Here at MPGomatic, we know that when the road gets really rough or the weather goes from bad to worse, all-wheel-drive (AWD) isn’t a nicety, it’s a necessity. That’s why we take the time to review AWD cars, crossovers, and SUVs … despite the decreased fuel efficiency inherent in AWD systems.
Redesigned for 2009, the stylish Audi A4 Sedan Quattro hits the mark among relatively affordable all-wheel-drive (AWD) luxury sedans. With rock-solid handling, a responsive throttle, a wonderful cabin, and a world-class multimedia system, this just might be the car that gets you to say goodbye to that SUV for good.
The 2010 Buick LaCrosse seeks to shake up the four-door sedan market as it goes head-to-head with competition ranging from the Lexus ES350 and Acura TL, through the Lincoln MKZ and Chrysler 300C. Luxury, comfort, and convenience abound in a sedan that’s bound to stretch buyers’ expectations.
It’s not surprising that the 2010 Cadillac SRX is decidedly European, as Cadillac’s compact crossover rides on the same platform as the Opel Antara. The SRX currently offers a choice between two V6 engines (turbocharged or naturally aspirated) with front-wheel-drive (FWD) or all-wheel-drive (AWD). While its gas mileage results are middle-of-the-road, the crisply-designed SRX delivers all the style, comfort, and tech goodies you’d expect in a modern high-end Cadillac. (FWD version tested)
With segment topping highway gas mileage, the redesigned 2010 Chevy Equinox goes to battle in the crowded field of five-passenger crossovers. A car-like and quiet ride along with a roomy and smartly-designed interior makes the 2010 Equinox a worthy contender for families swapping out of conventional SUVs.
The 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is a traditional truck-based full-size three-row SUV with a big difference. The Tahoe Hybrid’s two-mode hybrid system functions as promised, delivering a substantial jump in fuel economy when compared to the conventional Tahoe.
With room for seven and highway gas mileage in the mid-twenties, the Chevy Traverse LTZ crossover offers a compelling feature set, with a spacious interior that’s chock full ‘o creature comforts. (FWD version tested)
If you need to transport your entourage with a high level of comfort in distinctive style and under adverse weather conditions, the 2010 Chrysler 300C AWD presents an intriguing alternative to a conventional SUV or crossover. The 300C AWD’s powerful 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine uses Multi-Displacement technology to shut off half its cylinders to conserve fuel under light loads, for a stated fuel economy increase of up to 20 percent.
The Taurus has triumphantly returned to the Ford lineup. The new model’s striking looks, comfortable ride and ample amenities are sure to turn heads and lure new owners … the Taurus has moved significantly up market. The 2010 Taurus Limited AWD is a roomy choice for folks downsizing into a sedan from less-efficient full-size SUVs.
The 2010 GMC Terrain shares its platform with the Chevy Equinox, and like its cousin, delivers solid gas mileage results when equipped with the standard four-cylinder engine. The Terrain is a prime choice for fuel-conscious families swapping out of larger SUVs, with generous interior space, a comfortable ride, and plenty of in-cabin amenities.
The 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour delivers a sleek, unique, well-mannered and comfortable alternative to conventional SUVs and more pedestrian Crossovers. An aerodynamic design and an i-VTEC V6 with Variable Cylinder Management allow light-footed drivers to crush the official highway mileage estimates. With a plenty of storage space and a comprehensive electronics package the Crosstour is a solid choice to replace a larger and less thrifty vehicle.
As the competition moves to soft and cushy crossover designs with limited off-road abilities, the Jeep Liberty remains a competent and conventional mid-size sport utility vehicle (SUV), designed to tackle tough terrain while hauling the goods. Although the Liberty’s 3.7-liter V6 has been newly equipped with an interactive Decel Fuel Shut Off feature to improve fuel economy, this is still a relatively thirsty SUV.
