List: Top 15 All-Wheel-Drive Cars From Winding Road's Involvement Index 2.0

By John Beltz Snyder

January 24, 2011


99 – Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport: So competent, it nearly broke our index. The world’s fastest production car also manages to be telepathically plugged into its lucky driver. Too bad it’s rare enough that you’re likely to never even see one, let alone drive.


95 – Audi R8 Spyder 5.2: All of the menace of the R8 V10, but with the wind in your hair, and a sexier soundtrack. Grip is impressive, but the gated six-speed manual is what really tugs our heartstrings.


89 – Porsche 911 Turbo: Faster than the speed of thought. We’re serious, it’s difficult to process this kind of acceleration. Quietness and refinement make this an amazing, daily driver supercar, but slightly hurt involvement.


84 – Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X MR Touring: The Evo’s amazing grip and great controls make it Everyman’s supercar. Touring trim means you could live with it as a daily driver.


82 – Audi TTS Coupe: Audi coaxes big power (265 horsepower) out of two turbocharged liters, with the result being an effervescent turbo experience. High grip levels and nimble handling make the TTS a riot to drive hard.


81 – Subaru Impreza WRX STI: Not as hardcore as the Evo, but still incredibly capable. The STI loves less-than-perfect conditions. Forgiving ride is a surprise plus here.


79 – Audi S4: S4’s supercharged V-6 offers not only great power, but surprising depth of character for a blown engine. Handling is grippy if a little stiff.


76 – Subaru Impreza WRX: Good steering, a decently powerful motor, and looks borrowed from the STI make the WRX a great bargain in the sport-compact market.


73 – Suzuki Kizashi Sport AWD: Direct steering, a sporty suspension, and all-wheel-drive security make the Kizashi one of the more involving family sedans on the market. We still aren’t fans of the CVT, though.


73 – Volvo S60 T6 AWD: Relaxed, fast, attractive, but with slightly unnatural steering and suspension tuning. The new S60 may be better to look at and live with, but it won’t beat BMW’s 3-Series in terms of dynamics.


71 – Mercedes-Benz E350 Wagon 4Matic: The same utility as the ML-Class with E-Class driving dynamics. Can cruise the highways effortlessly, but is just as adept at tackling a twisty road.


71 – Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT: This is what happens when the WRX grows up and settles down. We love the engine/gearbox combination, but this Legacy is too smooth to be utterly involving.


70 – Audi A8: Surprisingly dynamic for such a large luxury sedan. A technological tour de force that is intentionally detached from the road surface—a spaceship on wheels, of sorts.


70 – Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.7: While SUVs generally don’t score high marks for involvement, the Grand Cherokee is a good package, and the V-8 motor is a hoot. Look for a higher Index score when we see the next-generation SRT8 Jeep.


70 – Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG: AMG wizards have done the best they could with a very flawed ML platform, but the result is still pretty compromised. Thrilling engine is the only outstanding part of this vehicle in terms of driving pleasure.

99 95 89 84 82 81 79 76 73 73 71 71 70 70 70

Since we rebooted the Winding Road Involvement Index in Issue 61 of our digital magazine (in which Editor-In-Chief Seyth Miersma gives it a good, explanatory introduction), the list has been growing each month as we rate more and more cars. In this list you see before you today, we showcase the 15 most engaging all-wheel-drive vehicles on Version 2.0.

There are some obvious omissions of involving AWD cars in this list. You won’t see Nissan GT-R, Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4, Acura TL SH-AWD, or Ford F-150 SVT Raptor on here, simply because we haven’t had the chance to drive and rate them since we put the new system in place. We can guess at what they’d score (probably mid- to high-90s for the GT-R and Lambo, mid-70s for the TL and Raptor), but we won’t add them to the Index until we can really scrutinize them in person. For right now, though, we have enough great examples that we can provide this list of examples, along with their scores.