From icy winters to summer camping adventures, having an AWD vehicle can bring you increased comfort, safety, and peace of mind.
Hyundai has multiple SUVs where AWD is standard or optional. From the all-electric
Ioniq 5 to the popular
Tucson, you’ve got plenty of options for navigating the road ahead.
For most people,typical driving hazards are more in the realm of traffic congestion and people who go 10 under the speed limit in the left-hand lane. While annoying, they don't really require any specialized capabilities (beyond patience!). But if you do ever find yourself in a scenario where you’re having to deal with slippery or uneven road conditions, then having an AWD vehicle can make a big difference in how things turn out.
But just because AWD is nice to have sometimes, does that mean you need it all the time? And what are the best AWD vehicles out there? Come along with insurance
super app Jerry as we dig into the world of Hyundai AWD vehicles.
How do Hyundai AWD models work?
Available on most of their SUVs, Hyundai’s HTRAC AWD (Hyundai TRACtion All Wheel Drive) will make sure you safely get where you’re going, no matter what the road ahead may look like. This advanced system monitors data from 50 inputs over 100 times per second to calculate how much power to send to each wheel. If there’s instability detected, the system will automatically reroute power between axles and apply gentle braking power as needed to the wheels in order to maintain traction.
Additionally, the HTRAC system allows for drivers to select from a variety of terrain settings, so you can have maximum comfort and control in any driving condition.
Sounds good, right? Let’s take a look at the models that Hyundai offers with HTRAC AWD.
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Which Hyundai models have AWD?
Hyundai Tucson Hybrid and Tucson PHEV
Starting price: $29,750/$35,400
Engine type: 1.6 L inline 4-cylinder with single electric motor
Tucson gets the hybrid treatment with both traditional and plug-in hybrid versions. HTRAC AWD is standard on all trim levels, which means that not only will you get great gas mileage, you’ll get great traction too.
Engine type: 2.5 L inline-four-cylinder engine
Rounding out the trifecta of Tucsons is the standard gas-powered version, although it isn’t really fair to call it standard. The highly popular
Hyundai Tucson has HTRAC AWD optional on all trim levels.
Hyundai Santa Fe
Engine type: 2.5 L inline-four-cylinder engine
Santa Fe is available in five different trim levels, all of which have optional HTRAC AWD. The Santa Fe is slightly larger than the Tucson, so if you’re looking for something that’s a little larger but you still want to stay with two rows of seating, this is an option.
Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid and Santa Fe PHEV
Starting price: $34,300/$40,000
Engine type: 1.6 L inline 4-cylinder Turbo with single electric motor
Santa Fe Hybrid and Santa Fe PHEV also have HTRACAWD standard, which means they’re a great choice for both adventurous functionality and gas saving economy. Drive mode select is standard on the Santa Fe as well, so you’ll have the ability to dial in the terrain for ultimate control.
Hyundai Ioniq 5
Engine type: one or two electric motors
Hyundai’s first-ever all-electric vehicle is the Ioniq 5, which was named the winner of the 2022 World Car Awards. The base level SE Standard is rear wheel drive only, while the SE, SEL, and Limited all have optional HTRAC AWD (and and two motors).
Engine type: four-cylinder inline
Hyundai Kona is the perfect city SUV, and if you live in a city with a lot of rain or snow, you’ll definitely want to spring for the optional all-wheel-drive. It’s important to note that Hyundai’s site states that the Kona is only available with AWD, not the HTRAC AWD.
Hyundai Santa Cruz
Body style:SUV/truck mashup
Engine type: 2.5 L inline four-cylinder or 2.5 L inline four-cylinder turbo
The Hyundai Santa Cruz is a unique truck/SUV hybrid, with both four doors and an open bed. HTRAC AWD is optional on the lower SE and
SEL trim levels, but standard on the SEL Premium and
Engine type: 3.8 L 6 cylinder
If you need the most power and the most room, then the
Palisade is the Hyundai for you. HTRAC AWD is optional on all four trim levels, and three rows of seating means the whole gang can go adventuring with you.
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What are the benefits of having AWD?
AWD is a great thing to have when you’re dealing with severe weather like snow, ice, or heavy rain, and it’s a must have if you spend a lot of time on unpaved roads. Bumpy rural areas and steep mountain terrain are both scenarios where the more traction you can get, the better.
No matter what state you live in, there are bound to be some scenarios where AWD would be beneficial. Northern states like
Maine see quite a bit of snow, and the rainy southeast states like
Louisiana can get some intense storms.
Like just about everything, AWD has its pros and cons. If winter weather conditions are your main concern, then a set of snow tires might be a viable option. Or if you do some serious off-roading, then a 4WD vehicle might be a better choice.
Differences between AWD and 4WD
So this is where it can get a tad confusing. The terms ‘AWD’ and ‘4WD’ are often used interchangeably, but they actually mean two different things. Knowing the difference between two will not only make you look clever at cocktail parties, but it’s crucial to deciding which one is best for your needs.
AWD (all-wheel drive) is where all four wheels are powered directly from the engine. Generally seen in unibody frame designs, some vehicles have the capability to be part-time AWD, while in others it’s all four all the time. Having part-time AWD is generally more efficient, as all four wheels are only engaged when needed.
In most part-time AWD vehicles, the driver has no control over when they’re in full or part time mode—the vehicle’s computer just adjusts to what’s best. If you rarely leave the pavement but do live somewhere where there’s a fair amount of snow or rain, then an AWD vehicle will offer you better control.
4WD (four-wheel drive) is typically seen in truck-based, body-on-frame models. By sending increased torque to the front and rear axles, and dedicated power to the left and right wheels, it provides increased control and handling in very rough terrain. In a 4WD vehicle, the driver has control over what wheels are engaged, and can often choose how much power to send to any one wheel or axle. This increased level of control is best suited for rough off-roading conditions and serious work vehicles.
Key Takeaway While both AWD and 4WD will give you greater control and safety, the choice as to which one is best for you really depends on where you’ll be doing most of your driving.
Do I need AWD?
The idea of having AWD is immediately appealing, as it means better handling, more power, and greater stability in bad weather conditions. That being said, if your daily driving habits don’t often involve scenarios where you need those features, it might not be a worthwhile investment.
Make an honest assessment of your real-world, everyday driving habits. Do you stay in the city all the time, or do you regularly make excursions out to your folks’ cabin in the mountains? Are rainy, snowy, or icy conditions common where you live? How many times a year do you anticipate really needing AWD capabilities?
The decision is ultimately up to you and based solely on your needs and priorities. That being said, having AWD is nice to have in a pinch.
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