The aggressively-styled 2011 Kia Sportage stakes out a bold space in the highly competitive five-seat crossover market. Sharing its platform with the Hyundai Tuscon, the Sportage plays the design card, and trumps the competition with features for the dollar. This one is stuffed with all the goodies, in a quest to one-up the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
The AWD 2011 Lincoln MKT EcoBoost takes the big American luxury car to a new level. Although it lags behind the European turbo-diesels when it comes to fuel economy, the twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 engine provides a remarkable rush of power and a glimpse of what’s to come. The AWD MKT EcoBoost is nothing less than an executive jet on wheels, with a luxurious ride for six or seven.
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC is one of the most fuel-efficient seven-passenger luxury SUVs on the road today. From the calm and comfort within the GL350’s well-crafted cabin, one can only wonder why so many manufacturers have been slow to embrace clean diesel as the ideal solution for premium vehicles.
The 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR Touring is positioned as the most-refined entry in the legendary EVO lineup, for those that enjoy spirited driving without generating too much attention. Outfitted with goodies including BBS wheels, Bilstein shocks, Eibach springs, Brembo brakes, and Recaro bucket seats, the EVO MR Touring uses top-shelf parts, while forgoing the decklid wing in favor of a discreet spoiler. The Evolution MR Touring goes head-to-head with the 2011 Subaru WRX STI sedan and little else.
With a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four cylinder engine, full-time all-wheel-drive, and a slick SST transmission, the 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart is the less-expensive little brother of the legendary Mitsubishi EVO … and one fun ride …
The 2009 AWD Mitsubishi Outlander XLS is among the most sporting of the mid-size Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV), with a rally-inspired design that provides real four-wheel-drive, magnesium paddle shifters, and an optional 650-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system.
Nissan bills the 2010 Nissan Murano as “the Premium Crafted Crossover” with the goal of nibbling away at the sales of more expensive luxury competitors. This roomy and comfortable five-passenger crossover is chock full of amenities and style. A curvaceous design, a smooth ride, and plenty of interior space have earned the Murano a space in many a driveway.
The 2010 Nissan Rogue plays in a hotly contested field, as it scores big points for style and handling among the compact crossover competition. Slotted between the luxurious Murano and the raucous Juke, the Rogue leans toward the sporty side with a distinctive design.
The 2009 Pontiac Vibe AWD is one of the most affordable and thrifty AWD cars sold in America. The Vibe shares its underpinnings with the Toyota Matrix. Both the Vibe and Matrix are built in the same Fremont, CA auto plant.
As a tall AWD wagon, the 2009 Subaru Forester forges its own trail amongst its peers, with a comfortable ride, roomy interior, generous headroom, and excellent visibility.
The 2010 Subaru Legacy offers a trio of legendary Boxer engine choices along with Subaru’s renown Symmetrical all-wheel-drive (AWD). The Legacy is an excellent alternative for folks that need the safety and security of AWD to deal with adverse weather conditions, but have no desire to drive a SUV or crossover. Legacy drivers in search of more gusto will likely opt for the 2.5-liter turbo four or 3.6-liter six.
The all-wheel-drive (AWD) version of the 2011 Suzuki Kizashi just might be the most attractively designed affordable sedan on the market for folks with a sense of style and the need to deal with adverse weather conditions. Although the Kizashi is clearly intended to appeal to those who appreciate a sporting ride, the Kizashi AWD is exclusively fitted with a CVT.
The 2009 Suzuki SX4 Crossover shined like a little gem in our week-long review, with a long list of features, AWD, plenty of character, and a entry-level price the budget-conscious will love.
SUVs are particularly well-suited to clean diesel engines, with their gobs of torque and legendary fuel efficiency. Unfortunately, American auto manufacturers have been hesitant to commit to diesel SUVs, other than a handful of short-lived exceptions. The luxurious diesel-powered 2011 VW Touareg TDI hammers home the facts, with a cruising range born for the open road.