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2021 Audi A8 front 3/4 viewAudi of America, Inc.

Great Fuel Economy With All Four Wheels

Those living in wet or snowy climates have an abundance of choices these days among cars and SUVs that offer all-wheel drive (AWD) for added security over rain-soaked or snowy pavement as an alternative to either front- or rear-wheel drive. An AWD system reacts to wheel slippage by automatically channeling additional power to the front or rear wheels as necessary to maintain traction.

An AWD vehicle typically gets fewer mpg of gasoline than a comparable front- or rear-wheel-drive vehicle, so it pays to shop for a model that gets top fuel economy. Even with gas prices having remained fairly steady in recent months, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the difference in fuel costs between a vehicle that gets 30 mpg in combined city/highway driving and one that’s rated at 20 mpg with regular-grade gas at $2.40 a gallon will cost an extra $600 a year and $3,000 over a five-year ownership period.

To that end, we’ve compiled the above slideshow that highlights the 13 cars and SUVs with AWD that get the best fuel economy, with the top model in this regard rated at a decidedly frugal 51 mpg in combined city/highway driving. This assortment includes conventionally powered rides as well as gas/electric hybrids and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) that can run for an extended period solely on battery power before defaulting to hybrid operation. Not included, however, are fully electric vehicles.

We’re presenting these road-hugging fuel sippers according to their EPA-rated fuel economy, on a lower to higher basis. Plug-in hybrids note both their ratings when running on a combination of gas and electricity, and their MPGe equivalents when strictly on battery power (for more information, read What Is MPGe?). The prices given are for the least-expensive AWD model in each line. Note that since we update our new-vehicle information on an ongoing basis, the scores and data in this article may not match the scores on our rankings and reviews pages.

2021 Toyota Camry driver side viewToyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

13) 2021 Toyota Camry

$26,370 | MPG: 25 city / 34 highway | USN Overall Score 8.4

The Toyota Camry midsize sedan is highly rated for its winning combination of well-balanced driving dynamics, a roomy and comfortable cabin, intuitive infotainment system, and its extensive list of standard driver-assist safety features. The latter includes forward automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control, with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert available with AWD.

The Toyota Camry is available with AWD in LE, SE, SE Nightshade, XLE, and XSE trims, all with the Camry’s standard 202-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Unfortunately, you can’t get AWD with the stronger and smoother 3.5-liter V6 with 301 horses. Although it’s also available in the especially fuel-efficient Camry Hybrid that delivers 51 mpg in the city and 53 mpg on the highway, that version doesn’t come with AWD.

2021 Kia K5 front 3/4 view driving down the roadKia Motors America

12) 2021 Kia K5 AWD

$26,590 | 26/34 mpg city/highway | USN Overall Score: TBD

The midsize Kia K5 sedan is new for 2021, and it replaces the Optima in the automaker’s line. It’s crisply styled on the outside and features a well-cast interior with plenty of upscale touches that include an easily operated infotainment array with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. It rides comfortably, gets an admirable rating for predicted reliability, and comes with a generous amount of cargo space.

The K5 can be equipped with AWD in its LXS and GT-Line trims, both of which pack a 180-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Both come with a long list of high-tech safety features and amenities like remote entry with push-button start and a hands-free trunk opener. A 290-horsepower turbo-four with a dual-clutch eight-speed automatic is otherwise a

2021 Nissan Altima rear 3/4 viewNissan North America, Inc.

11) 2021 Nissan Altima

$26,800 | 26/36 mpg city/highway | USN Overall Score: 7.6

Roomy and treating occupants to the automaker’s Zero Gravity seats, which are among the most comfortable and supportive in the business, the midsize Nissan Altima sits at about mid-pack in its class. It’s not as athletic as some models, and its cabin isn’t as upscale, but it gets good fuel economy and lively acceleration. It comes standard with many essential accident-avoidance safety systems, with AWD models further including blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and reverse emergency braking.

The Nissan Altima can be fitted with AWD in SV, SR, SL, and Platinum trims with the standard 188-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). It gets one fewer mpg city/highway in SR and Platinum versions. Though it can’t be mated with AWD, a 248-horsepower turbo-four engine is also offered in the two highest trims.

