All-wheel drive SUVs have become a necessity for anyone forced to regularly deal with snow and ice on their daily commute. Families appreciate the extra space that an AWD SUV offers compared to a traditional sedan, while almost everyone enjoys the traction advantage that comes with powering all four wheels. All-wheel drive has largely replaced traditional low-range four-wheel drive as the winter aide of choice on the SUV market, and there are now a variety of different AWD systems out there that can help you tackle inclement weather conditions.
Let's take a quick look at 10 of the best AWD SUVs for 2014.
Best AWD SUVs 2014 - 01 - 2014 Chevrolet Traverse
The 2014 Chevrolet Traverse goes a long way towards explaining why fewer and fewer automakers build truck-based full-size SUVs these days. The Chevrolet Traverse can seat up to eight passengers, haul a whopping 116.3 cubic feet of cargo with the rear two rows folded forward, and even tow as much as 5,200 lbs. Under its hood, the Traverse is motivated by a 3.6-liter V-6 that sends up to 288 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque (with dual exhaust) to all four wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel mileage for the AWD Traverse is listed at 16-mpg in stop and go driving and 23-mpg on the highway.
Best AWD SUVs 2014 - 02 - 2014 Lexus RX
The 2014 Lexus RX is the automotive equivalent of a sure thing, an AWD SUV that routinely leads Lexus sales across the board. The Lexus RX has managed to find its niche in the luxury segment where it offers nice, but not too plush accommodations that wear well when exposed to repeated family use. All-wheel drive versions of the RX feature a 3.5-liter V-6 that churns out 270 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque, managed by an eight-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy figures for the Lexus show as 18-mpg city and 24-mpg highway, and the five-passenger SUV can also haul as much as 80 cubic feet of cargo.
Best AWD SUVs 2014 - 03 - 2014 Nissan Pathfinder
The 2014 Nissan Pathfinder is an all-wheel drive SUV that courts full-size shoppers with copious amounts of interior real estate. Completely redesigned last year, the Nissan Pathfinder left behind its body-on-frame design for a more car-like ride and bold exterior styling. Three rows of accommodations mean that there's enough space for up to seven riders inside the Nissan, and flipping down the back seats reveals just under 80 cubic feet of cargo space. A continuously-variable automatic transmission is standard with the Pathfinder, and this helps the vehicle achieve 25-mpg around town and 27-mpg on the highway, despite the presence of all-wheel drive and a 3.5-liter V-6 that's good for 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. The SUV is also good for a respectable 5,000 lbs of towing.
Best AWD SUVs 2014 - 04 - 2014 Ford Explorer
The 2014 Ford Explorer is another SUV that has traded its truck-based attitude for a unibody platform that is more comfortable to drive, better on gas, and lighter on its feet. The Ford Explorer remains an excellent choice for growing families as it not only offers seven passenger seating, but it also provides a long list of advanced safety features to choose from including a lane keeping system, adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning, and inflatable seatbelts for second row passengers. All-wheel drive Explorers have a choice between the SUV's standard 3.5-liter V-6 (290 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque) or an EcoBoost twin-turbo version of the same motor in the Explorer Sport (365 horses and 360 lb-ft of twist). A six-speed automatic transmission is standard with each, and fuel economy is a tie at 16-mpg city and 22-mpg highway.
Best AWD SUVs 2014 - 05 - 2014 Toyota RAV4
The 2014 Toyota RAV4 continues to garner accolades well into its second decade of production. The Toyota RAV4 trades a couple seating spots for a more comfortable five-passenger interior when compared to other compact AWD SUVs, a fact that will be appreciated by anyone who hauls more adults than children in the second row. There's also 73.3 cubic feet of total cargo space inside the Toyota, which is right at the top of its class. The RAV4 features a 176 horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine between its front fenders. Also capable of producing 172 lb-ft of torque, the motor is shifted via a six-speed automatic and returns 22-mpg in city driving and 29-mpg on the highway.
Best AWD SUVs 2014 - 06 - 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class is one of the best-kept secrets of the entry-level luxury. With a ride that's more like a tall wagon than a truck, the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class is a step ahead of some of its more sport-focused rivals when it comes to comfort. The five-passenger AWD SUV can also be loaded with premium gear including an automated parking system, heated leather seats, and a sleek AMG styling package. A 3.5-liter V-6 is standard with the GLK-Class' entry-level GLK350 model where it provides 302 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, but there's also the option of a 2.1-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder mill that offers 200 horses and 369 lb-ft of twist in the GLK250. The latter also posts efficiency figures of 24-mpg city and 33-mpg highway. A seven-speed automatic transmission is included with either model.
Best AWD SUVs 2014 - 07 - 2014 Acura RDX
The 2014 Acura RDX is another premium contender content to walk the comfort line rather than offer all-out sporting performance behind the wheel. Don't get us wrong: the Acura RDX's 273 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 (that also generates 251 lb-ft of torque) is more than capable of getting the AWD SUV out of its own way, but it's a more stately than spirited acceleration in this people mover with the accelerator on the floor. The RDX comes with a six-speed automatic transmission, and it delivers fuel mileage of 19-mpg city and 27-mpg highway. Five passenger seating and 61.3 cubic feet of total cargo capacity are also part of the Acura's package.
Best AWD SUVs 2014 - 08 - 2014 Buick Encore
The 2014 Buick Encore is one of the very few subcompact AWD SUVs plying the premium seas, and as such it has the market pretty much all to itself. In some ways the Buick Encore feels like a hatchback with a lift kit and all-wheel drive, as its interior is designed to house two comfortably and five in a pinch. As a lifestyle accessory, however, the Encore is an appealing option given its all-wheel drive grip, its useful 48.4 cubic feet of interior storage room, and its access to luxurious options. Also in its favor is a thrifty drivetrain: the Buick's 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is good for 23-mpg around town and 30-mpg on the highway while still producing 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque.
Best AWD SUVs 2014 - 09 - 2014 Subaru Forester
The 2014 Subaru Forester gives compact AWD SUV shoppers legitimate off-road capability should they ever need it, thanks to 8.7-inches of ground clearance and the available X-Mode feature, which comes with all versions of the vehicle that feature its optional continuously-variable automatic transmission. The Subaru Forester can also provide substantial on-road performance, as its XT trim features a 250 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The base model's 170 horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder will be the one to order for those most concerned about fuel mileage, however, as it provides 24-mpg city and 29-mpg highway. Big inside, the Subaru's five passenger seating is complemented by 74.7 cubic feet of total cargo space.
Best AWD SUVs 2014 - 10 - 2014 Ford Flex
The 2014 Ford Flex is big, boxy, and surprisingly stylish as a result. The Ford Flex borrows its drivetrains from the Ford Explorer, as they are both based on the same platform, and this means that all-wheel drive versions of the SUV come with either a 287 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 or a twin-turbo EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6 that puts out 365 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard with both motors, and fuel economy for the base mode is just barely better than that of the EcoBoost (17-mpg city / 23-mpg highway). The Flex's rectangular shape translates into three rows of seating for as many as seven passengers, along with 83 cubic feet of room for hauling oversized gear.