Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

What car company has the best AWD system



  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    My take on this subject is that there isn't a whole lot of real world difference between the various systems for
    everyday on-road or light off-road driving. Put another way, the differences are rather marginal, while the tradeoffs between AWD/4WD and 2WD are more significant. Every AWD/4WD system requires negative tradeoffs in terms of initial cost, fuel economy, handling (except at or near the limits), and complexity. It seems to me that for the vast majority of driving situations, in most of the country, FWD, with winter tires, when required, is a better compromise than AWD/4WD. For those willing to trade traction in slippery comditions for better weight ditribution, RWD, and winter tires for the months when it's helpful, may be the best compromise. In a minority of cases, AWD/4WD offers the best solution. In extreme cases, it's the only solution.

    It seems to me that AWD systems that employ braking are wasteful, in terms of fuel and brake wear. I'm just not
    sure how significant these losses are.

    In my opinion, clever marketing has oversold the real world benefits of AWD/4WD, and conveniently neglected to mention the tradeoffs, for most driving requirements. It's what politicians tend to do when they try to sell a program.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 18,737
    In my opinion, clever marketing has oversold the real world benefits of AWD/4WD, and conveniently neglected to mention the tradeoffs, for most driving requirements...

    I'm not sure it's accurate to say AWD/4WD has been oversold because it really wasn't heavily promoted until carmakers noticed that people were buying SUVs and 4WD P'ups in part because of their all-weather abilities. Truth be told those all-weather on-road capabilities of Explorers, Grand Cherokees and the like were a bigger factor in the rapid acceptance of those vehicles than their little-utilized (by the majority of owners) off-road abilities.

    In other words it was more something people convinced themselves of. The first time I accelerated up a slushy hill in an AWD A4, I was sold.

    Ironically I traded the A4 Quattro in on a RWD BMW 528 despite the fact that I live on a steep hill in NH.

    I found out that in more than a few inches of snow it's all about the tires, no matter which wheels are driven. I decided that if it was going to be neccessary to go with dedicated snows there wasn't any point in putting up with the inherent front heaviness of either a FWD or AWD system.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    well if we go with WRC it Would be Ford because they won the 2006 manufacturers championship and are leading this year. But for most of us that isn't the question.

    To me Audi would have to be in contention for AWD as would Subaru. I prefer 4wd if I have a choice but AWD works pretty well in street applications. Living is Southern California AWD is simply another way to decrease my fuel mileage because I might need AWD two or three days a year. And then it would be simple preference rather than need.
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,993

    It’s still a car that appeals to drivers who favour unruffled progress and appreciates the unmatched comfort of Saab seats. The 9-3, like its forebears, is not intended as a car for hardcore drivers.

    But that could all change next spring when Saab introduces the 9-3 XWD (Cross Wheel Drive) as the ultimate expression of a facelifted range.

    The XWD transmission is based around the new, fourth-generation, Haldex clutch, mounted ahead of the rear differential.

    The really good news is that the unit is now ‘predictive’ so you don't have to wait for front wheel slip before torque is fed rearwards.

    But Saab engineers have fitted another Haldex clutch – dubbed the eLSD - to the output side of the differential so torque can also be divided between the rear wheels.

    For example, if the XWD hits standing water with its right front wheel, 85 per cent of the engine’s torque would be directed instantly to the rear wheels.

    That 85 per cent would then be split by the eLSD 80 per cent to the left-hand rear wheel and just 20 per cent to the water-bound right-hand wheel.

    We drove a late XWD prototype on a circuit of gravel, water spray and extreme lane-change manoeuvres and there’s only one conclusion. The XWD works, and brilliantly.

    You can see how much difference it makes by checking out our videos section, or clicking here. No matter how extreme the steering action in the simulated lane-chances, the XWD remained neutral and extremely stable. Nose-led lurching and weight transfer were virtually absent.

    And with the tail drifting on gravel, the eLSD would tweak it back into line with uncanny accuracy.

    On a section of conventional tarmac, the XWD behaved remarkably like a car with 50/50 weight distribution. It cornered hard and flat, gripped like a limpet and could easily deploy all its 280bhp and 295lb ft. We look forward to getting XWD on the open road.