2021 Subaru Legacy passenger side viewSubaru of America, Inc.

10) 2021 Subaru Legacy

$22,895 | 27/35 mpg city/highway | USN Overall Score: 7.6

Like most of the automaker’s other vehicles, the Subaru Legacy comes standard with AWD. It’s affordable and features a roomy, upscale-finished cabin that can seat adult passengers comfortably in the front and rear, along with an easily operated infotainment system. Adaptive headlights and a rear-seat reminder are added for 2021.

The Legacy’s base engine is an underwhelming 182-horsepower four-cylinder, with the top two trims coming with a more-pleasingly peppy 260-horsepower turbo-four; both come with a reasonably smooth and refined CVT. It’s not in any way sporty, though the Legacy’s suspension affords a smooth ride with composed handling.

2021 Audi A8 front 3/4 view driving down the roadAudi of America, Inc.

9) 2021 Audi A8 L 60 TSFI e Quattro

$95,900 | 53 MPGe/23 mpg combined city/highway | USN Overall Score: 8.4

The 60 TSFI Quattro is the plug-in hybrid version of the full-size Audi A8 L sedan. As with the rest of the line, the automaker’s Quattro AWD system comes standard. The A8 delivers a smooth ride and coddles passengers with comfortable seating, and many high-tech safety and infotainment features. The 2021 version adds standard 22-way power-adjustable and ventilated front seats, wireless device charging, and a surround-view parking camera system.

The Audi A8’s PHEV version pairs an electric motor with the standard model’s turbocharged V8 engine to realize a combined 443 horsepower with around an additional 150 pound-feet of torque. That’s enough to propel this large and heavy car to 60 mph in less than five seconds. It can run for the first 17 miles on a charge solely on battery power, after which it operates like a conventional hybrid.

2021 Subaru Impreza front 3/4 view driving down the roadSubaru of America, Inc.

8) 2021 Subaru Impreza

$18,975 | 28/36 mpg city/highway | USN Overall Score: 7.4

Like the aforementioned Legacy, the compact Subaru Impreza includes AWD across the line. It’s offered in both sedan and wagon-like hatchback versions, with the latter being an affordable alternative to small crossover SUV with similar cargo space. The Impreza’s best attributes are its lively handling abilities and its spacious passenger compartment with easily operated infotainment controls.

The Subaru Impreza’s sole engine is a tepid 152-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that drives all four wheels via a five-speed manual transmission or a CVT, with the latter getting the best fuel economy. The latter includes a sport mode that affords modestly more spirited driving. While the Impreza comes up short in terms of standard driver-assist systems, the car can be equipped with Subaru’s EyeSight package which includes a pre-collision warning and braking system, lane keep assist, and lane departure warning.

2021 BMW 3 Series front 3/4 view driving down the viewBMW of North America, LLC

7) 2021 BMW 330e xDrive

$46,550 | 67 MPGe/25 mpg combined city/highway | USN Overall Score: 7.8

New for 2021, the BMW 330e is a plug-in hybrid version of the automaker’s revered 3-Series compact sport/luxury sedan. The xDrive designation indicates it’s fitted with AWD, but a rear-drive version of the 330e is also available for $2,000 less. It’s arguably the best-handling car in its class, and while its cabin is a bit on the plain side, it’s sufficiently roomy in both the front and rear. The trunk is also spacious.

The BMW 330e pairs a 2.0-liter turbocharged gas engine with an electric motor to generate a lively 248 horsepower; engaging a feature in the car’s sport mode called XtraBoost ups the output to 288 horsepower for a brief 10-second blast. With a fully charged battery, the 3303 can run for the first 20 miles on emissions-free electricity, with an MPGe equivalent of 67 mpg in combined city/highway driving.

2021 Mini Cooper rear 3/4 viewBMW of North America, LLC

6) 2021 MINI Cooper Countryman S E All4

$41,500 | 73 MPGe/29 mpg combined city/highway | USN Overall Score: 7.8

Like all other MINIs, the MINI Cooper Countryman S E All4 is distinctively styled, and features an upscale interior that’s graced with some charmingly eccentric touches. The Countryman is also one of the most fun-to-drive small SUVs on the road, with precise handling and a playful nature. Unlike other MINIs, however, the Countryman comes with a roomy enough back seat area to comfortably fit adults without complaint. The ALL4 refers to the brand’s all-wheel-drive system.

The MINI Cooper Countryman S E adds an electric motor and plug-in battery pack to the car’s standard 134-horsepower turbocharged three-cylinder engine to bump up its output to a quicker 221 horses, which makes it the second-most powerful model in the line, next to the John Cooper Works version. The car can operate for the first 17 miles on a charge, and it’s rated at the equivalent of 73 mpg.

