All-wheel-drive continues to infiltrated a range of new vehicles as the added traction and improved capability now appeals to more than just crossover and SUV buyers.

The Detroit Free Press reports that AWD is growing exponentially in the U.S., as buyers are increasingly associating the system as both a performance enhancer and a safety technology. In fact, Paul Lacy of IHS Automotive contends that AWD cars and crossovers will occupy 30 percent of vehicle sales by 2015. That's an amazing statistic if it turns out to be true, as AWD is pricey and at the same time cuts down on fuel efficiency.

Most crossovers already offer the technology, and the luxury automakers have embraced AWD with open arms. The system currently accounts for 50 percent of all Cadillac sales, while Lincoln offers AWD in each of its models. The far more established Quattro system now accounts for 80 percent of all new Audi models sold.

Adding AWD to luxury vehicles makes sense because customers who are paying $35,000 or more for a new vehicle are more likely to be able to afford a $1,000 to $3,000 option. At the same time, AWD is becoming more common on mainstream vehicles like the Ford Fusion and Chrysler 300. And it may not be a coincidence that Subaru sales have skyrocketed over the past couple years, since every Subie comes standard with symmetrical all-wheel-drive.

Suppliers are also working on AWD systems that can still deliver terrific traction along with improved fuel economy. Future systems will be lighter and more efficient, and Haldex is developing an hybrid AWD system that delivers power to the rear axle electrically.


