Top picks for Awd-equipped rides un­der $30k

South Shore Breaker - - Wheels - JUSTIN PRITCHARD WATCH­ABLE RE­VIEWS [email protected]­pritchard.ca

By the num­bers, Cana­dian shop­pers af­ter new ve­hi­cles are, more of­ten than ever, af­ter new ve­hi­cles that come equipped with all­wheel drive (AWD).

And why not?

Not only does AWD make for a more con­fi­dent win­ter com­mute and add peace of mind to trav­els all year round, but to­day’s AWD sys­tems op­er­ate smarter, faster and with less com­pro­mise than ever.

In the vast ma­jor­ity of mod­ern ve­hi­cles, AWD re­quires no driver in­put or de­ci­sion mak­ing and poses min­i­mal com­pro­mise to fuel ef­fi­ciency.

Be­low, we’ll have a look at some of the mar­kets most af­ford­able AWD op­tions avail­able for un­der $30,000.

Subaru Im­preza

The Subaru Im­preza is about as af­ford­able as an Awd-equipped car gets and Subaru’s Sym­met­ri­cal AWD sys­tem is stan­dard on all mod­els. Im­preza starts around $20,000.

Look for man­ual or au­to­matic CVT trans­mis­sions, four-door sedan or five-door hatch­back body styles and no fewer than 12 mod­els and equip­ment lev­els/ trim grades to dial up se­lec­tion.

If you’re af­ter a new small car with AWD in­cluded as stan­dard, the Im­preza is a wor­thy choice.

All mod­els run a two-litre, 152-horse­power en­gine and come backed by the some of the high­est safety rat­ings in the in­dus­try.

As the mar­ket’s go-to AWD brand, Subaru also of­fers nu­mer­ous ver­sions of their WRX sports car, Legacy fam­ily sedan, and util­ity ve­hi­cle mod­els like the Out­back, Forester and Crosstrek with stan­dard AWD for un­der $30,000 as well.

Jeep Com­pass

The lat­est-gen­er­a­tion Jeep Com­pass is more stylish, high-tech and com­fort­able than ever and boasts pleas­ant on-road man­ners, higher-than-av­er­age off-road ca­pa­bil­ity and noth­ing less than the mar­ket’s lat­est in in­fo­tain­ment, safety and con­ve­nience fea­tures.

There’s no short­age of se­lec­tion and ac­ces­sories to fine-tune the Com­pass to any need, bud­get, taste or life­style and a nice­lye­quipped, high-value Com­pass Sport 4x4 can be had from about $27,000 with man­ual trans­mis­sion, or just un­der $29,000 with a fuel-sav­ing nine-speed au­to­matic.

Look for an im­pres­sive stan­dard fea­tures list, seven stan­dard airbags and more.

Hyundai Kona

With pric­ing from $23,000 with AWD, Hyundai’s small­est cross­over is one of the most strik­ing look­ers in the seg­ment. Com­pact, ag­ile and sporty, it of­fers up two en­gine choices, in­clud­ing a feisty 1.6-litre tur­bocharged four-cylin­der.

Ad­vanced safety fea­tures in­clud­ing col­li­sion warn­ing and blind spot mon­i­tor­ing team up with up­scale fea­ture con­tent in­clud­ing a heated steer­ing wheel and leather seat­ing on select mod­els for a pack­age that de­liv­ers plenty of choice and the mar­ket’s lat­est in-de­mand fea­tures and tech.

Con­sider this one if you’re af­ter a small cross­over that makes a big vis­ual state­ment at a rea­son­able price.

Honda HR-V

With pric­ing from $25,400 with AWD in­cluded, the Honda HR-V takes a place as the pop­u­lar CRV’s lit­tle brother in the prod­uct lineup.

A com­pact cross­over de­signed to ex­cel in small spa­ces, this flex­i­ble, roomy, ma­noeu­vrable and fuel-ef­fi­cient cross­over fea­tures a unique de­sign, plenty of on-board stor­age and one of the most flex­i­ble in­te­ri­ors in the game.

Stan­dard fea­tures in the $25,400 LX-AWD model in­clude the Honda Sens­ing suite of safety tech­nolo­gies, Ap­ple Carplay and An­droid Auto com­pat­i­bil­ity, re- mote en­try and heated seats. Where ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity, con­fi­dence, fuel ef­fi­ciency and com­pact flex­i­bil­ity are pri­or­i­ties, the AWD­e­quipped Honda HR-V is worth a closer look.

Nis­san Al­tima

You might be sur­prised to see this one on our list, and so were we. For model-year 2019, the all-new Nis­san Al­tima has one ma­jor change that stands out like sore thumb: It comes stan­dard for the first time with AWD on all mod­els sold in Canada.

Pric­ing from $28,000 on this just-launched lat­est ver­sion of Nis­san’s el­e­men­tal fam­ily sedan in­cludes an in­tel­li­gent AWD sys­tem with an en­hanced new 2.5-litre en­gine.

This mod­ern AWD sys­tem can send up to 50 per cent of the en­gine’s power to the rear wheels in mil­lisec­onds and comes fully in­te­grated with other as­sist sys­tems for seam­less trac­tion and con­trol.

A new look, newly avail­able safety fea­tures and a great new cabin are on of­fer, though Al­tima’s newly avail­able and stan­dard AWD sys­tem are sure to shake things up in the mar­ket. Units are ar­riv­ing at deal­ers in the im­me­di­ate fu­ture.

Volk­swa­gen Golf

Sport­wa­gen 4Mo­tion

The sta­tion wagon might be a rare sight on Cana­dian roads, though Volk­swa­gen has shop­pers covered when space to spare and AWD trac­tion are pri­or­i­ties. Don’t want to drive a cross­over like ev­ery­one else on the road?

No prob­lem.

The 2019 Golf Sport­wa­gen is avail­able from $29,000 with a 1.8-litre, tur­bocharged, four-cylin­der en­gine and a six-speed manu- al trans­mis­sion.

You read that right. If you want AWD trac­tion and a man­ual trans­mis­sion this is one of the only op­tions go­ing in a new ve­hi­cle and “the” only option in a new ve­hi­cle at this price point that’s not a cross­over.

There’s an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion avail­able as well, though it bumps this model slightly out of our $30,000 price-range.

Other choices

This list pro­vides a good cross­sec­tion of your Awd-equipped op­tions un­der the $30,000 pri­ce­point, with pric­ing pulled di­rectly from the con­sumer web­sites of each au­tomaker.

Just re­mem­ber: stretch­ing your bud­get just a bit fur­ther can un­lock plenty of ad­di­tional op­tions, in­clud­ing ve­hi­cles like the Ford Fu­sion, Toy­ota RAV4 and oth­ers.

2018 Honra HR-V

2018 Hyundai Kona

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