All-wheel drive is a desirable feature in vehicles due to its tendency to enhance engine performance in both dry and wet conditions. But, contrary to popular belief, this feature isn’t limited to traditional gas and diesel vehicles—plenty of electric cars have all-wheel drive too.
There are many reasons why it’s worth considering investing in an all-wheel-drive electric vehicle. Below, we’ll discuss all-wheel drive in detail and how it functions in electric cars and review nine different models with this unique feature.
All-Wheel Drive and Electric Cars
The concept of all-wheel drive was traditionally applied to gas and diesel-run vehicles, but now plenty of electric cars use this same system.
The term “all-wheel drive (AWD)” refers to a specific type of drivetrain where power is supplied independently to each separate axle of the vehicle. The design of these systems does vary, but an all-wheel-drive system is generally going to provide maximum forward traction during acceleration.
There are also two variants of the all-wheel-drive drivetrain:
- Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) – Front-wheel drive systems are less complex and more affordable than other drivetrains. Despite this, most modern vehicles do not use FWD technology because it tends to consume fuel at a higher rate.
- Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD) – In RWD systems, the power is delivered to the rear axle only. When you push down on the car’s gas pedal, the weight is transferred to the rear, where it allows for maximum acceleration on dry surfaces.
Is All-Wheel Drive the Same As 4-Wheel Drive?
All-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive (4WD) are not the same. When the 4-wheel drive is engaged, you can’t drive on dry roads because the car engine cannot command individual axle speeds. You may have noticed this if you ever forgot to switch back to two-wheel-drive after having to use 4WD for a little while.
This will not happen in an all-wheel-drive car because the vehicle’s front and rear axles can be acted upon independently in this type of drivetrain. With this being the case, an all-wheel-drive car will be able to accelerate through a slippery surface at a more rapid pace than a two-wheel-drive one safely can.
All-wheel drive differs from 4WD in the fact that it could potentially enhance vehicle performance in dry conditions as well. This is particularly true for high-performance vehicles (lots of horsepower and torque) that may otherwise encounter issues with spinning tires when the driver decides to step on the accelerator.
Benefits of All-Wheel Drive Electric Cars
Having an all-wheel-drive system enhances the performance of the vehicle in many ways. They are particularly useful in situations where the tires have lost traction.
Here are some reasons why you might want an all-wheel-drive car:
- Improved traction on wet/slippery/snowy roads
- Helpful in moderate off-road terrain
- Ability to get going in mud, sand, and other loose surfaces
- You live in a temperate climate where conditions are known to change rapidly
- You drive to work every day, sometimes through rough weather
9 Electric Cars with All-Wheel Drive
Now that you understand how all-wheel-drive may differ from other drivetrain types, let’s review a few electric vehicle models that have this feature.
1. Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S is a sports sedan with the fastest acceleration of the models in the manufacturer’s core lineup that also includes Models 3, X and Y. The Model S comes available in two different powertrain options: long-range plus and performance.
The long-range plus vehicle offers improved battery range over the performance trim, but the acceleration is faster in the performance model. Sightlines from the vehicle are incredible thanks to the expansive glass roof, a feature also seen in other vehicles of the lineup.
- MSRP: $70,620-$93,160
- Battery Range (EPA estimated): 387-402 miles
- Curb Weight: 4,883-4,941 lbs.
- Acceleration (0-60 mph): 2.3-3.7 seconds
- Horsepower: 778 hp/580 kW
2. Tesla Model 3
The Tesla Model 3 is for those looking for a vehicle with similar performance ratings to the Model S but at a lower price range. Just like the S, this model is also outfitted with an expansive glass roof that has passed pressure tests with flying colors.
Despite being among the most affordable of offerings from Tesla, the Model 3 can certainly hold its own. All vehicles in the Tesla lineup, regardless of the MSRP, come standard with autopilot capabilities. The Model 3 is also nicely outfitted with a 15-inch tablet screen mounted in the center of the dashboard.
- MSRP: $36,200-$56,190
- Battery Range (EPA estimated):
- Curb Weight: 3,552-4,100 lbs.
- Acceleration (0-60 mph): 3.1-5.3 seconds
- Horsepower: 258 hp/192 kW
3. Tesla Model X
The Tesla Model X is the manufacturer’s entry into the luxury SUV category; this vehicle has all the characteristics sought out by compact SUV buyers. Number one on the agenda is the engine’s performance capabilities. The battery in the Model X is a dual-motor system that can achieve an EPA-estimated 371 miles in the long-range model, while the performance model is capable of 341 miles.