  • dwrestledwrestle Posts: 72
    I'm pretty sure if they put Quadra Drive II in a Patriot it would be a nice Baja or whatever all the Subaru and other little foreign AWD cars do. The nice thing about it is they put it in the more traditional off road Wagon Jeeps and it is a good rock crawler, mud whatever. It could do it all, it's the best, it might not be the most advanced but it's the best.
  • aaykayaaykay Posts: 539
    Subaru has at least two different systems:
    (1) A viscous coupling system used on manual models; it's reactive, but is 50-50 when not locking up.
    (2) Clutch packs on automatic models; it's pro-active, but is 90-10 divide on most models when no wheel is about to slip.

    Actually Subaru has a few more AWD systems that are completely different from each other:

    3) The system in the 6-speed equipped Subaru WRX STI has a planetary gear center differential and electronic transfer clutch packs, in addition to mechanical differentials in the front and the rear. The default torque split was 35/65 front/rear in the past, which was readjusted to 40/60 front/rear in the 06/07 model years. Due to the mechanical nature of the differentials, the power/torque re-apportioning to the front/rear/side-to-side as conditions require, is instantaneous, as different from the cheaper visous-coupling employing but several thousand dollars cheaper, manual-WRX.

    4) Variable-Torque Distribution or VTD-AWD system: The system in the Automatic Impreza WRX, which too has an STI-Type planetary gear center differential and electronically controlled transfer clutch packs, in addition to an LSD in the rear. The default torque split is a rear-wheel biased 45/55 front/rear. This type of AWD is also found in a few other VTD equipped Subarus like the Automatic Legacy GT and the LL Bean Outback. Please note that the manual WRX gets the cheaper Viscous-fluid/coupling based center differential like the lesser Manual Imprezas and not this planetary gear-based system (as present within the WRX STI and Automatic WRX). Please also note that all other Automatic Imprezas and other non-VTD Automatic Subarus, are left with the cheaper center-differential lacking "Haldex" type system, which is the 90/10 front/rear power distributing system you referenced above.

    5) The system in VDC Outback (Automatic) and Tribeca etc., that is fundamentally similar to the above VTD system and sharing the same center differential and the electronically controlled transfer clutch packs but which lacks the rear-LSD of the above but in turn has a stability-control system, which they call as the VDC. It uses throttle-sensors etc to brake individual wheels to re-apportion power as needed, even though the default torque split is still 45/55 front/rear.
  • wrbstiwrbsti Posts: 1
    About the LR saving the Subaru:

    I think your brother did make a mistake of taking his Subaru to the beach thinking that he wouldn't get stuck, but I don't think that's what make the LR 4WD better.

    You have the advantage of
    - Better/Bigger Tires
    - Locking the Center Diff. 50/50 on your T-Case at low range
    - Probably some form of LSD front and rear

    But in real 4 wheeling condition, it probably isn't as good as my Grand Cherokee that has the QuadraDrive to transfer torque up to 100% to any wheel.

    The real question should have been what is the best AWD/4WD system for some specific driving condition.

    Say: High Performance Driving with skilled drivers: The STI & EVO AWD are probably at top of the list

    For Non-High performance daily drive, regular drivers: AWD systems that limit the torque output or brake at slip maybe better.

    All it comes down to are preferences and compromises.
  • But in real 4 wheeling condition, it probably isn't as good as my Grand Cherokee that has the QuadraDrive to transfer torque up to 100% to any wheel.

    I seriously doubt the CV Joints and/or U-Joints can actually handle 100 percent of the torque from your engine.

    The LR3 has a center locking diff that can be locked in high or low range depending on the terrain response system setting. Also a locking rear diff is optional and the ABS, Stability and Traction control systems can be adjusted using terrain response.

