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New Car Technology: All-Wheel Drive - Video

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author photo by Doug DeMuro April 2016

If you're looking for an all-wheel-drive (AWD) sedan or SUV, you should know that they aren't all the same. Systems can vary from brand to brand or even from model to model. Our latest video takes a closer look at all-wheel drive to help you understand which system is right for you.

Here's how it works: The drivetrain can push power as needed to all four of a vehicle's wheels, which provides better traction on rough roads and in poor driving conditions. AWD technology has improved a lot in the last few years, and there are now several types of systems on the market.

One type is on-demand AWD, which is primarily found on front-wheel-drive cars that offer AWD as an option. In normal driving, the system sends all of its power to the front wheels, but if there's any slippage, power instead goes to the rear wheels in order to improve traction.

If you're familiar with Subaru, you may have heard of symmetrical AWD. In normal driving conditions, this sends power to all wheels equally, diverting power entirely to the front or rear wheels only if there's a loss of traction. Additionally, there's torque-vectoring AWD, which can split power between the left or right wheels in order to improve cornering.

Another AWD system is Mazda's new i-ACTIV feature, which uses information such as the outside temperature and degree of incline to help spring the car's AWD system into action. In this case, all-wheel drive engages before a tire loses traction -- an impressive feat.

While all-wheel-drive vehicles sometimes cost a bit more than cars without the feature, it's hard to deny the safety benefits of it.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
New Car Technology: All-Wheel Drive - Video - Autotrader