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Best Used AWD SUVs for 2023


Nell Walker: Author
Nell Walker | Senior Contributor
August 8, 2023
Man leaning on SUV parked next to a campsite sipping coffee

Adventure more with these AWD SUVs.

Comfort, spaciousness, and practicality ensure SUVs are ever popular with many types of drivers. Not only are they ideal for an array of modern lifestyles but choosing a vehicle with all-wheel drive (AWD) also gives you additional terrain options. This makes light off-roading a breeze and gives you the confidence you need in all weather conditions.

When shopping for an SUV, to help make your decision even easier, we've compiled a list of the 10 most popular used AWD SUVs with CarMax customers. For this list, we've included SUVs for which AWD is standard for all or most trims. Learn more about how our lists work.

Best Used AWD SUVs for 2023

  1. Subaru Forester

  2. Jeep Compass

  3. Ford Escape

  4. Audi Q5

  5. Lexus RX 350

  6. BMW X3

  7. Subaru Crosstrek

  8. Acura MDX

  9. Mazda CX-5

  10. Volvo XC90

1. Subaru Forester

2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i Wilderness

The five-seat Subaru Forester offers AWD as standard and, unsurprisingly for a brand that specializes in off-roading capabilities, offers many features that make conquering the great outdoors easy. Tall windows equal fantastic visibility, and the AWD enables a high level of control on difficult terrain. X-Mode comes standard on all trims above the base for 2019-2022 models, which is Subaru's off-road mode and adds to the standard stability control.

The Wilderness trim was introduced for 2022, which includes upgraded suspension that adds 0.5in to the Forester's standard 8.7in of ground clearance. 2020-2023 Foresters also include EyeSight Technology as standard, helping with lane centering and lane departure. Additionally, there's Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-DRIVE) which optimizes engine characteristics depending on the driving style selected.

Research the Subaru Forester

2. Jeep Compass

2022 Jeep Compass Trailhawk

AWD became standard in the Jeep Compass for 2023, which seems a natural progression for a brand that's known for its go-anywhere SUVs. This Compass underwent an update in 2022 with a new engine, plus AWD became standard in 2023. For the highest level of off-roading credentials, you'll want to look for the Trailhawk, which adds hill descent control, skid plates, and tow hooks to the standard features, among other things. The 2017-2023 Jeep Compass has multiple standard selectable modes via Selec-Terrain, which comes standard on all AWD models.

Research the Jeep Compass

3. Ford Escape

2019 Ford Escape S

Fully redesigned in 2020, AWD is available across all trims. 2020-2023 models offer 104 cu-ft of passenger volume, an upgrade from the previous 98.7 cu-ft. The redesign also offers lots of other storage in the form of pockets and anti-tip cup holders. This means plenty of space for all five passengers. The AdvanceTrac stability control system comes with every model from 2020 onward, giving you peace of mind when traversing difficult terrain. If you live in cooler climates, look for the available heated seats and heated steering wheel.

Research the Ford Escape

4. Audi Q5

2020 Audi Q5 Premium 55 TFSI e

Offering AWD as standard since it hit the market back in 2009, the Audi Q5 provides plenty of great features for an enjoyable driving experience. In 2018, Audi fully redesigned the Q5 and made things like Audi Pre Sense City—which includes pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, and brake assist — standard. The base Q5 model has had a turbocharged four-cylinder engine since 2017, meaning even standard trims offer plenty of power for both city driving and light off-road adventuring.

Research the Audi Q5

5. Lexus RX 350

2020 Lexus RX RX 350

With the Lexus RX 350, AWD is optional. For the 2023 model, all trims are FWD with available AWD, except the F-Sport Handling, which is AWD-only. This luxury midsize SUV prioritizes comfort across every model year, with the use of high-end cabin materials and adjustable driving positions. 2018 introduced the three-row RX 350L model, which was in production until 2022 and offered the option of seven seats compared to five, which is great for camping trips with family or friends, or big days out. The RX 350's suspension makes each drive comfortable while minimizing body lean. For the most responsiveness, the F-Sport trim (available since 2013, but was renamed to F-Sport Handling in 2023) is ideal, adding adaptive shock absorbers and larger wheels.

