Why four wheel drive (AWD)?
Most of the new cars available on the market today are FWD (front wheel drive). This is because the powertrain of a FWD car, being more compact, saves weight and therefore improves fuel economy. Also, the lack of need for a transmission tunnel translates into more interior space. There are also manufacturing advantages for FWD.
However, for those drivers who need optimal traction in all weather conditions (snow, rain, ice) and on all surfaces (asphalt, gravel, dirt), AWD (all-wheel drive) is the way to go. All-wheel drive simply means that power is not just transmitted to the front or rear wheels, but is distributed to all wheels, at least when skidding occurs.
AWD or 4WD / 4X4: What’s the difference?
When it comes to power distribution, AWD transmissions are generally skewed towards the front or rear. For example, the system can typically send 70% to 100% of the power to the front or rear wheels. However, when there is a loss of traction, the system will optimize the torque split to regain traction / control. This is most common in cars (coupes, sedans, and hatchbacks), which is what we’re focusing on in this article.
4WD and 4×4 configurations, on the other hand, generally denote a 50/50 torque split between the front and rear wheels. This is generally considered most beneficial for “harsher” off-road conditions (deep snow, mud, etc.) and is therefore more common on trucks and SUVs.
The best AWD cars – for little money!
At this hub, we focus on the best all-wheel drive sedans, coupes and hatchbacks you can get cheaply. Of course, “cheap” is a relative term. For some people, it may be less than $ 20,000, for others less than $ 5,000, or even $ 3,500. In this case, we are targeting the lower end of the price range. Hey, it’s the post-recession era, right? Spending less is the new thing, so let’s check out the best used AWD cars that won’t break the bank!
DSM Talon / Eclipse
The 1990-1998 Eagle Talon and Mitsubishi Eclipse, which were basically the same car, were available with AWD. These were the upper option levels. For the Eagle, it was the Talon TSi AWD. For Mitsubishi, it was the Eclipse GS-X. All all-wheel drive models came with a 4-cylinder turbocharged engine, the 4G63, which offered more than 200 horsepower. For the performance-minded buyer, this could be a huge advantage. These coupes can be had for very little money these days. You can find a ’92 model in very good condition for about $ 2,500.
Mitsubishi Galant VR-4
This is a car that few of you have probably heard of, but it’s a very good little AWD sedan. Specifically, I am talking about the sixth generation version, built between 1988 and 1992. This car is actually the predecessor of the more well-known MItsubishi Lancer, which was a bit too expensive to be on this list, and was originally built for the class of the Group A of the World Rally Championship (WRC). So like the Subaru Impreza, it has a real rally car pedigree. It comes with a version of the same 4G63 turbocharged engine available in the Talon / Eclipse. With a 0-60 time of under 7.5 seconds, this car had some solid power. These cars cost around $ 1500 these days. Of course at this age / mileage you may have maintenance issues to deal with. Still, it’s hard to get an AWD rally machine for this price.
Subaru Impreza / WRX
Did you know that ALL Subarus are all-wheel drive (with the exception of the new RWD BRZ)? That’s how it is. Virtually any used Subaru that fits your budget is a good buy. The Impreza is the most popular Subaru and is offered as a coupe, sedan or station wagon. The WRX is a performance-oriented edition with a turbocharged engine and rally heritage, first available in the US in 2002. You can get a ’02 WRX for $ 6,000-7,000 these days. Non-turbo versions of the Impreza are significantly cheaper: $ 3,500 to $ 5,000, depending on the year and condition of the model. If you want the sporty look of the WRX but don’t have the budget, take a look at the naturally aspirated 2.5RS.
BMW E30 325iX
It’s hard to beat the …