All-Wheel Drive Luxury Sedan Demand Rising

All-Wheel Drive Luxury Sedan Demand Rising

It eats tires faster, drinks more gas and comes at a price premium, but demand for all-wheel drive equipped luxury sedans is still growing.

“It’s about confidence,” Jaguar North American sales exec David Pryor told the Wall Street Journal. It’s a confidence that’s inspiring people to spend the extra cash for power to all four wheels, something Pryor says has grown to 50 percent of the market from less than a third only five years ago. Because of that, the brand will offer all-wheel drive for the first time in its 2013 XJ and XF sedans.

But Jaguar is far from the only brand hip to the growing trend. Cadillac, another brand with traditionally two-wheel drive sedans, is also migrating its models in mass exodus to give the people what they want. The upcoming ATS and XTS models, for example, will be available with power to all four — joining the CTS.

Meanwhile, Audi is working to reduce the mileage penalty associated with all-wheel drive by lightening the components needed. BorgWarner, which sells technology to Audi, Cadillac and others, says it expects to improve its systems to the point where adding all-wheel drive will only reduce mileage by one or two mpg.

Beyond anything else, the sense of security most people associate with having that extra traction is a big factor behind its popularity. Is it really needed, though? Modern stability controls can offer drivers a level of control in slippery conditions that arguably offers more than enough for most drivers and situations.

Even so, there are other reasons people like having each wheel pulling. Power isn’t directed in a static distribution, but instead distributed between the wheels according to where it’s most needed. As many automakers will readily advertise, that can offer better handling and sportier performance.

[Source: Wall Street Journal]