Skip to main content

Thinking about getting a vehicle with all-wheel drive? Here's what to know

Share

More than half of all new vehicles on the road come with all-wheel drive, and while the added protection may not compensate for a lack of good tires, it does help.

“I wanted safety and peace of mind,” Karlie Stephenson, who recently bought a 2018 Mazda CX-5 with all-wheel drive for her family, said.

Since the 1990s, automakers have been making the shift towards all-wheel drive vehicles from rear-drive vehicles and later, front-wheel drive.

However, not all vehicles with all-wheel drive operate in the same way.

A Subaru, for example, always directs some of the engine’s power to the rear of the car and can send larger amounts if needed. This happens with a mechanical driveshaft that runs the length of the car, whereas electric and some hybrid vehicles utilize individual motors at each of its axles.

“There are cost-effective ways or different ways of doing this, where maybe the car is primarily driven as front-wheel drive,” Consumer Reports’ Alex Knizel said. “The front wheels are getting most of the power all the time and then only in certain situations will it send power to the rear wheels.”

People who live in snowy areas with plenty of wet, slippery conditions would benefit the most from vehicles with all-wheel drive, as it provides added traction for drivers, Knizel said.

“Or, you know, [if] they live at the bottom of a steep driveway that is often wet or snowy or covered in ice.”

In Canada, all passenger vehicles sold since the 2012 model year have come equipped with electronic stability control, which – in addition to traction control -- significantly improves road-holding capabilities regardless of all-wheel, rear-wheel, or front-wheel drive.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that even the best systems will struggle to find grip on slippery roads if your tires are in poor condition. While all-wheel drive does provide added protection, it can’t compensate for a bad set of tires.

CTVNews.ca Top Stories

BREAKING

BREAKING Toronto Raptors player Jontay Porter banned from NBA

Toronto Raptors player Jontay Porter has been handed a lifetime ban from The National Basketball Association (NBA) following an investigation which found he disclosed confidential information to sports bettors, the league says.

WATCH LIVE

WATCH LIVE As GC Strategies partner is admonished by MPs, RCMP confirms search warrant executed

The RCMP confirmed Wednesday it had executed a search warrant at an address registered to GC Strategies. This development comes as MPs are enacting an extraordinary, rarely used parliamentary power, summoning one of its contractors to appear before the House of Commons to be admonished publicly for failing to answer questions related to the ArriveCan app.

Earthquake jolts southern Japan

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.4 hit southern Japan late on Wednesday, said the Japan Meteorological Agency, without issuing a tsunami warning.

Stay Connected