What Is an Intelligent Four-Wheel Drive?

by Tom Johnson
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driving in dangerous conditions on a wet road image by Stephen Gibson from Fotolia.com

An intelligent four-wheel drive system is designed to adjust your car's drive mode for optimal driving, depending on the conditions of the road on which you are driving.


Despite its name, intelligent four-wheel drive is just a different name for an Automatic All-Wheel Drive system, which is actually an advanced two-wheel drive system. Intelligent four-wheel drive doesn't power all four wheels all of the time. Instead, it shifts the amount of power used on each axle, depending on the driving conditions.


Intelligent four-wheel drive systems primarily power one axle at a time, which means you are usually driving in two-wheel drive. However, when the car senses a loss of traction on the main axle, it shifts some of the power to the other axle. This effectively gives your car temporary four-wheel drive. When the main axle gains traction again, the system shifts back to two-wheel drive.


Intelligent four-wheel drive is usually far less capable than a full-time four-wheel drive system under off-road conditions, and serves almost no purpose when not on pavement. However, for everyday driving situations, the intelligent four-wheel drive system can cope with a variety of standard road conditions, ranging from gravel to ice.

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