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Top 10 Most Capable AWD (All-Wheel-Drive) Vehicles

The Subaru Outback is one of the most capable AWD vehicles

All-wheel drive vehicles let their owners tackle a variety of terrain without having to switch into four-wheel drive manually. These vehicles are extremely versatile in a variety of terrain and weather conditions, especially in slick wet, snowy, or muddy conditions. However, some AWD vehicles are more capable than others.

We have compiled this list of the top 10 most capable AWD vehicles on the market today. Some, like the Subaru Outback is no surprise, but did you think a Rolls Royce would make the list?

Top 10 Most Capable AWD Vehicles:

  • Subaru Outback
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Land Rover Evoque
  • Jeep Renegade
  • Ford Transit AWD
  • Kia Telluride
  • Honda Passport
  • Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
  • Rolls-Royce Cullinan
  • Volvo XC90

Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback is one of the best-known AWD vehicles on the road. The Outback employs Subaru’s famous symmetrical all-wheel-drive system. A generous 8.7-inches of ground clearance makes it a great choice for use one rutted trails and gravel roads. For this reason, it’s popular with hikers, bikers, kaykers, skiers, and mountain bikers. The Outback’s X-MODE, or Dual-Function X-MODE (on XT models), optimizes traction further by changing gear ratios, increasing traction control sensitivity, and adding hill descent control. With up to 260 hp from its turbocharged 2.4-liter engine, the Outback is quite the adventure wagon. Outback prices start at $26,645.

Toyota RAV4

Toyota is no stranger to AWD, and its Toyota RAV4 offers a go-anywhere group of features. This is especially true on its TRD Off-Road and Adventure models. The RAV4 offers up to 8.6 inches of ground clearance and an available TRD-tuned off-road-capable suspension. The Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive (TV-AWD) and Falken all-terrain tires (TRD Off-Road only) will get you around in foul weather or on rutted trails surprisingly well. Add to it an eight-speed transmission and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 203 hp, and the Toyota RAV4 is ready for business. An AWD RAV4 starts at $27,350. A TRD model begins at $35,280.

Land Rover Evoque

The Land Rover brand is known for its off-road capability mixed with the latest technology. The Land Rover Evoque continues that tradition. Making 243 hp from a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, the Evoque will do up to 143 mph. Conversely, it offers 8.35 inches of ground clearance and an impressive 23.6 inches of wading depth. Mated to a nine-speed transmission, the Terrain Response 2 AWD system has optional wade sensing and hill descent control. The Clear Sight cameras provide the driver a view of the terrain around the vehicle, too. Evoque prices begin at $42,650.

Jeep Renegade

Not everyone wants a big AWD vehicle. The Jeep Renegade offers a subcompact size, but in contrast, is one of the most capable AWD vehicles—especially in Trailhawk trim. The Active Drive 4×4 system provides control under a host of conditions. Driving modes include auto, snow, sand, mud, and rock; there’s a 4WD lock feature, too. A 22:1 crawl ratio is there if the trail gets tough or the snow/sand gets deep. Hill descent is available. An impressive 8.7 inches of ground clearance aids in making a very competent subcompact crossover. All-wheel-drive Jeep Renegade start at $24,120. A Trailhawk model can be had for $28,215.

Ford Transit AWD

Ford’s Transit with optional AWD is ideal for those looking for a full-size van and all-weather ability. It’s available as a cargo van, a crew hauler, or a passenger carrier. This all-weather wonder boasts 7.9 inches of ground clearance—great for snowy roads. The intelligent AWD system balances power between the front and rear wheels for optimal traction. There are three roof heights and lengths to choose from. The optional EcoBoost engine makes up to 310 hp through a 10-speed automatic transmission. It can even tow up to 6,600 when properly equipped. Add a variety of axle ratios, and this is the most customizable vehicle on the list. Ford Transit AWD pricing begins at $39,205.

Kia Telluride

For bigger families, the KIA Telluride offers optional eight-passenger seating. It showcases 8-inches of ground clearance and 291 horsepower mated to a smooth and efficient eight-speed transmission. The Active On-Demand All-Wheel-Drive features four drive modes, as well as lock and snow modes for maximum potential. Torque Vectoring Cornering Control also helps give the Telluride impressive ability in a variety of terrains. The Telluride boasts an impressive 5,000-pound towing capacity. The Kia Telluride AWD starts at $33,890.

Honda Passport

Honda brought the Passport name back in 2019, and it’s now a two-row mid-size crossover. The vehicle has torque-vectoring AWD for slippery conditions and 8.1-inches of ground clearance. On offer is the powerful Honda Intelligent Traction Management system, which lets drivers select normal, snow, mud, or sand driving modes. Power is courtesy of a 3.5-liter V-6 making 280 horsepower through a nine-speed automatic transmission. Towing capacity is as high as 5,000 lbs. Getting into an AWD Passport will set you back at least $33,990.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

The funky Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross crossover can be had with the company’s S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control) system. It integrates active stability control (ASC), anti-lock brakes (ABS), active yaw control (AYC), and AWD for all condition driving competence. The S-AWC is activated at the push of a button. This quirky crossover has proven its capabilities over some rough terrain around the globe. Power comes from a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder making 152 hp and 184 lbs/ft of torque through a CVT. The Eclipse Cross has 8-inches of ground clearance, and all-wheel-drive models start at $24,595.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan

Most people don’t think of Rolls Royce when it comes to capable AWD vehicles. However, the Rolls Royce Cullinan is an impressive AWD offering. Its active AWD system provides uninterrupted torque to the wheels for traction in a variety of conditions. The press of a button will raise the Cullinan up nearly 1.6 inches for even more clearance. Further, there is a dedicated off-road setting. This luxurious crossover has a huge 6.7-liter V-12 engine producing a massive 563 horsepower through an eight-speed transmission. It can take the vehicle from 0-60 MPH in just 4.5-seconds. While most Cullinan won’t ever see dirt, the vehicle has been thoroughly tested off-road, and was even the winning vehicle at the 2019 Rebelle Rally—impressive. The Rolls Royce Cullinan starts at an equally impressive $325,000.

Volvo XC90

With a truly impressive 9.4-inches of ground clearance and up to 400 hp and 472 lbs/ft of torque the Volvo XC90 is a champ in a host of driving conditions. The available AWD system with Volvo’s Instant Traction system works electronically to produce the best traction possible. Also, the XC90 has an adjustable air suspension and will raise and lower when needed. Comfort, Dynamic, Eco, and Off-Road modes are available at the touch of a button, depending on the situation. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard. An AWD Volvo XC90 starts at $56,800.

Capable AWD Vehicles Can Take You Further

Which of these capable all-weather all-terrain all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicles would you take on your next adventure?

About Andy Lilienthal

Andy Lilienthal is a life-long automotive enthusiast. He's written for several publications since the early 2000s and has worked in the automotive aftermarket for over a decade. He enjoys working on cars and trucks, has a thing for oddball 4WDs and small cars, and loves to travel and camp. Andy lives with his wife, Mercedes, in Portland, Oregon.