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Rear-wheel drive systems, abbreviated as RWD, once propelled nearly every automobile on the road and currently dominate the full-size pickup truck market. However, the tendency toward smaller, more fuel-efficient cars and sedans over the last 40 years caused front-wheel drive (FWD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) systems to see increased popularity at the expense of RWD cars. Nevertheless, rear-wheel drive cars still have some benefits over other drivetrain systems, as evident in the performance car segment. 

The top five rear-wheel drive cars

U.S. News says RWD provides “arguably super ride and handling qualities” in its recent review of the “Best Rear-Wheel Drive Cars.” We’ll look at the top five RWD cars on that list and provide details about each model. 

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

The newly introduced 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS topped the competition on the U.S. News chart in terms of performance and overall score with a starting price of $102,310. According to the review, the EQS luxury sports sedan offers a “lavish cabin” that is “comfortable beyond reproach.” Additionally, the all-electric Mercedes-Bens EQS 450+ trim includes a rear-wheel drive powertrain that features 329 horsepower with up to 350 miles of driving range from a single charge. 

2022 Chevrolet Corvette

An orange 2023 Chevrolet Chevy Corvette Z06 performance sports car model
2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 | Chevrolet

In many ways, the 2022 Chevrolet Corvette sets the standard for gasoline-powered luxury performance sports coupes at a low $60,900 starting price. In the past, when performance auto enthusiasts thought of mid-engine sports cars, their thoughts turned to exotic Italian brands such as Ferarri or Lamborghini, with prices running into the six-figure category. However, in 2020, Chevrolet introduced the 490-horsepower mid-engine Corvette with “racetrack sharp” ride and handling characteristics while allowing adequate daily driving comfort. 

2022 Lucid Air

As the other all-electric sedan in the top five, the $77,400 Lucid Air also entered the market for the first time in 2022. Inside the Lucid Air, you’ll notice a 34-inch “Glass Cockpit display” that provides driver information and an infotainment touchscreen interface. While the four highest trim levels feature AWD, the base, Pure model comes with RWD and a single electric motor that provides 480 horsepower and over 400 miles of estimated driving range. 

2022 Porsche Cayman

The 2022 Porsche Cayman starts at $60,500 and comes standard with a horizontally opposed 2.0-liter flat four-cylinder engine that provides 300 horsepower. That horsepower routes to the Cayman’s RWD system through a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. If you prefer more power, Porsche offers a couple of 4.0-liter flat-six engine options with 394 or 414 horsepower.

2022 Porsche Boxster

The final entrant on our top-five list is the 2022 Porsche Boxter roadster, with a starting price of $62,600. The Boxster offers the same engine and transmission options as the Cayman mentioned above, along with an additional 350-horsepower turbocharged 2.5-liter flat-four. Additionally, the Boxster’s roadster body style is perfect for those seeking a two-seater open-air driving experience in a Porsche-badged sports car. 

Are RWD cars better?

There’s little argument that FWD and AWD systems offer unique advantages. Still, RWD cars provide other benefits, especially for those drivers “who can exploit and appreciate the layout’s arguably superior ride and handling qualities.” While RWD takes advantage of rearward weight transfer during launch and heavy acceleration, avoiding understeer is the most significant advantage to driving RWD cars near the limits of traction compared to FWD or AWD models.