You’re going to have a difficult time picking one from the others

There are no clear favorites when choosing the best all-wheel-drive sedan under $35,000. The important thing to remember here is to know what your preferences are. The Ford Fusion SE ($23,500), for example, is regarded for having a good amount of interior space to go with one of the most spacious trunk spaces — 16 cubic feet — among all sedans in its class. It also has a fuel economy rating of 17 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. If you’re not particularly into cavernous trunk spaces and instead prefer sedans that are known for their power and handling, the two Subarus could be in your future. The WRX ($26,995) has the most powerful base engine — a turbo-four unit that produces 268 horsepower — of its class, and while its fuel economy ratings aren’t anything to write about — 21 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway — it’s still regarded as one of the most dynamic cars in its class to drive.

The Subaru Legacy ($22,195), on the other hand, doesn’t have as powerful of an engine as the WRX. It’s 175-horsepower, four-cylinder unit is uninspiring compared to the WRX, but that’s likely a product of the Legacy sitting below its fellow Subie on the automaker’s totem pole. Still, the Legacy has a pretty spacious interior and returns one of the best fuel economy ratings among all models in its segment at 25 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. Then there’s the Kia Stinger ($31,900), a car many people consider as one of the future stars of its segment. Maybe it’s a byproduct of the Stinger being a new model that still gives it a fresh odor among buyers, but a big part of the Stinger’s appeal rests on its all-around quality. This model really is a star-in-the-making. Even with just the base version, you’re already getting a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 255 horsepower at its disposal. Combine that with its own large cargo area — a whopping 23.3 cubic feet of space — and an engaging and athletic drive that’s pure fun for all of us, and it’s no wonder why the Stinger is one of the most sought-after all-wheel-drive models in the market today. All that despite the sedan only returning an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.

Four models in and the choices are about to get more difficult once you bring in Germany’s finest into the fold. The Audi A3 Premium and the Mercedes CLA 250 4Matic may be visitors from the Old Continent, but you’re going to quickly realize how at-home they make you feel once you get either one of them. The A3 Premium ($31,950) is one of the cheapest compact luxury cars on the market. In fact, the difference in price between the Stinger and the A3 Premium is a measly $50. As promising as the Stinger is, there’s a big population of people who will prefer an established model over an upstart. The A3 Premium is the base unit of the family, but it doesn’t feel like one, thanks in large part to having its fair share of luxury amenities. From leather upholstery to a panoramic sunroof to a 10-speaker audio system, they’re all there as standard equipment. About the only downside of the Audi sedan is that the Quattro all-wheel-drive system doesn’t come standard across the whole lineup. You’ll need to upgrade to the Quattro to have the most fun in the sedan. Doing so comes at the expense of a lower fuel economy rating — 24 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway — but that’s ultimately a small price to pay for all the fun you’re going to have driving it.

If the A3 isn’t your cup of tea, the Mercedes CLA 250 4Matic ($32,700 plus $2,000 to get the 4Matic AWD system) is a solid, albeit slightly more expensive option. Nobody needs to remind you what kind of model you have when you’re driving a Mercedes. The CLA 250 4Matic is teeming with luxury like only Mercedes can provide. It doesn’t have the same power figures as the A3 Premium — a four-cylinder turbocharged engine produces only 208 horsepower — but it does get some of its appeal back by how engaging it is to drive and by having one of the highest fuel economy ratings — 24 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway — of any sedan in its class. The last two sedans we’ll mention are both American bred, but like all the models we’ve mentioned, these two are special for entirely different reasons. The Chrysler 300 Touring ($28,995 plus $2,500 for an AWD version), for example, packs a punch with its 292-horsepower V-6 engine. It’s also one of the bigger sedans in its class, and that size comes into play in the spacious interior. Its fuel economy rating is average — 19 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway — but if you look past that, you’ll come to realize that the 300, despite all the negativity surrounding it, is a pretty fun ride, as well. Unfortunately for the 300, it’s still not as fun to drive as the Dodge Charger ($28,995). The meaty sports sedan packs a similar V-6 unit with an identical 292-horsepower output as the 300 Touring, but make no mistake; the Charger is a completely different animal when it comes to driving dynamics. Some people may not like it because it’s a little too wild for their capabilities, but those who have seen the Charger in action can vouch for what it’s capable of. Ultimately, choosing one sedan among these intriguing options is an exercise in futility. But if I were to choose one, my money’s going to the Kia Stinger. It isn’t as established as some of the other models here, but when you combine everything it has to offer with its starting price, there’s no better value for money than Kia’s new performance-oriented sedan.

Further reading

1. Ford Fusion SE

2019 Ford Fusion Exterior
- image 774543

Read our full review on the 2018 Ford Fusion.

2. Subaru Legacy

2018 Subaru Legacy High Resolution Exterior
- image 704654

Read our full review on the 2018 Subaru Legacy.

3. Subaru WRX

2018 Subaru WRX High Resolution Exterior
- image 700230

Read our full review on the 2018 Subaru WRX.

4. Dodge Charger

2015 Dodge Charger High Resolution Exterior
- image 549793

Read our full review on the 2018 Dodge Charger.

5. Kia Stinger

2018 Kia Stinger Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 745675
Could go hybrid in the future

Read our full review on the 2018 Kia Stinger.

6. Chrysler 300 Touring

2015 Chrysler 300 High Resolution Exterior
- image 578667

Read our full review on the 2018 Chrysler 300.

7. Audi A3 Premium

2017 - 2018 Audi A3 Sedan
- image 707341

Read our full review on the 2018 Audi A3.

8. Mercedes CLA 250 4Matic

2017 Mercedes-Benz CLA
- image 707339

Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLA.

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: