are teslas awd

Are Teslas AWD: Worth The Upgrade Over RWD?

It is safe to say that the automotive world is going through an electric revolution. Tesla is often credited as the catalyst that started this shift. The California-based organization released its first electric car, the Tesla Roadster, in 2006. Since then they have gone on to become the most recognizable electric car maker in the world. In this day and age, everyone and their grandmother know what a Tesla is. But, are Teslas AWD? If you don’t know the answer, stick around until the end of this article.

All-wheel-drive, AWD for short, is a feature mostly found in off-road vehicles. It simply means that all four wheels of the vehicle are powered by the engine of the vehicle. But, as we all know, Tesla vehicles don’t have engines. Instead, a set of batteries power these vehicles. So, do these vehicles really have AWD? And if they do, what is the use? After you read this article, you will have clear answers to all these questions. Let’s start off by taking a look at what AWD is.

What Is All-Wheel-Drive?

As we all know, vehicles move by delivering power to their wheels. AWD is one such way of power delivery. Here, torque is distributed to all four wheels of the vehicle. This allows all the wheels to gain traction. AWD can come in handy during extreme weather conditions. As all the wheels are powered, the vehicle gains more grip to move through those situations.

are teslas awd

Additionally, all-wheel-drive comes with some performance benefits as well. The increase in traction allows the vehicle to get off the line quickly. In vehicles like Teslas which produce absurd amounts of power, this system is more important. Without AWD, the wheels will simply perform a burnout, wasting precious energy.

Two main types of all-wheel-drive systems are found in the automotive world. They are,

  • Full-Time AWD
  • Part-Time AWD

Now we will take a closer look at each of these systems.

Full-Time AWD

In vehicles with full-time all-wheel-drive, both axles of the vehicle deliver power to all four wheels. Moreover, full-time AWD is the most efficient AWD system for slippery road conditions. Not only that, these systems provide the vehicle with added traction and leverage.

Part-Time AWD

As the name suggests, vehicles with part-time AWD deliver power to all four wheels only when necessary. Until then, the torque is delivered to only one of the axles. This can be either the front axle or the rear one.

Part-time AWD systems use sensors to detect the condition of the road surface. Then, when an adverse condition is detected, a signal is sent to the onboard computer.

The computer responds by monitoring the power of all four wheels. Depending on the situation, either the front or rear wheels will receive more power.

However, four-wheel-drive is another system found on vehicles that deliver power to all four wheels. Sometimes, it can be difficult to distinguish between the two. So, in the next section, we will take a look at the differences between these two systems.


On the surface, both these systems function in the same way. Both of them power all four wheels of a vehicle. However, there are some differences in the functionality of 4WD and AWD systems.

The biggest difference is in the way that these two systems are controlled. 4WD systems are mostly implemented in SUVs. As a result, it is more focused on off-road use than on city usage. Not only that, 4WD systems are mostly mechanical. Here, the wheels of the vehicle are controlled independently of each other. Additionally, 4WD systems require the driver to manually engage the system, rather than engaging automatically.

On the other hand, AWD systems are usually operated through software. This requires no driver engagement. Instead, the ECU engages AWD when the vehicle detects a loss of traction. AWD systems are more efficient than 4WD systems due to this reason.

The final difference between 4WD and AWD we are going to talk about is weight. Out of the two systems, 4WD weighs more. The mechanical technologies used in 4WD systems are the main reason for this. Due to the increase in weight, the fuel economy of 4WD vehicles is worse than AWD vehicles as well. After considering all these factors, you can clearly understand that AWD is the better way when it comes to powering all four wheels of a vehicle.

We hope that you got a clear idea about the differences between 4WD and AWD. So, let’s continue our discussion on the topic “are Teslas AWD”, by taking a look at the different Tesla vehicles on offer. Also, if you’re curious, do check out our explainer on how reliable are Teslas.

AWD In Tesla Vehicles

As Teslas are exclusively electric vehicles, their AWD systems function in a different manner when compared to gasoline-powered vehicles. Instead of powering the wheels by the engine, each wheel of a Tesla has an independent motor. All these motors function at the same time to give the vehicle its AWD functionality.

To date, Tesla has manufactured a number of sedans and SUVs. Not only that, there are plans to release a Tesla semi-truck and an electric pick-up in the future as well. Apart from a few older models, almost all Teslas have used AWD systems. To get a clear idea, let’s take a look at some popular Tesla models.

Are Teslas AWD #1 – Model S

The Model S is the vehicle that put Tesla on the map. It is a luxurious executive saloon with a starting price close to $100,000. However, the Tesla Model S is one of the most advanced vehicles on the planet as well.

When the Model S debuted in 2012, it was offered a rear-wheel-drive system. But, as newer models of the sedan were released, this option was discontinued. All current versions of the Model S are offered with an all-wheel-drive system.

With its use of an AWD system, the Model S has been able to become one of the fastest vehicles in the world. The current flagship of the lineup, the Model S Plaid, can reach 60 mph from a standing start in just 1.99 seconds. This mind-blowing figure makes it the fastest accelerating production car on the planet today.

The range of the Model S is impressive as well. Tesla uses the “Long Range” name for the trim level that can cover the most amount of miles on a single charge. The Tesla Model S Long Range is able to travel 375 miles on a full battery. There is an AWD system on board this vehicle as well.

Are Teslas AWD #2 – Model X

Storming to the market in 2015, the Tesla Model X was an instant head-turner. This Family SUV with Falcon-wing rear doors that open skywards is still one of the most stylish vehicles on the market.

With a seating capacity of seven people, it improved the capabilities of the Model S. All Model X variants currently on sale come with an all-wheel-drive system. With a futuristic screen and a spacious interior, this is one of the best electric family cars out on the market.

There is a Plaid version of the Model X as well. It is powered by three motors and has an AWD system as well. This is the fastest version of the Model X and has a 0 – 60 time of 2.5 seconds. Moreover, it has an electric range of just over 310 miles. If you are in the market for an AWD electric SV to carry your family around, the Tesla Model X is the perfect vehicle for you.

Are Teslas AWD #3 – Model 3

With a starting price of just $46,990 for the base model, the Model 3 is the most affordable Tesla on sale. It was first introduced to the market in 2016. However, for its low price, this four-door sedan packs a number of great features. The inclusion of Autopilot is perhaps the most impressive one. This self-driving technology comes as a standard feature on all Tesla Model 3s.

model 3

The Model 3 is one of only a handful of Teslas to still offer a rear-wheel-drive option. The Model 3 RWD is the cheapest trim level of this vehicle. It has a range of 267 miles and can reach 60 mph in 5.8 seconds.

However, all other versions of the Model 3 come with AWD. The fastest out of them is the Performance variant. It is capable of reaching 60 mph in 3.1 seconds and can travel 315 miles with a full battery. If you want to travel the furthest, the Model 3 Long Range is the one you should get. It can travel 334 miles on a single charge.

Are Teslas AWD #4 – Model Y

The Model Y is the first compact SUV offered by Tesla. It shares many components with the Model 3. With a seating capacity for five people, the Model Y is an affordable option in the sea of electric SUVs. You can buy one of these beauties for just over $60,000.

There are two versions of the Model Y on sale. They are the Performance and Long Range. Both of these come with all-wheel-drive systems. However, a Standard Range model with RWD is expected to be released in the future.

Are Teslas AWD #5 – Cybertruck

Pick-up trucks are the best-selling vehicles on the planet today. Tesla hopes to crack this market with the Cybertruck. This futuristic electric pick-up is expected to be released in late 2023. In typical Tesla fashion, the Cybertruck has some quirky features.

The biggest quirk of all is its exterior design. First of all, the body is made entirely out of stainless steel. The cyberpunk-inspired design of this truck still divides opinion, 3 years after its unveiling. However, the quirks don’t stop there! The Cybertruck has armored glass on its windows. But, what is the purpose of the armored windows on a consumer vehicle? Well, even we don’t have an answer for that.

Weird style choices aside, the Cybertruck is actually one of the most practical Teslas ever. It is expected to have 100 cubic feet of storage along with a towing capacity of 7500 lbs. The cheapest version of the Cybertruck will be powered by a single electric motor. It will power the rear wheels only and have a range of over 250 miles.

