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Buick Encore gets innovative all-wheel drive system

A magnetic rear clutch engages before each launch.

By AutoWeek Nov 23, 2012 11:41AM

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.

-- Jake Lingeman

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Nov 25, 2012 8:48AM

Coupled with the low powered 4 cylinder, this vehicle probably has a low ground clearance which would make this good for city streets in northern climates where a much cheaper, less technology favored normal fwd sedan would do just fine.  Let's face it, how many people buy more vehicle than they will ever need?


In the city nearest to me, I see several year old 4wd vehicles that have NEVER left the pavement, quad cab single passenger super duty trucks without a single scratch in the bed or tow hitch and suvs that carry more than a single person only 1% of the time.....if that... 


Where does this Buick fit in?

Nov 26, 2012 5:34AM
Is it just me, or does this system sound vaguely like a lower-cost version of Nissan's ATTESSA system found on some Infiniti models as well as the Nissan Skyline GT-R dating back to the early 1990's?
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