AWD-i (Electronic On-demand AWD with Intelligence) information for the 2017 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid and 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid models

As consumer demand in the hybrid segment continues to grow and evolve, so does the technology that drives it. This is especially true in hybrid vehicles equipped with all-wheel-drive, where the goal is both fuel efficiency and all-wheel-drive traction – a combination that is not always easy to achieve. A clever solution can be found in the 2016 RAV4 Hybrid and 2016 Highlander Hybrid, which are both equipped with the innovative Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel-Drive System with intelligence system, or AWD-i for short. This system takes a smart, efficient approach to all-wheel-drive traction to deliver impressive efficiency and capability.


Despite its similar terminology, the AWD-i system is different from Toyota’s Dynamic Torque Control AWD found on some non-hybrid AWD models. While still designed to optimize traction by distributing power to all four wheels, the method in which it achieves this is different, and the benefits it provides are unique.

Most importantly, in AWD-i, there is no mechanical connection between the front and rear axles like there is in Dynamic Torque Control AWD. Instead, AWD-i utilizes a dedicated electric motor for each axle – one in the front and one in the rear. The independent rear motor outputs its own motive force but is generally kept in a ready state, only turning on for added traction and stability during acceleration, cornering, and in slippery road surface conditions. The rear motor can also provide additional rear-wheel torque in proportion to the steepness of a hill, enhancing uphill control. Depending on the situation, power distribution can vary from 100% front to an even 50:50 split between front and rear.


AWD-i enhances traction whether on or off the road. Its primary purpose is to optimize safety and efficiency in everyday driving conditions, and the results it delivers are remarkable. The traction and vehicle control it provides has set it apart from competing vehicles in AMCI safety tests, and the added performance it brings to acceleration and handling doesn’t hurt, either.

The system works in harmony with the hybrid powertrain to deliver excellent fuel efficiency. Since the rear motor only uses energy when additional traction is needed – and it gets that energy from hybrid system power rather than engine power – it is a great solution to matching the efficiency of a front-wheel-drive hybrid with the traction of an AWD system.

Additionally, because the AWD-i system is mated to a hybrid powertrain with regenerative braking capability, it can be used to facilitate and “double down” on energy recovery, increasing system efficiency even further. While Toyota’s FWD hybrids capture energy from only the front motor, AWD-i captures energy from both the front and rear motors during certain braking conditions.

(ABOVE IMAGE: A visual representation of the AWD-i system’s torque distribution can be displayed on the vehicle’s audio display energy monitor screen, which allows drivers to easily see when the AWD-i system is operating for additional traction and when the vehicle is in an efficient front-wheel-drive state.)


Despite only being on two Toyota vehicles in the U.S. market, AWD-i technology has received praise for its effectiveness in the RAV4 Hybrid. In fact, recent AMCI testing with both SUVs has resulted in certified claims indicating that the system can facilitate better acceleration, braking, and handling than key segment competitors under certain conditions.

For the 2016 RAV4 Hybrid XLE, AMCI claims:

  • Better Overall Active Safety Performance on Snow and Ice than Chevrolet Equinox AWD LT, Honda CR-V AWD EX, Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×4, and Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium
  • Better Active Safety Braking on Snow and Ice than Chevrolet Equinox AWD LT, Honda CR-V AWD EX, Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×4, and Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium
  • Better Active Safety Handling on Snow and Ice than Chevrolet Equinox AWD LT, Honda CR-V AWD EX, Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×4, Nissan Rogue SV AWD, and Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium
  • Better Active Safety Acceleration on Snow and Ice than Honda CR-V AWD EX, Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×4, and Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium



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Wilsonville Toyota

9155 Boeckman Rd., Wilsonville, OR 97303, United States


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Wilsonville Toyota 45.31746, -122.7702898.