Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive Technology

Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive Technology

There’s nothing like being prepared for anything the season throws at you. Symmetrical Full-Time AWD is here to handle all winter conditions. We have been fine-tuning our Symmetrical AWD technology for over 40 years in order to take on all conditions.

This wealth of experience has led to a vehicle lineup with the widest range of AWD systems offered by any one manufacturer. We take AWD seriously because we know that – if the goal is making cars safer, more capable and more fun-to-drive, in all possible driving conditions in Canada – four always proves to better than two.

Uncommon Benefits of Full-Time AWD

Full-time control in winter conditions

Sending power to all four wheels gives a vehicle more grip, more predictable handling, better agility and greater control. Those advantages result in a stronger connection between the road and the car for an increased sense of confidence for the driver in all weather. Subaru Symmetrical Full-Time AWD is engineered to deliver confidence in motion – throughout every season, on all roads, and in all conditions.

Full-time control subaru

Full-time winter safety

Subaru's Symmetrical Full-Time AWD is always on. It is engaged full time and is therefore better equipped to handle unexpected changes in surface conditions. Our system distributes power to all four wheels in a balanced manner that creates greater stability and more traction – proven to outperform FWD or part-time (on-demand) systems every time. Even when one wheel hits a slippery or loose surface, all four wheels remain powered to maximize every opportunity for optimal traction and control during wintery conditions.

subaru safety

Full-time winter capability

Rain, sleet, snow and ice have the very real potential to sideline even the best-laid plans. But Subaru Symmetrical Full-Time AWD has the capability to make quick work of more challenging driving conditions, including gravel roads and even more adventurous trails where drivers of FWD or part-time (on-demand) AWD vehicles would never dare venture.

subaru capacity

Full-time dependability

Some AWD systems are considered overly complex and not all that reliable or economical. But those criticisms are more suited to truck-like 4WD systems – 4WD is not like AWD. Subaru Symmetrical Full-Time AWD is not like run-of-the-mill AWD, either. The engine is mounted in-line with the drivetrain to deliver power to all four wheels directly and efficiently without additional components required. A smarter design with fewer components means reduced complexity, greater durability, increased fuel-efficiency (comparable to FWD on most models) and lower maintenance costs.

subaru dependability

Full-Time AWD Makes All the Difference

Why full-time AWD outperforms 2WD & Part-Time AWD in winter

Traction dictates how well a vehicle accelerates, how it handles curves and inclines, how quickly it stops and how it performs on slippery, uneven or icy surfaces. Symmetrical Full-Time AWD ensures the most traction possible to optimize vehicle performance and handling in a variety of winter conditions. Here are some reasons why four is better than two, and why Symmetrical Full-Time AWD is better than part-time AWD.


Although a 2WD system can be front-wheel drive (FWD) or rear-wheel drive (RWD), FWD is most often found in everyday passenger cars because it is less expensive to manufacture. Its strength is in normal driving conditions, where the front wheels are required to manage the demands of gentle cornering and mild power delivery.

Part-time AWD

A part-time (on demand) AWD system operates in 2WD mode (FWD on most vehicles) most of the time and automatically switches to AWD when conditions warrant. It's also best under normal driving conditions when there's not much work for the wheels to do.

Full-time AWD

While part-time (on-demand) AWD systems only respond to a loss of traction, full-time AWD systems are always engaged and always active, making them the most effective and safest solution for all possible winter conditions. These systems are also particularly adept at handling unpredictable driving conditions, when response times are critical.

Why symmetry makes all the difference

While other manufacturers bolt AWD on to existing vehicle designs, Subaru started from the ground up to engineer a total system with every component designed to support AWD. The engine, transmission and centre differential are compact, efficient and set along the centre line of the vehicle for near perfect balance side-to-side, smoother power delivery and greater stability, especially in the corners.

How to achieve near-perfect balance:

Start with a horizontally opposed ("boxer") engine with a short overhang for greatly enhanced agility. Its flat profile also enables a lower centre of gravity for a more planted feeling, better handling and improved stability overall.

Make this engine compact and lightweight. Link it to a compact, lightweight transmission. Connect both to a compact, lightweight differential.

Place the engine/transmission/differential package longitudinally along the centre line of the vehicle for improved efficiency and ideal balance, left to right.

Set this package over the front axle to make the vehicle less nose-heavy, thereby reducing dive under sharp braking and minimizing yaw, the tendency of a vehicle to spin.

Employ an independent, long-travel suspension system with equal-length axle shafts, front and back, to eliminate torque steer and maximize tire contact with the road, no matter the road conditions.

subaru boxer

The Subaru AWD Systems

The truth of the matter is, one size never fits all. This is why Subaru doesn't offer just one type of symmetrical full-time AWD system, but rather a variety of different systems that fall into four broader categories. Each system is tailored and tuned to suit the individual characteristics of the vehicle and driver:

  • Viscous-coupling Centre Differential AWD
  • Active Torque Split AWD
  • Variable Torque Distribution AWD

Learn more about the models that come standard with Subaru symmetrical full-time AWD

More options at Desjardins Subaru