The Ford Escape has long had an option to send power through all four wheels, but the automaker promises that the new model will offer a more adept drive system when the 2013 Escape goes on sale later this year.
The old model had what Ford refers to as electronically controlled four-wheel drive, while the new system is referred to as intelligent all-wheel drive. What’s the main difference? More software, naturally.
As with other all-wheel drive systems, the car can send up to 100 percent of available torque to either the front or rear wheels through a center differential, and as with many other electronically controlled systems, the power is apportioned according to which set of wheels has more traction.
All of this is fairly standard stuff, and will certainly come in handy if you’re, say, climbing a hill in the snow, but Ford claims the major improvements come from the all-wheel drive system’s integration with its other systems.
If the Escape begins to understeer in a corner, the system can move the torque to the rear wheels to pull the car back into line, but the car also features two brake-based systems, Torque Vectoring Control and Curve Control, to prevent that situation from happening. Curve Control monitors an army of sensors including steering position and wheel speed sensors to determine if the driver is approaching or taking a turn too quickly and trail-brake the car to prevent over/understeer or a rollover. Torque Vectoring Control works in somewhat the same way, braking the inside wheel in a turn to keep the car in line.
Watch the video below showing the 2013 Ford Escape’s all-wheel drive system undergoing testing.