Whether you’re gearing up for snowy winters or off-roading joy rides, getting behind the wheel of a Toyota with AWD can make all of your rides smoother. With the likes of the Toyota RAV4 and Toyota Highlander, your car’s handling on dicey road conditions can be a game-changer.
Having all-wheel drive (AWD) can help you combat unexpected conditions and offer peace of mind for you and your passengers no matter what’s happening on the roads.
Here to answer your AWD questions is the
car insurance super app
Jerry. We’re breaking down how AWD works, which Toyota models have it, and how to determine what your navigation needs are when it comes to AWD. (We can also help you save big on your
Toyota car insurance costs down below.)
How do Toyota AWD models work?
Some may say Toyota missed a trademark opportunity in the ‘90s when they outfitted their crossovers with an All-Trac system intended to offer AWD capabilities. Without question, their current Dynamic Torque Control AWD is a technology meant for the times, but how exactly does it work?
With AWD, your rear and front wheels have a built-in communication system. With Dynamic Torque Control AWD, a driveshaft is integrated into the transmission that leads to the rear wheels. Using an electromagnetic coupler, the rear wheels are activated by the driveshaft, which adjusts the front/rear torque split as needed.
The particular technological package driving your Toyota’s AWD feature will vary between models, but here are some key terms to keep in mind when assessing your options:
Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD with Driveline Disconnect is a unique, elevated system found in the
Toyota RAV4 and the
Toyota Highlander that detects slippage for each wheel and distributes power accordingly.
Electric On-Demand AWD features single electric motor-generators managing the wheels’ functions that are powered by the hybrid battery onboard the likes of the
Toyota Highlander Hybrid.
AWD-e is found only in the
Toyota Prius, and it’s at its intuitive peak at speeds below 6 mph. Since the electric motors are more efficient at low speeds, this system thrives below 43 mph. If you’re a speedy driver, you may want to steer clear of the Prius.
Now that you know how AWD works, let’s take a closer look at the Toyota models offering it.
Which Toyota models have AWD?
Engine type: 1.8 L 2ZR-FXE I4 VVT-i (Atkinson cycle)
The LE AWD-e and XLE AWD-e Prius trims are the only non-luxury hybrid passenger models to offer AWD. Featuring the AWD-e technology that electronically administers torque to each wheel when obstacles on the road are detected, you’ll get the traction you need in a small package.
Engine type: 2.5 L 4-cylinder, 3.5 L V6
As one of the original AWD Toyota vehicles, the
Camry offers the feature in five of its eight trims, including the LE, XLE, SE, SE Nightshade, and XSE. When there’s a snag on the road thanks to snow, rain, or gravel, the system transfers half of the torque to the rear wheels for traction.
If you’ve got your eye on the
Avalon, know that it comes standard with front-wheel drive (FWD) instead of AWD. If you upgrade to the
XLE and Limited trims, you can opt for AWD with a four-cylinder engine without any additional costs.
The Highlander gets the best of the Toyota AWD world with Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD with Driveline Disconnect—when you spring for a little extra cash. All six Highlander trims come with FWD, but the AWD feature is available for $1,600 or $1,950 depending on the trim you choose.
Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Engine type: 2.5 L four-cylinder and two electric motors
Fuel efficiency is the keystone of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, and the Electric On-Demand AWD system can keep you going at an environmentally-friendly rate with an estimated 36 mpg combined rating.
Engine type: 2.5 L four-cylinder
Nobody knows how much handling is improved by AWD in inclement weather quite like a RAV4 driver. The RAV4 LE, RAV4 XLE, and RAV4 XLE Premium all come standard with basic AWD, which is intuitive enough to keep you feeling confident enough to weather any conditions.
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Engine type: 2.5 L four-cylinder engine and two electric motors
The RAV4 Hybrid is one of the flagship models featuring Electric On-Demand AWD, which provides smooth handling and balanced dynamics for all road conditions. By electronically supplying power to the rear wheels, traction is instantly improved on the fly.
Body style: Passenger van
Engine type: 2.5 L inline-four-cylinder engine
Often touted as the best minivan for winter driving, the
Toyota Sienna is no stranger to handling the elements on the road. However, AWD is only offered on the LE, XLE, and Limited trims, so you’ll be paying slightly more to access the AWD feature.
What are the benefits of having AWD?
While AWD is ideal for combatting severe weather, it’s a dream for those who spend time driving on or near unpaved roads. Rural areas with mountain roads are prime for AWD and its traction-increasing capabilities.
Certain areas in
New Hampshire and
Vermont have their fair share of snowy days (and months) throughout the year, and states like
Mississippi are prone to rainfall at any time. Residents of those states should consider investing in AWD features to increase safety and handling year-round.
Keep in mind that AWD has its pros and cons. Some would argue snow tires can do the trick for the winter months, and proponents of 4WD may skip AWD entirely.
Differences between AWD and 4WD
If a vehicle comes standard with 4WD, why shell out the extra bucks for AWD? Both terms get used interchangeably, but making the right choice for your needs and finances takes discerning AWD from 4WD. Let’s break down the differences between the two.
AWD (all-wheel drive) powers all four wheels from the engine. It’s usually integrated into unibody frames, and it offers both full-time and part-time options. While full-time AWD keeps the wheels engaged regularly, the part-time feature works as needed, which leans in fuel efficiency’s favor.
4WD (four-wheel drive) is usually incorporated into tuck-based, body-on-frame models. By directing power to the front and rear axles, and emitting dedicated power to the left and right wheels, it provides increased control over handling. This command over the vehicle is best suited for off-roading.
Key Takeaway While both AWD and 4WD enhance your vehicle’s safety and control, you’ll need to consider whether you’ll be spending time traversing dirt roads, snowy winters, or both to nail down your decision.
Do I need AWD?
Any vehicle with AWD packs in more power, dynamic handling, and defense against icy roads. That doesn’t mean you need it for daily driving, though. If you spend at least 90% of your time on paved roads, the investment most likely isn’t worth it.
Take into account your driving habits—do you take the roads less traveled? Do you drive up to the mountains multiple times a year for family trips? What’s the climate like where you live?
Only you can weigh the benefits and costs of AWD, but there’s no doubt that it’s nice to have no matter what your situation looks like.
How to save money on car insurance
With all this talk about dangerous driving conditions that AWD can help you stand up against, we would be remiss not to mention car insurance. Whether you upgrade to AWD or not, unexpected accidents happen, from collisions to battery blunders requiring
Jerry is here to ensure you have the coverage you need at a price you can afford. If you’re sick of searching for a cheap car insurance policy without gaining any traction, just download our
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