It’s not just range or charging speeds that are important to potential electric car buyers because some need the additional traction benefits of four-wheel drive.
Many EV buyers will shy away from four-wheel drive because it usually encompasses a range penalty compared with a two-wheel drive car. Some will happily accept this if it means they can get where they need to go, such as those living in rural areas that experience snow.
And sometimes, four-wheel drive is beneficial for the most powerful EVs because it allows for more power to be transferred to the road without turning your tyres into clouds of smoke.
Currently, there aren’t any EVs capable of heavy-duty off-roading, as you’ll find with a plug-in hybrid Land Rover Defender. Still, we’ve driven some that can tackle the odd muddy farm path and some four-wheel drive EVs that are really fun to drive. One, even, that combines both. Read on to find out which we think is the best 4x4 electric car out there.
We start this list with the Subaru Solterra, which differs from the Toyota bZ4X upon which it is based because it only comes with four-wheel drive.
It also comes with Subaru’s ‘X-Mode’ driving mode, which in other Subaru’s we’ve driven has the uncanny ability to keep you going through sticky terrain, so we expect the Solterra to work just as well.
However, you won’t be tackling anything more than a muddy farm track in your Solterra because the ground clearance isn’t all that spectacular, plus there are several cheaper four-wheel drive alternatives out there with greater range, better charging speeds, and longer warranties.
The Jaguar I-Pace has been around for nearly five years, yet it remains one of the few electric cars with a modicum of off-road ability.
Of course, it was inevitable that the design team at Jaguar would lean over to their Land Rover counterparts during the I-Pace’s development for some tips when it comes to off-roading, but the I-Pace is also one of the few EVs available with air suspension, which can raise the car clear obstacles on the trail.
Don’t misunderstand; even with air suspension, the I-Pace won’t trouble the electric Range Rover for off-road supremacy when that car arrives in 2024. But, the I-Pace should cope better with muddy conditions in the countryside.
Sadly, the I-Pace lags behind the best EVs regarding efficiency and charging speed, and many of those rivals cost less. It's still a great car though.
Volvo has been known to make understated performance cars, but nothing quite prepares you for a family SUV like the Volvo XC40 Recharge with over 400hp.
As expected, the ‘Twin’ version of XC40 Recharge denotes twin electric motors - one for the front wheels, and another for the rear - hence four-wheel drive. The additional traction benefit of four-wheel drive help get all that power down to the ground without fuss. That means this electric SUV can crack 0-62mph in just 4.9sec.
It’s not all about performance because a large 82kWh battery (78kWh usable) means an impressive driving range (310 miles in the case of our preferred Plus version) which beats the 50 quattro version Audi Q4 e-tron. It also charges faster than that car, too, and the XC40 has a nicer interior, plenty of space front and rear for adults, and lots of handy storage nooks. There’s even some space under the bonnet for charging cables.
Every version of the electric Mercedes EQB ifour-wheelel drive. That isn’t much of a boast these days, but the fact it comes with seven seats is.
It’s a rarity when the only other options are a left-hand drive, £100k plus Tesla Model X, or a selection of electric vans in the form of the Citroën e-Berlingo, Peugeot e-Rifter, and Vauxhall Combo-e Life. Well, until the Kia EV9 rocks up, of course.
Until then, the EQB offers practical zero-emission motoring for a family, a classy interior befitting its premium price, and a decent drive with a reasonably comfortable ride. We particularly like that the infotainment can be controlled in various ways, making it less distracting than rival systems to use on the move.
We’ve already stated how much we like the Skoda Enyaq in our best electric SUVs list, and opting for the four-wheel drive brings additional benefits.
For starters, you get the biggest battery pack, increasing the range to over 300 miles. There’s also more power, so it’ll crack 0-62mph in a swift 6.8sec. You do have to have it in Sportline Plus trim which means larger 20in alloy wheels, and while we feared that would spoil the ride compared with our preferred Enyaq, we discovered that it still manages to provide a supple enough ride that doesn’t make passengers feel queasy. Don't expect much in the way of off road ability, but the extra traction will help in slippery snow or in a muddy festival car park.
It still has a premium feeling interior, just with more heavily bolstered sports front seats and some natty aluminium pedals. We weren’t quite so convinced by the fake-looking carbon fibre effect trim, but it wasn’t so offensive to put us off the car. Not when we looked around and discovered just how enormous the Enyaq is inside, with tonnes of space for passengers and luggage.