Research the Lexus RX 350

6. BMW X3

2021 BMW X3 xDrive30e

This stylish addition to the list offers AWD as standard on the xDrive30i (since 2013), the M40i (since 2018), and the 2020-2021 xDrive30e plug-in hybrid. The five-seat X3 boasts agile handling and a roomy cargo area – 62.7 cu-ft with the second row folded – but the AWD trims add a level of confidence you can take with you on any road surface. The xDrive30i comes with a 248-hp turbocharged engine and the M40i has a 382-hp turbo inline-six engine, so both offer plenty of power, but the latter is particularly impressive on that front. The M40i also has stronger brakes, but the stiffer suspension could tip the scales in favor of the xDrive30i if that's your priority.

Research the BMW X3

7. Subaru Crosstrek

2019 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i Premium

Offering AWD as standard, the Subaru Crosstrek favors practicality on any surface. It offers the very useful EyeSight suite, which became an option for the base trim in 2019 and standard on CVT-equipped models in the following year and adds driver aids across all trims. It has 8.7in of ground clearance and is particularly well-equipped to handle slippery road surfaces. Subaru made automatic climate control standard in 2020, improving comfort no matter the weather. The Crosstrek offers a smooth ride and is well-suited to light-to-moderate off-roading.

Research the Subaru Crosstrek.

8. Acura MDX

2023 Acura MDX with A-Spec Package

With AWD as standard for all models besides the Base and Technology trims (2021-2023), the Acura MDX was fully redesigned in 2022 to prioritize space and performance. This vehicle is large for its class, offering seven seats rather than the more common five. One of the trims to look out for on the MDX is the Advance, which includes a few adventuring-friendly features like a surround-view camera system and a hands-free power liftgate. The 2021-2023 Type S trim offers a 355-hp turbocharged V6 engine, which could be exactly what you're looking for if you're keen on road trips.

Research the Acura MDX.

9. Mazda CX-5

2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature

A poised addition to the list, the Mazda CX-5 comes with AWD as standard from 2022. In 2019, the CX-5 added a 360-degree monitor and front and rear parking sensors to the Signature trim, and Mazda added rear automatic braking to the Signature trim in 2021. Taut suspension ensures the ride is controlled and firm, yet comfortable. Plus, there's 59.3 cu-ft of cargo space with the seats folded in the 2023 model, which is a slight improvement on 2022's 58.1 cu-ft. That's plenty for multiple suitcases or a lot of shopping.

Research the Mazda CX-5.

10. Volvo XC90

2020 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD R-Design

With impressive handling for a large vehicle, the Volvo XC90 offers AWD as standard across all trims besides the base T5, which was discontinued in 2023. 2016-2023 models offer a huge 85.7 cu-ft of cargo space with all rear seats folded, which is perfect for filling with camping or adventuring gear and feels luxurious inside when you're roaming outdoors. Navigation became standard in 2022, so you can't get lost when exploring. The steering is responsive and the XC90 is highly maneuverable even in awkward spaces.

Research the Volvo XC90.

When looking for an SUV with great AWD credentials, this list tells you all you need to know. Whether you're wandering well-trodden tracks, heading into the city, or exploring completely unknown areas, these vehicles are designed to put you at ease, ready to handle whatever the day will throw at you.

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Who We Are

At CarMax, we've been buying and selling cars since 1993, and we've made it our business to pay close attention to which cars customers like—and buy—the most. As the largest used car auto retailer in the United States, our overall sample size is large and reflective of the variety of years, makes, and models that we sell.

How We Rank Our List

To create our "Best Of" lists, our analysts look at CarMax vehicle and sales data over a recent 6-month period, from December 2022 through May 2023. For this list, each SUV has to have AWD as standard for all (or most) trims. Looking back over a 6-month period allows for the highest sample size possible while also providing up-to-date pricing information. Some articles may include data points with lower sample sizes.

Nell Walker: Author
Nell Walker | Senior Contributor

Nell Walker is a business journalist, editor, and marketing content creator with specialisms in technology and the future of mobility. She balances twin passions of writing about modern vehicles and tomorrow's fuels, with a personal love of gorgeous classic cars.

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