What is an Intelligent All Wheel Drive (AWD)?

Intelligent All Wheel Drive it’s all wheel drive system that has the ability to automatically monitor the conditions (wheel spin, throttle position and vehicle speed) to determine the amount of grip, cornering balance and responsiveness needed when the road (or terrain) is wet, dry or icy. It automatically sends extra power to the front or rear axle as and when needed, ensuring exceptional handling and improved efficiency at all times.

At low speeds the Intelligent AWD system concentrates on improving traction to support driveaway and manoeuvring on slippery surfaces, or at high torque levels.  For instance, if the front wheels are on ice and the rear ones aren’t, Intelligent AWD sends extra torque to the rear, putting power where it’s needed. When you’re driving faster it moves the focus to delivering superb handling and a wonderfully responsive driving experience, while keeping an eye on traction.  To do this it monitors the way you are driving and constantly fine-tunes itself.

An intelligent AWD system may receive data from wheel speed sensors, steering angle sensors, yaw rate sensors and other sensors. This information may then be sent to an Electronic Control Unit (small computer) which would make the decision as to how to distribute the power from the engine.

There are three types of intelligent All Wheel Drive systems:

  • The first type is where only the front wheels are driven. The vehicle functions as a front wheel drive by default and only if the front wheels lose traction then power is sent to the rear wheels. This type is usually referred to as automatic All Wheel Drive and is very common on crossover SUVs that use a front wheel drive platform.
  • The second type is where power is sent to the four wheels by default but more power can be sent to the front wheels, rear wheels, left wheels, right wheels or in extreme cases even one wheel if the vehicle starts to lose traction. Power will be sent away from the wheel(s) with traction loss and unto the wheel(s) with the most traction.
  • The third and least common type is where only the rear wheels receive power. The vehicle functions as a rear wheel drive by default to maintain a sporty character while driving and power is sent to the front wheels only if the rear wheels lose traction.