Is there an on demand 4 wheel drive car (not truck or suv)?

I like the sure footedness of an all wheel drive or 4 wheel drive, but where I live (seattle), I only need this a few days per year. The rest of the
time, an all wheel drive just uses up more gas unnecessarily.
Is there a passenger car that is normally front wheel drive but can be switched into 4 wheel drive on slippery surface? It's ok to not have a center differential.
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On 01/15/2011 01:40 PM, bob wrote:

AMC Eagle was RWD but otherwise as you describe.
not aware of any others
would like to find an Eagle hatchback with a 5-speed. that'd be a cool little car. my grandparents had a 4-door sedan and while it was uuuuuuuugly inside and out it ran for years and years. I think they finally sold it after they moved out of their place in the country. by then it was getting somewhat long in the tooth anyway.
nate
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On 1/15/11 12:40 PM, in article 4d31e9fd$0$19270$c3e8da3$ snipped-for-privacy@news.astraweb.com, "bob"

Lots of them if you look at crossovers. Honda CRV and Nissan Rogue are two that I have experienced. Both are normally FWD and engage 4 wheel when the front wheels slip.
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How about Jeep? cuhulin
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Suburu has full time 4wd that, as I understand it, holds up well, and is not a economy hog.. Never had one, but might consider.
They also use a boxer engine, front mounted (in general), and this is supposed to be an elephant engine.

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On 1/15/11 11:40 AM, bob wrote:

You might want to review the information at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_wheel_drive#4WD_and_AWD_systems_by_design_type
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bob wrote:

Used to be a lot of them. Now you're limited in choices.
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bob wrote:

Subaru used to build cars like that. The Justy was just one that had a selector lever on the floor. Most of the current crop of AWD actually are front wheel primary drive with the rear wheels as assist. Wouldn't be hard to install a disconnect under them.
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On Sat, 15 Jan 2011 10:40:02 -0800, bob wrote:

I have an '89 Soob Coupe that has a switch on the AT handle that engages and disengages the AWD. I also had an '83 Tercel wagon, 5 speed, with a manual linkage that looked like another shift lever. When you pulled it back it engages the read diff and opened a gate in the 5 speed, adding an EL (extra low) creeper gear. It was a really fantastic set up, as long as you paid attention and took it out of AWD before hitting dry pavement, because it was a BITCH to disengage once the pavement dried out!
Too bad no one makes stuff like this anymore. They were really good systems.
THe Auto version of the Tercel had a button on the handle, too, but the 5 speeds were manual.
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The AWD Ford Fusion and Taurus have a system that only engages the rear drive wheels when slip is detected. There is no manual switch to allow it to be switched off (or on). I have a 2007 AWD Fusion and the system seems to work quite well, but it does decrease the full economy becasue of the extra weight and rotating mass (decreases it around 1 mpg I estimate).
Ed
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Suzuki makes a small 5-door hatch that does this- i.e. you can switch the AWD on and off at whimsy. The name escapes me, but "Aero SX Something" seems to come to mind.
I'm in the same boat as the OP... I want an AWD (and i love the Subaru Legacy wagons) but fuel economy is a concern. Even if the Subaru AWD is 'on demand', they still have lower MPG than most cars in their class.
-J
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On 01/17/2011 07:00 PM, phaeton wrote:

Subarus seem to be built stronger than other Japanese cars - heavier gauge metal etc. Makes sense given their history (they started off making cars primarily for whatever the Japanese forest service or equivalent is called)
That's not necessarily a bad thing, esp. if you drive on rough roads a lot.
nate
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Nate Nagel wrote:

I knew almost nothing of them. Here you go: http://www.subaru-global.com/history.html
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I listen to Car Talk on NPR often. It seems like they constantly recommend Subarus AND constantly get calls from people with broken Subarus. In proportion to the number sold, I have to beleive that Subarus generate more calls to Car Talk than any other main stream vehicle. Either they are not terribly reliable, or the Car Talk audience is mostly made up of Subaru owners.
Ed
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Even if the system is "on demand" you are still carrying around the extra mass of the 4WD components. And if the system is such that all the componet rotate, even when not engaged, you also have the increased rotational inertia to deal with all the time.
Ed
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Even if you switch off the AWD circuit you are still carrying around all the hardware and spinning two differentials. Not much savings there.
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bob wrote:

You may want to rethink that 'no center differential' thing. Vehicles that lock up the front and rear axles can be pretty twitchy in a curve.
Some vehicles have a fluid coupling or some such thing in place of a center diff. That's OK, but the traditional part time 4x4 systems are not for amateurs.
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On Mon, 17 Jan 2011 19:59:32 -0800, Paul Hovnanian P.E. wrote:

The Tercel I mentioned in an earlier reply did not have a center diff, and on snow, ice of even wet pavement it wasn't an issue. On dry pavement...
Felt like the car was going to twist itself in a knot...that's part of the reason I said you had to be on the lookout in case the pavement turned dry..that and you could NOT disengage the rear wheels on dry pavement. Probably because...
there was no center diff...
Since the Soob is electronic it will disengage even on dry pavement.
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Hachiroku ハチロク wrote:

It will become an issue if you're trying to make a tight turn. And if its something that engages automatically, it'll catch you by surprise.

It's not difficult to disengage a lockup type transfer case on dry pavement. Just roll ahead in a straight line (no power to the driveline) and the shifter will slip right out.

I wonder whet sort of mechanism the electronic system uses. It's still possible for the mechanical parts to bind up under torque even if the shift motor is trying to disengage the diff. My Landcruiser locking diffs can hang up and I get a 'disagree' signal. Backing up for a few feet unbinds the mechanism. A loose road surface helps as well. Engaging any kind of lockup mechanism on dry pavement is asking for broken parts.
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My AWD Fusion has a electrically operated clutch that controls power to the rear wheels. I've never been in a situation where it felt like the system was binding up in a turn. The engagement is completely non-dramatic. I know it works, but I never "feel" it working. I have no idea of the logic employed to control the clutch, but it seems really good. Before purchsing the car, I test drove both Front Wheel Drive and an All Wheel Drive Models. To my senses, the AWD model handled bettter. It definitely handles wet pavement situations better than previous front wheel drive cars I have owned.
Ed
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