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Discussion Starter #1
Honda refers to the Element drive mechanism as a 4WD system yet many reviewers speak of it as an AWD. Actually Honda calls it a "Real Time 4-Wheel Drive"

Is it really a 4WD system or AWD.? This came to mind as I just ordered one of the 4WD body emblems from HA. I started wondering if it really is 4WD before I start slapping this emblem in place.
 

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[quote:1c5413a56b="jayharley"]Honda refers to the Element drive mechanism as a 4WD system yet many reviewers speak of it as an AWD. Actually Honda calls it a "Real Time 4-Wheel Drive"

Is it really a 4WD system or AWD.? This came to mind as I just ordered one of the 4WD body emblems from HA. I started wondering if it really is 4WD before I start slapping this emblem in place.[/quote:1c5413a56b]

I would call it awd because you cannot switch into low like with 4wd which means it is meant for snow and rain and such not true 4 wheeling.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I think I just found the answer to my own question about if the Element is a 4WD or AWD. It seems that the Element is actually considered 4WD since it does not always have power driving all four wheels all of the time.

The Subarus and certain Audi models are AWD since they have constant power going to all four wheels. Not so with the Element. I guess I will put the 4WD body emblem in place after all!!!
 

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It seems like a hybrid to me. Part 4WD and part AWD. Power is available to all four wheels like an AWD, but the rear only comes online when it is needed which is more like 4WD - only it's automatic.
 

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I said AWD when I called my insurance agent. The AWD moniker makes the insurance cheaper, but the insurance company will place their preferred title on it anyway.

Automatic 4WD is what it really is. Power moves to the wheels with the best traction. It's still not fully locked-in 4WD like a Jeep Rubicon, but it gets better gas mileage and it rides the freeway a whole lot better.
 

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It is all wheel drive guys. It is called part time all wheel drive. If it was true 4 wheel drive like a jeep you could switch into 4wd low, you cannot though. It only stays in 4wd high which makes it all wheel drive whether it is part or full time does not matter.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Well I just called Honda and was told that definately it is a 4WD system. Not a AWD system. It is designated by Honda as Real Time 4WD, because of the automated system.
 

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Honda is feeding you a line

Our 99 CRV is classed as "real time 4wd" and it is always engaged. Any system that does not require you to lock hubs or pull a lever or switch is an AWD. 4wd is constant power to all wheels and it doesn't turn off automatically. By the way, what does "real time 4wd" mean anyway. I don't think this term existed until the CRV came out. They can called what they want to satify their marketers it is still an AWD.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hate to beat a dead horse, and I am just giving info as I find it (maybe I have too much free time today). Anyway after reading Boneheadz, and jjj_11's responses I looked into this situation further. Here is a quote from a website which only deals in 4WD info. I think Honda is, in fact, wrong. It does get very confusing when you buy a vehicle which is advertised as 4WD, and described (by sales people) as a variant of 4WD, when it actually is not.

"Recently some new "automatic" AWD systems have evolved. Fancy names like "Real Time 4WD" are hiding the fact that they are essentially sophisticated 2WD systems. They should be called part time AWD systems. They cannot claim the safety and traction advantages of full time 4WD. They are less capable than full time AWD systems and inferior to full time 4WD."
 

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It's not my interest or intention to play semantics games. The Honda drive is different from either true 4WD or true AWD. It's in a rather murky class of 'inbetweens' . It's my understanding that the Honda Element 4WD (or AWD if you prefer) is really best categorized as being a front wheel drive, 2WD that has the extra ability to put power to the rear wheels, automatically when the front wheels lose traction. Whether or not this system adds any advantage at all over standard front two wheel drive, remains to be seen. Personally, I'm a skeptic, even though I just bought the 4WD/AWD version.

Only time will tell whether this particular variant is really particularly useful. For the moment, I like to think it makes sense in a vehicle that should be considered first as a 2WD highway vehicle, that also just happens to have a little, (maybe very little) extra use as a slightly mixed use vehicle. It should not be mistaken for a true off road vehicle. It's not, and the owner's manual even says as much.
 

