The Best AWD Cars for Under $10K in 2024

by Craig Fitzgerald

It wasn’t long ago that if you wanted an all-wheel drive (AWD) sedan, you drove an Audi or a Subaru. After years of having their lunch eaten by those two brands in the northeast and northwest, a lot more manufacturers offered AWD sedans. Not all of them, though. You won’t find a Hyundai, Kia, or a Chevrolet on this list of the best cars with AWD under $10k.

These aren’t vehicles that are destined for Jeep trails or overlanding. An AWD car is good for you even if you never see snow. The handling advantages of all-wheel drive are what make manufacturers like Porsche offer all-wheel drive on a sports car like the Carrera 4 coupe: It allows for more grip and security in all weather conditions. And AWD cars don’t have to be expensive, either. Or big for that matter.

The issue in 2023 is that $10,000 isn’t what it used to be. Ten grand used to easily buy a car with under 100k miles on the clock. Now it’s pushing the mileage north to the point that reliability really might become an issue. As such, we’ve placed an extra focus on cars with good reliability ratings over the years. For each of the cars in this list, we ran multiple sample searches to find real-life examples on sale, either by private sellers or dealerships, at a sub-$10,000 price. Here are our picks for the best AWD cars available.

The Best AWD Cars for Under $10K in 2024

2008 Subaru Impreza Test Drive Review safetyImage

Subaru Impreza 5-Door

Best for: Outdoor enthusiasts

Ok, we just got done saying you didn’t have to drive a Subaru and here it is. But there is no more plentiful AWD vehicle in North America than the Impreza. In a good year, Subaru is capable of selling more than 80,000 of these. The Impreza has been offered in both sedan and hatchback body styles, but Impreza hatchbacks in particular are readily available just about everywhere, and they split the difference between a sedan and a crossover in terms of cargo space.

Depending on who you talk to, a Subaru is either reliable or it’s not. There are plenty of people who will tell you their head gaskets failed. On the other hand, Experian will tell you that 94 percent of Subaru Imprezas built in the last decade are still tooling around, which is more than the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic or Mazda3. Maybe that says more about their owners than the car itself, but it’s something to think about. Ultimately, this is one of the most popular AWD cars on sale, and there’s a good reason for it.

2005 Acura RL SH-AWD

Acura RL

Best for: Entry luxury drivers

The RL is the car the world forgot. In its all time best year (1997) Acura sold 16,004 units. By 2007, it was down to 6,262, and falling like a stone thereafter.

It’s too bad, because it’s an interesting AWD vehicle. This is a car unique to Acura here in the United States. There is no Honda counterpart. The engine is mounted longitudinally, unlike most front-wheel-drive cars which have the engine mounted transversely under the hood. It made the car a perfect platform for all-wheel drive, which arrived in the 2005 model year. It was the first all-wheel-drive drivetrain to not only split torque front-to-rear, but side-to-side, which offered better handling, giving the car its “SH-AWD” badge for “Super Handling All-Wheel Drive” whether it was snowy or dry.

Despite being rare, you’ll find RLs for sale in your area, and if it snows at all where you live, they’ll likely be AWD models.

2010 Subaru Legacy Preview summaryImage

Subaru Legacy

Best for: Accord buyers who want AWD

This is another forgotten car, although not quite to the extent of the Acura RL. You’ll see attention given to the Subaru Forester, the WRX, the Outback, the Crosstrek... but the Legacy? Who drives one? Plenty of people, judging by the numbers. Before the world turned its gaze away from sedans, you could count on 60,000 Legacys finding new driveways every year. That’s good news for used car shoppers, and you don’t have to hunt for one with AWD because they all have it.

A $10k budget will definitely find you one, and the headlamps will definitely need to be polished because every one we looked at had cloudy lenses. But if that’s the worst of your issues, you’re doing pretty well. Additionally, their reliability has been pretty decent over the years.

When shopping for a Subaru Legacy, expect a comfortable ride and a truly sensible commuter car to use for all seasons.

Volvo S80

Volvo S80

Best for: The safety-conscious

You will find lots of S80s for less than $10k. What you won’t find is lots of S80s with AWD. S80s equipped with AWD are a rare breed, but they're worth the hunt.

