Most Fuel-Efficient AWD Cars

© Automotive Content Experience, © Tesla Motors, © Mercedes-Benz USA, © Subaru of AmericaSafe and Thrifty
When car shoppers decide they need a vehicle with the traction of all-wheel drive, their first thoughts typically turn to crossovers and SUVs. Granted, these two vehicle types are the poster children for confidence during inclement weather. However, passenger cars not only offer the sure-footed confidence of all-wheel drive, they can also save money at the fuel pump. So if you’re in need of AWD but not looking for the cavernous capacity of an SUV, there are plenty of passenger car options available in a variety of luxury, performance and economical packages. Let’s look at some of the most fuel-efficient AWD cars you can buy in America today, according to U.S. EPA estimates for combined city / highway mpg.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2017 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic
27 mpg combined
24 mpg city / 31 mpg highway
Starting MSRP: $44,650 for coupe
The C-Class was all new for 2015, featuring a lightweight design, excellent aerodynamics and new economical engines. The C300 4MATIC provides plenty of power with a turbocharged 2.0-liter direct-injection 4-cylinder engine producing 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. C-Class can be had in sedan, coupe or convertible form — all available with 4MATIC all-wheel drive.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2017 Audi A4
27 mpg combined
24 mpg city / 31 mpg highway
Starting MSRP: $37,300
All new for 2017, the A4 is Audi’s midsize sport sedan. Although no longer available with the a diesel powertrain due to parent-company Volkswagen’s emissions issues, the A4 is still one of the most fuel-efficient all-wheel drive sedans available. All 2017 A4s are powered by an updated 2.0-liter TFSI turbocharged 4-cylinder engine putting out 252 horsepower and an impressive 273 lb-ft of torque at a low 1900 rpm.

© BMW North America2016 MINI Cooper Countryman / Cooper Paceman
27 mpg combined
25 mpg city / 31 mpg highway
Starting MSRP: $22,750 for Countryman
The Countryman was the first MINI with four doors as well as available AWD, and although large for a MINI, the Countryman is still one of the smallest cars on the market. The Paceman is a two-door version of the Countryman with sportier lines. Only the higher-performance S or John Cooper Works is available with ALL4 all-wheel drive, each with a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine. And while the JCW bumps power from 181 to 208 horses, both have the same fuel economy ratings.

©Audi of America2016 Audi A3
27 mpg combined
24 mpg city / 33 mpg highway
Starting MSRP: $34,200
Audi’s entry-level car originally arrived in the U.S. as a 2006 model in 4-door hatchback configuration only, but in 2015 Audi changed the A3 lineup to include a sedan and cabriolet. While the convertible gets a respectable 26 mpg combined, the sedan is the most fuel-efficient of the A3 quattro offerings. Power on the all-wheel drive quattro comes from a 2.0-liter engine putting out 220 horsepower. Audi does off the A3 Sportback eTron gasoline-electric hybrid which reports 83 mpge, but it is only available with front-wheel drive.

© Mercedes-Benz USA2017 Mercedes-Benz CLA250
27 mpg combined
24 mpg city / 33 mpg highway
Starting MSRP: $34,400
This fall the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class will get a complete refresh, featuring new front and rear bumpers, new wheel designs, new seat covers and chrome-plated controls inside. Positioned as the entry-level option below the top-selling C-Class, the CLA-Class arrived on the U.S. market as a 2014 model offering a more affordable alternative. With the Mercedes 4MATIC all-wheel drive system, the CLA250 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that produces 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.

© Mike Meredith Automotive Content Experience2017 BMW 230i xDrive
27 mpg combined
24 mpg city / 33 mpg highway
Starting MSRP: $35,150
BMW’s small entry-luxury model for the U.S. market, the 2 Series joined the BMW lineup as a 2014 model replacing the 1 Series. The 2 Series is a modern example of the type of sporty, agile, fun-to-drive car on which BMW built its reputation in the 1960s. For 2017 the 2 Series gets the latest generation of BMW’s TwinPower Turbo engine that offers increased horsepower and torque versus the outgoing version. The 248-horsepower engine delivers improved fuel economy in the city.

© Nissan North America2016 Infiniti Q50 Hybrid
28 mpg combined
27 mpg city / 31 mpg highway
Starting MSRP: $49,050
Hybrids with all-wheel drive are quite rare — the Q50 is one of just two on this list. Although fuel economy is good, the Q50’s hybrid system skews more toward performance than economy, consisting of a 3.5-liter V6 engine teamed with a 50 kW electric motor for a total system output of 360 horsepower. The Q50 Hybrid is only available in the Premium trim, so it comes with plenty of standard luxury and safety features including the Around View Monitor, Predictive Forward Collision Warning and Backup Collision Intervention.

© Subaru of America2016 Subaru Outback
28 mpg combined
25 mpg city / 33 mpg highway
Starting MSRP: $24,995
One of the original crossover vehicles, the Outback combines the ride and handling of a passenger car with the utility and off-road capability of an SUV. When it was last redesigned in 2015, the Outback delivered more space, fresh styling, better fuel economy and a slew of new high-tech features for entertainment and safety. The Outback gets power from a 2.5-liter engine putting out 175 horsepower, offering a fine blend of performance and fuel economy.