In typical pick-up truck fashion, the higher trim levels of the Cybertruck will come with all-wheel drive. The dual-motor version will have a 300-mile range, while the top-of-the-line tri-motor version will have an astonishing range of over 500 miles. Not only that, the tri-motor AWD Cybertruck will reach 60 mph in less than 2.9 seconds.

Are Teslas AWD #6 – Roadster

Tesla will revive the Roadster name with a new model in 2023. With a starting price of $200,000, the 2023  Tesla Roadster will be the most expensive Tesla yet. Once it is released, the Roadster will become the fastest electric car ever. The expected  0 – 60 time is just 1.9 seconds.


We don’t know much about the powertrain of this supercar. However, it will most definitely come with a state-of-the-art AWD system. Tesla currently has two versions of the Roadster up for reservation. The “Founders Series” is the most exclusive version. However, it comes with a $50,000 premium over the base price.

Are Teslas AWD #7 – Semi

Without a doubt, the Semi will be the biggest Tesla ever once it goes into production in 2023. Four electric motors will power the four rear wheels of the Semi, essentially functioning as an all-wheel-drive system. With a range of over 500 miles and an energy consumption rating of fewer than 2 kilowatts per mile, the Tesla semi will revolutionize the way we transport cargo.

These are all the current Tesla versions we know of today. As you can see, almost all of them have AWD systems. Next, we will tell you about some of the benefits of having an all-wheel-drive system.

Benefits Of AWD

Having an AWD system is beneficial for Teslas and other vehicles alike. Some of the most significant benefits of AWD are,

  • Increased Safety
  • Better Handling
  • Range Extension
  • Enhanced Performance
  • Resale Value

It is important for you to have a good idea about each of these benefits. So, let’s take a deeper dive into them, shall we?

1. Increased Safety

During slippery conditions, vehicles can lose grip and slide off the road. However, this can be prevented through an all-wheel-drive system. The use of AWD doubles the amount of traction you get from an FWD or RWD vehicle. For people living in snowy areas, having AWD is more important. Without it, you have the risk of getting into an accident.

2. Better Handling

Having AWD is beneficial in dry conditions as well. As we mentioned earlier, AWD increases the grip of your vehicle. In return, the handling characteristics of the vehicle are also improved. Not only that, AWD vehicles have higher cornering speeds than rear-wheel drive or front-wheel drive vehicles.

3. Range Extension

All Tesla “Long Range” models come with all-wheel drive. Compared to RWD models, these AWD models have a significant range advantage. For example, the standard Tesla Model 3 has a range of just 240 miles from a single charge, while the Long Range model can travel an impressive 310 miles.

4. Enhanced Performace

The traction of the wheels has a significant effect on the acceleration of a vehicle. AWD systems on Teslas help to deliver the power of the motors instantly to the ground. As this is done through all four wheels, energy wasted through wheelspin is decreased too. The use of AWD has made Teslas some of the fastest accelerating vehicles on Earth.

5. Resale Value

AWD-equipped vehicles usually have a higher resale value than FWD or RWD vehicles. This is mainly due to the increased capability of these vehicles. The performance benefits of AWD vehicles impact their resale value as well.

However, there are some disadvantages of all-wheel-drive systems as well. The next section of this article is reserved for discussing some of these disadvantages.

Are Teslas AWD – Disadvantages

Compared to other systems, there are only a few disadvantages of AWD. But, it is better to have a good idea about them. The most significant disadvantages of all-wheel-drive are,

  • Increased Weight
  • Higher Cost
  • Complexity

Now, we are going to take a look at each of these disadvantages.

1. Increased Weight

The addition of weight usually has a negative impact on the performance of a vehicle. That is why most sportscar manufacturers look to make their vehicles as light as possible. The AWD system of a Tesla, along with the batteries and motors add a significant amount of weight to the vehicle.

However, the addition of weight has an advantage as well. It improves the traction over icy and snowy conditions. In the case of Teslas, the performance hit due to weight is compensated by the high power output of the electric motors.

2. Higher Cost

Typically, AWD Tesla models cost more than their RWD counterparts. Not only that, the maintenance cost of an AWD system is higher as well.

