Is Subaru's Wilderness AWD The Best? Here's Why It Stands Out From The Pack
Subaru recently introduced the new 2022 Forester Wilderness and Outback Wilderness sub-brand for outdoor enthusiasts who want to get further away. Four things set it apart from other all-wheel-drive systems.
Mazda just announced its i-Activ all-wheel drive will be standard across the entire CX lineup in the U.S. for the 2022 model year. Should Subaru be worried about Mazda and competition from other automakers?
You may not buy a more rugged Forester Wilderness or Outback Wilderness and go deep off-road. Subaru's Symmetrical all-wheel-drive in the refreshed 2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Outback, 2021 Crosstrek, and 2022 Ascent is a core value on all its models one of the best systems for consumers. Twenty-five years ago, Subaru decided to make its all-wheel-drive system standard equipment on all its vehicles in North America. It was a move that proved to be brilliant for the small Japanese automaker.
For the 2022 model year, the next-generation Subaru BRZ rear-drive sports coupe is the only model without all-wheel-drive. But not all all-wheel-drive systems are the same. It's still summer, but fall and winter are coming quickly with snow and ice to deal with on the roads.
All-Wheel-Drive is a core value, not an add-on
In 1996, it was a risky move for Subaru when all other small Japanese cars were fuel-efficient front-drive cars. All-wheel-drive became Subaru's calling card, and it's a core value for the small Japanese automaker. Subaru Corporation developed its Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system initially to help its rally success of the '90s. They won multiple championships with the rugged system.
Is Subaru's Symmetrical all-wheel-drive better than 4WD or other automaker's all-wheel-drive? The system splits the torque nearly perfectly between the front and rear axles, helping it corner and handle like a rear-wheel-drive car.
There are significant differences in quality between your average manufacturer's all-wheel-drive and what you get from Subaru's Symmetrical system. How does Subaru's Symmetrical all-wheel-drive stand out from the pack?
There are significant differences that SUV shoppers should be aware of if all-wheel-drive is important in your next new car or SUV. Other manufacturers incorporating all-wheel-drive tend to take a more "slip-and-grip" approach, while Subaru brings maximum traction, stability, efficiency, and safety to its new Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, and Ascent SUVs.
Power and Traction:
So that drivers benefit from maximum traction and acceleration in all weather conditions, Subaru's Symmetrical AWD sends simultaneous power to all wheels. When driving in less-than-favorable conditions, front-wheel drive vehicles tend to understeer or push into turns. Alternatively, rear-wheel-drive leads you to oversteer during a turn. Subaru's Symmetrical all-wheel-drive actively distributes power to the wheels with the best traction.
Synergy is the sum of all parts
All-wheel-drive is not the only safety system on the 2022 Forester Wilderness, Outback Wilderness, and other SUV trim levels. It's one of many components that keeps everyone inside the vehicle safe and out of harm's way.
The other safety systems, such as Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC), work alongside the Symmetrical all-wheel-drive to produce more control in severe road conditions.
Subaru uses VDC to augment their vehicle's all-wheel-drive capability. It comes standard on every 2022 Subaru model except the rear-drive BRZ that gets VDC and rear-wheel traction control.
The VDC system uses sensors "to compare where the vehicle is heading to where the driver is steering it." The system will take corrective action to keep the vehicle on course if needed and apply brake pressure automatically and reduce torque to the wheels that need it.
Subaru uses four all-wheel-drive systems
Subaru doesn't have a "one type fits all" approach with their Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, Ascent, and other multi-purpose vehicles. Each model gets a "tailored" version of Subaru's Symmetrical all-wheel drive to fit a particular powertrain or model. Here's a rundown.
2022 Impreza 2.0i and 2022 Crosstrek models with 5-speed manual transmission; and 2022 WRX with a 6-speed manual transmission uses continuous all-wheel-drive. Here's how it works. A viscous-coupling locking bevel-gear center differential built into the transmission case distributes torque 50:50 front-to-rear. Slippage at the front or rear wheels causes torque to transfer up to 100 percent.
Active Torque Split (ATS)
All 2022 Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, Impreza, Legacy, equipped with the Lineartronic Continuously Variable automatic transmission (CVT) and the 2022 Subaru WRX with the new Subaru Performance Transmission use ATS.
How does it work? An electronically managed continuously variable transfer clutch actively manages torque distribution in response to driving conditions, acceleration, deceleration, and cornering. Slippage at the front or rear wheels causes torque to transfer (up to 100 percent) to the opposite set of wheels.
Variable Torque Distribution (VTD)
2022 Subaru Outback and Legacy models with the 2.4-liter turbocharged engine use an electronically controlled, continuously variable hydraulic transfer clutch that works with a planetary gear-type center differential to control torque distribution between the front and the rear wheels.
Under most conditions, VTD uses a 45:55 torque split, with the rear-wheel bias contributing to handling agility. VTD responds to driving conditions to continually optimize torque distribution on all road surfaces. Slippage at the front or rear wheels causes torque to transfer to the opposite set of wheels.
Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD)
DCCD is exclusive to the 2021 Subaru WRX STI. By adjusting the DCCD, performance enthusiasts can customize the feel and performance of the STI and get the maximum benefit out of the all-wheel-drive technology.
The STI's DCCD all-wheel-drive system has two automatic modes: "Auto" provides optimal performance for all conditions. The "Auto" (-) Active Sport setting shifts the torque bias to the rear and also opens the center limited-slip differential (no locking factor), which improves the steering feel for performance driving on the track.
Subaru goes further with X-Mode, dual-function X-Mode, and advanced X-Mode
In addition to its Symmetrical all-wheel-drive, Subaru offers X-Mode, dual-function X-Mode, and advanced X-Mode on its SUVs. The 2022 Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, and Ascent SUVs come standard with X-Mode for additional all-weather performance. The 2022 Forester, Sport, and Crosstrek Sport and Limited offer dual-function X-Mode for improved off-road performance.
The new rugged 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness and Outback Wilderness come with a new advanced X-Mode that allows the two SUVs to switch automatically from low-speed managed driving to speeds over 25 mph without interruption of power or performance. The X-Mode display also features a new roll-angle indicator to help the driver navigate off-road terrain.
The 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness and 2022 Outback Wilderness all-wheel-drive system is set apart from the pack and will get you deep off-road.
Subaru's Symmetrical all-wheel-drive in the 2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Outback, 2021 Crosstrek, and 2022 Ascent is a core value on all its models. The automaker introduced the 2022 Forester Wilderness and 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness, taking it to another level of off-road ability.
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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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