U.S. News is known for its year-end best-of roundups of vehicles of all types. When it came time to determine the best all-wheel-drive sedan of 2020, the magazine listed a variety of models — from Kia to Mercedes to Tesla — offering AWD standard or as an option. Even affordable cars and family sedans offer AWD these days, and the competition in 2020 was fierce. Of the 14 sedans on U.S. News’ list, which ones stood out? And which vehicle took the top spot?
Tesla is hard to beat
In third place was the 2020 Tesla Model 3, which earned an overall score of 8.8 out of 10 from U.S. News. Priced at just below $47,000, it’s the most affordable way to get a Tesla of your own. The Model 3 Long Range model sends power to all four wheels via two electric motors.
Able to reach 60 mph is just 4.2 seconds, the Model 3 performs smoothly and quietly. Its top speed is 145 mph, but if you do that, you’ll cut into your 330-mile range. The sedan’s center of gravity is low thanks to the battery’s placement under the floor.
While the cabin is minimalist with the 15-inch touchscreen mounted at the center of the dash, the Tesla Model 3 offers a smooth, solid ride with little engine noise. The steering is well weighted and precise, with different steering effort settings. It handles corners and direction changes exceptionally well.
A tale of two Teslas
In second place on the list is the 2020 Tesla Model S. It received an overall score of 9 out of 10 from U.S. News. At just under $70,000, the Model S is an electric luxury AWD sedan. But it’s not like its peers. Its speed is a show-stopper.
The Model S Performance model can hit 60 mph in less than three seconds from a dead stop. The four-door sedan is packed with power even at the base level and boasts a driving range of 402 miles in its Long Range Plus variant. The Tesla Model S debuted in 2012, and many automakers are still scrambling to catch up.
The interior of the Model S is sparse like the Model 3. It takes some getting used to having all controls and functions on a single touchscreen on the dash. But the front drive unit and motor are upgraded for 2020. The air suspension is adaptive now and provides a smooth-as-glass ride on the highway and better control through corners.
Here comes Mercedes
Despite all the love for the Tesla Model 3 and Model S, there’s a dark horse in this race. Taking the top spot on U.S. News’ list of the best AWD sedans of 2020 is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The German sedan is a study in luxury, power, and technology, with an overall score of 9.1 out of 10. The AWD costs $3,000 above the base price of $97,250, but you’re getting your money’s worth with the S-Class.
Powered by a twin-turbo V6 engine that gets 362 hp and is aided by its 4Matic AWD hardware, the Mercedes S 450 is quiet with impressive acceleration. U.S. News says the ride is perfectly balanced and very comfortable. The cabin offers plenty of space and top-notch materials for a true luxury experience you don’t get with the Tesla models.
The Mercedes also offers a plethora of great luxury options, including footrests in the back, seat-mounted folding tables, and massaging front seats. And if your pockets are deep enough, you can keep adding opulence and power. The S 65 models boast a twin-turbocharged V12 that sends an attention-getting 621 hp to all wheels.
Though the Teslas are impressive, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class exemplifies a world-class car, U.S. News says. With its upscale interior, superior seats, technology, and stellar powertrain choices, the S-Class offers the best luxury cars available.