How Does the Four-Wheel Drive on a Ford Escape Work?

by Robert Moore

Starting with the 2013 Ford escape, the four-wheel drive option was replaced with Ford’s intelligent all-wheel drive system. The system works similarly to previous electronic four-wheel drives, but equipped with different software and programming, the newer system can do a lot more than in previous years.


The drivetrains on four-wheel- or all-wheel-drive-equipped Escapes are predominately front-wheel drive. Even on Escapes equipped with the intelligent all-wheel drive system, most of the torque is directed to the front wheels during normal driving -- until a loss of traction occurs -- to increase fuel efficiency.

General Operation

Ford's Intelligent all-wheel drive system is always on and is constantly working in the background as you drive. Every 16 milliseconds the on-board computer system monitors up to 25 different sensor signals, as the computer deems necessary, including the throttle position, individual wheel speed, actual speed, engine load and weight distribution. This allows the computer to determine the correct amount of torque to apply to the front and rear axles for maximum traction on any terrain. This system -- tied in with Ford’s curve and torque-vectoring control -- helps by monitoring the steering wheel position in comparison to the vehicle's current path to prevent over- and under-steering when cornering by directing torque to certain wheels.

Dial Option

Some models, when properly equipped, also offer a dial that allows you to manually adjust torque distribution based on different road conditions. To help prevent confusion, the dial does not use the standard four-high and four-low options seen on many four-wheel-drive capable vehicles. You’ll see an option for snow and ice as well as wet or dry pavement.


Take a look at the 2015 Ford Escape Brochure for additional information.


While your Escape may be equipped with torque-vectoring curve control -- a system that automatically distributes torque and applies the brakes automatically as needed -- the system can only assist to a certain extent. Do not assume it will automatically make corrections for you if you deliberately attempt to lose traction or turn at extreme speeds.

More Articles

article divider