The vast majority of the passenger cars available in the United States feature a front wheel drive layout. Front wheel drive is the drivetrain design of choice for a variety of reasons: it helps with packaging (no driveshaft means greater interior room), it allows for shorter hoods (due to transversely mounted engines), and it provides greater efficiencies due to reduced parasitic drag.
Most buyers don’t really put too much stock into which wheels drive a car as long as the vehicle in question offers great fuel economy, plenty of interior room, and a comfortable driving experience. That being said, to illustrate just how prevalent front wheel drive has become in the industry we've put together a look at the best front wheel drive cars currently available. These ten models aren't a comprehensive list of front wheel drive front-runners, but they represent some of the most appealing vehicles in their respective classes.
01. Best Front Wheel Drive Cars - 2013 Toyota Avalon
The 2013 Toyota Avalon is the Japanese brand's pitch to make an often-overlooked full-size sedan appealing to a younger demographic. The large Toyota Avalon has been given a complete redesign for the current model year that sees it adopt more aggressive styling, while not completely abandoning the dignity that has been a hallmark of previous generations of the car. The Avalon is positioned as a comfortable, semi-premium option for those not interested in shelling out mega-bucks for a European competitor, and it comes with a host of new features, including a fresh suite of active safety gear. Under the hood, buyers can choose between either a 3.5-liter V-6 good for 268 horsepower, or a hybrid setup composed of a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine and single electric motor that together deliver 200 horses and 40-mpg in combined fuel mileage.
02. Best Front Wheel Drive Cars - 2013 Volkswagen Passat
The 2013 Volkswagen Passat is mid-size sedan that is available in a surprising array of different editions and drivetrain options. The family-oriented Volkswagen Passat is initially offered with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that is good for 170 horsepower, but drivers can choose to upgrade to a 3.6-liter V-6 engine that comes with 280 ponies and 258 lb-ft of torque. Somewhere in the middle is VW's ultra-efficient 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder engine that develops 140 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque on its way to fuel mileage figures of 31-mpg city and 43-mpg on the highway. The Passat is notable for being available with a six-speed manual transmission in both base trim and diesel editions, with a six-speed automatic and a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual also in the cards for the sedan.
03. Best Front Wheel Drive Cars - 2013 Ford Fusion
The 2013 Ford Fusion has also been the recipient of a re-engineering effort, transforming the mid-size sedan from competent family cruiser to affordable fashion plate. Dramatically revamped looks aside, the Ford Fusion also abandons V-6 engines in order to go with a lineup composed entirely of four-cylinder gasoline and hybrid models. Most versions of the Fusion feature a 175 horsepower, 2.5-liter mill, but a turbocharged 1.6-liter unit is also available for those who crave the additional grunt afforded by 178 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. An optional 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder (from the same EcoBoost family as the 1.6-liter motor) provides 240 horses and 270 lb-ft of torque, and all three versions of the Fusion return well over 30-mpg in highway driving. Transmission choices for the Ford sedan include a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic.
04. Best Front Wheel Drive Cars - 2013 Chevrolet Cruze
The 2013 Chevrolet Cruze packages excellent efficiency in an comely compact sedan package, making the Bowtie-wearing brand competitive in the entry-level sphere for the first time in decades. The Chevrolet Cruze can also be had in RS trim, which installs a snazzy body kit as well as revised suspension in order to provide grippier road-holding. The base 1.8-liter, four-cylinder motor provided with the Cruze generates the same horsepower (138) as the 1.4-liter four-cylinder also available with the car, but the latter returns better fuel mileage (up to 42-mpg highway) and more torque (148 lb-ft) thanks to the magic of turbocharging.
05. Best Front Wheel Drive Cars - 2013 Hyundai Sonata
The 2013 Hyundai Sonata has attracted significant attention in the mid-size front wheel drive car segment thanks to its high-value bundling of features and standard equipment into an inexpensive range of trim levels. The Hyundai Sonata is also exciting to look at, which is an important factor in the family sedan market where style is increasing emphasized. The Sonata delivers either 200 horsepower (2.4-liter four-cylinder) or 274 horsepower (2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder) depending on which version of the car is selected, and a six-speed automatic transmission is paired with each. A hybrid version of the Sonata can also be ordered for the ultimate in overall fuel sipping.
06. Best Front Wheel Drive Cars - 2013 Toyota Camry
The 2013 Toyota Camry is up against stiff competition when compared against the modern crop of mid-size family sedans, including several of the models listed in this article. This is one of the main reasons as to why the Toyota Camry was recently overhauled in order to remain at the top of the food chain in terms of North American auto sales. The Camry's strength lies in its ability to please the widest possible demographic of buyers: young and old, couples with kids and singles, men and women all love the Toyota's inoffensive looks, comfortable, spacious interior, and excellent fuel economy. Four-cylinder and V-6 power (with the latter offering 268 ponies) and that availability of a hybrid model also gives potential Camry buyers a good selection of drivetrains to choose from.
07. Best Front Wheel Drive Cars - 2013 Nissan Altima
This might start sounding like a broken record, but the 2013 Nissan Altima has been re-designed, re-styled, and re-configured to snag as many front-wheel drive mid-size sedan shoppers as possible from its number one rival, the Toyota Camry. The Nissan Altima used to be known for its sportier handling, but it now rides on a plusher chassis in order to further build credibility amongst comfort-seeking drivers. The Altima is enormous inside, and it can be had with an impressively-advanced continuously-variable automatic transmission that allows the car to return 38-mpg in city driving when ordered with its 2.5-liter, 182 horsepower four-cylinder base engine. Even its 270 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 provides reasonably frugal mileage of 31-mpg during highway cruising thanks to the CVT magic.
08. Best Front Wheel Drive Cars - 2012 Volkswagen GTI
The 2012 Volkswagen GTI is perhaps the best-handling front wheel drive car currently on the market. The compact hatchback can be had in both two and four-door editions, and it delivers a connected ride with plenty of steering feedback and a suspension system that keeps the car pointed in the right direction without rattling one's molars out of their sockets in the process. The GTI's only available engine is a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder that delivers 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque thanks to the efforts of a turbocharger, and it can be paired with either a traditional six-speed automatic transmission or a lightning-quick dual-clutch automated manual gearbox.
09. Best Front Wheel Drive Cars - 2013 Lexus ES
2013 seems to be the model year for adopting a clean-slate approach to front wheel drive car design. The 2013 Lexus ES sedan joins our list of freshly turned-out models. The Lexus ES is a luxury car that doesn't make pretensions to sporty handling, but instead delivers an exceptionally-quiet interior, a cornucopia of premium features, and a compliant chassis that aims to insulate riders from the outside world. The ES is also a decent driver, whether it be on a longer trip or a short commute, and its revised styling gives it a visual edge missing on past models. The Lexus can be had in Hybrid trim or with a 268 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 lurking between the front fenders.
10. Best Front Wheel Drive Cars - 2013 Toyota Prius
The 2013 Toyota Prius is the latest edition of the iconic hybrid hatchback that taught Americans how to fall in love with a battery-powered car. Making use of the latest Hybrid Synergy Drive system from Toyota, the Toyota Prius offers 134 horsepower from its 1.8-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine and team of two electric motors. Fuel mileage for the hatchback shows as 51-mpg around town and 48-mpg highway, but beyond its exceptional fuel efficiency the Prius is now available with a raft of high end gear that allows buyers to deck it out to near-luxury levels in terms of features and equipment.