When knowledgeable shoppers compare the best vehicles in the auto world, some common features are discussed: powertrains and their fuel sources, performance ratings like horsepower and torque, towing and payload ratings, overall longevity, etc. Among the more casual car shoppers, you’ll hear some other qualities come up: exterior body shape, good infotainment, fuel economy, excellent safety ratings, good price, and attractive color. But there is one feature that both experts and amateurs love: drivetrains, specifically all-wheel drive. When both the auto expert and the amateur browse the vehicles at a Subaru dealership, they will find a full lineup of all-wheel drive models that give them what they are looking for.
When you think about it, all-wheel drive should be near the top of the priority list for any critical eye when comparing vehicles. After all, drivetrains don’t just fill up space on a specs list; they affect how a vehicle performs in on-road and off-road conditions. They even influence how safely a vehicle drives, how comfortable it feels, and how overall capable the vehicle is.
So when deciding what makes a vehicle “good,” vehicles with great all-wheel drive (often considered the best drivetrain for both the average driver and the expert) should be near the top of the list. Whether you are looking for a safe winter ride or a performance car, Subaru drivetrains sure are spectacular – and this makes a world of difference. We’re taking a close look at what makes all-wheel drive a great drivetrain setup and why Subarus are some of the most respected in this regard.
What Makes AWD Good?
Just about any auto enthusiast knows the perks of all-wheel drive: how it delivers power evenly, its superior traction, safety in hazardous road conditions, and smooth driving performance. Of course, it’s not for everyone. Serious off-roaders will prefer four-wheel drive with a two-speed transfer case, and those who prioritize fuel economy above all else will gravitate towards a more efficient front-wheel drive vehicle. However, the vast majority of drivers can rely on the across-the-board perks that all-wheel drive offers.
Not every all-wheel drive vehicle is created equal, though. Some auto brands are famous for delivering superior AWD systems that enhance its perks and reduce its drawbacks. This is what Subaru vehicles do best, and its symmetrical AWD is widely considered one of the best AWD options. Here are some of their specific benefits.
Subaru vehicles are affordable, lowering the barrier to entry for those who want all-wheel drive power. While some auto brands reserve AWD for their top trim packages and their pricing schemes can force shoppers to drop thousands in extra dollars for a good drivetrain, Subaru provides AWD as a standard feature on every model except its rear-wheel drive only BRZ sports car. Few competitors fit their base models with a superior drivetrain. Best of all, a base model Subaru isn’t any more expensive than the equivalent vehicles from Toyota or Honda.
Of course, affordability isn’t the only factor to consider, even if this factor does make Subaru America’s most popular brand for AWD vehicles. AWD should also be well, good. Thankfully, Subaru vehicles deliver. In fact, many auto experts agree that the most comparable AWD system to what Subaru offers in terms of quality is the Audi Quattro system.
A driver invests in an all-wheel drive vehicle with the hope that its even power across all wheels makes the car safer to drive. However, the AWD systems offered by most manufacturers are really front-wheel drive systems that only engage the rear wheels after traction is lost. Such a system is simpler and cheaper, but it doesn’t provide the same level of performance and predictability as Subaru’s symmetrical full-time AWD systems.
Most Subarus offer one of two AWD systems: the Viscous Center Differential (VCD) and Active Torque Split (ATS). The VCD is a purely mechanical system found on manual transmission models and uses a viscous center differential to split power evenly between the front and rear wheels. The ATS system, meanwhile, is computer-driven and normally delivers 60 percent of its power to the front and 40 percent to the rear. This bias toward the front wheels without neglecting the rear wheels helps these vehicles propel forward with less risk of hydroplaning, fishtailing, or other disasters in hazardous road conditions. ATS interacts seamlessly with Subarus that use automatic transmission.
For even more control, you can activate the traction control features in many recent Subaru vehicles and drive with total peace of mind. The available X-MODE includes setting for different types of road conditions, tailoring vehicle performance to negotiate the conditions at hand. This is a wonder for young drivers, safety-minded drivers, and families. However, just about anyone concerned with occasionally rainy, muddy, snowy, or even icy roads can appreciate these perks.
AWD isn’t just for giant SUVs, either. Subaru is generous enough to offer AWD in their compact and midsize sedans and hatchbacks as well. That means car shoppers get to enjoy the benefits of incredible traction, consistent driving performance, and safety in the body style they love most. Subaru also pairs their AWD system with a trademark low-slung boxer engine, which helps even their bulkier vehicles handle like a smaller, more aerodynamic, and less top-heavy sedan.
Subaru vehicles are long-lasting thanks to their excellently crafted drivetrains. The balanced boxer engine and symmetrical AWD system allow power to be distributed evenly with minimal vibrations, reducing wear on the vehicle. The balance engineered into every Subaru also offers excellent weight distribution for greater on-road and off-road stability. Yes, AWD can assist with off-road driving as well, even if four-wheel drive is the favorite of hard-core off-road enthusiasts.
Another excellent feature of this setup is its simplicity. Subaru has reduced the number of components that make up its AWD systems, streamlining the engineering without sacrificing quality, and reducing the risk of performance problems and high maintenance costs. With a Subaru vehicle, AWD is not an afterthought tacked on to a front-wheel drive vehicle; it is an intrinsic part of the design from start to finish. This helps it keep its balance and work properly for the lifetime of the vehicle, which means fewer trips to the auto shop, more balanced weight distribution on all tires to reduce wear-and-tear, and long-term financial savings.
Overall, we happen to agree with experts and amateurs alike that Subaru reigns supreme when it comes to all-wheel drive vehicles, especially when you consider the affordable price of its vehicles. You get the most quality at a low price – and who doesn’t want that? Whether you are looking for a safe family vehicle or have dreams of being a rally driver, Subaru has something for everyone, and their great-all-around engineering can’t be overlooked.
All-wheel drive systems are incredibly beneficial, especially the way they’re engineered into Subaru’s extensive lineup. Find outstanding AWD in the adventurous and versatile Outback, the super-affordable Impreza, the aggressive high-performance WRX, and the ultra-spacious Ascent, as well as other popular vehicles in the Subaru family. Those who have never driven a Subaru will be surprised to experience just how a great AWD system improves nearly every aspect of driving.