AWD & 4WD Systems

How Toyota All-Wheel Drive Works

Toyota utilizes four different AWD systems throughout its lineup, each designed for the specific needs of the segment.

• Dynamic Torque-Control: Found on sedans and smaller SUVs
• Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD with Driveline Disconnect: Found on larger SUVs and trucks
• Electronic On-Demand AWD: Found on Toyota hybrid vehicles
• AWDe: Also found on Toyota hybrid vehicles

These Toyota AWD systems are designed to get the most out of your vehicle, each using computers and sensors to detect challenging road conditions and adjust accordingly. Since all four systems perform in different ways, let’s explore each all-wheel drive system in depth.

Dynamic Torque-Control AWD

To support safe driving in Albany, this Toyota AWD system relies on electromagnetic coupling ahead of the rear differential to engage and disengage the AWD system. Once the senses detect tires spinning or slipping, it applies the brake to the tire in question, which equalizes traction across all four wheels and keeps you moving forward.

Dynamic Torque-Control AWD does not adjust the power to each wheel; rather, the driveshaft is always turning on this system even if the electromagnetic coupler is disengaged. While this adds a slight drag, it’s only a difference of about three or four MPG.

This Toyota AWD system can be found on:
• Toyota Avalon XLE, XLE Limited
• Toyota Camry LE, SE, XLE, XSE
• Toyota RAV4 LE, XLE, XLE Premium

Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD with Driveline Disconnect

This AWD system uses multiple dog-clutch gears to engage the AWD system behind the transmission, ahead of the rear differential, and each rear tire. This allows for even power distribution to each wheel instead of the selective braking found in the previous system. When a slipping wheel is sensed, the dog-clutch is disengaged, applying extra power to the other three wheels for momentum.

Due to the larger size of these Toyota all-wheel drive vehicles, the Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD with Driveline Disconnect system works to distribute more torque to each tire, allowing the driveshaft to completely disengage without continuous turning.

This Toyota AWD system can be found on:
• Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road, Adventure, Limited
• Toyota Highlander Limited, Platinum

Electronic On-Demand AWD

On certain Toyota all-wheel drive hybrid vehicles, you’ll find the Electronic On-Demand AWD system. This technology removed the driveshafts and replaced them with electric-motor generators for the rear tires, as there is no mechanical connection between the front and rear wheels. The rear wheel motors turn off when traction isn’t needed but switch on when required.

This Toyota AWD system can be found on:
• Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
• Toyota Highlander Hybrid


For maximum fuel efficiency and minimized weight and drag, AWDe comes into play for smaller hybrid Toyota AWD cars. While this system is very similar to Electronic On-Demand AWD, there are some differences, specifically in how the rear motors are induction motors that only operate at speeds under 43 mph. This prevents the motors from burning out.

Electric motors are more efficient than gas engines at low speeds, helping to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. AWDe engages during acceleration up to 6 mph and will stay activated up until 43 mph if needed.

This Toyota AWD system can be found on:
• Toyota Prius

Compare Toyota AWD vs. 4WD Vehicles

Toyota all-wheel drive models are not the only way to handle difficult terrain and weather conditions: there are several Toyota four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicles that provide robust traction and handling. The difference between the two systems is that 4WD vehicles tend to move slower, allowing you to move through unplowed roads or go off-roading with total confidence. Depending on what lies ahead, a Toyota 4WD model may be better suited for your needs:

The Toyota 4WD system can be found on:
• Toyota Land Cruiser
• Toyota 4Runner
• Toyota Sequoia
• Toyota Tacoma
• Toyota Tundra

Why does Toyota have so many options while other car manufacturers get by with just one?

The powertrain of your new 2022 Toyota vehicle does much more than drive the wheels, it has to move the vehicle while considering the driver, passengers, and cargo. It has to do all that while synchronizing complicated vehicle control systems with ever-changing road surfaces and weather conditions. In and around Metro Portland, that means flexibility and capability are paramount. One system for all vehicles just doesn’t cut it.

So each vehicle in Toyota’s lineup comes with a specialized drive system designed to match the rigors and requirements of that vehicle’s ownership needs. With that in mind, we’ve created separate resources for each of the drive combinations available.

