Are Teslas AWD? (Model X, S, Y & 3 Analysed)

“Do Tesla AWD cars exist, and if so, what are they like?” You might be surprised how often prospective EV buyers ask this question.

For some people, AWD is essential when living in places with a lot of ice or rain. Others may want AWD as it means they get increased traction and better overall safety.

Tesla currently makes four cars:

  • Model X
  • Model Y
  • Model S
  • Model 3

Today we’ll analyze these Tesla’s to see whether or not they offer AWD and, if so, how much more expensive they are compared to their RWD counterparts.

Foreword
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What Is All-Wheel Drive (AWD)?

AWD diagram.
Source: testingautos.com

All-Wheel Drive, in a nutshell, is when a car distributes torque to both the front and rear axles. In most AWD cars, the system isn’t too complex.


The Haldex System

One of the most commonly used AWD systems is the Haldex system. Haldex is an independent manufacturer of AWD systems based in Sweden. Many mainstream car manufacturers use the system, including Ford, VW, Audi, Land Rover, Volvo, and GM.

With the Haldex system, most power is usually sent to the front wheels, with some transferred to the back. However, if the car loses traction at the front, it will send more power to the rear via the car’s computer.

You can reprogram the car’s computer to send more power to the rear if you wish; this is a common modification on vehicles such as the VW Golf R32.


Rear Wheel Exceptions

Some faster cars equipped with AWD send most of their power to the rear wheels.

Rule Of Thumb

  • More power is sent to the front wheels if the rear begins to lose traction.
  • More power is sent to the rear wheels to help the car handle better.

Complex AWD Systems

More complex AWD systems fitted to supercars, hypercars, and other performance cars can send different power levels to individual wheels.


Why Many Performance Cars Are Using AWD

Many performance cars are now fitted with AWD rather than RWD or FWD since it improves traction, which means faster acceleration times, better handling, and higher top speeds. However, in some cars, such as the F90 BMW M5, you can turn off the AWD system, allowing power to move to the rear.


Confusions Between AWD And 4WD.

Source: How stuff works

Many people assume AWD and 4WD are the same; this simply isn’t true.

Both AWD and 4WD cars rely on either a center-differential or transfer case to distribute power between the axles. On some 4WD vehicles, you can engage 4WD or 2WD mode manually, while in most AWD cars, you can’t, as the computer does that for you.

A 4WD system can be part or full-time, depending on the mechanics.


Part Time 4WD

If the car has a transfer case (part of the gearbox that distributes power to the axles), then it is part-time 4WD, and you must manually turn on the 4WD system. The car will distribute power evenly between the two axles when turned on.

A transfer case 4WD system is part-time because turning abilities are massively restricted when in 4WD mode. Therefore, this hinders everyday driving.


Full-Time 4WD

If a 4WD car utilizes a center differential, it is always on (full-time). A permanent 4WD vehicle cannot work without a center differential — the Range Rover uses this system.

So, why would a regular car use a 4WD system with a center-differential as opposed to an AWD system? The simple answer is off-road ability. The Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution are two commonly known cars that use an advanced 4WD system with a center differential.


Most Complex 4WD System

The most complex 4WD system is probably the one Ferrari used on the FF; this system is based around a second gearbox, and 4WD is active only between 1st and 4th gear. It’s a very complex system that shares similarities to the Haldex AWD system.


How Does The Tesla AWD System Work?  

Source: arstechnica.com

If you opt for an AWD Tesla, a motor will be placed at the front and rear.

The motor setup sounds quite simple, but things get very complex when it comes to the software. The two motors increase the overall range making the car more expensive.

In a Tesla, the computer is adaptive, meaning it will send power to the most efficient wheel. As such, the front may occasionally have more power going through it than the rear, and vise-versa. Track Mode utilizes this massively for optimized track times.

An AWD Tesla cannot be towed unless it has a neutral or transport mode. Regardless, it’s advised not to tow the car to prevent damage to the motors.

