Which Automakers Have the Best AWD System?

If you are looking for an AWD vehicle (all-wheel drive). It can be sports cars, coupes, sports sedans, high-performance cars, or even pickup trucks. And you are wondering who has the best AWD system to buy. Don’t worry! you are in the right place. In this article, we will make a list of automakers that have produced the best AWD car in the world. 

What Is The AWD System? 

what is the best awd car
What is the best awd car? (Photo: pinterest.com)

Sometimes, people get confused with the idea of all-wheel drive. So what’s the AWD system? AWD (All Wheel Drive) is a 4-wheel drive vehicle in which power is continuously provided to all wheels. AWD is considered one of the smartest automotive powertrain systems with high technology, possessing many advantages.

AWD can automatically reallocate torque to the most suitable axle to increase traction in necessary situations. Because this powertrain automatically distributes power from the engine to the wheels according to an algorithm in the ECU. 

For daily use and safety and peace of mind, the AWD system will be a good option for you to choose. However, for racing purposes, this system can have a little limit. So which is the best we will go for the Audi or Subaru because they work mostly mechanically in nature. Mechanical nature is usually more robust and less prone to failure also both systems are well-tested in the most extreme rally race.

In addition, thanks to the flexible distribution of torque to the wheels according to the terrain conditions, the vehicle operates very stably, providing a smooth driving experience. Since there is no gearshift lever, controlling the car is quite easy. The AWD drive system is designed to be quite compact, so the chassis does not need to be high, and the vehicle size will be optimal.

Fuel consumption is also more economical than some other drive models. With AWD, the driving process is controlled completely automatically by a computer, so drivers can safely drive in any terrain. Therefore, this system is very suitable for those with limited driving skills.

However, the automatic function is an advantage, but it also brings some limitations for the driver. Because the driver cannot control or turn off the function if he wants to. Vehicles with AWD systems also do not have an auxiliary transmission, so for those who are passionate about exploring by driving experience, this is not very interesting. Besides, the production cost of AWD drives is usually more expensive than other types.

>> Related post: FWD Vs AWD In Snow: Which One Is Better?

Which Automakers Have the Best AWD System?

If you are going to find an AWD vehicle in the future, you shouldn’t ignore the list below. We’ve picked up the best AWD cars from some car makers in the world and this list was set up based on several factors such as horsepower, fuel economy, and cost: 

who has the best awd system
Who has the best AWD system? (Photo: pinterest.com)

Audi Quattro

It was used to having “big fights” in the AWD before. And the Audi all-wheel-drive has been holding the throne for many consecutive years. It can say that in the AWD systems, Quattro is considered a legend in Audi’s car engineering. In Italian, Quattro means “four”, In 1980 the  Quattro was developed when Audi successfully researched and launched its new technology all-the-wheel drive system. Immediately after its birth, this AWD system was fitted to the coupe called “Audi Quattro”. 

The heart of the Quattro system is the Torsen set, which stands for Torque-Sensing Traction. The core of the Torsen differential is gear. Because it is a purely mechanical part that operates in a closed manner without any interference from any electronic system, the Torsen kit has a very high sensitivity and reliability. Therefore, it is installed on high-performance cars such as Audi’s RS or R8 and Audi’s Rally racing cars.

The Quattro AWD system always has 3 differentials, in which Torsen is considered a center differential that can distribute torque to the front and rear wheels of the vehicle. Then, the other two differentials are responsible for distributing torque to each wheel on each axle. After over 4 decades as the king of the World Rally Championship, the Audi Quattro AWD powertrain has not shown any signs of “retirement” but continues to achieve many outstanding technological achievements.

Subaru’s symmetrical AWD system

With the Symmetrical AWD and the Boxer engine, Subaru has created its own “brand” – that is, vehicles that do not have sophisticated, ornate designs but make up for its sporty, flexible performance and a very personal driving experience, boldly “Subaru”.

The biggest difference, and also the “secret formula” in Subaru’s drive technology, is the special “symmetrical”. This AWD system is structured of three components: the transmission, the Boxer engine, and the gearbox, all of which are arranged in a balanced and symmetrical manner through the longitudinal axis in the center of the car body.

Why does Subaru call its all-wheel drive symmetrical? Simply because the components of this system are completely symmetrical to each other! If you split the S-AWD drivetrain vertically, you will have two completely identical parts and even have the same weight.

Subaru has more than 40 years of experience building and perfecting symmetrical all-wheel drive and the result is a unique, compact AWD that offers superb balance to every Subaru and virtually eliminates completely the torque steer problem. With many years of development experience, The S-AWD and Subaru have proven the superiority of this system on the off-road track and also on the snow. 

Many car experts assumed that although Audi has dominated the AWD for many years for the “best all-wheel drive system” title, Subaru could be a big competitor due to the simpler and cheaper AWD system. 

BMW XDrive

Almost every BMW can be equipped with the X Drive – the all-wheel-drive system that is produced by BMW. Currently, this technology is equipped as standard on BMW X series such as X3 X5 X4 X6 X7. When it comes to XDrive AWD, there will have 2 big advantages that we can’t deny: on the one hand, you get enhanced driving dynamics, and on the other improved driving safety.