    Terrain response


    Also the LR3 has a lot more axle articulation, 13 inches for the rear axle, then your Jeep which is just as important as the 4wd system. The LR3 can keep all four wheels on the ground longer then the Jeep can.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,134
    How do you think the LR compares to the Touareg/ Cayenne 4WD system? The Touareg has done pretty well on the off road race circuit including Dakar.
  • So...i was just reading these out of curiousity, and i think back then the superhandling awd from honda/acura might have been the most advanced, but that doesnt mean it was the most effective in snowy conditions (btw rocky, a bmw 5 series gets .93g on the skidpad without awd, so .9g is no big deal...the mitsu evo gets 1.03g, and apparently has a sweet AWD system). So in terms of effectiveness in snow id say quattro has got the win, on road prob the new evo, which i know nothing about other than i read a car and driver article and saw a top gear show that said its awd system helped it stick to the road like crazy. But overall, the best blend of on and offroad has got to be bimmers new x-drive. i experienced the old one at the driving school in sc with the bmw x5's offroad, and i thought it was really amazing how 100 percent of the touque could be transferred to one wheel. and now with the new xdrive thats on the x6, it combines that capability with the on road qualities of something similar to acuras superhandling system, and works proactivley, rather than based on wheelspin (i remember reading a motor trend article comparing the two, and it said that the acura system wasnt always effective, because it relied only on wheelspin, and only distributed torque based on which wheels were spinning and that the new xdrive system used new technology like gyroscopes to be a proactive system or something along those lines) So anyway, i think the new x-drive is pretty sweet, especially on an x6. And i have quattro on my q7, and that thing is unstoppable in the snow, its a really great and proven system.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,930
    but i just bought an awd fusion. it doesn't seen to push out in the corners as much as the fwd focus it replaced. the steering and braking are not as communicative, though. i hope i have to wait until NEXT winter to see how it handles the snow.
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2014 Ford F-150 FX4
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    I think you misread something. SH-AWD does not rely on wheelspin.

    Well, I guess the wheels must be "spinning" to some degree. No AWD is going to work if the wheels are stopped. :P

    Here's a snippet from Acura's description of the RL:

    The logic and control of SH-AWD™ is integrated with the RL engine's Electronic Control Unit (ECU) and Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) ECU. The Engine ECU provides engine rpm, throttle position, intake manifold pressure, and transmission gear ratio data. The VSA® ECU provides data on lateral g, yaw rate, wheel rotation speed and steering angle. The SH-AWD™ ECU monitors the status of the acceleration device and the distribution of right and left Direct Electromagnetic Clutch torque. Traction is calculated based on the information from the engine ECU. During a hard acceleration situation, lateral g and steering angle are used to calculate the torque split between the right and left rear wheels. At the same time, this data is used to control the total amount (ranging between 0.6- and 5.7-percent) of rear wheel acceleration.
  • Yeah youre right sorry i forgot what it exactly was that i read i saw that article like 2 months ago. but...i just looked it up again, its a first drive of the X6 with motortrend, and they explain that the new x-drive system is always functioning, even in cornering situations when no throttle is given to the car. With acuras superhandling awd, the system is only active when throttle imput is given to the car, and therefore if the car starts to understeer and you need to lay off the gas mid corner, the awd isnt going to be functioning and the understeer can turn into oversteer. This is where the bmws new x-drive pulls ahead, because it can transfer touque between each wheel witin the axel just like the superhandling awd, plus it has the usual bmw saftey conviences (i think 6 total, i dont remember all of them) like dsc etc...
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Yeah, that part is true. If you lift all the way off the throttle, SH-AWD stops modulating the torque split.

    However, IIRC, the new Xdrive doesn't overdrive the outside wheel (change it's speed) it just supplies more torque. My memory is also fuzzy on the details.
  • lch77lch77 Posts: 53
    My son wanted an AWD car while in college in upstate New York. 147 inches so far this winter in Syracuse. Based on budget and the AWD requirement, we agreed on the Matrix/Vibe or the Subaru Imprezza Outback Sport.

    He liked the styling of the Matrix while I liked what I had read about the ride/handling/traction of the Subaru. We were about to get the Matrix when the Subaru sales lady suggested that my son drive them back to back and push them hard. I suggested that we also find a slippery area to test the AWD systems. Besides the better on center tracking and cornering testing of the Subaru, we found a muddy road behind the dealership. The Subaru went up the hill. The Matrix couldn't.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    It's the tires. :shades:

    I'm running all-seasons on my Outback and if I wasn't paying attention, I could lose it on the snowy road going up to my local ski hill.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    But don't both Imprezas and Matrixes come with fairly crappy OEM all-season tires? I'm pretty sure they do.

    My $0.02 would be that the Impreza has stability and traction control and the Matrix probably doesn't - I don't think it's standard on Matrix and is in fact a fairly hard-to-find option.

    Which for the money definitely swings the advantage in favor of the Subaru, IMO.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 66,757
    fairly crappy OEM all-season tires

    That doesn't even begin to describe the (lack of) snow capabilities of the Bridgestones on my Impreza...

    I understand why they put cheap tires that wear out fast on new cars... but, putting these tires on a full-time AWD car is criminal..

    Given similar tires, I'd have to agree that the Subaru has it all over the Matrix in the AWD department, though.


