While all-wheel-drive shares some of the same off-road capabilities as four-wheel-drive, its focus is typically geared more toward optimizing safety and traction in everyday driving challenges, like inclement weather or slippery roads. AWD is usually automatic, requires no driver input and works behind the scenes. A prime example of all-wheel-drive is Toyota’s Dynamic Torque Control AWD.
While a variety of AWD systems exist today, they all generally work on the same principle. Like with four-wheel-drive, the wheels are mechanically linked to the engine for power, but in an all-wheel-drive system like Dynamic Torque Control AWD, the system acts on an as needed, on-demand basis. That means no driver input is needed for the AWD system to automatically engage and start distributing up to 50% of the available torque to the rear wheels.
Vehicles with Dynamic Torque Control AWD power the front wheels until acceleration, cornering or wheel slippage is detected, at which point torque is distributed from the engine to the rear wheels in order to increase traction. Dynamic Torque Control AWD is electromagnetic in operation, meaning an ECU controls the distribution of torque between the front and rear axles via an electromagnetic control coupler on the front of the rear drive axle.
In addition, Toyota’s AWD systems allow the driver, using the AWD Lock button, to keep the vehicle in AWD mode in particularly low traction conditions. Specifically, this would be advantageous when in loose sand or heavy snow. The AWD Lock will stay engaged until the vehicle exceeds 25 MPH.
Drivers of Toyota’s Dynamic Torque Control AWD-equipped Rav4 and Highlander gas models will appreciate the enhanced cornering delivered by the system. Even in perfect conditions, this improvement over standard AWD will send up to 10% of the vehicle’s power to the rear wheels when cornering to settle the non-drive wheels and improve the vehicle’s stance and predictability. This means cornering will be smoother and more controlled, leading to a much more enjoyable driving experience.
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