Best Used AWD Vehicles to Buy In 2021
There’s nothing quite like the threat of snow to remind Canadians that all-wheel drive is a feature worth looking for on a used car.
All-wheel drive can’t replace a good set of winter tires, of course: the added grip winter tires create in colder temperatures is important for effective cornering and stopping. But all-wheel drive does go a long way toward getting a vehicle going through low-traction conditions like snow and ice, which are situations most Canadians can find themselves in for four to six months of the year or more.
If you’re ready to buy your next new-to-you car and have decided all-wheel drive is a non-negotiable, consider seeking out the vehicles below. On top of delivering power to all four wheels, each of them also offers an exceptional value proposition within its segment.
Best AWD Sedan
Winner: 2019- Mazda3
When Mazda made all-wheel drive an option on its current fourth-generation Mazda3, it vaulted its compact car to near-premium status without imposing a luxury-level price tag. Along with AWD, the latest version of the Mazda3 comes with exceptional design and build quality, well-considered ergonomics, and an available premium audio system that sounds better than some you’ll find in cars that cost twice as much. It’s not the cheapest compact car around, but it’s definitely one worth seeking out.
Runner-up: 2019- Kia Stinger
Kia’s massively underrated Stinger sports sedan, which debuted for the 2019 model year, offers a screaming deal. It’s got two of the automotive industry’s biggest names behind it: design by Peter Schreyer, and engineering by Albert Biermann, a one-time vice-president of engineering for BMW M. All cars sold in Canada have incorporated a rear-biased all-wheel drive system since launch, and it’s an absolute delight to drive. The only downside is some compromise on the quality of the interior materials, which is a small price to pay for a car with this much performance credibility.
Best AWD Hatchback
Winner: 2019- Mazda3 Sport
Like the Mazda3 sedan, the Mazda3 Sport hatchback comes with available all-wheel drive and all the same benefits that provide exceptional value for money. On the hatchback, there’s the added benefit of a liftgate and a tall and flexible cargo space. On both versions, later examples have an option for a 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which cranks up the performance factor enough to put the Mazda3 Sport into delightful warm- to hot-hatch territory.
Runner-up: 2019- Mercedes-Benz A-Class Hatch
There are so many cars that could be considered for this position – here’s a nod to the Volkswagen Golf R and the Subaru Impreza – but as a premium all-rounder, we like the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Hatch. It pairs classic Mercedes-Benz performance, or AMG performance if you want to level it up, alongside peak style and one of the more advanced infotainment systems on the market. Plus, there’s an air of novelty to it: in its earlier model years in North America, the A-Class Hatch was exclusive to Canada.
Best AWD SUV
Winner: 2019- Toyota RAV4
If it’s a five-seat SUV you’re looking for, you just can’t go wrong with a Toyota RAV4. Few other brands hold their value over time as tenaciously as Toyota does, and their vehicles are pretty well indestructible. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the third generation from model years 2013 to 2018, but we think the fourth generation that began in 2019 is worth the extra money if your budget can handle it, especially if you can find a hybrid. It uses an electric motor mounted to the rear axle to create e-AWD while reducing fuel consumption.
Runner-up: 2016- Volvo XC90
Volvo’s three-row SUV, the XC90, was one of the first models to be introduced under the brand’s latest version of its design. Its serene interior design employing natural materials, reliable safety systems, and fuel-efficient powertrains – including a plug-in hybrid option – have all aged more gracefully than just about any other vehicle on the market.
Best AWD Minivan
Winner: 2011- Toyota Sienna
This is an easy one to pick a winner for: if you’re looking for an all-wheel drive minivan in Canada that isn’t brand new, your only choice is the Toyota Sienna. That isn’t a bad thing: while the new generation launched for 2021 has some excellent perks like a fully hybrid powertrain, the Sienna that’s been on the road for the past decade is exactly the versatile and bulletproof people-mover most families need. In a few years, we’ll be able to recommend the Chrysler Pacifica as a contender among all-wheel drive minivans as a version powering all four wheels was launched for the 2021 model year. For now, don’t hesitate to choose an AWD Sienna just because it’s the only option. It will comfortably and capably get your family through winter conditions for many years to come.
Check out what All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) vehicles are available near you with Canada Drives.