After all, you need only one car. And if it’s the right one in good condition with low mileage for a fair price, you should be willing to go retrieve it. Unlike a lot of cars from the 2005 era, the S80 doesn’t feel old inside. You won’t find big touchscreens or fancy flat panel information clusters, but in its own way, the S80 still feels modern today. And there isn’t a new car built in 2023—unless its another Volvo—with seats that feel this good for this kind of money.

2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Preview summaryImage

Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Best for: European luxury aspirants

Mercedes-Benz introduced the W204 C-Class for the 2008 model year. This generation of C-Class is a beautiful vehicle inside and out. W204s are a lot better looking than the blob-lensed W203 cars that preceded them, and feel much more modern inside than those cars, too.

These cars are solid and reliable, but you want to find someone who knows what they’re doing to work on them, and you have to keep up with the maintenance. The reason a lot of these cars are so reasonably priced is that a lot of second owners deferred maintenance. Sure, parts are expensive, but have you priced out a set of brake rotors for a 2011 Ford Fusion lately?

Regardless of where you live, you should be able to find plent of C-Class models for sale within 50 miles, and with less than 100,000 miles on the clock. With many priced well under our $10,000 price cap, even before beginning a negotiation, you're looking at Mazda money for a Mercedes-Benz.

2007 Infiniti M35x

Infiniti M35x

Best for: Japanese sport/luxury car aspirants

This is more or less Infiniti’s answer to the forgotten Acura RL, a car that only 12 people seem to remember being produced. And like the Acura, there’s no counterpart from Infiniti’s sibling mainstream brand, which is Nissan, in this case. The only Nissan products it shares a platform with are the rear-wheel-drive (RWD) Z AWD GT-R sports cars.

The M35x's styling is kind of plain, but the whole car is too weird not to love. You’ll see roughly 27 Infiniti G37s on your ride to work, but you won’t see an M35 more than once a month. Prior to the Great Recession, the M35 sold at a reasonable pace, somewhere around 25,000 units a year. After that, the numbers fell off the face of the earth. By 2015, just 5,000 a year were finding homes.

With that in mind, you may need to travel for an M35x—the AWD version, but the travel will be worth it. You could conceivably drive this car for another 15 years without issue.

2013 Ford Taurus Preview summaryImage

Ford Taurus Limited

Best for: Your parents

The Taurus is never going to be on anyone’s “must have” list. But if you’re looking for a solid, reliable, comfortable sedan that will easily fit five people, the Taurus is pretty much it until you get into the top-tier luxury cars like the Lexus LS500—and you’re not going to find one of those for under $10k.

With 263 horsepower on tap from the 3.5-liter V6 engine, these are good performers, but they’re a lot larger than you might expect. Don’t look for a lot of fuel savings here. Its 20 MPG combined fuel economy is worse than you could expect from a Crown Victoria. But the AWD makes it a go-anywhere winter car for short money.

2006 Dodge Charger SXT

Dodge Charger SXT

Best for: Fans of rear-drive-based American sedans

The Charger SXT was kind of revolutionary when it arrived. Suddenly, you could buy a cool-looking sedan for not a ton of money and get decent performance and AWD as part of the package.

The downfall here is the interior. It’s plasticky and terrible. Starting in 2013, newer Chargers offered a much nicer interior, but you’re going to pay for those. Those cars are a shade over our $10,000 cap with AWD. They’re probably worth the money, but we’re sticking with the plan here.

The Charger was a well-equipped car whatever trim level you choose. We like the SXT because it throws in a bunch of additional equipment, plus the SE wasn’t available with AWD. And don’t sleep on the former police cars. They’re the only way you can get both AWD and the 5.7-liter V8 engine. If you can deal with the spartan back seat, they’re a hilariously fun car.

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Craig began his automotive writing career in 1996, at, one of the first online resources for car buyers. Over the years, he's written for the Boston Globe, Forbes, and Hagerty. For seven years, he was the editor at Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car, and today, he's the automotive editor at Drive magazine. He's dad to a son and daughter, and plays rude guitar in a garage band in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering everything on four wheels. Whether it's a new EV or a full-size pickup truck, he's eager to drive it and tell you all about it in a CarGurus Test Drive Review. Besides contributing to CarGurus, Stephen currently has bylines at Digital Trends, Green Car Reports, and Motor Authority.

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