PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- All-wheel drive is an underrated feature during a particularly snowy winter, but it comes in particularly handy around this time of year when those gray clouds suddenly douse much of the country with rain for weeks at a time.
According to the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration, wet roads account for roughly 1.13 million crashes each year, 75% of all weather-related crashes and 18% of vehicle crashes overall. That number shrinks only somewhat to 707,000 crashes, or 47% of weather-related crashes and 11% of all crashes, when you narrow wet-pavement incidents down to just rain.
Still, those crashes in rainy conditions injure more than 330,000 people each year and kill 3,300. That's roughly 50% of all weather-related injuries and deaths. To put that into perspective, that makes rain more dangerous to U.S. drivers than snow, ice and fog combined.
Even if you make it through the worst rainstorms unscathed, they're more than enough to severely affect your commute. Light rain reduces traffic flow 2% to 13% percent in light rain, while heavier rain slows things 6% to 17%. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, where rain is a much an absolute truth as the sun rising and setting, or in Florida or along the Gulf Coast where even storms just passing through can play havoc, everybody else's spring showers are just your standard nightmare.
Automakers are well aware of the perils of wet weather and have been getting better about offering features such as all-wheel drive without taking all of a car buyer's money. We consulted with the folks at Kelley Blue Book we came up with five vehicles that can help you drive straight through those spring downpours for less than $25,000: