Buick Encore gets innovative all-wheel drive systemTue, 20 Nov 2012 00:00:00 -0800
Buick is touting the Active On-Demand all-wheel drive system in the new Encore SUV. Instead of a traditional AWD system that directs torque to wheels only when slip is detected, the Buick system sends motive force to the rear on every launch. Then, if no slip is detected, a computer disengages torque to the clutch, returning the car to front wheel drive.
Buick engineers used what they learned developing the AWD system for the Enclave SUV but applied it to a smaller package. Buick worked with Borg Warner to develop a magnetically actuated compact coupling.
The Active On-Demand system allows the Encore to return 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. The only other SUV's to get near that number with all-wheel drive are the Mazda CX-5 (31 mpg highway) and the new Ford Escape (30 mpg highway).
Buick says that in addition to weight savings, the system is quicker to activate and deactivate, gives more control over the transfer of torque and better performance in tight turns. It's also easier to integrate with safety systems like ABS and stability control.
Buick paid special attention to keeping the pilot oblivious to what is happening underneath.
“A Buick all-wheel drive system has to deliver the best traction possible, and it has to do it in a way that's totally imperceptible to the driver,” said Encore chief engineer Jim Danahy. “We engineered Encore's system to deliver on the expectations of demanding luxury buyers.”
The 2013 Buick Encore was revealed at the 2012 Detroit auto show and features a 138-hp, 1.4-liter turbocharged I4 with a six-speed automatic transmission. It costs $24,950 and will launch commercially in the first quarter of 2013.
By Jake Lingeman