10 RWD Sedans that Won’t Deliver a Big Setback to Your Bank Account

Charles Krome
by Charles Krome
August 19, 2015
6 min. Reading Time
2014 BMW 428 Gran Sport

2014 BMW 428 Gran Sport

There’s nothing quite like the balanced dynamics of a car with a traditional rear-wheel-drive powertrain, but in the current automotive environment, the top RWD sedans tend to take a back seat to their front-drive cohorts—particularly at lower sticker prices. Thus, these selections here were all chosen because they pair rear-wheel power with relative affordability, with all entries starting under $42,000 (based on their most recently released MSRPs when this story was published).

Dodge Charger

The 707-hp Hellcat model has certainly helped reignite interest in the industry’s four-door muscle car, but folks on the prowl for rear-wheel-drive sedans will find there’s much more to the 2016 Dodge Charger than just its assortment of high-powered HEMI engines. For example, Dodge’s aggressively designed sedan has now won the Large Car segment of the J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study for two years running. The Charger can also be relatively fuel efficient, at least when configured with its standard Pentastar V6 engine; pairing that 292-hp unit with an eight-speed automatic transmission produces EPA grades that reaches 31 mpg in highway driving. And Dodge delivers plenty of technology, too, from Uconnect on-demand mobile wi-fi to Beats audio. Of course, that being said, the brand will boost production of Hellcat editions significantly for 2016, while further adding ultra-lux Laguna leather cabin trim and more.

 Photo by FCA Media

Photo by FCA Media

Chrysler 300

With calendar-year 2015 marking the 90th anniversary of Chrysler, the brand is bringing out special editions of its key vehicles for the new model year, highlighted by the 2016 Chrysler 300. The anniversary model will start with the 300 Limited—the nameplate’s most well-equipped entry model ever—then upgrade the ownership experience with a Uconnect 8.4AN infotainment system, backed by an 8.4-inch touchscreen, 3D GPS navigation, Uconnect Access, Bluetooth, and both SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link. Meanwhile, exclusive “90th Anniversary” accents and a massive dual-pane sunroof serve up an extra dash of style, which is complemented by an advanced, efficient V6 powertrain that combines 292 hp and 31 mpg highway. It’s additionally worth noting that, although the 300 is one of America’s favorite RWD sedans, it also supplies an available all-wheel-drive system that can disconnect the front axle for improved fuel economy when the added traction of AWD isn’t needed.


Cadillac ATS

Along with a brand-new, 464-hp entry for the high-performance V-Series roster, the 2016 Cadillac ATS will showcase a number of important powertrain and technology enhancements for the “regular” lineup, as Cadillac continues to sharpen its focus on RWD sedans. Notable among the revisions: a new, more powerful and more efficient 3.6-liter V6, the debut of stop/start technology with the car’s 2.0-liter turbo, and the introduction of an eight-speed automatic transmission for all engines, including the 2.5-liter four-cylinder entry point. ATS owners also can look forward to an updated CUE infotainment system, with Apple CarPlay for comprehensive iPhone integration, as well as a portfolio of sophisticated driver-assistance measures that boasts lane-change alert, side blind-zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision alert, a rearview camera and the GM “safety seat”—designed to provide tactile, direction-based warnings to complement the car’s visual and audible safety alerts.


Hyundai Genesis

Being picked as one of our best rear-wheel-drive sedans is just one of a plethora of plaudits for the 2015 Hyundai Genesis, which also happens to represent the second-generation model of Hyundai’s first North American Car of the Year. Luckily, the car lives up to those honors by furnishing a healthy range of premium content, especially considering that it’s not even the brand’s range-topping RWD sedan—that would be the Equus. Still, the flowing lines of the Genesis’ Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design cover an upscale cabin with lux touches like a CO2 sensor, a heads-up display, Hyundai’s second-generation Blue Link telematics and infotainment technology, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a 17-speaker Lexicon Logic 7 Surround audio setup. The all-new Genesis also earns entry to the all-wheel-drive club, thanks to the first AWD technology ever offered in a Hyundai car.


Infiniti Q40

The Infiniti brand’s long-standing dedication to rear-wheel-drive remains clearly on display in the 2015 Infiniti Q40, at least for a little while longer; it will be replaced next year with the premium compact Q30, eliminating a bit of an overlap between the current Q40 and Q50, both of which are mid-size rear-wheel-drive sedans. But that just means the Q40 is likely to be a relative bargain today, despite being fitted with standard equipment spanning from leather-appointed seats—with heating for the driver and front-row passenger—to the Infiniti Intelligent Key system with push-button ignition. Beyond this, customers can further select from brand-exclusive options such as an Infiniti “Studio on Wheels” audio system, designed specifically for the brand by Bose, and the brand’s performance-oriented “ATTESA E-TS” intelligent all-wheel-drive system. On the other hand, the car’s exterior palette is limited to four finely formulated finishes: Liquid Platinum, Graphite Shadow, Black Obsidian and Moonlight White.


