Top 5 Luxury AWD Sedans
All-wheel-drive is becoming more and more popular and it graces some of the best cars out there today. Let’s take a look at the top 5 Luxury AWD sedans you should be taking for a spin.
Top 5 AWD Sedans:
- Audi RS3
- Audi S8 Plus
- Alfa-Romeo Giulia
- Jaguar XE AWD
- Acura TLX
There are a lot of good options out there as far as AWD sedans go, but I think these represent a fair cross-section of the luxury segment very well. Before I go into each and why they made the cut check out my post: The Guide to All Wheel Drive Cars to be sure an AWD sedan is right for you.
The cars on this list range from reasonable to ultra luxurious and that’s exactly what I intended to do. The reason I took this approach is that it shows you what’s available and what you can get as you scale up or down in dollars depending on your budget.
Plus it’s fun to see what that ritzy 1% are driving to the country club.
Acura TLX – Best Luxury AWD Sedan Under $40,000
What we like:
- Nice technology
- Handsome exterior
- Good price
- Very nice standard options
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about Acura. They just don’t seem to get the same attention that they used to. Once considered a luxury brand it’s clear to me now that maybe they are beginning to take a step backward.
This is one of the issues with major Japanese car brands and their luxury counterparts. In their pursuit of process efficiency, they may have gone a little too far.
What I mean is that the relationships between the non-luxury and the luxury models are too obvious. I think the biggest culprit of this is Lexus. Get under the hood and you almost feel like you have been duped.
Toyota really pioneered these issues with it’s “lean manufacturing” or “Kaizen” initiatives which created superb process efficiencies at the cost of product differentiation. As a result, it’s difficult to tell what Acura and Lexus are really trying to be.
Some might say that Lexus, Acura, and even Infiniti are luxury brands, some would say they are performance cars and both would be wrong to a certain extent. They might have performance trims, but they aren’t considered to be in the upper echelons of performance.
But is that really a bad thing? Let’s look at the bright side of things, particularly with Acura. You get a very handsome and fairly reliable car with lots of tech and other goodies for a pretty reasonable price. In the case of the TLX – $33,000.
Here’s what you get if you spend a little extra cash – 290-hp 3.5-Liter V6 tied to dual-clutch nine-speed automatic and torque-vectoring AWD. The same torque-vectoring AWD that was developed for the super NSX.
All-in-all, not a bad deal at all. Not to mention the car looks great, has an extremely refined attitude on the road, unbelievable seats and some pretty high-end standard options.
With such nice standard options, it allows you to grab an Acura TLX 3.5 SH-AWD for right at$40,000, making this a very nice car to use every day.
Alfa-Romeo Giulia – Best Luxury AWD Sedan Under $45,000
What we like:
- Amazing driving experience
- Powerful 2.0-liter engine
- Italian styling
- Great value
Let’s face it, Italian designers just know what’s good. Case in point – the Alfa Romeo Giulia which is one of the best-looking sedans out there in my opinion. The spotty history of Alfa Romeo in America shouldn’t deter you from taking one of these for a ride.
Alfa’s return to North American markets hasn’t been without follies and with a small dealership network, the brand is making a hard shove to try to prove their primary goal is performance.
This is a car for someone who wants something different, sporty, but still flashy enough to call a luxury sedan. While it’s trim options may substitute aluminum for woodgrain slide into the sports driver’s seat, grab ahold of the ultra cool flat-bottom steering wheel and get ready for fun.
The interior is distinctively Italian, sporty, and really makes you feel like this is a fun car. And that’s because, well, it is an insanely fun car. Its quick 280-hp turbocharge 2.0-liter four-cylinder is lively. It’s chassis superb and it’s handling so direct and responsive.
If you’re ready to prove you have deep pockets shell out for the amazing Quadrifoglio and you will have 505-hp under the hood. Merda Santa.
The car comes standard with flashy good looks – dual exhaust tips, that slick triangle grill, and 19″ rims make it handsome.
My recommendation is the Ti AWD trim with 19-inch aluminum wheels and the upgraded Harman Kardon audio system. I would also opt-in for the following packages: Nero Edizione, Driver Assistance Static Package and the Ti Performance package bringing the total price to $44,840.
The packages will give you the blacked out trim and wheels, auto-dimming mirrors and blind-spot monitoring with cross-path detection, active suspension, steering column-mounted aluminum paddle shifters and a mechanical limited slip differential.
That’s a ton of tech, amazing good looks, everyday driveability, unmatched performance and a comfortable backseat – all for less than a Mustang GT Premium. Honestly, it’s an amazing car that’s totally worth a test drive.
Jaguar XE – Best Luxury AWD Sedan Under $50,000
What we like:
- Classy styling
- Jaguar Interior
- Luxury feel
- Sporty driving dynamics
Jaguar is one of these brands that’s hit or miss. For a long time, they were out there floundering around and no one really paid attention to them. They didn’t really look all that stunning and had a terrible track record of reliability.
A lot of people don’t realize that Jaguar and Land Rover are two parts of the same company, but it should be obvious because their dealership networks are together and they have a similar history.
Both were iconic British brands who had a fall from glory because of lackluster design and performance mixed with arrogant price tags and bad reliability. Both were owned by Ford at the time and so was Aston Martin, and all three took a big dump.
