Best All-Wheel-Drive Hatchbacks of 2020

FWD was once the drivetrain of choice for most hatchbacks, but times have clearly changed and there are noteworthy AWD hatchbacks in the market nowadays. In 2020, a plethora of hatchbacks with a 4WD system can be had for a relatively low price, though these are usually performance-focused models. Compact vehicles with punchy power outputs and manual transmissions are like a gateway drug for performance enthusiasts, that’s why the Volkswagen Golf R is such a massive success.

Not all AWD hatchbacks are intended for performance. The Mazda 3 comes with-all wheel-drive for better all-weather capability - the drivetrain is the better choice for those who regularly drive through wet weather or snow. A disadvantage of an AWD hatch would be that it does not get as many miles per gallon as a FWD or RWD would, with lower-power engines delivering worse mpg figures.

Also worth considering, a 4WD hatchback nearly always costs more than one with two-wheel-drive, the difference in price between the two is usually under $10k. So if it is not a sport-focused version and you don’t need better stability for wet weather, a 4-wheel-drive hatchback may not be worth the extra cash. 

Characteristics of the best AWD Hatchbacks

The list of AWD hatchbacks in the USA is rather long, and some are better than others. The better options all share a few similarities:

  • Power outputs - None of these autos are truly underpowered, but there are a few that put more focus on going fast than others, but in all cases, power is directed to all four wheels. The Golf R is one example, and it produces 292 horsepower. The Prius is on the slow side, but its hybrid technology is directed at efficiency rather than full-on power.
  • Decent interiors - Usually, AWD trim levels have more standard-fitted indulgences than FWD-equipped variants. The variants that come with the drivetrain as standard are more sport-focused anyway, resulting in more premium cabins by default.
  • Pricing - The starting MSRPs of these autos vary greatly, the most frugal variant being the Subaru Impreza and the most expensive, the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso.

What to Consider Before Buying

As popular as these autos are, even the best AWD hatchback has a few disadvantages you have to keep in mind when you’re thinking about purchasing one:

Pros

  • More capable in snow or on wet roads
  • Better grip on the launch for high-power variants
  • The AWD versions are generally more luxurious
  • Small size makes for nimble drive

Cons

  • Fuel economy figures are not as good
  • They are heavier
  • They cost more

FAQs

Is an AWD hatchback worth it if it is not a performance car?

The only time it is worth it is if you need added stability in harsh weather conditions. If not, a FWD variant will do just fine, and it is the more affordable option. You can also think about a second-hand model from 2019 to save some cash.

What is the best performance-focused all-wheel-drive hatchback?

The Volkswagen Golf R currently holds the top spot, but the Ford Focus RS is also a hot hatch that shouldn’t be underestimated. The primary appeal is that they are performance cars that are accessible to those with stricter spending limits.
BuzzScore
Design
Performance
MPG
Interior
Infotainment
Reliability
Safety
Value
#1
2019 Volkswagen Golf R
8.9
BuzzScore
8
Design
10
Performance
7
MPG
10
Interior
9
Infotainment
8
Reliability
9
Safety
10
Value
#2
2020 Mazda 3 Hatchback
8.8
BuzzScore
10
Design
7
Performance
8
MPG
10
Interior
8
Infotainment
9
Reliability
9
Safety
9
Value
#3
2020 Subaru Impreza Hatchback
8.5
BuzzScore
8
Design
7
Performance
8
MPG
8
Interior
8
Infotainment
10
Reliability
10
Safety
9
Value
#4
Ferrari GTC4Lusso
8.1
BuzzScore
8
Design
10
Performance
7
MPG
10
Interior
9
Infotainment
7
Reliability
7
Safety
7
Value
#5
2018 Ford Focus RS
8
BuzzScore
8
Design
10
Performance
6
MPG
8
Interior
9
Infotainment
8
Reliability
7
Safety
8
Value