BMW 3 Series

Already No. 1 on the list of best-selling German rear-wheel-drive sedans, the BMW 3 Series will ratchet up performance and premium amenities yet further for the new model year, so that sales are likely to go in the same direction. One thing’s for sure, however, and that’s the fact that the 2016 BMW 3 Series will premiere a new powertrain for the brand. The 3.0-liter, TwinPower I6 engine will be standard in the 340i, where it will be able to unchain 320 horsepower and 330 lb.-ft. of torque. With that output managed by an eight-speed automatic transmission, the car will be able to race from 0-60 in a mere 4.8 seconds; drivers who opt for an all-wheel-drive 340i will be able to lower that mark to 4.6 seconds. Moreover, there are style revisions throughout the lineup, along with additional suspension work for enhanced dynamics.

 Photo by BMW

Photo by BMW

Lexus IS

The 2016 Lexus IS touts the nameplate’s first turbocharged engine, introducing a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder unit that, in the IS 200t, tops out at 241 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. But the car still turns in EPA scores of 22 mpg city/33 mpg highway/26 mpg combined, making it one of the most fuel-efficient, gas-powered rear-wheel-drive sedans in the country. And because it’s a Lexus, owners also can count on a long list of lux features, not the least of which are its available Mark Levinson Premium Surround System, sporting 15 speakers and 835 watts of power, and its exclusive Lexus Remote Touch Interface, developed for simple, elegant control of the vehicle’s audio, climate, navigation and phone systems. Finally, as well as leading-edge occupant-protection technologies, the Lexus IS lineup does offer two V6 engine choices, spearheaded by a 3.5-liter mill that makes 306 hp and 277 lb.-ft. of torque.


Mercedes-Benz C-Class

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class lost about 200 lbs. of curb weight as compared to the previous-gen model, but it definitely finds a place among our favorite rear-wheel-drive sedans. After all, while the new C-Class is indeed much lighter than the last one, it’s also noticeably larger, roomier, more powerful and more efficient. As expected from a Mercedes-Benz product, the car also stakes out a leadership position for technology, premiering the segment’s first available air suspension, most of the high-tech safety features of the flagship S-Class, and an array of infotainment and connectivity features. An impressive centerpiece: the new touchpad built right into the handrest of the C-Class to provide tablet-style control over important vehicle systems—enhanced by handwriting recognition for all languages and easily recognizable haptic feedback for users. Mercedes performance fanatics also can rest easy knowing there are two AMG variants for the new C-Class, led by the 503-hp C63 S.


Infiniti Q50

Like a number of other next-gen rear-wheel-drive sedans, the 2016 Infiniti Q50 will offer a turbocharged engine as part of its next round of enhancements, but details at this stage have yet to be released, and all that’s known for sure is that the new unit will be a 2.0-liter, four-cylindered affair. More info will be provided at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, so until then, it’s the 2015 model that’s at dealerships, complete with the brand’s exclusive InTuition and InTouch technologies: the former keeps track of the vehicle’s preferences for up to four different drivers, with the ability to adjust the Q50 accordingly; the latter is the Infiniti touchscreen/voice-control resource for navigation, entertainment and connectivity. Nor is it too late to leverage the new-for-2015 Performance Package for the car, allowing owners to shoe the Q with superlight 19-inch forged-aluminum RAYS wheels and staggered-width summer tires.


BMW 4 Series

Don’t be fooled by the name of the 2016 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe—or its shape: That sleek silhouette actually incorporates four doors, just like the rest of the rear-wheel-drive sedans. But there’s also a lot more that does distinguish the car, including the 4 Series’ recent segment victory in the J.D. Power 2015 Initial Quality Study. Also making a difference is a balanced blend of power and performance, since the 4 Series Gran Coupe couples TwinPower turbo engines—in four- and six-cylinder sizes—with a sport-tuned eight-speed automatic transmission and wide spectrum of luxurious features. As a result, not only can drivers run off 0-60 times of 4.7 seconds (with the all-wheel-drive 435i), they also can take advantage of Harman Kardon audio, a powered glass moonroof, 10-way power-adjustable front-row seating and full LED headlights while they’re doing it, or personalize the car through BMW’s Sport Line, Luxury Line and M Sport packages.


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