Best 4WD electric cars 2020
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 couple 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’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. Power comes from a 402bhp electric motor, with a 95kWh battery giving a range of 248 miles.
Unlike other BMW electric cars that wear the ‘i’ badge – the i3 hatchback and i8 sports car – the iX3 is based on an existing model in the range, the X3 SUV. The iX3 will go on sale in 2020, with a 70kWh battery promising a driving range of nearly 250 miles.
Power is likely to go to all four wheels through two electric motors and it’s rumoured the car will have more than 500bhp. If it’s anything like the petrol and diesel X3s, the electric version should be capable of driving on mild off-road surfaces and be a great choice for towing.
Bollinger B1 & B2
Named after the company founder – and 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.
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.
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.
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.
Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo
Unsurprisingly, Porsche’s first electric car has set the benchmark for electric sports cars. The Taycan is faster than a Tesla Model S, has one of the longest ranges of any electric car on sale and its handling lives up to the Porsche badge.
What’s more, an off-road-biased Cross Turismo version is due. A twin motor produces 600bhp and gives the Cross Turismo all-wheel drive, while torque vectoring ensures power is sent to the wheel with the most grip at all times. And adaptive air suspension allows the ride height to be raised and lowered for greater ground clearance or better agility.
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.
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 135kWh pack giving a range of over 300 miles.
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.
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.
Volvo XC40 Recharge
The XC40 Recharge 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 should be a capable workhorse, and a towing limit of 1,500kg has already been confirmed.
It’ll be fast, too. With a 78kWh battery, the XC40 produces 402bhp and 660Nm of torque, giving a 0-62mph time of just 4.9 seconds. Range is a respectable 248 miles, with a quick charge taking you from 0-80% capacity in around 40 minutes.