    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • fintailfintail Posts: 42,223
    A co-worker of mine's other half bought a new STi last year. Endless complaints about the tires.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    I saw a comment somewhere the other day about how the Potenza RE92 was quite possibly the worst tire in existence, and I know I would have to agree as that is what was on my last new Subaru when it came from the factory.

    I hope they don't still use those, but I fear they just might.....not on STIs though, thank goodness!

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • lch77lch77 Posts: 53
    My test was unscientific and I recognized that to be fair both cars should have the same tires, BUT if I bought either car, the tires tested would be the ones I got.

    The Impreza did have the above mentioned RE92's (described as awful) but did make it up the hill anyway. Just for the fun of it, I tried the hill today with my 2002 A4 Quattro with Michelin Exalto Sport A/S tires. It rained last night so it was even muddier than it was yesterday To my surprise, the A4 did NOT make it up the hill either. It does have ASC which I left turned on. It does not have a differential lock like my 1990 Audi 200 Quattro did.

    BTW, both the Subaru WRX and WRX STI come standard with high performance SUMMER tires. I think you'll see that everyone agrees that if you these tires in snow country, you MUST switch to either Snow or All Season tires in winter.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 42,223
    Ah that would explain it. Although I am not in snow country, I am sure the grip leaves something to be desired in the rain.

    I do have to wonder why an AWD "rally" style car would come with summer tires.
  • morin2morin2 Posts: 399
    I just bought my 2009 Outback last sunday. All Outbacks had potenza 92's on them. My Special Edition Outback comes with 17' alloys and the Potenzas are 92A rated 260 treadwear, traction A, temperature A. The base model Outbacks have 16" steel wheels and Potenzas rated at 360.

    With 260 treadwear rating, I expect to be replacing these tires soon (my trade-in had Bridgestone Dueler Revos rated at 520). I haven't driven the Potenzas in any demanding conditions yet but the comments are not encouraging. Recommendations for replacements?
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    I put Yokohama Avid T4's on my '97 22,000 miles ago. Sort of a medium priced all season tire.

    Owners are kicking tires around over in the Subaru Outback/Legacy Tires and Wheels discussion.
  • Hey, check out this Youtube Subaru AWD comaprison...

    You would expect any AWD car to be able to move up the ramp if remove traction from the front wheels while the rear wheels have full traction, right? Well, in this test the Honda CR-V and Toyota Highlander were unable to do this. I thought that was a little shocking; if a CRV or Highlander is AWD, I would expect it to climb that wimpy incline if the rear wheels had 100% full traction.

    This video was obviously put together by Subaru so they mainly tested manufactures that had inferior systems. I belive that Audi has really good AWD systems, and I think that they would be able to match what Subaru does in a test like this.

    In any case, I certainly think that Subaru's AWD system is one of the best.
  • sam_ksam_k Posts: 116
    I've skimmed through the discussion and several people gave their vote to the Acura SH-AWD system. I'm curious how does the Infiniti system compare? I like the look and size of the Infiniti G37xS more than the Acura TL SH-AWD and Edmunds did the following comparison of the Acura TL SH-AWD and the RWD Infiniti G37 and they gave the nod to the Infiniti.

    I wish they had compared the TL SH-AWD to the G37x, the more logical comparison.

    So does anyone have any opinions on the Infiniti AWD system?
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    Holy smokes! After seeing that, the only AWD I will buy from now on is Subaru. (assuming I will never be in the market for one of the very expensive German AWD models, a fair assumption)

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • lch77lch77 Posts: 53
    For what it's worth, I tested my A4 Quattro after the mud had dried up a little, and it made it up the hill. Note, while the new Audi's are overpriced, I've seen some good pricing on used and CPO Audi's. The CPO's can be purchased with special financing from Audi.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,134
    If Audi brings their A4 Allroad Quattro TDI to the USA, it will be #1 on my list. For me that would be nearly the perfect car. With the 2.0L TDI that should get over 40 MPG highway I would be a happy camper. I prefer the looks of the 2001-05 Allroad Quattro. I am keeping my eye out for a good buy on a low mileage one. I would be surprised if the Subaru AWD is as good as the Audi.
  • I think that companies are starting to make progress on AWD systems as time goes on. But one thing about the Subaru system is that it has been among the best for the longest time, with the same basic design that has worked for decades now with or without electronic nannies.

    I have an older forester without any traction aides and I can tell you that it is still a great system, and consistently keeps the car pointed where you want it too!
Sign In or Register to comment.