Exploring the Capabilities of A Subaru Explorer: Does it Have 4-Wheel Drive?

If you are in the market for a new car and considering a Subaru Explorer, you may be wondering if it has 4-wheel drive. The short answer is yes, but there is more to it than just that. In this article, we will dive into the specifics of the 4-wheel drive system in a Subaru Explorer, its benefits, and how it compares to other systems.

What is 4-Wheel Drive?

First, let’s define what 4-wheel drive is. In simpler terms, it refers to a drivetrain system that powers all four wheels of the car simultaneously. This allows for improved traction and stability when driving on slippery or uneven surfaces. 4-wheel drive is especially useful when driving off-road, up steep inclines, or in snowy or icy conditions.

How 4-Wheel Drive Works in a Subaru Explorer

The 4-wheel drive system in a Subaru Explorer is called Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD). It is different from traditional 4-wheel drive systems found in other cars because it distributes power evenly to all four wheels, while other systems may favor the front or back wheels.

Symmetrical AWD in a Subaru Explorer utilizes a combination of mechanical and electronic components to provide improved traction and stability. The system includes a center differential that sends power to the wheels with the most grip in real-time. Additionally, there are sensors that monitor the car’s orientation and adjust power delivery accordingly.

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Benefits of 4-Wheel Drive in a Subaru Explorer

There are several benefits to having 4-wheel drive in a Subaru Explorer. One of the biggest advantages is improved traction. In wet or slippery conditions, all four wheels working together provide better grip and reduce the likelihood of getting stuck or slipping. 4-wheel drive also helps with stability, making it easier to drive on uneven terrain or around corners.

Another benefit of the 4-wheel drive system in a Subaru Explorer is its off-road capabilities. The system allows for better precision and control when driving on unpaved roads or through rough terrain. Additionally, it enables the car to climb steep inclines and navigate through deep snow or mud with ease.

Differences Between 4-Wheel Drive Systems in Different Models

It’s important to note that different models or years of the Subaru Explorer may have slightly different 4-wheel drive systems. However, all models of the Subaru Explorer have the Symmetrical AWD system, which is known for its high performance.

Some newer models may also have additional features such as X-Mode, which enhances traction control and stability in especially difficult driving conditions. Others may have hill descent control, which makes driving down steep slopes safer and easier.


Q: Is 4-wheel drive the same as all-wheel drive?

A: No, there is a difference between 4-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is designed to work on all road conditions and distributes power among all four wheels. 4-wheel drive, on the other hand, is primarily used for off-road driving and is designed to be manually switched on and off.

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Q: Can I turn off 4-wheel drive on a Subaru Explorer?

A: Yes, while the Symmetrical AWD system is always on in a Subaru Explorer, drivers have the option to turn it off and drive in 2-wheel mode. This is useful when driving on dry roads and when fuel efficiency is a priority.


The Subaru Explorer does indeed have 4-wheel drive, but it’s not your typical system. The Symmetrical AWD system in a Subaru Explorer provides improved traction and stability in various driving conditions, as well as impressive off-road capabilities. Whether you’re navigating through slippery roads or adventuring on unpaved roads, the 4-wheel drive system in a Subaru Explorer can give you the confidence and control you need to tackle any terrain.

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Alton Brobst

As a longtime Subaru enthusiast, Alton brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our blog. From his early days of tinkering with engines to his current role as a certified Subaru technician, Alton has seen it all when it comes to Subarus. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys hiking and exploring the great outdoors.

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