Overall, the AWD system in a Tesla is very complex and is entirely dictated by the car’s computer. In fact, Tesla’s as a whole are pretty complicated but fascinating nonetheless.


Is The Tesla Model X AWD?

Source: tesla.com

The Tesla Model X comes standard with AWD; it has two motors, one at each axle. It cannot be RWD due to its weight.

It’s the brand’s first-ever SUV, having launched in 2015, starting at $106,590, and comes with five, six, and seven-seat configurations.

The Model X was developed from the Model S sedan; they share many parts with one another.

Overall, the Model X is a perfect family car that offers a lot of room, practicality, and comfort.


Is The Tesla Model S AWD?

Is the Tesla Model S AWD?
Source: tesla.com

Initially, the Model S had two RWD options. The base 60 kWh model was RWD, while the more expensive 85 kWh model came with an RWD option as standard.

These two cars were discontinued in 2015 when the facelifted Model S was launched. Why? Well, the AWD models were more popular and offered a higher range.

The current Model S is only offered in AWD, and the prices start at an eye-watering $91,950 for the long-range AWD model.

Overall, the Model S is a fantastic luxury sedan, and the AWD setup means the Model S is one of the fastest electric cars in the world.


Is The Tesla Model Y AWD?

Is the Tesla Model Y AWD?
Source: tesla.com

Tesla’s latest car, the Model Y, is offered as standard with AWD.

At first, Tesla offered two Model Y RWD options, but they later canceled those cars and pulled them from their lineup.

Currently, the Model Y starts at $55,190. It also shares 75% of its parts with the smaller Model 3 sedan, including many interior features.

Overall, the Model Y is a great car and one that is very important in the Tesla lineup. The mid-size SUV segment is a very competitive market, and the Model Y really competes very well, despite facing stiff competition from Ford, Audi, Mercedes, and more.


Is The Tesla Model 3 AWD?

Is the Tesla Model 3 AWD?
Source: tesla.com

The Model 3 is one of the best electric cars under $60,000. It’s also the only current Tesla that has RWD and AWD options.

The base Model 3 starts at $40,390 and is RWD, whereas the cheapest AWD Model 3 is the Long Range AWD which starts at $49,390. That is $9,000 more than the base RWD model.

An AWD Model 3 has a higher range, better performance figures, and increased safety due to improved traction.

Overall, the Model 3 is a fantastic car. An RWD model offers enough space and range at a reasonable price for most people. Though, the AWD satisfies those who are looking for a little something extra.


Are Tesla AWD Cars Good In Snow & Rain?

Tesla Model S.

Charging a Tesla in the rain or snow is easy, but how about driving a Tesla in these conditions?

An AWD Tesla can handle well in the snow and rain due to advanced traction control systems. In the snow, the brake regeneration system will automatically limit itself to reduce any sudden braking that could cause the car’s back-end to drift out.

However, like any standard car, it’s advised to drive cautiously in snowy or wet conditions. You could crash if you drive your Tesla fast in the rain or snow where grip is reduced.

AWD Teslas have an advantage over AWD Internal Combustion Engined cars since their batteries are flat on the floor; this reduces the center of gravity which improves overall grip.


Final Thoughts

Most new Tesla cars are AWD to increase range and performance figures.

The AWD system used in Tesla cars is quite complex regarding the software, though you won’t have to worry about that since the computer deals with it all.

Driving an AWD Tesla in the snow or rain is like driving any other standard car. If you’re cautious, you will have no issues. If you drive recklessly, you’ll encounter problems. Furthermore, snow tires are recommended for AWD Teslas for improved grip.

Arran Mehtam

Arran Mehtam

Arran is a content creator, and car enthusiast based in Birmingham, UK. He's owned e-commerce businesses, car blogs, and his own Etsy stores, and now he writes for Climatebiz. He aims to help you find the right type of car that is both environmentally friendly and suitable for your lifestyle.

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Gavilan

The technology is here to build AWD using infinitely variable traction control in a power by wire configuration. Where the impulse is applied/generated at the rims of 4 integral motor-brake wheels.

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