6. Genesis electrified GV70
Our pick: Sport
Range: 283 miles
The ‘S’ in SUV generally stands for Sport, but in the case of the Genesis electrified GV70, that might as well be speedy.
You see, its twin electric motors put out a bonkers 483bhp, which feels like being yanked towards the horizon by some supernatural force when the ‘Boost’ button is pressed and you stamp on the accelerator. Its 0-62mph of just 4.2sec is highly believable in our view.
All this performance is at odds with the rest of the electrified GV70, which feels like a comfortable premium SUV. The interior is well laid out and full of plush materials, it is big enough for five adults, and there’s even some storage under its long bonnet to store the charging cables. Plus, it shares the same excellent 800-volt architecture found in the Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5, meaning you can top up the battery from 10-80% in just 18 minutes.
As previously mentioned, the Kia EV6 has a top-notch electric architecture with quick recharging speeds and excellent efficiency. This four-wheel drive version also adds more performance, which is always welcome.
For a small range hit over the standard rear-wheel drive EV6, the 0-62mph time drops to 5.2sec, giving it a noticeable bump in overtaking ability. It’s not quite in the league of the sportiest EV6 GT, but we found it’ll show a clean pair of heels to most petrol or diesel cars from the lights.
The result is a fine four-wheel drive EV that’s nice to drive, practical, and comes with Kia’s excellent warranty and aftersales care package. However, if you look at our next option, you can have much of what this car has for even less.
In four-wheel drive form, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 is the better value option than the Kia EV6 because you get all that car’s plus points for less money.
And it has gotten even better recently with updates to its battery size and suspension. The former allows it to travel farther on a charge, while the latter means it wallows less at speed.
Behind the boxy exterior styling is a practical EV, providing ample room for adults in the front and lots of head and leg room should you want to stick a six-footer in the back. The boot isn’t the biggest we’ve ever used, but it does the job. You can always utilise the underfloor storage if you need more room because there’s space for the charge cables to live in a cubby under the bonnet.
If money is no object when buying your four-wheel drive electric car, nothing can match the incredible Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo.
We know it’s a costly car if you’re buying it outright, although company car drivers would benefit from low benefit-in-kind (BIK) rates. And we doubt the electric Range Rover will be any less when it arrives in 2024.
Even then, it won’t be able to provide the agile handling and blistering performance of our preferred 4S Taycan Cross Turismo. Its massive 563bhp can get this sleek four (optional five) seater estate from 0-62mph in 4.1sec.
The Cross Turismo provides greater practicality than the regular Taycan saloon, giving passengers more head room, along with a larger boot.
But the best thing about the Taycan Cross Turismo we’ve found is the handling, which is as engaging as a Porsche should be. Except in this one, you can utilise its air suspension to clear obstacles when going off-road. And then use its colossal performance to win a rally special stage.
It's not a real mud-plugging 4x4, but the four-wheel drive version of Nissan's Ariya has a raised body for ground clearance and surprising ability on slippery surfaces, thanks to the e-4ORCE tech. The system constantly monitors the traction available at all four wheels and can send power to where it will be most useful. As this works up to 10,000 times faster than a conventional 4x4 system with old-fashioned cogs and shafts, it can even help at speed - such as if you hit a patch of water and start aquaplaning.
As another added benefit you get more power than the 2WD versions, with 302bhp from two motors. That means a 0-62mph time of just 5.7 seconds, which will be plenty fast enough for most drivers. The other advantage of the e4ORCE is perfect 50:50 weight distribution for better handling, and you get more power back when you hit the brakes as the regen works on two motors rather than one.
There are other benefit to Ariya ownership too, including a beautifully crafted interior that brings a surprising level of luxury, especially compared to the stripped-out minimalist interior of the car in first place.
Steady improvements over time have helped make the Tesla Model Y one of the most popular electric SUV choices, and in four-wheel drive Long Range form, it’s an outstandingly compelling package compared with rivals.
It’s also outstandingly quick in this form, offering 384bhp and a sub-five sec 0-62mph time. Yet the Model Y easily manages efficiency numbers higher than most EVs we’ve tested, with up to 351 miles of range between charges.
There’s tonnes of space inside for adults, and you can cram all your last-minute holiday packing in its large boot and ample frunk. Plus, the Tesla charging network provides reliable charging for long trips.