Take a look at the overview below and jump to each page for videos and more detailed information.

To learn more about the difference between AWD and winter/snow tires, check out our blog post.

All-Wheel Drive (AWD)

AWD w/ Active Torque Control:

2022 Sienna

2021 & 2022 Toyota Sienna AWD models

Found in America’s sole all-wheel drive passenger minivan, the 2022 Toyota Sienna AWD. All Wheel Drive with Active Torque Control is also available on 2021 Sienna LE, SE, XLE and Limited models. This system powers the front wheels until slippage is detected, then automatically shifts into AWD mode to send torque to the rear wheels. This means you save fuel in everyday FWD driving while having reserve power at the rear wheels when needed, in up to a 50:50 front-to-rear ratio, without having to change your driving at all.

Dynamic Torque Control AWD:

2022 RAV4

2021 & 2022 Toyota Highlander (gas) and 2021 &2022 Toyota Rav4 (gas) models

In addition to automatically moving up to 50% of the powertrain’s torque to the rear wheels in low-traction situations, Dynamic Torque Control AWD has a massive added benefit, even in everyday driving conditions. A steering angle sensor detects the need in cornering to optimize front end traction and provide overall stability. So the Dynamic Torque Control AWD system sends up to 10% of the vehicle’s torque to the rear wheels, even in non-slip conditions, to improve handling through corners.

Electronic On-demand AWD with Intelligence

Or “AWD-i” / 2021 &2022 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid and 2021 & 2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid models

Toyota’s AWD-i adds a powerful electric drive motor to the rear wheels. Like Dynamic Torque Control AWD, Toyota’s AWD-i senses steering angle or wheel slippage and automatically dials up torque to the rear wheels to stabilize the vehicle and keep the driver in control. AWD-i assists during acceleration, providing extra power at the rear wheels to help with quicker starts. Properly equipped Toyota Rav4 Hybrid AWD-i models have higher towing capacities than their gas-only counterparts.

Four-Wheel Drive (4WD)

Part-time 4WD:


All 2021 & 2022 Toyota Tundra and 2021 Toyota Tacoma models, plus 2021 Toyota 4Runner SR5, TRD Offroad, and TRD Pro models.

Toyota four-wheel drive systems are legendary. If you’re looking to really get off the beaten path, no AWD vehicle can handle the Pacific Northwest’s variable terrain like a 4WD Tundra, Tacoma, or 4Runner. At the core of the “part-time” 4WD system is the flexibility for the driver to select the best drivetrain mode for the environment’s demands. For everyday use, these vehicles get their maximum fuel economy by running in rear-wheel drive mode. But when needed, drivers can quickly shift the center differential – either through a gear selector or an electronic switch – creating a mechanical lock between the front and rear wheels. The key is that, in Toyota’s part-time 4WD vehicles, you make the front-rear connection when you’re ready. That means it’s in your hands to shift out of 4WD when you’re back on dry pavement to avoid the binding that often occurs during high-traction driving with a locked center differential.

Full-time 4WD:

2021 & 2022 Toyota Land Cruiser and 2021 & 2022 Toyota 4Runner Limited models, plus 2021 Sequoia limited models.

For the ultimate in utility, refinement and capability, 3 Toyota SUVs with full-time four-wheel drive should now be at the top of your list. 4WD indicates a system in which a car’s engine powers all 4 wheels uniformly. The 2021 & 2022 Land Cruiser and 4Runner Limited are the perfect combination for active Portland-area families: Luxurious, spacious and well-appointed on the inside; powerful highway and offroad beasts underneath. The full-time nature of this 4WD system means that the vehicle makes the decisions, instantly and accurately, about how to move power around the system. It means you don’t have to remember to shift out of 4WD in high-traction situations and, more importantly, you don’t have to break out the manual when you’re surprised with an unstable road condition. It’s what it says it is: 4WD all the time. Whether rock crawling, ice fishing, mall cruising, or road tripping, Toyota’s full-time 4WD systems will get you there safely and confidently.

Wilsonville Toyota

9155 Boeckman Rd., Wilsonville, OR 97070, United States


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