Toyota’s All-Wheel Drive systems are electromagnetic in operation. An electronic control component, called an ECU, manages distribution of the vehicle’s power – or torque – between the front and rear axles. The ECU tell an electromagnetic coupler, residing just in front of the rear-wheel drive axle, to to engage and use that power.
In America’s only All-wheel Drive minivan, the 2017 Toyota Sienna, the system works like this:
Simply put, if the road is slick, muddy, or icy, and the tires begin to slip, the vehicle automatically shift from FWD to AWD without the driver having to do anything different. Front:Rear torque distribution in AWD mode is variable and the system can send as much as half of the engine’s power to to the rear wheels.
One of the biggest advantages of the system is that you get all the fuel savings from driving in normal front-wheel drive (FWD) with the additional safety and security of AWD when you really need it; NO shifting required. For Portlanders, that means you get home safely while the rest of the world is spinning their tires during our notorious, mid-day winter weather events.
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