The first luxury car manufacturer to employ all-wheel drive was Audi back in 1980. Today, Quattro (all-wheel drive in Audi-speak) is available across the board in every model. And, every other luxury maker has seen fit to offer all-wheel drive as well.
Believe it or not, there was a time when powering all four wheels of a vehicle was applied only to trucks and off road vehicles. If you’re wondering what the difference is between all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, it’s this: All-wheel drive vehicles have power fed to all four wheels all the time. It may vary in proportion between front and back, or even side-to-side, but all four wheels are always powered. With four-wheel drive, generally found only on trucks and SUVs, the system can be switched between two- and four-wheel drive.
All-wheel drive is now seen as just as much of a necessity for the luxury car market as plush interiors and powerful engines. Nearly 50 percent of luxury cars sold today in areas that get snow are equipped with the technology, and even in relatively temperate regions all-wheel drive is showing up in approximately 15 percent of the luxury cars sold.
What follows is our list of the best 2012 all-wheel drive luxury cars.