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September 18, 2022

Subaru Celebrates 50 Years Of All-Wheel Drive

Subaru is celebrating the 50th anniversary of their core all-wheel drive or AWD system this year. The system, which made its debut to help scientists reach Japanese observatories and outposts during winter, was first introduced in the Subaru Leone 4WD Estate Van in September 1972. Since then, the company has produced about 21 million all-wheel drive vehicles to date.

Today, all-wheel drive models account for 98 percent of Subaru’s global sales, and all of these AWD models feature the signature Subaru Symmetrical AWD system fitted with the horizontally-opposed “Boxer” engine.

The most distinctive feature of Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD is a symmetrically-laid-out drivetrain paired with a longitudinally-mounted Boxer engine positioned in line with it. The combination of the low center of gravity provided by the Boxer engine and the superior weight balance of the symmetrical drivetrain maximizes stability and traction intrinsic to all-wheel drive, offering superb driving performance in a variety of weather and road conditions.

In addition to these hardware advantages, Subaru has been continuously honing its AWD capability under the philosophy of “human-oriented car making,” to deliver a greater sense of unity with the vehicle which offers increased “Enjoyment and Peace of Mind” to the driver and passengers.

Even with the shift to electrification, Subaru continues to work on its AWD technology. In e-BOXER-equipped models, a highly-responsive electric motor allows more precise control of the AWD system, which offers a greater sense of security on a slippery road surface such as on snow or ice as well as an enhanced driving capability on rough roads.

In the Solterra all-electric SUV, a dual-motor AWD system has been adopted incorporating expertise gained from the company’s motor AWD R&D initiative launched in 2005. Despite the all-electric powertrain, it continues to offer the driving capability and enjoyment characteristic of Subaru.

“As one of the core technologies that underpin Subaru’s commitment to safety and driving enjoyment, Subaru’s AWD system has been continuously enhanced over half a century,” said Tomomi Nakamura, President and CEO of Subaru Corporation. “Toward the age of electrification, we will further refine our long-cultivated AWD capability with electrification technology and continue to pursue the ‘Subaru Difference,’ such as stability, driving dynamics, and handling.”


  1. Are all Subarus made with silicone gaskets and not the conventional ones?

  2. Leone was the ancestor of the Impreza
    Subaru used to make scooters and 360 kei cars only


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