Power through the elements in these capable SUVs.

Best AWD SUVs | CarMax

Whether you live in a climate that often sees harsh weather conditions or you simply enjoy a little off-roading every now and then, having an all-wheel drive vehicle can provide some additional confidence behind the wheel. As automakers build more terrain-sensing tech into their SUVs, you'll start to see 'AWD' and '4WD' used more interchangeably. For more about the differences between the two driving systems, see our AWD Vs. 4WD: Which to Choose article.

Our list of the 10-best AWD and 4WD SUVs, based on CarMax vehicle sales data from March 1, 2019, through August 1, 2019, highlights some great options. Please note that not all model years and trims of the below vehicles have AWD and 4WD available, so make sure you check before you purchase:

  1. Subaru Forester
  2. Audi Q5
  3. Jeep Cherokee
  4. Toyota RAV4
  5. Ford Escape
  6. Ford Explorer
  7. Honda CR-V
  8. Jeep Grand Cherokee
  9. Jeep Wrangler
  10. Nissan Rogue


Subaru Forester

Best AWD SUVs: Subaru Forester | CarMax

Kicking off our list of the best AWD and 4WD SUVs is the Subaru Forester. Subaru helped pioneer the use of AWD systems and now features them on many of their vehicles. The Subaru Forester was refreshed for the 2017 model year and came with six trim levels, including the 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 2.5i Touring, 2.0XT Premium, and 2.0XT Touring. After some mild updates for 2018, the Forester was completely redesigned for 2019. The base 2019 Forester comes well-equipped with the following standard features:

  • EyeSight® driver-assist technology
  • Automatic LED headlights
  • Rearview camera
  • Automatic climate control
  • A 6.5-inch infotainment system
  • SiriusXM® satellite radio
  • Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™


Audi Q5

Best AWD SUVs: Audi Q5 | CarMax

Looking for a bit more luxury in your AWD SUV? Well, look no further than the Audi Q5. Long known for producing fantastic Quattro®-powered AWD vehicles, Audi delivers the 2017 Audi Q5 standard with all-wheel drive on all trim levels. You can choose between three engines, including a 220-horsepower 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder, plus two 3.0L supercharged V6 options: one with 272 horsepower and one with a stout 354 horsepower in the high-performance SQ5. Even on the base 2019 Q5, you'll find standard features like:

  • All-wheel drive
  • 18-inch wheels
  • LED taillights
  • Seven-inch center display and a seven-inch instrument panel display
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Heated front seats plus an eight-way power driver seat
  • Push-start ignition
  • Automatic emergency braking


Jeep Cherokee

Best AWD SUVs: Jeep Cherokee | CarMax

It's pretty common knowledge that Jeep is legendary when it comes to off-road prowess. The Cherokee continues that tradition with available 4WD at all trim levels. For 2017, you can choose from seven different Cherokee trim levels including the cool off-road-focused Trailhawk. Choose from a standard 2.4L 4-cylinder with 184 horsepower or an optional 271 horsepower 3.2L V6. After some minor updates for the 2018 model year, the 2019 Jeep Cherokee received an extensive refresh. With seven trim options to choose from, the Jeep Cherokee has something for everyone! Expect standard features on the 2019 model like:

  • 17-inch aluminum wheels
  • Rearview camera
  • Six-way manual driver's seat
  • Roof rails
  • Five-inch center touchscreen with Uconnect® infotainment system
  • Bluetooth® connectivity a media port hub
  • A five-mode traction control system (4×4 only)
  • Automatic HID headlights
  • Fog lights


Toyota RAV4

Best AWD SUVs: Toyota RAV4 | CarMax

The RAV4 has been a go-to SUV since it helped invent the segment many years ago. All that development time has produced a well-sorted and attractive option in its class. Add a sleek design and a capable AWD system (optional at all trim levels) and it gets even better. Starting in the 2017 model year, the driver-assistance package came as standard equipment on all trim levels of the RAV4. Taking a look at the 2018 RAV4, there was the choice of a standard 2.5L four-cylinder with 176 horsepower or a 194-horsepower 2.5L four-cylinder paired with three electric motors and a CVT (continuously variable transmission) in the RAV4 Hybrid. The RAV4 was totally redesigned for 2019 and even the base LE trim comes standard with features like:

  • 17-inch steel wheels
  • LED headlights
  • Rearview camera
  • Cloth upholstery
  • Keyless entry
  • Toyota's Entune® 3.0 infotainment system with a seven-inch touchscreen
  • Apple CarPlay
  • Bluetooth connectivity


