Why can't I buy a small car with 4WD or AWD?

I would like a smaller car but also want 4WD or AWD. Why aren't smaller cars manufactured with that option?

Melissa,White Plains, N.Y.

Your options aren’t nil, but your choices are definitely narrowed if you’re looking for AWD in a compact package. All-wheel drive can be a pricey option, and it also adds weight to the car and sucks up power, as there are two extra wheels to drive, which can kill gas mileage. It may also be hard for manufacturers to cram extra AWD components into an already svelte car. Most people looking for a compact car want something cheap and fuel-efficient; one drawback of AWD is its inherent tendency to negatively impact both attributes.

Here’s what’s out there: Suzuki’s SX4 is a four-door hatchback that is the least-expensive car you can get with AWD, starting at $14,999 without destination charge. The base model is well-equipped with four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, power door locks and windows, and air conditioning. Seat-mounted side airbags and side curtain airbags are also standard.

You can use the Cars.com Vehicle Recommender to find all-wheel-drive cars in a specific price range or vehicle class. For example, you can search for all hatchback models from 2007 to 2008 with all-wheel drive for under $20,000. We plugged in that criteria, and these cars fit the bill: The Suzuki SX4 and Subaru Impreza 2.5i ($17,495). The Dodge Caliber R/T is also available with AWD and starts just above $20,000. Although not new cars, the 2003 to 2006 Pontiac Vibe and Toyota Matrix also had an AWD option.

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Answered by Joe Bruzek on September 13, 2007 in I'm Just Wondering , What Car Should I Buy? | Permalink

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