NEWSROOM: How the latest 4Motion® with Active Control all-wheel drive system helps keep the Atlas on track
May 19, 2020
Last year, nearly 8 million vehicles sold in America came with some form of all-wheel-drive. In northern states, all-wheel or four-wheel drive has long been considered essential for winter travel. Even in southern states, all-wheel drive has gained in popularity as a peace-of-mind feature for wild weather days.
But as anyone who’s driven on snowy or muddy roads knows, there’s more to getting going than simply which wheel does the work. This is why the available 4Motion® with Active Control system on the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas and 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport uses sensors and smart software to direct traction to where it’s needed most.
Volkswagen first introduced an all-wheel-drive system for America on the 1986 Quantum Syncro wagon, followed closely by the Syncro model of the Vanagon. Since then, Volkswagen has offered some form of all-wheel drive in several models across its lineup, from the Golf Alltrack and Golf R to the Arteon and Tiguan.
All-wheel drive does not mean all wheels drive all the time. That’s actually a good way to burn fuel unnecessarily; instead, the 4Motion system uses an advanced electronic clutch on the rear axle that lets the rear wheels rotate while the front wheels power the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport in everyday driving.
Even when it’s not engaged, the 4Motion system measures the wheel speed multiple times a second, looking for signs of wheel slip. The 4Motion software has been designed to engage before the vehicle’s front wheels lose traction. The electronically controlled clutch can engage in a fraction of a second, sending up to 50 percent of the engine’s power to the rear axle as needed. If an individual wheel begins to slip, the Electronic Stability Control can slow it down, sending more power to the wheel on the opposite side with traction.
The Active Control system gives drivers a tool to set how the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport interact with different types of surfaces, varying engine power, transmission shifts and other parameters. Beyond the “Onroad” mode for everyday driving, Active Control also offers Snow, Offroad and Offroad Custom modes.
In “Snow” mode, Active Control employs a more aggressive approach to stopping wheelspin, by employing transmission shifts earlier to help optimize traction, and reducing engine power when the Traction Control System detects slippage. The system is designed to be most sensitive when cornering, and traction is of paramount importance.
In “Offroad,” Active Control manages the throttle and transmission similar to “Snow” mode but adds manual transmission control with Tiptronic® and relaxes the wheelspin settings and customizes the ABS system to provide better traction and stopping distances on loose dirt. Hill Descent Control is automatically activated on gradients more than 10 percent.
For the first time, the 4Motion with Active Control is available with either four-cylinder or V6 for the 2021 Atlas, as it is with the 2020 Atlas Cross Sport. Either way, the technology has decades of experience in keeping you on track.
 When driving during winter weather conditions, ensure that your vehicle is equipped with appropriate all-season or winter tires. Always drive in a manner appropriate for the weather, visibility and road conditions.
 Always ensure that your vehicle is equipped with appropriate tires and equipment and always adjust your speed and driving style to the road, terrain, traffic, and weather conditions. See Owner’s Manual for further details, and important limitations.