Best 4WD electric cars 2021
The best four-wheel-drive electric cars offer great traction and acceleration. These are our favourites
Four-wheel drive is a pretty common layout for electric cars, unlike with combustion-engined models. This is because electric motors are small and it's easy and cost-effective for manufacturers to position motors on the front and rear axles of a car – or in some cases, one on each wheel. It means that four-wheel drive appears on all sorts of electric cars, not just SUVs.
With a combustion-engined car, to get four-wheel drive you often need bulky differentials and transfer cases, especially on off-roaders; these add weight, complexity and cost, so they're not all that common on mainstream cars. In an electric car, you also don't get the excessive intrusion on the passenger space that these parts can cause, so four-wheel drive EVs get the benefits of this technology without the drawbacks.
Below are our picks for the best four-wheel-drive electric cars you can buy now (with a few that are on the way soon). Note that not all of these are true off-roaders, but their four-wheel-drive systems can certainly come in handy on wet or muddy surfaces, or during a cold snap.
Audi’s quattro four-wheel-drive system is very well known. From Group B rally cars to rugged family estates, the quattro badge is synonymous with tough and capable vehicles. That lineage continues with the brand’s first fully electric car, the e-tron SUV.
Featuring an electric motor on each axle and similar ground clearance to Audi’s Q5 and Q7 SUVs, the e-tron feels surefooted in all conditions and is capable of towing (up to 1,800kg) or driving across a slippery field. There's a choice of power outputs and two bodystyles – standard and Sportback (pictured) – as well as a sporty e-tron S model with 496bhp. Read our full review of the Audi e-tron and its e-tron Sportback sister model.
The long-awaited production version of the BMW Vision iNEXT concept, the iX is a BMW X5-sized SUV that's aimed at the Tesla Model X. The iX showcases a bold new design language that's set to make its way across all of the brand's future pure-electric models. Sales start in the second half of 2021.
Power comes from two electric motors producing a total of 496bhp, while the 100kWh battery allows for a 370-mile range. The 0-62mph sprint is handled in under five seconds, while 200kW charging allows for 10-80% top-up in just 40 minutes. Read more about the BMW iX.
The I-Pace from Jaguar is one of the best-handling electric cars on sale. And with an electric motor on each axle giving it all-wheel drive, it has impressive grip that should see it cope well when the conditions turn nasty.
While it misses the ground clearance that gives other 4x4s the edge off road, and while it can only tow a 750kg trailer, it has plenty of traction and power. And with a 0-60mph time of 4.5 seconds, it’s among the fastest SUVs on sale. Read our full Jaguar I-Pace review.
The EQC is a luxury mid-sized electric SUV that offers four-wheel-drive grip and a bit more ground clearance than you get in a Mercedes saloon or estate car. If you need a tow car with a raised seating position and plenty of all-weather grip, the EQC is a good choice, with an 1,800kg trailer limit.
It lacks the true go-anywhere ability of some of the other cars in this list, however. Power comes from an 80kWh battery giving a driving range of close to 260 miles, short of the I-Pace above. Two electric motors, one on each axle, provide four-wheel drive and 402bhp. Read our full review of the Mercedes EQC.
The Polestar 2 is a luxury electric car from a recently launched electric-only car brand that's related to Volvo. It's a rival for the Tesla Model 3 and Jaguar I-Pace and uses a 78kWh battery powering two electric motors, one for each axle. This setup makes 402bhp, so performance is strong: 0-62mph takes less than five seconds.
The 2 has coupe-SUV looks so it has plenty of appeal to modern car buyers, but of more importance is the useful 292-mile range, and a very impressive charging time from 10-80% in less than half an hour (from a 150kW charging source). Read our full review of the Polestar 2.
Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo
The Taycan Cross Turismo is a new version of the Porsche Taycan electric car, with four-wheel drive and a more practical estate-like body shape. It uses the same electric drivetrain as its sister model, but is four-wheel drive only. There are several versions, but the most powerful Turbo S model makes an incredible 751bhp, which means it can go from 0-62mph in 2.9 seconds.
There's a new configuration for the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system to allow some off-road ability on gravel tracks and the like, so despite the Taycan's sporty image in standard form, the Cross Turismo is intended to be used rurally. The longest-range model can go 283 miles on one charge. Read more about the Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo.
Skoda Enyaq iV
The new Skoda Enyaq iV is an all-electric SUV that's available in two or four-wheel drive form. It has a choice of powertrains and trim levels, but for four-wheel drive, you need the '80x' model, which has 262bhp and a driving range of 311 miles (slightly less than the front-drive model's 323 miles).
The new Skoda electric car can rapidly charge from 10 to 80% battery capacity in 40 minutes when upgraded to 125kW charging capability (an optional extra). A plush interior, plenty of kit and a 585-litre boot suggest that the Enyaq will be a hit; we can't wait to try one and find out. Read more about the Skoda Enyaq iV.
Tesla Model X
With its spaceship-like styling and ‘Falcon Wing’ doors, the Model X is the SUV to choose if you want to draw a crowd. While it lacks the ground clearance of some cars here, the Tesla has permanent four-wheel drive thanks to an electric motor on each axle.
This will give it enough traction to easily cope with snow, but you might want to think twice about entering the Dakar Rally. The Model X can seat seven and has incredible performance: the fastest models hit 60mph in under three seconds and can travel 314 miles between charges. Read our full Tesla Model X review.
The Volkswagen ID.4 is a new electric SUV from the German brand, and with an all-electric range of up to 324 miles it's a very convincing proposition as a family car. It's practical, well equipped and good to drive, and four-wheel drive should be available in due course. While we've not driven one in the UK yet, it promises to be worth a look at the very least.
There's a choice of powertrains: we tried a 201bhp model with a 77kWh battery, but a smaller 52kWh battery is coming with a choice of either 146bhp or 168bhp power outputs. You can top up quickly thanks to 125kW charging capacity, which should take the biggest battery model from 10-80% in half an hour. Read our Volkswagen ID.4 review.
Volvo XC40 Recharge P8
The XC40 Recharge P8 is Volvo’s first electric car, based on its smallest SUV model. With four-wheel drive from two electric motors – one on each axle – it's capable workhorse with lots of grip and towing ability.
It’s fast too, with a 78kWh battery, 402bhp and 660Nm of torque, giving a 0-62mph time of just 4.9 seconds. Range is a respectable 260 miles, with a quick charge taking you from 0-80% capacity in around 40 minutes. Read our Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 review.
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