Thankfully, what came out of that was a terrible attempt to make the Ford line-up better by integrating an Aston Martin-like grill into every one of their sedans.
Now, they are own by Indian based Tata Motors who has done a pretty phenomenal job trying to turn the brand around despite it hemorrhaging money.
I’ve said it once and I will say it again, Jaguars looks so nice. Step inside and they feel nice too. This “budget” Jag likely has all the amenities you need, but let’s talk about the car before we discuss how you can maximize your dollar here.
First, the car is agile like a cat (pun intended). The handling is sharp and direct and the car feels like a sports sedan, even in the non-“S” trim you can still feel good about driving the car.
Some might say the back seat is small, but the reality is that it is likely fine for most people and is still more comfortable than a lot of sedans. It’s not the most practical, but it’s pretty damn fun to drive.
The trim that you would consider here is the 30t with an upgrade to the “Prestige” trim package. This gives you a 296-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a rather surprising 5.1 second 0-60 time.
The Prestige package provides you with some nice features like heated front seats and steering wheel, power adjustable steering column, interior ambient lighting and in-dash navigation.
Another $2,500 gets you all-wheel-drive bringing this sharp looking sedan loaded with luxury to $49,520 before incentives. That’s not a bad deal for a car with such great driving dynamics, good looks and all around great interior.
Audi S8 Plus – Best Luxury Performance AWD Sedan
What we like:
- Mind-bending speed
- Unbelievable driving dynamics
- Ultra posh interior
- 605-hp V8
- Devilish good looks
If you aren’t into cars, and specifically German cars then you might not realize how potent of a sedan the Audi S8 Plus is. To give you an idea of just how amazing this car is I will put it to you like this: 0-60 mph in 3.3 seconds.
That’s right I said it – 3.3 seconds. That is .3 seconds slower than a Corvette Z06. In a full-size luxury sedan that comes with messaging seats and four-way climate control.
I know what you’re thinking – “okay, so it has a good 0-60 time, but it probably really isn’t that fast”. But it is is. It’s got a brutal 605-hp twin-turbo V8 that doesn’t just rocket this thing to 60 miles an hour faster than you can fart, but it tops out at 190 mph.
I don’t even have words in my vocabulary to describe this. It literally blows the doors off the competition.
Okay, so it’s super fast, is it super nice? Again, yes! Everything’s a Yes!
Diamond stitched fine Napa Leather, heated and cooled seats, incredible technology, amazing passenger comfort, and a cabin constructed of the finest materials ever made by human hands.
It looks amazing and defies every law of science and nature when you hit the gas and barrel it into a turn. It’s like driving a sports car pretending to be a full-sized ultra-luxury sedan.
It’s $116,000 which might set you back a few years in retirement, and hell, maybe your kids don’t go to college, but these are all worthwhile sacrifices. Plus, it’s cheaper than a BMW Alpina and the Mercedes AMG S63 by a longshot.
You just have no idea how amazing this car is till you decide to commit and sell a kidney to buy one.
Audi RS3 – The Best Luxury AWD Sedan
What we like:
- Unreal engine sound
- Incredible speed
- Track toy you can drive to work
- Just the right size
- Grip for days
When it comes to the best all-wheel-drive sedan you can buy the king of the pride is hands down the Audi RS3. Aggressive styling, unbelievable performance, everyday driveability and a perfect size make this track toy a joy to commute in.
The RS3 is what happens when Audi gives a rowdy group in Ingolstadt the green light to do what they want. It’s a wild car that sounds as incredible as it looks.
And why does it sound so good? Well, I’ll tell you why. Under the bonnet is a turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine that has long been one of the pride and joys of Audi’s engineering team.
This motor has graced some of Audi’s best performance cars and, like fine wine, it has only gotten better with age. It cranks out an uncanny 400-hp and a 6,900 RPM redline and tears from 0-60 in just 3.5 seconds. That’s so fast it qualifies as a spiritual experience.
Quattro AWD, the best in the industry, ensures the RS3 puts down every last drop of delicious power and the sound it makes along the way is like heroin. It’s got a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic that is almost Porsche PDK good.
Audi’s launch control is easy-to-use and reliable and the RS3 will rocket to 60 mph as fast as some Porsche 911s. Big brakes and stunning styling make the RS3 beautiful to look at and amazing to drive.
Its back seat might be small, but it’s plenty usable, and it has ample trunk space. This is the real deal AWD sedan that really needs no further consideration. It’s fast, fun, beautiful and cool as hell.
Pricing starts at $55,000 but scales up depending on options. If you are looking for the best AWD sports sedan or just the best sports sedan than do yourself a favor and go drive one of these.
The Best AWD Sedans
There are several honorable mentions that aren’t on this list like the Audi A4/S4 (Check out our review of the Audi S4) and the Audi A6/S6 and even the Subaru WRX STI. But this list represents what I would call the best of the segment.
When shopping for a car, don’t forget to consider all of your needs and wants and if you want to be sure an AWD car is right for you then check out our post: The Guide to All Wheel Drive Cars.
Remember, what might be amazing to me might not fit your needs so always be sure to test drive a car to get a full picture of what it’s like to live with it.
As with all things the best AWD sedans are somewhat subjective and might be different depending on who is driving them and what they use their car for. If you decide you’re not looking for an AWD sedan, but still want a sporty car that you can use every day then check out our post: The Best Four Door Sports Cars.