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New Car Technology: All-Wheel Drive – Video

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.

 

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Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a multitude of magazine publications and websites, including here at Autotrader — where he launched the Oversteer enthusiast blog — along with Jalopnik, GQ, and The Week. His YouTube channel has hundreds of published videos and has racked up hundreds of millions of views. Today, Doug lives in San Diego, California, with his 1997 Land Rover Defender 90 NAS, 2005 Ford GT, and 2012 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Wagon.

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