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:| it's 4wd. Not the domestic truck kind that requires manual selection and not awd that inefficiently puts power to every wheel continuously. They wanted to replicate and improve on the old viscous coupling idea that worked for lightweight, short wheelbase vehicles so Honda spent years creating very cool technology. Here's how a Motorweek guy explained it: Sensors determine when there will not be enough traction at (either of) the front wheels then immediately the hydraulically actuated oil pressure of the dual-pump system causes a multi-plate clutch to engage & transmit torque/power to the rear wheels -- and it's constantly adjusted in proportion to to the amount of slippage encountered. As long as it's needed, whenever it's needed. Not when it isn't needed so there's less wear & tear, less gas consumption and the car is more eco-friendly. Would it work for 1/2 ton trucks? Don't know & don't plan to own one. . . Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
[quote:9e4e64f76a="natural wonder"]Whether or not this system adds any advantage at all over standard front two wheel drive, remains to be seen. Personally, I'm a skeptic, even though I just bought the 4WD/AWD version.

Only time will tell whether this particular variant is really particularly useful. [/quote:9e4e64f76a]

I believe that the same system found on the Element has been successfully used on the CRV for a number of years. The write ups and reviews have been very good. Therefore I think the system (be it a version of 4WD or AWD) is already proven to be a good system for inclement weather driving situations. It is not designed for any rough use off road.
 

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[quote:378bf991ec="jjj_11"]Let's just say that it's called whatever the hell you want to call it! :p[/quote:378bf991ec]

I think that's a little unwieldy, jjj, but here are some other suggestions:

BBWD - Black Box Wheel Drive
SWAGD - Scientific Wild-A$$ Guess Drive
SWD - Some Wheel Drive
VWD - Variable Wheel Drive
GWD - Guess Wheel Drive
LottoD - Connects with your state lottery on Wednesdays and Saturdays
BTYD - Better Than Yours Drive
CIAD - We could tell you, but then we'd have to kill you

...resisting...urge...to...dog...french...bush...and...saddam...
 

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I don't care what they call it, I'm just glad Honda offers it. Having the system automatically engage when front wheel slippage occurs is very convienent. Which come to my question...those of you who DO have the 4WD E, how has it performed on snow, rain, and dirt? Why would it NOT be suited for off-roading? Is it just the low clearance or is the 4WD mechanism unreliable over rough terrian?
 

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There's a rather comprehensive article about the various 4WD/AWD systems at http://www.trucktrend.com/features/tech/163_0206_4x4/

From this article it seems like there are no absolute definitions on what sort of system is or isn't 4 or All wheel drive, which is not surprising since the various defintions were created by manufacturers - for marketing purposes more than anything.

As to whether the system on the Element is actually any good, those who have experienced driving in poor conditions in CR-Vs and Es seem to think it performs pretty well. My own experience in snow is that it worked very effectively, providing traction where a 2WD minivan wasn't able to go.

The Element itself isn't really useable for serious off-roading partly because it's ground clearance isn't sufficient, and partly because the real time 4WD system lacks features like low ratios and differential lock that come in useful for serious off-roading.
 

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So, how does it actually work on our vehicles? Is it full time 4WD? Does it only come on when it senses the front wheels slipping? How does it work?

I have a 4WD EX, and I have noticed that I can chirp the front wheels off the line, which would probably mean that the 4WD is not always active, right?
 

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It's "on-demand" four-wheel drive, so it only kicks in when you lose traction with the front wheels.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
There also has been much discussion about what constitutes actual 4WD. Died in the wool off roaders only call a system 4WD if it has a low 4WD as part of the deal. However, if you don't do any off roading, or heavy snow plowing, who the heck needs low 4WD? My last car had the off road style 4WD system. I live in the heart of New England and in 15 winters I never needed low 4WD. I used high 4WD every winter. It taught me that this is a bad system because when I did not put it in 4WD, I had only rear WD. Also I could not go over 45 in 4WD.

Don't let anyone tell you different. The Honda system is a 4WD system. It is a variation and modernization hybrid of 4WD. It is not AWD. It is the best of all worlds, for general road and highway use.

As a bonus, the ABS break system on the EX work while the Element is in 4WD mode. Very cool and useful.
 
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