Gain more traction with these SUVs.

Best AWD SUVs | CarMax

Whether you need a vehicle to keep up with your day-to-day or something well-suited for fun getaways, an SUV may be a good fit for your lifestyle. Not only will you enjoy more space for passengers, pets, and belongings, but many models offer AWD or 4WD capabilities to inspire confidence as you face changing weather and road conditions.

To help you narrow down your options, we've compiled a list of the 10 best AWD and 4WD SUVs for 2021 shoppers, based on CarMax vehicle and sales data from May 1, 2020, through October 31, 2020.

  1. Honda CR-V
  2. Kia Sorento
  3. Jeep Cherokee
  4. Jeep Wrangler
  5. Nissan Pathfinder
  6. Jeep Compass
  7. Subaru Forester
  8. Ford Explorer
  9. Jeep Grand Cherokee
  10. Nissan Rogue


Honda CR-V

Best AWD SUVs: Honda CR-V | CarMax

The 2017–2019 Honda CR-V offers an available Real Time AWD with Intelligent Control System™ on all trim levels, providing the capability you need to handle tricky driving conditions. With room for five passengers and 75.8 cu-ft of maximum cargo volume (2017–2019 models), this SUV is great for carpooling or trips to the slopes. Base models start with a 184-hp 2.4L four-cylinder with 180 lb-ft of torque, but stepping up to the EX unlocks a standard 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder engine (2017–2019 models). Offering up an enticing mix of passing power and gas mileage, the 2017–2019 CRV's 1.5L returns an EPA-estimated 29 mpg combined with AWD.1 Standard features on the 2017–2019 CR-V EX-L include:

  • Power tailgate
  • Leather upholstery
  • 12-way power-adjustable driver seat
  • Four-way power-adjustable front passenger seat
  • Eight-speaker audio system


Kia Sorento

Best AWD and 4WD SUVs: Kia Sorento | CarMax

If you're shopping for a seven-passenger SUV with a spacious cabin and skillful performance in wintery conditions, the Kia Sorento is worth a look. 2017–2019 models offer available full-time AWD on all trims (except the base L) and 7.3 inches of ground clearance to help the SUV cut through snow. With 39.4 inches of second-row legroom (2017–2019 models), your family will enjoy ample stretch-out space. Even with a full load of passengers, you'll have room for plenty of cargo with 11.3 cu-ft of volume behind the third row (2017–2019 models). The 2017–2019 Sorento EX comes standard with:

  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Leather upholstery
  • Dual-zone automatic temperature control
  • Seven-touchscreen display
  • Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto compatibility


Jeep Cherokee

Best AWD and 4WD SUVs: Jeep Cherokee | CarMax

The Jeep Cherokee supports its off-road abilities by offering a choice of 4WD systems, including Jeep Active Drive I, which comes standard on 2018–2019 Cherokee Latitude, Latitude Plus, Limited, and Overland trims. This fully automatic system delivers seamless operation in and out of 4WD at any speed, plus it includes traction control to maintain a balanced torque distribution in varying weather conditions. Jeep Active Drive II (optional on 2018–2019 Cherokee Latitude Plus, Limited, and Overland trims) locks the front and rear driveshafts to deliver additional power at low speeds. 2017–2019 Trailhawk models also include Jeep Active Drive Lock, which uses a locking rear differential for more capability in severe off-road conditions.

Standard features on the 2017–2019 Jeep Cherokee Limited include:

  • 18-inch aluminum wheels
  • Power liftgate (standard 2018–2019; optional 2017)
  • Leather upholstery
  • Heated front seats
  • 8.4-inch display


Jeep Wrangler

Best AWD and 4WD SUVs for 2020 Shoppers: Jeep Wrangler | CarMax

If you're after a truck-based SUV for cruising through sand dunes, the 2017–2019 Jeep Wrangler's standard four-wheel drivetrain has an adventurous spirit. With its two- and four-door body styles with soft- and hard-top roof options, the Wrangler delivers exceptional off-road ability with an open-air experience (2017–2019 models). All 2017–2019 models come standard with a 3.6L V6 that makes 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. 2019 Wranglers also offer an optional turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder with a mild-hybrid eTorque system on all trims, which provides 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The 2017–2019 Jeep Wrangler Sport includes these standard features:

  • Soft folding top
  • Skid plates and tow hooks
  • Fog lamps
  • Cloth upholstery
  • Removable rear bench seat


Nissan Pathfinder

Best AWD and 4WD SUVs: Nissan Pathfinder | CarMax

The 2017–2019 Nissan Pathfinder offers an available Intelligent 4x4 drivetrain on all trims, allowing you to choose between full-time 2WD to prioritize gas mileage, Auto for traction only when you need it, and 4WD lock mode in tough conditions. All 2017–2019 models run off a 3.5L V6 with 284 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque that can tow an estimated 6,000 lbs when properly equipped.2 With three rows of seating for seven passengers, the 2017–2019 Pathfinder is great for weekend ski trips with 16 cu-ft of cargo volume behind the third row. Standard features on the 2017–2019 Pathfinder SL include:

  • Motion-activated liftgate
  • Leather upholstery
  • Heated front and second-row outboard seats
  • Blind-spot monitor
  • Navigation system (2018–2019)

