Although many people think sedans cannot go anywhere except the highway, one only needs to watch any rally or any off-road car racing to find out it’s not true.
Most people looking for the best AWD sedans don’t go rock crawling or tackling the McKenzie Heritage Trail.
In that case, there isn’t a reason they need to spend a ton of money on a monster 4×4 when they can drive their everyday car to go fishing or camping in a remote location.
Best Off-Road Sedans
1. Subaru Impreza
One of the most popular rally sedans, the Subaru Impreza is an all-wheel-drive compact car that combines the comfort of your everyday commuter with the ability to go off the beaten track.
Subaru Impreza landed on the top of our list because of its affordable price and off-road capability.
Topped with ease of finding aftermarket parts and mods to make the off-roading experience even more fun, Subaru Impreza is the best-known car ready to take you from shopping mall parking lot to campsite in the wilderness without much trouble.
Looking at what one can do with this car is really impressive regardless of the year. Like with America’s favorite Jeep Wrangler, there are unlimited options, from suspension parts designed especially for this Subaru model through interior upgrades to DIY snorkels and limb raisers.
The Subaru model was first produced in 1992, and it’s in its fifth generation at the moment. There are only petrol engines available, and depending on the year of production, either 4- and 5-speed automatic or 5- and 6-speed manual gearboxes.
The small and lightweight chassis and the stiffened suspension of this Subaru model make the car perfect for a rally, which can transfer to its off-roading capabilities while the body still fits in the tight parking spaces in the city.
There are also turbocharged WRX options available since the third generation. Although there wasn’t much difference between the engines, the airflow efficiency, and body facelift make the Impreza WRX cars more “sporty.”
2. Toyota Camry
Another great invention of Japanese car manufacturers, the Toyota Camry, is one of the two sedan models from this company, alongside Avalon, with an AWD drivetrain.
Although the early models started as compact FWD vehicles, they were upgraded to mid-size (wider body) and fitted with AWD drivetrain.
Although, for most people, it is unimaginable to take their little Camry anywhere else except driving kids to school, this vehicle with AWD is plenty capable of going through rough forest roads.
Unfortunately, to be able to do anything more, like wading or rock crawling, the 5.7 inches of clearance is not going to help much.
However, there are always options to lift the car a little and ad bigger off-roading tires for a better experience.
Toyota Camry is available with petrol and diesel engines, although neither option is very big (1.8 – 2.0L) and definitely not powerful enough to win off-roading races.
It doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy a little bit of light off-roading if you plan on going camping for the weekend.
- 2010 – 2013
- 2019 -2020
- 2007 – 2009
- 2014 – 2015
3. Audi A6 Quattro
One of the most popular European cars made in Germany, Audi A6 is a luxury, full-size executive car that looks like a “big boss” car. However, its AWD with Torsen limited-slip differential provides a phenomenal off-road capability.
Audi A6 was designed to be a stylish, comfortable vehicle in which you can travel for miles without noticing. Its AWD drivetrain version with a powerful engine can provide a lot of fun when you are bored traveling on the beaten track.
Unfortunately, due to its big size and weight, A6 is not the best option for a drive in deep mud unless you have a winch.
However, the 6.5-inch ground clearance allows for a little bit of fun on wet and bumpy forest roads. Paired that with proper off-road tires, and you can pack your whole family out for a weekend out of town.
The fancy interior and exterior may deter you from trying out this car anywhere outside of your route to work and the shopping mall, but both diesel and petrol engines paired with the limited-slip differential can guarantee a safe passage on many trails in style.
4. Volvo S60 T6 AWD
Scandinavia has much to offer, and one of its automotive manufacturers from Sweden made it possible to travel off-road in a very inconspicuous way – in Volvo S60.
Like A6 from Audi, the S60 from Volvo is an executive car, although made compact. It means a shorter vehicle with less weight to lug around.
Produced since 2000, Volvo S60 is in its third generation at present and offers petrol and diesel engines with both manual and automatic gearboxes.
Although not the first option that comes to mind when thinking of a sedan going off-road with its 5.8-inch ground clearance, the S60 is also available in Polestar concept (the S60 T6 AWD) with reinforced suspension and modified engine components and, since 2015, the S60 Cross Country – a lifted sedan variant.
