Best cars

Best 4WD electric cars 2021

The best four-wheel-drive electric cars offer great traction and acceleration. These are our favourites

Four-wheel-drive electric cars are more common than you might think. As electric motors are small compared to petrol and diesel engines, it’s relatively easy for manufacturers to position one at the front of the car driving the front wheels, and another at the back for the rears.

You also don’t need the complex and often bulky differentials and transfer cases associated with internal-combustion-engined four-wheel-drive cars and off-roaders. So there isn’t excessive intrusion on the additional passenger space that’s one of the key benefits of electric cars compared to petrols and diesels.

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 can be described as 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 e-tron

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

BMW iX

BMW iX

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

Bollinger

Bollinger B1 & B2

Named after the company founder – not a brand of champagne – Bollinger’s SUVs look like a cross between a Land Rover Defender and a Lamborghini LM002. The B1 and B2 will be the first two models from the Detroit-based startup and they promise outstanding levels of off-road ability. First deliveries are expected in 2021, but it's not quite clear when exactly right-hand-drive UK cars will arrive.

Designed to be single-mindedly utilitarian, rugged and minimalist, the B1 is an SUV and the B2 is a pickup. They boast 15 inches of ground clearance, a two-speed, low-range gearbox as well as towing capability of 3,400kg and a range of 200 miles.

Read more about Bollinger’s electric trucks

Jaguar I-Pace

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

Mercedes EQC

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

Rivian R1T

Rivian R1T

Pickup trucks could be shaking off their gas-guzzling image when the Rivian R1T goes on sale. Billed as the world’s first electric 'adventure vehicle', the 750bhp zero-emissions pickup promises to mix stunning performance and luxury with the sort of all-terrain ability you’d expect from a Land Rover. Following some delays in production thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, 2022 is most likely for a Rivian debut.

It’ll be a proper off-roader, with a wading depth of over three feet, 14 inches of ground clearance and a quad-motor system that allows instant power to be sent independently to each wheel to maximise traction whatever the conditions. It’ll come with various battery sizes, with the largest 180kWh pack giving a range of over 420 miles.

Read more about the R1T and its R1S SUV sister model

Tesla Model X

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

Tesla Cybertruck

Tesla Cybertruck

It might seem like an April Fool’s joke, but Tesla really has built a pickup truck. Aimed at taking a share of the massive utility-vehicle market (the three most popular vehicles in the US are pickups), the so-called 'Cybertruck' was unveiled in late November 2019 in Los Angeles.

The Cybertruck is what's referred to in the US as a ‘full-size’ pickup: that means much bigger than the likes of the Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi L200 that dominate the market in the UK. It’s promised to be a proper ‘work truck’ with permanent four-wheel drive and self-levelling suspension.

Read more about the Tesla Cybertruck

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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