3. Complexity

Compared to FWD and RWD systems, all-wheel-drive systems are very complex in their design. As there are a large number of parts, there is a higher chance of failure. When something does go wrong in an AWD system, fixing it can be both expensive and time-consuming.

Facts about AWD in Tesla Vehicles:

  1. Not all Tesla vehicles have AWD, and RWD is an option for some models.
  2. Independent motors are used in AWD for improved durability and less maintenance.
  3. Tesla vehicles digitally regulate the torque of their wheels for better traction control and handling.
  4. All Model S vehicles have AWD, while some affordable variants, like the Cyber Truck with a single motor, are RWD.
  5. The company’s line of compact SUVs is called Model Y, and the Long Range variant is an all-wheel drive.
  6. The Cybertruck will be released in three trims, including the Single Motor (RWD) and the Dual Motor and Tri-Motor AWD variants.
  7. Full-time AWD distributes power to all wheels and provides more traction and leverage, while part-time AWD distributes torque to just the rear or front wheels, but not both, in typical driving situations.
  8. The AWD mechanism in Tesla vehicles is controlled by the vehicle’s software.
  9. Tesla vehicles can power their four wheels at various speeds to regulate their direction and have outstanding traction on slippery and snowy roads.
  10. A Tesla car with AWD costs more because it is more advanced than a 4WD or RWD.

Conclusion For Are Teslas AWD

are teslas awd

Tesla is a pioneer in electric car technology. Since its inception, the company pushed boundaries in terms of technology as well as performance. Tesla uses AWD in most of its vehicles to increase their safety, comfort as well as reliability. Not only that, Teslas with AWD can travel further than any of their RWD siblings as well. So, if you want a Tesla that offers great performance and has a longer range, be sure to go for one with AWD.

FAQS On Are Teslas AWD

Here are some popular FAQs:

How Much Is A Tesla

For many years, Teslas were priced at the higher end of the electric car market. However, that changed with the introduction of the Tesla Model 3 in 2016. This four-door electric sedan has a starting price of just $47,000. Due to this affordable price, the Model 3 is the best-selling Tesla in the company’s history.

What Is The Cheapest Tesla

Currently, the cheapest Tesla is the Model 3. It starts at around $48,000 for the base model. However, higher trim levels are more expensive. As an example, the Tesla Model 3 Long Range has a starting price of $51,000. The sports-oriented Model 3 Performance costs $58,000. But, once the Tesla Cybertruck is released, it will replace the Model 3 as the cheapest Tesla. The base model Cybertruck is set to have an MSRP of just $39,900.

How Many Miles Can A Tesla Go

Most Teslas have a range between 200 – 500 miles. This means, that once a Tesla is fully charged, it can travel for over 200 miles without being charged again. The Tesla with the longest range is the dual-motor Tesla Model S. On a single charge, it can travel 405 miles. However, even when you run out of battery in a Tesla, you shouldn’t be worried. Tesla has its charging stations spread across many parts of the globe. These Superchargers can top up the batteries of a Tesla in minutes.

How Many Miles Does A Tesla Last

The lifespan of a Tesla is decided by its batteries. These batteries are made to serve only a set amount of miles. Usually, the batteries on a Tesla are expected to last between 300,000 – 500,000 miles. This equates to an expected lifespan between 22 – 37 years. You can increase the lifespan of your Tesla by taking good care of it and doing regular maintenance.

Does Tesla Have An Engine

As Teslas are electric vehicles, they do not have an engine. These vehicles are powered by electric motors and batteries. In a Tesla, there are around 3000 cells. These are placed along the floor of the vehicle. These battery cells power electric motors which drive the wheels of the vehicle.

Who Makes Tesla

Tesla vehicles are made by Tesla Inc. The company was founded in 2003 by two American entrepreneurs. The current owner of the company is Elon Musk. The name of the organization is a respectful nod to the famous innovator Nikola Tesla.

How Much Horsepower Does A Tesla Have

Teslas are some of the most powerful electric cars on the market today. The most powerful Tesla currently on sale is the Model S Plaid. It produces a mighty 1020 horsepower from its electric tri-motor setup. Not only that, with the use of its AWD system, The model S plaid can reach 60 mph from a standstill in a jaw-dropping 1.99 seconds.

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