Genesis is taking its first steps by mirroring what the established competitors are doing. The GV80 debuts with attractive style, beautiful equipment lists adorning an even more beautiful cabin, and surprisingly agile handling. Offering at least one option of hybrid powertrain would be good, but it is still counted as of the best AWD SUV 2021.
Pros
Athletic exterior design for its category
Refined cabin with lots of equipment
Highly responsive dynamic behavior
Cons
Optional third seat row is too small
No electrified powertrains available
Steering wheel feels too heavy
AWD system: Full-time all-wheel drive is standard in all versions except for the base one, which is equipped with the 2.5L engine. That one has rear-wheel drive as standard but can be upgraded.
 

2021 Genesis GV80 Specs

  • Engine: The base version is a turbocharged, four-cylinder 2.5L unit good for 300 hp of power and 311 lb-ft of torque. It can be upgraded with a twin-turbocharged 3.5L V6 that increases those figures to 375 hp and 391 lb-ft respectively.
  • Fuel economy: The 2.5L is the most efficient option in terms of fuel consumption: according to the EPA, it makes 21 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway, and 22 mpg combined.
  • Cargo space: Considering the optional third seat row is in place, the trunk room is of 11.6 ft³. Folding it down increases the volume to 34.6 ft³, which is the standard volume of the five-seater versions. Leaving only the front seats up opens up 84 ft³.

2. 2021 Audi e-tron Sportback

Class: Luxury midsize, Type: 2-row, Price: $70,295

Source: media.audiusa.com

Why We Picked It: Just like in the generalist market, the midsize category of luxury SUVs is crowded enough to justify selecting two models in this list. While the GV80 seduces its target audience with a family-oriented profile, the e-tron uses its Sportback version to attract people who want to make a statement with their car. Not only in terms of fashion, with a raked roof that makes it gorgeous, but also with the fully electric powertrain, which makes it the best AWD SUV in its market niche.
Pros
External design is simply breathtaking
Cabin is a masterclass in premium feel
Dynamic behavior is extremely quiet
Cons
Low range compared to its main rivals
Steering feels inexpressive for an Audi
Raked roof trades headroom for style
AWD system: While the quattro name is the same as regular Audi systems, the e-tron Sportback uses one electric motor on each axle in order to create an electronic all-wheel drive setup. In practice, it is biased towards the rear wheels.
 

2021 Audi e-tron Sportback Specs

  • Engine: The e-tron is only equipped with one powertrain option of two electric motors that produce 355 hp of power and 414 lb-ft of torque.
  • Fuel economy: Being a fully electric model, the e-tron makes us talk of equivalent EPA fuel efficiency estimates of 73 MPGe in the city, 78 MPGe on the highway, and 75 MPGe combined.
  • Cargo space: The base volume is 27.2 ft³. Folding down the rear seats takes it to 54.5 ft³.

1. 2022 Lexus LX

Class: Luxury full-size, Type: 3-row, Price: $88,245

Source: www.pressroom.lexus.com

Why We Picked It: The all-new generation came with a new strategy: the Land Cruiser bowed out to make both the Sequoia and the LX more appealing in their respective segments. Lexus’s offering wants to increase its clientele by adapting its original recipe to the new times: even fancier cabin, more refined engine, and more trim levels available. While it still has some things to learn from the other best AWD SUVs 2022, it has become more competitive than ever.
Pros
New V6 engine embraces downsizing
Trim levels for all types of customers
Cabin is more sophisticated than ever
Cons
Main competitors are still more refined
No electrified powertrains whatsoever
Third seat row only in some versions
AWD system: Full-time all-wheel drive system is a standard offering in the Lexus LX. You can invest in its off-road capabilities through the list of options, which includes height-adjustable suspensions.
 

2022 Lexus LX Specs

  • Engine: The all-new model embraces the downsizing trend and uses a twin-turbocharged, 3.4L V6 which delivers 409 hp of power and 479 lb-ft of torque.
  • Fuel economy: EPA estimates indicate 17 mpg in the city, 22 mpg on the highway and 19 mpg combined.
  • Cargo space: The base trims seat five passengers in two rows while the intermediate ones seat seven in three rows and the range-topper Ultra Luxury accommodates four people with the second row being made of captain’s chairs. Because of all that, we can say that the LX’s cargo space goes from 11 to 46 ft³.

In conclusion, which SUV has the best AWD?

The Grand Cherokee L has the best AWD. While Jeep has a solid reputation in off-road driving, it has also become a regular global brand with a long line of SUVs. Therefore, it has learned to distill its iconic image into several versions, each one aimed at a different customer profile in order to maximize the number of people who could be potentially attracted. This model is a great example of how to execute that.

Offering full capability on all available trim levels would have made them expensive and would have made a nice feature mundane. What the company did, instead, was to offer rear-wheel drive in the standard model to make it cheaper, especially this completely new long-wheelbase variation, then offer different AWD systems according to the trim level: you can get exactly what you want.

FAQ

1. What is the best awd suv for gas mileage?

The Audi e-tron Sportback is the best AWD SUV for gas mileage.

2. Which AWD SUV is best in snow?

The Jeep Grand Cherokee L is the best AWD SUV in snow.

3. What is the most reliable AWD SUV?

The Mazda CX-5 is the most reliable AWD SUV.