Volkswagen 4MOTION drivetrain

Is VW 4MOTION® full-time all-wheel drive?

Volkswagen 4MOTION® Full-Time Vs. Part-Time AWD

More and more modern vehicles are offering all-wheel drive systems these days. As Americans gobble up the idea of off-roading and adventurous, capable utility vehicles, automakers are acceding to the market’s demands by including smart all-wheel drive systems.

There’s already the whole thing regarding the difference between four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, but even when you get into which of these categories a system falls into, the system can fall under either a full-time or part-time variation. We know Volkswagen 4MOTION® is all-wheel drive, but is it full-time all-wheel drive?


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No, Volkswagen 4MOTION® is not a full-time all-wheel drive system; it’s a part-time all-wheel drive system. In such a set-up, a variety of electronic sensors feed info to a computer, which in turn determines how much power should be sent to each wheel for optimal performance while maintaining efficiency.

When driving on a level road at a steady speed, only the front wheels receive power in a 4MOTION®-equipped vehicle. In the event that a loss of traction is sensed at the vehicle’s rear, the clutch quickly yet progressively engages to transfer torque to the rear axle. Depending on conditions, the clutch can engage completely, allowing the full load of engine torque to power the rear wheels.

By not powering all four wheels at all times, 4MOTION® reduces fuel consumption compared to full-time systems.

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Top-down x-ray of a vehicle with VW 4MOTION

What is full-time all-wheel drive?

Full-time all-wheel drive is when both a vehicle’s front and rear axles are powered at all times. When on dry pavement, this type of all-wheel drive helps a vehicle handle better, as it ensures the maximum amount of power is getting to the road. In slippery conditions, it provides additional traction.

Does all-wheel drive have to be manually engaged?

When a vehicle is equipped with all-wheel drive, the driver doesn’t have to make any decisions about engaging the system. For example, with 4MOTION®, the system is designed to sense a loss of traction and send power wherever it’s most needed without any input from the driver.

What makes four-wheel drive different from all-wheel drive?

Four-wheel drive sets itself apart from all-wheel drive by using a series of front center and rear differentials, along with transfer cases and couplings, to provide torque to all four wheels.

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