It's often discussed that subaru for example has a very high performing all-wheel drive system. The Nissan GTR is another that comes to mind. While I've never heard others be specifically criticized, I never hear great things about Toyota's Matrix XRS 4WD system.

I know there is a center differential, it can be limited slip, locked, etc. But wouldn't most seasoned manufacturers be able to come to a similar optimal solution fairly easily? What makes Subaru in particular so much better than a similar size Toyota (impreza vs Matrix)?

Edit - it seems this is more opinionated than I expected. I guess a refined question would be:

What gives a given 4WD system a higher performance in a given test than another system? ie -

  • The subaru crosstrek is very efficient for a 4WD car. Why is it more efficient than something else (can't come up with an example)?
  • The Nissan GTR is incredibly high performing on a track. What gives it a track advantage?
  • That car ferrari has where it's only 4WD for the first 4 gears did surprisingly well in the snow on top gear. Why doesn't a Honda 4WD perform as well?
  • A jeep in 4-low will suffer horribly in a turn, but has very high "grip" and towing power. What gives a 4WD system more "grip"?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Martin, Solar Mike, Chenmunka, David, Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Nov 22 '18 at 16:48

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • "optimal" based on what criteria? cost? torque delivery? spin control? weight? reaction time? – Solar Mike Nov 22 '18 at 16:25
  • I would actually say that in this day and age of high fuel costs, "optimal" applies to electric 4-wheel drive like what you find in RAV4 hybrid and electric cars... I just don't see Subaru better than the others. Besides, I wouldn't buy a boxer engine. – juhist Nov 22 '18 at 16:52
  • Related: youtube.com/watch?v=ILJh3IPgXN4 – juhist Nov 22 '18 at 18:58

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