There aren’t many all-wheel-drive hatchback vehicles on sale in North America these days.
After all, most consumers will just buy a crossover or SUV if they are in the market for a spacious vehicle with AWD. Many are willing to pay a little more and sacrifice a small amount of fuel economy in exchange for added capability, ride comfort, and a higher driving position, and it’s easy to see why. A small market still exists for sportier, compact all-wheel-drive hatches, however. Often more affordable than their crossover counterparts, an AWD hatchback is a good option for people who still want the extra confidence that four-wheel traction offers but don’t feel that they need something as tall as a crossover and want to save some money.
SEE ALSO: Top 10 Best Station Wagons: 2019
In this list, we’ll count down our favorite all-wheel-drive hatchback vehicles on sale in North America. Like we mentioned previously, though, the list of all-wheel drive hatches on sale in the U.S. and Canada is exceedingly small, so we didn’t have a very large pool of vehicles to choose from in the first place. Consumers are beginning to value practicality and capability more and more, though, so perhaps this will change in the coming years.
Here are AutoGuide’s Top 5 Best AWD Hatchbacks for 2019.
Best AWD Hatchbacks
Mercedes-Benz A-Class Hatchback (Not Available in U.S.)
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class will only be sold as a sedan in the U.S. market, but Canadian consumers will have a choice between the sedan and the hatchback bodystyles. All-wheel drive is optional on this little German runabout (front-wheel drive is standard), which is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 221 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is the only available transmission.
When we drove the 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class, we said it the automaker had “completely rewritten the luxury compact car,” rulebook with the new entry into the segment. We particularly liked its technology, which is hard (if not impossible) to find at this price point elsewhere in the industry. It’s too bad this one isn’t available in the U.S.
Toyota Prius AWD
We’re kind of cheating by allowing the Toyota Prius AWD on this list. It’s more of a liftback than a hatchback, but Toyota really upped the appeal of the Prius by adding AWD for the 2019 model year, in our opinion, so we’re making a concession. AWD vehicles are also less efficient than two-wheel drive ones, but the Prius AWD is similarly efficient to the FWD model.
With this change, the Prius is now more of a realistic option for those living in Canada and northern parts of the U.S. This AWD system is a little different than a traditional one, consisting of a single electric motor on the rear axle that powers the rear wheels from zero to 6 mph for better acceleration and then up to speeds of 43 mph when slippage is detected.
Toyota says the Prius AWD is one of the most fuel-efficient AWD vehicles on sale in America — and it has a convenient liftback to boot. This is a hard package to fault, although the looks are still a bit questionable, don’t you think?
SEE ALSO: Top 10 Practical Performance Vehicles
Volkswagen Golf R
What’s not to like about the VW Golf R? It has a 288-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, all-wheel drive, and a six-speed manual transmission — all stuffed into a refined and practical hatchback package. There’s also an optional DSG seven-speed automatic transmission if that’s more up your alley. As the only performance-oriented vehicle on this list, it’s definitely a winner.
Don’t forget about the optional VW Spektrum exterior colors either, which consist of more than 40 different exterior body colors for the Golf R, including bold shades of green, pink, purple, yellow, blue and more.
ALSO SEE: Top 10 Cheap AWD Cars and Crossovers
The only downside to the Golf R is that it’s the only Golf model with AWD and it’s also the range-topping Golf variant. That means you have to spend quite a bit of money to get AWD in VWs popular hatchback. Maybe that will change for the upcoming MK8 Golf.
The redesigned 2019 Mazda3 is available with optional all-wheel drive. The updated hatchback is powered by Mazda’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which makes 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. The engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Sharp looks, a refined interior, and a slick 8.8-inch touchscreen also sweeten the deal.
It’s unclear if the optional SkyActiv-X spark controlled compression ignition gasoline engine, which promises to be ultra efficient and both fun-to-drive, will be offered with AWD in the Mazda3. It’s also not clear when the Skyactiv-X engine will arrive in the North America Mazda3, with the Japanese automaker electing to put it on sale in Europe first.
The only downside here is that you cannot get the Mazda3’s six-speed manual transmission with AWD.
ALSO SEE: Top 10 Best AWD Coupes
Completing our list is the Subaru Impreza. Until Mazda introduced AWD to the Mazda3, this was really the only true inexpensive, all-wheel-drive hatchback on sale in the United States and Canada.
Powering the 2019 Subaru Impreza 5-door is a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated boxer engine, which is rated at 152 hp and 145 lb-ft. Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive system is standard, as is a five-speed manual transmission. A CVT automatic is also available as an option.
The Impreza is inexpensive, no-nonsense, practical and safe — all areas that we feel are important to buyers who are in the market for all-wheel drive hatchbacks. All of these qualities make it one of the best AWD hatchbacks you can buy.
SEE ALSO: Top 10 Most Expensive SUVs
Get the Flash Player to see this player.