Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A white 2022 BMW 330e xDrive is shown driving on a forest highway.

5 Best Affordable All-Wheel Drive Luxury Sedans

SUVs may be all the rage for their all-weather performance, but no SUV can match the nimble handling of a sports sedan. Fortunately, you no longer have to choose between bad-weather reliability and sunny day fun, as every luxury brand now offers all-wheel drive versions of even their entry-level models. But with nearly a dozen compact sports sedans boasting all-wheel drive, which one should you choose? Do you opt for the German engineering of BMW, Mercedes, or Audi? Trust the Japanese reliability of Lexus, Acura, or Infiniti? Or choose something unique, like an Alfa Romeo, Volvo, or Genesis?

All of these luxury brands offer a sporty and relatively affordable all-wheel drive sedan for 2022. However, each of these manufacturers has put its own twist on a relatively simple formula, and although the paper specs from engines to price tags are all rather close, each model has its own unique character. While it’s impossible to pick a single “best” all-wheel drive sports sedan for every driver, here are the top models to consider in your search.

Best Performing – 2022 Audi A4 45 TFSI quattro ($42,000)

The German luxury brands invented the high-performance sports sedan, and Audi made all-wheel drive sedans mainstream, so it’s no surprise that the 2022 Audi A4 takes first place when it comes to building the best performance car in this segment. While the A4 faces stiff competition from the BMW 330i xDrive and the Alfa Romeo Giulia for its title, its nimble handling and quick-shifting dual-clutch transmission push it over the top. This unique gearbox is based on the Porsche PDK and helps the 3,627-pound car launch from 0-60 in just 4.8 seconds.

Audi is also unique for not offering a rear-wheel drive version of its compact sports sedan, so you won’t have to pay more to have power delivered to all four wheels. However, you will definitely want to upgrade from the base 40 TFSI model to the 45 TFSI. For just $2,000, this will give you 261 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque instead of the underwhelming 201 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque found in the base model. The 45 TFSI also comes with lowered sports suspension, larger brakes, and wider tires on larger wheels, giving the car its superior performance capabilities.

A grey 2022 Genesis G70 AWD is shown from the rear driving on a highway.

Best Value – 2022 Genesis G70 AWD ($39,875)

Genesis is a recent addition to the luxury scene, getting its start in 2015. While the Korean brand may not have the cachet of a Mercedes or BMW, it has done an incredible job providing more features and more performance for your dollar. For the savvy sports sedan shopper who wants the most bang for their buck, the 2022 Genesis G70 should be at the top of the list––and not just for its under $40,000 starting price. While the badge might be new, the G70 comes with a capable turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive system, high-tech interior features, and eye-catching styling.

While the established luxury brands can rely on their reputations to bring customers, Genesis has to convince new buyers that its cars are worth buying and has successfully offered a traditional luxury car experience. The cabin wouldn’t look out of place in an Audi or BMW, with its high-quality materials and upscale design, but Genesis has arguably done a better job integrating technology. The 10.25-inch infotainment system and 8-inch digital driver display are high-resolution and easy to use, but Genesis still includes well-positioned analog controls that are a welcome break from the touchscreen-everything of the other luxury brands.

Most Exotic – 2022 Alfa Romeo Giulia AWD ($45,350)

It may be the most expensive option in its class, and it may not be the most reliable car ever made, but when you want to stand out, there is nothing that can beat an Italian sports sedan. From the unmistakable trefoil grille to the driver-focused cockpit, the 2022 Alfa Romeo Giulia is a car that makes you feel like you are driving a budget Maserati or Ferrari when other cars in this segment occasionally feel more like a gussied-up Volkswagen or Toyota. In fact, the “Georgio” platform it rides on is shared with the new 2022 Maserati Grecale!

Inside, the Giulia stands out for being one of the few luxury cars that has stuck with traditional analog gauges and that places its large infotainment screen in the center of the dash. This combination removes distractions and lets you concentrate on the drive in true sports sedan fashion. Plentiful analog buttons and dials are also easy to use without taking your eyes off the road, and the start/stop button is mounted on the steering wheel, just like some supercars. The 2022 Giulia isn’t all show and no go either––with best-in-class 280 horsepower, best-in-class 306 lb-ft of torque, and a best-in-class top speed of 149 mph, it only narrowly missed taking the “Best Performance” title from the 2022 Audi A4.

A dark grey 2022 Lexus IS 300 AWD is shown driving on a road near the ocean.

Most Reliable – 2022 Lexus IS 300 AWD ($41,850)

Some people buy sports sedans for raw performance and some for the prestige––but some drivers are looking for something that’s comfortable and reliable as well as fun to drive. For that market, the 2022 Lexus IS 300 is the vehicle of choice. Lexus is virtually synonymous with reliable luxury, and the 2022 IS also stands out for being one of only three vehicles in this class to pick up an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating (the other two being the Acura TLX and Volvo S60).

Why the Lexus IS rather than the similarly-priced Lexus ES? While the ES does offer more space, a standard V6 engine, and optional all-wheel drive, it is a front-wheel drive platform based on the Toyota Camry. The IS might not offer the same driving dynamics as an Audi A4 or Alpha Romeo Giulia, but it is a step up from the ES. A V6 engine is available in the IS 350 F Sport, offering 311 horsepower instead of the 241 horsepower of the standard turbo-four, but it’s questionable if it’s worth the $4,500 premium.

Most Efficient – 2022 BMW 330e xDrive ($44,950)

Yes, today is the day of electric cars that offer lightning-fast acceleration without using a drop of fuel. Unfortunately, the high cost of lithium-ion battery packs means that EVs still can’t compete with traditional gasoline engines in terms of price. When the trend-setting 2022 Tesla Model 3 now starts at $55,990 if you want power going to all four wheels, the title of the most efficient all-wheel drive sports sedan goes to the 2022 BMW 330e xDrive. This plug-in hybrid will run you a good $10k less than the Tesla, and it can run on battery power for 20 miles before the 2.0L gasoline engine needs to take over.

Perhaps the best part about the 330e is that, outside of the plug-in hybrid powertrain, it looks and feels like a normal BMW 3 Series. There is no outlandish styling or odd EV-ish features––just traditional German luxury. Performance is not bad either, and although its 4,138-pound curb weight does detract from its handling, the combined 288 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque does a good job of concealing its bulk in a straight line. While it may not be a driving enthusiast’s dream, the 330e is a great option for someone seeking luxury and performance in a more efficient package.