With modern technology, BMW X Drive can support your driving in all sorts of road conditions and in all kinds of weather. X Drive system is roughly understood as an electronic system that automatically calculates and distributes the appropriate force on each wheel thanks to the response of the sensors through measuring the friction and slippery of each wheel from there. Reasonable force on each wheel should the car quickly get out of slippery road conditions. 

Simply put, if that wheel can’t grip the road due to slippery road conditions, the ECU automatically disconnects the force transmitted to that wheel and saves the transmission force for the wheels with higher traction. The structure of the XDrive system in BMW cars is much more complicated than that of conventional car powertrains.

Specifically, it is the arrangement of an additional vertical differential called the center differential, from which all 4 wheels are active wheels, so when turning the car, it still ensures rotational kinematics. 

XDrive AWD is an exclusive drive system of BMW and received a lot of positive feedback and reviews from consumers about the power transmission efficiency that it brings, especially for those who love technology, and speed. 

Mercedes Benz 4matic

In the world of luxury cars with all-wheel drive (AWD), there is a name that has made its mark in the car enthusiast’s community thanks to its durability, stability, and versatility: Mercedes 4MATIC. Mercedes Benz 4matic is an all-wheel-drive system that offers a lot of capability without adding much weight.

In addition, 4Matic is one of the most appreciated all-wheel drive systems for both safety and performance improvement. The name 4Matic is derived from the all-wheel-drive system and automatic. First introduced in 1987 in the sedans and wagons of the E-Class W124-series, 4MATIC has been with many drivers conquering thousands of roads around the world for more than three decades.

Today, this drive system is found on almost all Mercedes-Benz models: from sedans, coupes, and convertibles to SUVs and even the famous AMG high-performance product line. 4Matic system structure includes:

  • The transfer case located inside the transmission helps to transfer power to the wheels.
  • The central anti-slip differential helps to adjust and balance the traction between the front and rear axles
  • The four-wheel electronic traction control system (4-ETS) helps to precisely manage and distribute torque to each wheel under different operating conditions.

So what are the reasons that make 4MATIC so famous today? We will help readers understand more about the outstanding advantages of 4MATIC:


The first advantage lies in the AWD all-wheel drive system – the basis of 4MATIC. The power and traction from the engine are transmitted to all 4 wheels in different proportions in a fully automatic manner. And when all four wheels receive torque from the engine, the operation of the vehicle becomes safer, especially in bad conditions such as slippery roads, ice, snow, etc.

The operation of 4MATIC is not separated but is combined with other Mercedes safety technologies to automatically adjust and adapt to different weather and road conditions without any intervention from the driver’s side.

High performance

The intelligent design and arrangement help to integrate the transfer case with the automatic transmission of the car, thereby reducing about 50 kg compared to its predecessor. Besides, the friction in the system is also significantly reduced.

Thanks to the above improvements, fuel economy (an aspect that is considered a disadvantage of AWD compared to single-wheel drive systems) is significantly improved. The coupe variants of the E and C series are equipped with 4MATIC for exactly the same fuel efficiency as the rear-wheel drive versions (10.7l/100km).

Acura Super Handling All-wheel drive 

best all wheel drive system
SH-AWD technology was one of the best all wheel drive systems (Photo: pinterest.com)

SH-AWD technology was first introduced by Acura 16 years ago based on research on the problem of “direct deflection control”. Since then, the company has developed the world’s first all-wheel drive system with integrated torque vectoring. This technology is equipped on many of its models.

Acura SH-AWD and Sport Hybrid SH-AWD are standard on TLX and RLX sports cars, RDX and MDX sport utility vehicles (SUVs), and NSX supercars. Through four generations of continuous innovation, Acura has improved for AWD and set the stage for many other automakers to develop similar technologies. The Acura SH-AWD isn’t just about all-weather vector traction control.

The SH-AWD delivers dynamic vector torque to provide more predictable and precise handling performance in all road conditions. Up to 70% of the torque from the engine can be sent to the rear wheels as needed, or 100% of that torque is distributed to the left or right wheels.

At the Chicago Auto Show 2020, Acura brought its groundbreaking Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) technology, and vehicle sales with this technology just surpassed one million units in the North American market. In the fourth generation, SH-AWD provides up to 2.7 percent overdrive to the outer rear wheel, generating additional rotational speed that helps “pull” the vehicle through corners with accuracy.

It’s also the world’s first and only electric torque vectoring system that can enhance every element of dynamic performance – acceleration, braking, and cornering – where even engine torque can be applied positive and negative charge with an instantaneous response on and off the throttle.

The ECU will collect data such as rpm, air intake, gear position, lateral acceleration, four rotations, and steering angle. After aggregating those data, the computer will give a reasonable ratio of transmission force to the wheels.

Especially, the SH-AWD system has the ability to change the transmission ratio between the two axles such as 30:70, 70:30, or 50:50, while between the two wheels of the rear axle can adjust the ratio unlimitedly 100:0 or 0:100. Another important point of SH-AWD is the ability to keep the body stable at the highest level when the car is cornering.

Insufficient or excessive redirects are suppressed when the problems happen. So SH-AWD is not only an effective system for navigation, but it also brings significant benefits to active safety. No matter how advanced the technical equipment is, the existence of limitations is inevitable.

>> Read more: AWD Tire Replacement Myth: Shall You Change All Four Tires?

However, with the introduction of the SH-AWD system, Honda opened up a new concept of the all-drive system. An optimal combination of transmission and navigation.