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Jeep Compass

Best AWD and 4WD SUVs for 2020 Shoppers: Jeep Compass | CarMax

With its smaller footprint and carlike handling, the five-passenger Jeep Compass is a great SUV for city living. All 2017–2019 Compass Sport, Latitude, and Limited trims offer optional AWD for enhanced traction in slippery conditions, while the 2017–2019 Compass Trailhawk comes standard with AWD if you like to off-road on the weekends. A 2.4L four-cylinder anchors all 2017–2019 models and returns an EPA-estimated 25 mpg combined with AWD.1 On the road, the Compass delivers a well-balanced ride from its touring-tuned suspension that soaks up bumps for your comfort. The 2017–2019 Compass Sport comes standard with:

  • 16-inch black steel wheels
  • Cloth upholstery
  • Bluetooth® connectivity
  • Six-speaker sound system
  • Rearview monitor


Subaru Forester

Best AWD SUVs: Subaru Forester | CarMax

The 2017–2019 Subaru Forester is a five-seater crossover SUV with standard all-wheel drive and impressive fuel economy. 2017–2018 models return an EPA-estimated 28 mpg combined from the 2.5L and AWD, while the 2019 Forester gets an EPA-estimated 29 mpg combined from the same powertrain.1 Redesigned in 2019, the updated Forester boasts more interior space with 39.4 inches of rear-seat legroom, making it a comfortable option for adults. Cargo capacity on the 2019 Forester is voluminous, too, with 70.9 cu-ft of storage space by folding the 60/40-split rear seat. Standard features on the 2019 Subaru Forester Sport include:

  • 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels
  • Roof rails
  • Heated side mirrors
  • Cloth upholstery
  • Dual rear USB ports


Ford Explorer

Best AWD SUVs: Ford Explorer | CarMax

If you want a seven-passenger SUV with confidence-inducing capability, the Ford Explorer is a smart choice. 2017–2019 models feature an Intelligent 4WD with Terrain Management System™ and Hill Descent Control™ (standard on Sport and Platinum; optional on all other trims) that helps you travel through varying conditions, whether it's wet roads, mud, sand, or snow. The 2017–2019 Explorer's base 3.5L V6 can also tow an estimated 5,000 lbs when properly equipped, if you like bringing your ATVs along for the ride.2 With a total of 81.7 cu-ft of cargo volume with the second and third rows folded, the 2017–2019 Explorer is invaluable when transporting larger items. The 2017–2019 Explorer Sport includes these standard features:

  • 20-inch aluminum wheels
  • Sport-tuned suspension
  • Leather upholstery
  • Dual-zone automatic temperature control
  • SYNC® 3 with an eight-inch touchscreen display


Jeep Grand Cherokee

Best AWD and 4WD SUVs for 2020 Shoppers: Jeep Grand Cherokee | CarMax

The Jeep Grand Cherokee delivers the power of choice with three potent engines and available 4WD on all 2017–2019 trims, except the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, which embraces off-road challenges with standard 4WD. The 2017–2019 Grand Cherokee line-up starts with a 295-hp 3.6L V6 with 260 lb-ft of torque, while Limited and higher trims can be equipped with a turbocharged 3.0L diesel V6 or a 5.7L V8. With an estimated towing capacity of 7,200 lbs, when properly equipped, the 2017–2019 Grand Cherokee's V8 paired with 4WD has serious hauling power.2 This SUV also boasts a plush cabin with room for five passengers and 36.3 cu-ft of cargo space behind the second row for camping gear or luggage. Standard features on the 2017–2019 Grand Cherokee Trailhawk include:

  • 18-inch aluminum wheels
  • Roof rack
  • Selec-speed with Hill-Ascent Control
  • Air suspension system
  • Nine-speaker audio system


Nissan Rogue

Best AWD SUVs: Nissan Rogue | CarMax

The 2017–2019 Nissan Rogue offers available Intuitive AWD on all trim levels, which quickly adapts to changing road and weather conditions as they happen. Combined with the 170-hp 2.5L four-cylinder, which comes standard on all 2017–2019 models, the Rogue delivers level-headed performance that's well-suited for commuting and road trips. Even with AWD, the 2017–2019 Rogue's 2.5L sips fuel with an EPA-estimated 27 mpg combined.1 With features like the standard Divide-N-Hide® Cargo System and 39.3 cu-ft of trunk space behind the second row, the 2017–2019 Rogue is a practical choice for daily life. The 2017–2019 Rogue SV comes standard with:

  • 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels
  • Roof rails
  • Dual-zone automatic temperature control
  • Heated front seats
  • Blind-spot monitor with rear-cross traffic alert

If you're shopping for a roomy vehicle with steady performance in challenging weather conditions or on rougher roads, you'll find no shortage of options on this list of SUVs with AWD or 4WD capabilities.

Looking to learn more? Check out these related articles:

1Fuel economy figures are based on EPA estimates for when vehicle sold as new. Fuel economy may vary for reasons like driving conditions and vehicle history. Unless specified, figures are for vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission. See fueleconomy.gov.
2Various factors may impact towing capacity, including weight of passengers, cargo, and options/accessories.
Unless otherwise noted, information related to these featured vehicles comes from third-party sources, including manufacturer information. Product and company names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of third-party entities. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by these entities.

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