© American Honda Motor Co., Inc.2016 Acura RLX
30 mpg combined
28 mpg city / 32 mpg highway
Starting MSRP: $59,950
Acura’s flagship RLX sedan is the most powerful and technologically advanced vehicles ever offered by Honda’s premium brand. The hybrid powertrain combines a 3.5-liter V6 engine with a three-motor hybrid system for a total output of 377 horsepower. In addition to the impressive power output, the RLX Sport Hybrid delivers excellent handling thanks to Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system with electrically-powered torque vectoring. The standard equipment list is quite extensive, including Head-Up display, leather-trimmed interior, Jewel Eye LED headlights, a Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Keeping Assist and a Blind Spot Information system.

© Subaru of America2016 Subaru Legacy
30 mpg combined
26 mpg city / 36 mpg highway
Starting MSRP: $21,745
The Subaru Legacy was redesigned last year, making it the roomiest and most advanced sedan the company has ever delivered. As with all Subaru models, all-wheel drive is standard on all Legacy trim levels. A nice mix of fuel economy and performance comes from a 2.5-liter horizontally-opposed 4-cylinder engine that produces 175 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque, paired with a Lineartronic continuously variable transmission. For those who prefer to shift on their own, the CVT includes a 6-speed manual mode and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

© BMW of North America2016 BMW 535d xDrive
30 mpg combined
26 mpg city / 37 mpg highway
Starting MSRP: $59,650
Audi may no longer be able to sell diesels in the U.S., but other companies such as BMW are still able to take advantage of this fuel-efficient option. Powering this luxury sport sedan is an inline-6 BMW Advanced Diesel engine with TwinPower Turbo technology making 255 horsepower and more importantly, 413 lb-ft of torque from just 1500 rpm. With such high torque at low rpm, the 535d feels very quick while still running very efficiently.

© Subaru of America, Inc.2016 Subaru Impreza
31 mpg combined
28 mpg city / 37 mpg highway
Starting MSRP: $18,295
Impreza is the entry-level model in the Subaru all-wheel drive lineup, available as a sedan or a 5-door hatch. With a combined 31 mpg fuel-economy rating, the Impreza is the most fuel-efficient AWD car on the market with a single-source gasoline engine (that is, not hybrid, diesel nor electric). The Impreza is powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 148 horsepower. Although it is available with a manual transmission, the Lineartronic continuously variable transmission is the choice for those desiring the best fuel economy.

© Mercedes-Benz USA2016 Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTec
31 mpg combined
27 mpg city / 38 mpg highway
Starting MSRP: $55,150
These fuel-economy numbers would be impressive for just about any car — but they are even more surprising for a large luxury sedan. The E-Class comes well equipped with plenty of standard luxury and safety features and offers a smooth, comfortable ride. The clean-diesel powerplant is a small 2.1-liter turbo four cylinder that puts out 195 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. The diesel runs quietly and performance is more than adequate — especially considering the small engine.

© BMW North America2016 BMW 328d xDrive
Combined 34 mpg
City 30/ Highway 40
Starting MSRP: $42,250
The most fuel-efficient all-wheel drive diesel sedan on the market, the 328d xDrive perfectly combines BMW’s excellent drivability with the fuel efficiency of an economy car. The 3 Series has long been the benchmark for a small sport sedan, and even when equipped with a diesel motor the car delivers. With 180 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque from its 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine, the 328d xDrive can travel more than 500 miles between fill-ups.

© BMW North America2017 BMW 740e xDrive iPerformance
64 mpge combined
27 mpg combined — gas only
Starting MSRP: $89,100
BMW’s 7 Series is the brand’s flagship luxury sedan, and beginning with the 2017 model year the big car will be available with an innovative plug-in hybrid system. Under the hood is BMW’s most powerful production 4-cylinder engine — a turbocharged variant that puts out 255 horsepower. When functioning in tandem with the 111-horsepower electric motor, the 740e xDrive has a combined output of 322 horsepower. The 740e can travel about 14 miles on electric only, at which time the hybrid system takes over.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2016 BMW i8
76 mpge combined
28 mpg combined — gas only
Starting MSRP: $140,700
The BMW i8 may be the most futuristic car on the road. It looks like something we’d all expect to be driving 50 years in the future, and it has the powertrain to match. People staring at the i8 can deduce that it’s something special, even if they’re not into cars. And that’s before opening the doors, described by BMW as a “scissor door design with lifting and turning function upward toward the front.” The rear wheels are powered by a 228-horsepower 3-cylinder TwinPower Turbo engine, while the front wheels get motivation from a 129-horsepower electric motor. A combined output of 357 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque moves the AWD i8 to 60 mph in around 4 seconds.

© Tesla Motors2016 Tesla Model S 90D
103 mpge combined
101 mpge city / 107 mpge highway
Starting MSRP: $88,000
Most production electric cars are small, not terribly powerful and have a typical range of around 100 miles. And then there’s Tesla. The Model S remains the only mainstream luxury performance sedan powered solely by electricity, and it puts all other electric offerings to shame. While there are a number of versions of the Model S, the current fuel-economy leader among AWD trims is the 90D. With two electric motors — one at each axle — combined output is 417 horsepower. Tesla claims a sprint to 60 mph takes just 4.2 seconds, with a range of 294 miles between charges.


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