However, regardless of the specifications, Volvo S60 with AWD is plenty capable of going on mud, gravel, deep snow, and slush with a proper set of all-terrain tires.
On top of its off-roading abilities, S60 is a comfortable vehicle, although not as luxurious as Audi. It is plenty capable of taking you to a remote fishing spot by the river after commuting the whole week to work.
All except the two below.
5. Acura TLX SH-AWD Sedan
From the luxurious line of Honda cars, Acura presented the TLX SH-AWD in 2014. It has two very interesting options:
- Dual-clutch and all-wheel steering
- 9-speed transmission and all-wheel drive
The AWD drivetrain on TLX is a fully automatic traction and handling system that regulates torque distribution between the front and rear and right and left sides.
It makes an excellent option for any off-road escapades. It also provides a very safe way of traveling on wet and slippery surfaces, automatically adjusting the torque in the wheel with the best grip.
Although the suspension of TLX is mostly designed for on-road handling, it can still provide a smooth ride over bumps on your way to your cabin in the woods. The newer models provide fully customizable damper settings and adjustments for throttle response.
The car in the AWD version is lighter and more powerful than its 2WD counterpart, and even though this car looks rather fancy on the road, the wilderness, snow, sand, and mud don’t present too many obstacles.
The only minus of this superb vehicle would be its rather small ground clearance of 5.3 inches.
- Acura TLX is a relatively new vehicle, and apart from the used vehicle value, there aren’t any “worst years” on the market.
6. AMC Eagle – Old school Off-Road
The American Motor Corporation produced this amazing vehicle in the ’80s, right before defuncting in 1988.
However, many people who remember the vehicle could attest that it was an invention ahead of its times, providing the comfort of the car with the experience of the 4×4. It was a perfect combination between AMC’s economical cars and the off-road-oriented Jeep line.
Although they were not built to compete with 4×4 head to head, they offered better handling and were immediately popular with people living in rural areas that couldn’t afford a big 4×4 vehicle.
What’s more, the old-school Eagles came with Dana 30 or Dana 35 differentials, from which the latter is still widely used in the Jeep models.
The AMC Eagle offered a 6.89-inch ground clearance with petrol or diesel engine. It is now recognized as the first-ever crossover vehicle.
As an old-timer, AMC Eagle needs a lot of TLC to keep it running, but if you manage to get your hands on one, you won’t regret it as it will offer a unique experience of driving a modern vehicle in a vintage packet.
Many people hate to think of sedans making an off-road trip, but it is possible all the same.
The truth is that although no sedan, hatchback, or station wagon will ever perform on a trail as good as a four-wheel-drive vehicle, everything comes down to the driver and his skills.
Why are sedans considered for off-roading?
Although many people think sedans are only suitable for highways, watching any rally or off-road car racing proves otherwise. Sedans can be a cost-effective alternative for those who don’t engage in extreme off-roading activities like rock crawling but still want to venture into remote locations for activities like fishing or camping.
What makes the Subaru Impreza a top choice for off-roading?
The Subaru Impreza is a popular rally sedan known for its all-wheel-drive capability, affordability, and ease of finding aftermarket parts. Its design allows it to transition smoothly from urban settings to off-road terrains.
Is the Toyota Camry suitable for intense off-roading?
While the Toyota Camry with AWD can handle rough forest roads, its 5.7 inches of clearance might not be sufficient for more challenging terrains like rock crawling. However, modifications like lifting the car and adding off-roading tires can enhance its off-road capability.
How does the Audi A6 Quattro stand out in off-roading?
The Audi A6 Quattro, a luxury full-size executive car, boasts an AWD with Torsen limited-slip differential, providing excellent off-road capability. While its size and weight might not be ideal for deep mud, its 6.5-inch ground clearance allows for off-roading on wet and bumpy forest roads.
Can the Volvo S60 handle different terrains?
The Volvo S60, especially the S60 T6 AWD variant, is capable of navigating mud, gravel, deep snow, and slush when equipped with all-terrain tires. Its 5.8-inch ground clearance and AWD make it a versatile choice for off-roading.
What makes the AMC Eagle unique for off-roading?
The AMC Eagle, produced in the ’80s, was a pioneering crossover vehicle that combined the comfort of a car with the experience of a 4×4. With a 6.89-inch ground clearance and options of petrol or diesel engines, it provided a unique off-roading experience in a vintage package.