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Find Out More with the Subaru FAQ

What is All-Wheel Drive?

Basically all-wheel drive is when all the wheels on a vehicle get drive input from the engine and transmission. We like to differentiate between all-wheel drive and “4×4″ because there are certain connotations to the term”4×4”. For most people 4×4 means the vehicle can go off-road and has lockable differentials and a strong low-range gear. Most of these vehicles feature very high ground clearances and high centres of gravity.

All-wheel drive, for Subaru, refers more to a normal road going vehicle that has traction on all four wheels.

What makes Subaru All-Wheel Drive unique?

There are a few characteristics that make the Subaru system unique and superior to most other systems. These include:

  • The Subaru AWD system has been designed as an integral part of the vehicle from the ground up.
  • The AWD system always starts with the longitudinally mounted Boxer engine which provides inherent balance and symmetry.
  • The transmission, centre differential and drive shafts are designed as a unit and not added on later.
  • Power flows to all wheel in a linear manner.
  • All the driveshafts are the same length and the drivetrain is balanced and symmetrical left to right.
  • All four wheel get power all the time.
Subaru All-Wheel Drive Systems
Continuous All-Wheel Drive

The continuous all-wheel drive system is found on all manual Subaru vehicles, except the WRX STI.

  • The system features three differentials (front, rear and centre). These allow power transfer to all wheels and allows the wheels to rotate at different speeds (for cornering).
  • Under most conditions, power is split 50/50 between the front and rear axles.
  • When there is loss of traction at either the front or rear axles power is progressively transferred to the axle that has traction.
Active All-Wheel Drive

All our vehicles with a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT or Lineartronic) has this system.

  • Typically more power goes to the front wheel (about 60%) but there is always power at the rear wheels.
  • The transmission houses and electronically controlled clutch pack that allows the front and rear wheel to rotate at different speeds and acts as the centre differential.
  • This clutch pack controls the amount of power that goes to each axle and thus acts as a limited slip device and centre differential.
  • When there is loss of traction at either the front or rear axles power is progressively transferred to the axle that has traction.
  • The power split is determined by electronic signals that measure various driving conditions.
Variable Torque Distribution (VTD) All-Wheel Drive with Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD)

This system is only fitted to the WRX STI model. It is an ultra high performance system that allows for both driver and automatic control of the centre differential. Automatic control measures various vehicle inputs to determine the correct ratio of front and rear power output.

  • Normally the system has a 41/59 front-to-rear power distribution and has the ability to allow the driver to adjust the system’s operation to suit a particular driving condition.
  • DCCD has two operation modes – Manual and Automatic. In Automatic mode the front to rear power distribution is determined according to electronic inputs to suit the driving situation. In Manual mode the driver can adjust the power split or even lock the system into a 50/50 front-to-rear split.