The Model X sets itself apart from the rest of the pack with its falcon wing doors positioned at the second row of seating. These are doors that open upwards rather than outwards in the way that traditional car doors do. The falcon wing doors are equipped with sensors so that they do not become damaged from being opened in tight spaces.
- MSRP: $79,900-$99,900
- Battery Range (EPA estimated): 341-371 miles
- Curb Weight: 5,421-5,531 lbs.
- Acceleration (0-60 mph): 2.6-4.4 seconds
- Horsepower: 778 hp/580 kW
4. Tesla Model Y
The Tesla Model Y is one of the most recent additions to the manufacturer’s core lineup. In terms of size, it falls between the Model 3 and the Model X and is classified under the compact SUV category.
As such, it offers much more cargo space (68 cubic feet in total) than the Model S and Model 3 and comes available at a more comfortable price range than the Model X. This makes it an excellent candidate for a family looking for a compact SUV. It is also easier to fit into a tight garage, as it is slightly smaller than the Model X.
As far as battery and engine performance goes, the Model Y stacks up nicely. The battery in the long range model can last an EPA-estimated 326 miles between charges. If you are looking for more horsepower out of the engine, then the Performance trim will suit your needs better.
To make the Performance Trim of the Model Y, Tesla added a spoiler, installed a more powerful rear motor, and performed the necessary tuning to the engine system. The result is a vehicle capable of delivering up to 456 horsepower and 497 lb-ft of torque. These additions do bring the price up a bit, with the Performance trim of the Model Y starting at $59,990, before any tax credits or other savings.
- MSRP: $49,990-$59,990
- Battery Range (EPA estimated): 303-326 miles
- Curb Weight:4,416 lbs.
- Acceleration (0-60 mph): 3.5-4.4 seconds
- Horsepower: 456 hp/340 kW
5. Jaguar I-Pace
The Jaguar I-Pace is an electric SUV that has a lot to offer in the engine performance department. The engine system can deliver 512 lb-ft of torque.
Jaguar has put an emphasis on aerodynamic design. The I-Pace has a drag coefficient of just 0.29 Cd. (To compare, the drag coefficients of SUVs typically fall within the range of 0.35-0.45 Cd. This is the case regardless of whether the vehicle is electric, hybrid or a standard gas-powered car.)
Some of the more unique features of the Jaguar I-Pace include:
- Heated door mirrors with approach lights
- A luxurious interior of Ebony Luxtec sport seats
- Open differential with torque vectoring
The torque-vectoring feature can be particularly useful. This addition provides independent braking on individual tires located at the front and rear wheels. The upside of this braking system is that it makes the best of the turning forces acting on the car. It should be easier to make sharp turns and to hold steady while on the highway.
Jaguar isn’t the only manufacturer to have torque vectoring. Tesla and many other electric car brands have implemented similar systems.
However, the mechanics of Jaguar’s torque vectoring system have been the subject of raving reviews. In this Oakville News report on the Jaguar XE R-Sport AWD, the author claims that the vehicle handles well in a wide variety of road conditions, including wet pavement.
Combine the torque vectoring system with the heated side mirrors, and you should have an electric SUV that can hold its own against the ice and snow that so many other vehicles seem to have trouble with.
- MSRP: $69,850
- Battery Range (EPA estimated): 234 miles
- Curb Weight: 4,702 lbs.
- Acceleration (0-60 mph): 4.5 seconds
- Horsepower: 394 hp/293 kW
6. Audi E-Tron (2021)
The 2021 Audi E-Tron is the first fully-electric SUV in Audi’s lineup. The vehicle is equipped with a boost technology feature that allows for horsepower ratings of up to 402 hp to be achieved. This is a temporary feature that grants drivers access to additional power output when conditions allow. The full boost lasts for a duration of 8 seconds.
Audi also has a torque differential system controlled by software, by no means a feature unique to electric vehicles. What makes the E-Tron unique is the electromechanical progressive steering system. This makes the vehicle easier to handle on sharp turns.
- MSRP: $65,900
- Battery Range (EPA estimated): 222 miles
- Curb Weight: 5,754 lbs.
- Acceleration (0-60 MPH): 5.5 seconds
- Horsepower: 402 hp/300 kW (with Boost engaged)
3-Engine Technology in the Audi E-Tron and S Superback
The Audi E-Tron’s high performance S and S Sportback model starts at an MSRP of $78,395. However, with the higher price comes one of the EV industry’s newest innovations: the three-engine vehicle.
