Automotive Subaru Symmetrical All-wheel-drive system

Published on July 11th, 2021 | by Subhash Nair


20 Millionth AWD Subaru Production Milestone

Subaru celebrates a production milestone for AWD vehicles.

Except for the Subaru BRZ sportscar, every Subaru produced comes with symmetrical all-wheel drive. It’s quite a bold and uncompromising position for Subaru to take and the strategy seems to make its fans happy. This week, the Japanese automaker is celebrating the production of its 20,000,000th all-wheel-drive vehicle.

This milestone took 49 years for Subaru to achieve, with the 1972 Subaru Leone 4WD estate van getting the ball rolling. The Subaru Leone 4WD estate van was not only Subaru’s, but also Japan’s first passenger vehicle to feature all-wheel drive.

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Besides all-wheel drive, boxer engines are also a peculiarity of Subaru vehicles. The company remains the only Japanese carmaker to produce boxer engines en masse and only one of 2 car companies globally to do so.

Why is this? Well, there are inherently desirable qualities to boxer engines and symmetrical all-wheel-drive systems. The flat, low layout of a boxer engine brings the centre of gravity to a very low point in the car and this helps with stability.

The company was probably made aware from the 1970s to the 1990s that it, and other smaller Japanese manufacturers would never be able to compete directly with the biggest names in the industry. It was not a question of competence, but a question of allocation. The Japanese government had agreed to voluntary limits on the number of Japanese-made vehicles that could be sold in the USA.

By committing to a superior way of making passenger cars, Subaru managed to carve out a niche for themselves and the company has done well to protect and expand that niche over the decades.


Subaru Corporation is pleased to announce that cumulative production of its All-Wheel Drive (AWD) vehicles surpassed 20 million units in June this year. The milestone was achieved in the 49th year since the company introduced the Subaru Leone 4WD Estate Van, Japan’s first mass-produced AWD passenger car, in September 1972.

AWD models currently account for 98% of Subaru’s global sales, and all of those AWD models feature the 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.

As one of the core technologies that underpins Subaru’s commitment to safety and driving enjoyment, Subaru’s AWD technology has been enhanced over nearly half a century, and its AWD performance continues to evolve in electrified vehicles as well.

In “e-BOXER”-equipped models sold in Japan and other regions around the world, a highly-responsive motor allows more precise control of AWD, 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.
For upcoming electrified models including the global all-electric SUV “SOLTERRA” due out in 2022 and new strong hybrid vehicles scheduled for release in the mid-2020s, Subaru’s AWD capability will be further enhanced with electrification technology.

Subaru will continue to enhance the “Subaru Difference” by further honing our existing original core technologies while also cultivating future-generation technologies, in order to provide “Enjoyment and Peace of Mind” to our customers around the world.

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Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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