Ford Escape

Best AWD SUVs: Ford Escape | CarMax

The Ford Escape gets us to the halfway point of our 10 best AWD and 4WD SUVs list. With a great mix of engine and trim options, you're sure to find the right AWD Escape to take you off the beaten path. For 2017, Ford offered both a 179-horsepower 1.5L EcoBoost® turbocharged four-cylinder as well as a 245-horsepower twin-turbo 2.0L EcoBoost four-cylinder engine. Both the SE and Titanium trim levels were available with AWD, only the base S trim was not. Ford added the SEL trim for 2018, and by 2019, the Escape SE was the first trim in the lineup with optional AWD plus standard features such as:

  • Push-Button Start
  • SYNC® 3 infotainment system
  • 17-inch Painted Aluminum Wheels
  • Dual-Zone Electronic Automatic Temperature Control
  • Dual chrome exhaust tips

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Ford Explorer

Best AWD SUVs: Ford Explorer | CarMax

Our list continues the Ford trend with the fantastic Explorer. As another pioneer in the SUV world, the Explorer continues to be a go-to option for many consumers looking for a practical family SUV with available AWD. For the 2017 model year (and continuing to the present day) the Explorer has had AWD as an option on all trim levels including the base, XLT, Limited, Sport, and Platinum. Choose from a 290-horsepower 3.5L V6 or an impressive 365-horsepower 2.3L turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine. The 2018 Explorer received a mild refresh while the 2019 Explorer was all new. With the same five trim levels available, the base 2019 Explorer comes with great features like:

  • Cloth seats with an eight-way power driver seat
  • Leather shift knob
  • 4.2-inch infotainment system
  • Automatic headlights
  • Optional AWD


Honda CR-V

Best AWD SUVs: Honda CR-V | CarMax

The Honda CR-V was all new for the 2017 model year and like many SUVs on this list, A 184-horsepower 2.4L four-cylinder is standard with a 190-horsepower turbocharged 1.5L four-cylinder as an optional engine. After its major 2017 refresh, the RAV4 was not significantly updated for the 2018 or 2019 model years. Models from 2017 onward include:

  • Optional AWD
  • Five-inch LCD center display screen
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Automatic climate control
  • Six-way manual-adjustable driver seat


Jeep Grand Cherokee

Best AWD SUVs: Jeep Grand Cherokee | CarMax

Our top three is led off by yet another great Jeep offering.The Grand Cherokee brings a great mix of luxury and off-road capability. It is the largest of the Jeep SUVs and 4WD is standard or optional at every trim level. For 2017 the Grand Cherokee was offered in a choice of trims that included Laredo, Limited, Overland, Summit, SRT, and the new-for-2017 Trailhawk. The base engine on most Grand Cherokee models is the 290-horsepower 3.6L V6, however, on the SRT trim, you get a massive 6.4L V8 with 475 horsepower. You could also option the Grand Cherokee with a 3.0L turbodiesel that puts out 240 horsepower. For 2018, Jeep added the Trackhawk, which is an AWD monster of an SUV with a supercharged 707-horsepower 6.2L V8. For the 2019 model year, all seven trim levels come standard with features like:

  • Eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Configurable seven-inch touchscreen
  • Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-path detection.


Jeep Wrangler

Best AWD SUVs: Jeep Wrangler | CarMax

In the mainstream off-road world, there may be no equal to the purpose-built Jeep Wrangler. It has defined an entire segment and for quite some time was virtually the only vehicle in that segment. If you are looking for pure off-road capability, the 4WD Wrangler is an amazing option to take you wherever you want to go. It's also got a fantastic list of available trims—the 2017 Wrangler alone had 28 trim options available—each with a different theme or set of features, and all came with 4WD. For 2018, the Wrangler received a massive update and redesign, now featuring a turbocharged 270-horsepower four-cylinder along with the standard 285-horsepower 3.6L V6. The base 2018 Wrangler Sport came with features like:

  • Fog lights
  • 17-inch steel wheels
  • Cloth upholstery
  • Keyless start
  • Eight-speaker audio system
  • Rearview camera

For 2019, the Wrangler was largely unchanged aside from additional special edition models plus a new optional turbo-diesel engine.


Nissan Rogue

Best AWD SUVs: Nissan Rogue | CarMax

Topping our list is the small but popular Nissan Rogue. The Rogue comes in a ton of trim levels, all with optional AWD. For 2017, you could choose from a standard 170-horsepower 2.5L four-cylinder engine or a 141-horsepower 2.0L four-cylinder paired to a 40 horsepower electric motor available in the Rogue Hybrid. For 2018, Nissan added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard across all Rogue models. For the 2019 model year, Nissan updated various trim levels with new standard and optional features. Even the 2019 base S trim comes with:

  • A seven-inch touchscreen
  • Cloth upholstery
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Bluetooth and USB connectivity
  • A rearview camera

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This list has a lot of fantastic SUVS that can make your life a bit more practical and a lot more fun. CarMax can help you locate used vehicles near you so you can start scheduling test drives today!

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1Various factors may impact towing capacity, including weight of passengers, cargo, and options/accessories.
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