The “S” model is the standard model, while the “Sportback” name refers to a vehicle that is slimmed down from the original. Either way, the three-engine car is capable of reaching a horsepower of 406. There are two electric motors on the rear axle and a single-engine on the front axle.
They are the first mass-produced electric cars to be outfitted with a three-engine layout. In normal driving conditions, only the rear engines are engaged. Whenever traction becomes an issue, the front engine can come to the rescue.
7. Porsche Taycan 4S
The Porsche Taycan 4S certainly has a lot to offer in terms of engine performance. The Overboost is a kick that lasts for just 2.5 seconds. Car and Driver have proclaimed the 4S a worthy opponent of harsh winter weather. This is because the vehicle can switch seamlessly from front-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive to all-wheel drive.
The end result is a vehicle that can get straightened back out more easily even when it is slipping back and forth on ice and snow.
But, it doesn’t have to just be ice and snow; there are a variety of other dangerous circumstances where you can lose traction and control of your vehicle. Having confidence in the vehicle’s traction response system certainly brings about some peace of mind.
The Porsche Taycan Turbo and Taycan Turbo S are also available, but they come at a much higher price as premium performance vehicles. The Taycan Turbo S starts out at an MSRP of $185,000. These premium models offer the engine performance characteristics that you would expect from an elite sports car. The Turbo S can accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 2.6 seconds.
- MSRP: $103,800
- Battery Range (EPA estimated): 203 miles
- Curb Weight: 4,771 lbs.
- Acceleration (0-60 mph): 2.6 seconds (with Overboost)
- Horsepower: 522 hp/390 kW (with Overboost)
8. Ford Mustang Mach-E
Ford’s first fully-electric SUV, the Mustang Mach-E, is scheduled for release in late 2020. There will be four different trim levels for the Mach-E, three of which will be available in an all-wheel-drive drivetrain: The Select, Premium, and GT models offer customers a plethora of options at a wide price range.
The Select is the most affordable model of the Mustang Mach-E lineup, starting at an MSRP of just $42,895. The Premium and GT are $47,000 and $60,500, respectively.
Engine and battery performance do change as the price of the model increases. Both the GT and Premium models have a more extended battery range than the Select model.
When it finally becomes available in 2021, the GT model promises to be well worth both the cost and the weight. The motors on the GT will combine to deliver 459 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque. With the less powerful models, such as the Select and Premium, you can still expect 255-332 hp and torque between 306-407 lb-ft.
- MSRP: $42,895-$60,000
- Battery Range (EPA estimated): 210-310 miles
- Curb Weight: 4,394-4,920 lbs.
- Acceleration (0-60 mph): 5.1 seconds
- Horsepower: 459 hp/342 kW
9. Tesla Cybertruck (2021)
The Tesla Cybertruck will not become available until late 2021, but you can certainly take your spot in line by ordering here. Despite it not having been released yet, it is a worthwhile endeavor to highlight the Cybertruck.
The fully-electric pickup truck promises to be an innovator in every sense of the word. The truck will contain a durable exterior made of stainless steel panels and armored windows. Both dual-motor and tri-motor versions of an all-wheel-drive system will be available.
The dual-motor and tri-motor AWD powertrains are projected to produce as much as 800 hp, which would be far beyond the range of the other vehicles discussed here. Hauling capabilities are always a make or break statistic in the pickup market. The Cybertruck definitely doesn’t disappoint in the power category; the truck will be capable of towing 7,500-plus pounds.
- MSRP: $49,900-$69,000
- Battery Range (EPA estimated): 250-500 miles
- Curb Weight: 5,132 lbs.
- Acceleration (0-60 mph): 6.5s
- Horsepower: 800 hp/ 597 kw (an estimate)
Summary of Electric Cars with All Wheel Drive (AWD)
All-wheel-drive systems are standard in high-performance vehicles so that they can better handle adverse road conditions. They are also helpful on dry roads to keep the tires from spinning when the driver steps on the accelerator.
Those in the market for an all-wheel-drive vehicle are encouraged to take a good look at these fully-electric AWD vehicles:
- Tesla Model S
- Tesla Model 3
- Tesla Model Y
- Tesla Model X
- Jaguar I-Pace
- Audi E-Tron
- Porsche Taycan 4-S
- Ford Mustang Mache-E
- Tesla Cybertruck
Of these options, the Tesla Model Y and Ford Mustang Mach-E are among the most affordable options and an excellent choice for families in the market for a compact SUV. If you are looking for something a little sportier, you are certainly encouraged to look into vehicles manufactured by Jaguar, Audi, and Porsche.