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  • 58 Comments
      MANARC100
      • 3 Years Ago
      I live in FL and love AWD. My wife just got a new Mazda CX9 and after test driving the FWD i went with the AWD simply because the torque steer is gone. It is great off the line and handles better than the FWD version. I think when you get over 200-250HP on the front wheels AWD makes a lot of sense.
      BC
      • 3 Years Ago
      Great. Even more idiots driving faster than they should be during bad weather because they equate traction with braking ability, and tailgating the people who know what they're doing.
      axiomatik
      • 3 Years Ago
      "The system currently accounts for 50 percent of all Cadillac sales". At first I thought that sentence must have been written incorrectly, and they meant to say that 50% of Cadillac models are offered with AWD. But then I realized that the DTS is the only model that doesn't offer AWD. I am just surprised that 50% of all Cadillacs sold have AWD. And to think, just a few years ago, the Escalade was the only Cadillac that offered it.
        Mel @ aWingThing.COm
        • 3 Years Ago
        @axiomatik
        Hey, what's up man. ;) I thought it was just a Midwest thing that people bought AWD. I would say that 8 out of 10 G35/G37 Sedans I see around here are AWD. I would think that number would be substantially less in the Southern half of the country. What do you think now that you moved down south?
          axiomatik
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Mel @ aWingThing.COm
          Hey Mel, I see you took the opportunity to change usernames when the commenting system changed :) I don't see too many AWD cars down here in the south. I see them from time to time, but most of the time they are the 2WD variants.
        Temple
        • 3 Years Ago
        @axiomatik
        I think the reason is because CUVs and SUVs account for most of Cadillac sales. The SRX and Escalate are big sellers. In the same note, 30% of all cars in 2015 are likely going to be light-trucks, CUVs, or SUVs with AWD. Its not a large number when you consider how many of these cars are on the road.
          axiomatik
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Temple
          True, but I presume that much of the buyers in the sunbelt aren't buying the AWD versions, even of the SRX or Escalade. And in the north, there is probably a certain percentage that still buys 2WD, despite AWD being offered. I am sure that Cadillac is glad that it is offering AWD now, they are cashing in on a feature they never before offered.
      john m
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm hoping that my next car has AWD. I'm looking forward to the next Fusion and RUMOR has it that Chevy will put AWD on the next Malibu at some point. Those are the 2 that I'm considering for my next car. I was really hoping for the Regal GS to have AWD but we all know how that turned out.
      tantareanujellob
      • 3 Years Ago
      Whopty figgin do.
      Prestige
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think this is based on someones wishful thinking. When I lived in Minnesota, I saw quite a few all wheel drive vehicles in the ditches of course the drivers there are some of worst I've ever seen. A system that can go from front wheel drive to all wheel drive at the push of a button would be a thousand times more useful. Rear wheel to all wheel drive would be awesome.
      Chris2Go
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think 2WD cars are enough for most cases, the reason why I bought an AWD is for a change and extra security not that I can't drive (lots of experience in driving FWD cars on snowy/icy road/mountain conditions in Canada). Extra traction is a bonus for me, added confidence and less hassle does not hurt. I think having less traction actually reduces fuel economy. I'm not a a daily driver I commute to work so gas economy does not affect me much.
        QAZZY
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Chris2Go
        AWD systems also reduce fuel economy, for reasons I don't know (yet).
      longducdong
      • 3 Years Ago
      The only thing good about AWD is being able to get going from a stoplight in the snow. Ooooh ahhhh. Other than that AWD is simply more expensive, uses more gas, takes away from the driving experience, adds weight, and has more parts that will need to be fixed sooner or later. FWD or RWD for cars, AWD for minivans and SUVs. SImple as that.
        ravenosa
        • 3 Years Ago
        @longducdong
        Actually, mini-drifting through turns is pretty fun in an AWD car. The feeling of all four wheel regaining their grip and pulling me out of the corner adds to my driving experience. I'd never buy a FWD or RWD car, so AWD works great for me, and though I don't live in a snowy area, it's nice to have for trips to Tahoe. In case you didn't know, AWD helps getting going from a spotlight pretty well in normal weather, too. The argument that "parts will need to be fixed sooner or later" is pretty funny, though. How random...
          longducdong
          • 3 Years Ago
          @ravenosa
          Ravenosa... so youre basically saying that you cant launch your car right, cant drive in inclement weather properly, and cant exit a corner correctly w/o relying on your AWD? Gee, thats pretty sporting, isnt it? You AWD fanbois are a curious lot.
        SloopJohnB
        • 3 Years Ago
        @longducdong
        Um, lets' see, not to mention rain and crap on the street. Doubtful that it takes more gas other than the extra weight although you make a good point on CV joint boots on the front...they require replacing about as much as FWD...the CVJ boots on the rear of my RWD cars have never been replaced before 100K miles and 10-12 years unless they run too close to exhaust pipes.
      Design1stCode2nd
      • 3 Years Ago
      I won't buy a daily driver that isn't AWD.
        ravenosa
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Design1stCode2nd
        Ditto. But according to the people driving point-and-shoot FWD econoboxes you're not driving a proper car. I guess we should go easy on these tools at the stoplights for a while?
          Ok
          • 3 Years Ago
          @ravenosa
          They are tools for driving FWD? You decided to spend your money to pull away from stoplight's faster, while they decided to save some of theirs by going with FWD and go on one more vacation than you do or something. I don't know that you can say your preference for spending money is clearly the superior one. To each his own.
      SloopJohnB
      • 3 Years Ago
      Audi claimed years ago that when more than 200hp is going to the rear wheels you get better fuel efficiency with AWD. I don't know if that is still true, but I simply LOVE wet weather stoplight drags with my Quattro, even to 30mph! Sit there and spin, E63!!!
        Ok
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SloopJohnB
        Who the heck drag races from stoplights once they are old enough to be out of high school?
      Olsparkee
      • 3 Years Ago
      I drive a FWD minivan and in 7 years, I've gone through Wisconsin winters. I’ve been unable to get to work by 8 on exactly 2 days. The only time I even think about not driving is in 10" of snow or more. With good tires and some judicious driving habits, I get where I want to go. AWD just adds too much to the cost for family transportation and I'd guess that reliability doesn't get better by adding that many failure points to the system. I had a Subaru once so I know how nice AWD is. The only bad things about AWD were worse mileage and a dangerous feeling of indestructibility on icy roads. With inflation on top of everything, I'm guessing that AWD is hitting the sticker price and gas mileage at exactly the wrong time for the automotive market. If I were the Marketing guy, I'd be pushing as many good press opportunities as I could to try to pump up the demand against the tide.
      Robb63
      • 3 Years Ago
      I've always been amazed that moms haven't been demanding AWD minivans from day one!
        Harry
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Robb63
        I know! I've always wondered why only one, The Toyota Sienna is the only minivan with AWD? Why aren't more automakers giving their minivans AWD? I think this way they could compete more with the established crossovers. Chrysler only offered AWD in their Town & Country from 1992-2004. I wonder why they stopped doing so. Allpar says this is because of the Stow 'n Go seating, which folds down into the floor. Maybe there are other reasons too?
        EXP Jawa
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Robb63
        I know! I've owned two AWD Aerostars, and they were absolutely unfloppable in the snow (especially when combined with snow tires). Considering that the base Aerostar was essentially a RWD truck, the traction performance was very impressive. I am also surprised that no one is real interested in that now, but maybe the majority of buyers that think AWD is important go straight to crossovers or SUVs...
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