2021 Lexus UX Hybrid front 3/4 view driving down the roadToyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

5) 2021 Lexus UX 250h

$35,100 | 41/38 mpg city/highway | USN Overall Score: 7.5

The Lexus UX 250h is the gas/electric hybrid version of the brand’s expressively styled subcompact crossover SUV, and it comes standard with AWD. It rides smoothly and comes with a long list of standard features that, for 2021, now include a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert and an adjustable rear cargo deck board. It’s available in four trims, including a Black Line Special Edition that’s new this year with added equipment and specific touches.

The Lexus UX 250h comes powered by a four-cylinder gas engine and two electric motors to channel a combined 181 horsepower to all four wheels via a CVT. That’s adequate around town, but the vehicle lacks muscle when trying to get up to highway speeds. Standard driver-assist safety features are plentiful and include adaptive cruise control, automatic forward emergency braking, and lane departure warning with lane keep assist.

2021 Volvo S90 front 3/4 viewVolvo Cars of North America

4) 2021 Volvo S90 PHEV

$60,050 | 60 MPGe/30 mpg combined city/highway | USN Overall Score: 7.8

The Volvo S90 is the brand’s flagship midsize luxury sedan. It’s cleanly styled with flowing lines, and Volvo’s trademark “Thor’s hammer” headlights in front. Its cabin is likewise uncluttered and features high-quality materials and a large tablet-like touchscreen at the center of the dashboard. All-wheel drive comes standard. As might be expected from a brand with a reputation for safety, the S90 comes with a lengthy list of the latest driver-assist features.

The Recharge T8 plug-in hybrid versions of the Volvo S90 pack the same turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder gas engine that’s included with non-hybrid models, but adds an electric motor to boost the car’s output to a spry 400 horsepower. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard here as well. The PHEV S90 has an electric-only operating range of 21 miles on a charge.

2021 Volvo S60 front 3/4 viewVolvo Cars of North America

3) 2021 Volvo S60 PHEV

$48,295 | 69 MPGe/30 mpg combined city/highway | USN Overall Score: 7.9

The Volvo S60 is the compact alternative to the flagship S90 sedan. It features similar exterior styling with an equally classy and comfortable cabin that is likewise graced with a large infotainment touchscreen for the car’s infotainment system. It handles nicely and delivers a smooth ride. Already equipped with many of the latest safety features, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and rear parking sensors are newly standard for 2021.

The plug-in version of the Volvo S60 shares its turbocharged and supercharged electrified powertrain with the S90. Here it also generates a combined 400 horsepower and drives all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. The S60 PHEV can operate exclusively on battery power for the first 22 miles before reverting to gas/electric hybrid operation.

Audi of America, Inc.

2) 2021 Audi A7 Quattro PHEV

$69,200 | 68 MPGe/29 mpg combined city/highway | USN Overall Score: 8.8

The Audi A7 is a stylish midsize luxury sedan that’s considered a four-door coupe by virtue of its sharply sloping roofline. While that feature may be visually appealing, it tends to sacrifice some rear headroom and makes back-door entry difficult for taller riders. Individual touch screens for the infotainment and climate control systems give the cabin a decidedly high-tech look. It’s a solid performer, with well-balanced ride and handling abilities, and it offers a long list of driver assistance features for added safety.

The Audi A7’s plug-in hybrid model pairs a 2.0-liter gasoline engine with an electric motor to create 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automatic transmission comes standard. It can operate exclusively on electricity for 24 miles with a fully-charged battery.

2021 Toyota Prius rear 3/4 viewToyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

1) 2021 Toyota Prius AWD

$27,135 | 51/47 mpg city/highway | USN Overall Score: 7.7

The most efficient AWD vehicle in our survey is not a plug-in car, but a conventional gas/electric hybrid. The AWD version of the Toyota Prius squeezes a frugal 51 miles out of gallon on gas in city driving. The Prius has a futuristic design inside and out, and comes with many advanced safety and infotainment features, with bicyclist detection, road-sign recognition, and Android Auto capability newly standard for 2021. The Prius is not especially powerful, however, with its 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and electric motor sending just 121 horsepower to the car’s continuously variable transmission.

All-wheel drive is available on the Toyota Prius’ LE and XLE trims. There is also a plug-in hybrid version, the Prius Prime that can run for the first 25 miles on battery power, though that version doesn’t offer AWD.

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