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Here’s a test I set up while working for Acura’s agency to show how Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) can get a vehicle moving in difficult situations. This test also demonstrates how all-wheel drive systems are not all the same.

In this test, only one wheel has traction, while the other three are placed on rollers to simulate ice or another slippery surface.

While most all-wheel drive systems state they can get a vehicle moving with just one wheel having traction, in the real world, this is isn’t always the case — especially if the vehicle is on an incline (as shown here).



Notice how the Lexus system searches for traction, and shifts power back and forth between the different wheels (causing the vehicle to sway side to side). With the MDX, you’ll notice that as soon as its front wheels touch the ramp and the vehicle begins to climb, SH-AWD is already sending power to the rear wheels (where most of the available traction exists). The MDX then uses the electromagnetic clutches in its rear differential to vector torque side to side.



Notice how the Infiniti system works almost opposite of the Lexus system. It shuts the power down so severely I had to press the accelerator all the way to the floor to keep the wheels moving. The problem with this set up is it can shut power down to the point that it makes it difficult to accelerate out of the way of oncoming traffic.



It should be noted that both the Lexus and Infiniti systems use a design that’s very common in modern SUVs, and they’ll work sufficiently for many people. However, if you’re looking for an all-wheel drive system that has more capability, there are other options available, including Acura’s SH-AWD system, Audi’s quattro system, BMW’s xDrive, Mitsubishi’s S-AWC, Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD and a few others. We’ll discuss what the differences are between these all-wheel drive systems in another post!




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