Only 3 Hatchback Models Have Standard AWD in 2023
Though hatchback models typically provide improved practicality over their sedan counterparts and perform better than higher-riding SUVs and crossovers, the heyday of hatchbacks was yesteryear. Hatchbacks simply aren’t as prevalent as they once were in the modern automotive landscape, and even rarer are hatchbacks that come with optional or standard all-wheel drive. In fact, there are currently just three hatchbacks that offer AWD as standard equipment.
1. The Subaru Impreza is the most affordable hatchback with standard AWD
The 2024 Subaru Impreza is the most affordable all-wheel drive hatchback on the market, both among models with standard or optional AWD. The Impreza has a base price of just $24,085, and even in its most expensive trim, it still rings in at under $30,000.
The Impreza also holds the distinction of being the only non-performance variant hatchback with standard all-wheel drive. However, the Impreza serves as the basis for the more powerful and sporty Subaru WRX.
The Impreza’s sixth generation makes its debut for 2024 with updated styling, an available 11.6-inch touchscreen, and some kit from the WRX, including its dual-pinon electric power steering rack and an electronic brake booster. However, a notable exclusion from the new model is a manual transmission. All Impreza’s are now equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Additionally, the Subaru Impreza has long been offered as either a sedan or hatchback, but the sedan option has been dropped for 2024.
The Impreza’s base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder developing 152 horsepower. The range-topping RS trim features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, upping the ante to 182 hp.
2. The Toyota GR Corolla delivers big power in a small package
The Toyota GR Corolla is almost the antithesis of the budget-friendly, solid-but-unexciting compact hatchback from which it is based.
The GR Corolla pumps out a staggering 300 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque from its turbocharged three-cylinder engine. Adding to its performance pedigree, the ultimate Corolla hatchback features a sport-tuned suspension, is only available with a six-speed manual with rev-matching, and standard all-wheel drive. Buyers can also opt for the Circuit Edition, which adds front and rear limited-slip differentials, or the track-focused Morizo Edition, which offers 22 more lb-ft of twist, Micheline Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, and lighter forged wheels.
The 2023 GR Corolla starts at $36,995. Still, due to its limited production run and high desirability, huge dealer markups are practically standard (if one can even be found on a dealer lot).
3. The Volkswagen Golf R is a pinnacle hot hatch
The VW Golf is one the most well-known and heralded hatchbacks, and the Golf R is the ultimate expression of the Golf’s performance pedigree.
The Volkswagen Golf R takes advantage of its eye-raising 315 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque with standard all-wheel drive. To boot, the Golf R can be had with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and is equipped with a torque-vectoring rear differential, variable-ratio steering, and plenty of other performance kit.
The Golf R’s updates over the already sporty GTI from which it’s based — which doesn’t offer all-wheel drive — only furthers the R’s standing as a top-tier hot hatch.
Where pricing is concerned, the Golf R is also the most expensive hatchback to offer standard all-wheel drive. Pricing for the 2023 model starts at $45,835. However, like the GR Corolla, limited production and high demand often make real-world prices for the Golf R notably higher.