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Rear-wheel-drive (RWD) is a form of engine and transmission layout used in motor vehicles, where the engine drives the rear wheels only. Until the late 20th century, rear-wheel drive was the most common configuration for cars. Most rear-wheel drive vehicles feature a longitudinally-mounted engine at the front of the car.
The most common layout for a rear-wheel-drive car is with the engine and transmission at the front of the car, mounted longitudinally.
Other layouts of rear-wheel-drive cars include front-mid engine, rear-mid engine, and rear-engine.
Some manufacturers, such as Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Porsche (944, 924, 928) and Chevrolet (C5 and C6 Corvettes), place the engine at the front of the car and the transmission at the rear of the car, in order to provide a more balanced weight distribution. This configuration is often referred to as a transaxle since the transmission and axle are one unit.
Many of the cars built in the 19th century were rear-wheel drive, often with the engine mounted at the rear of the car. The first rear-wheel-drive car with the engine mounted at the front was an 1895 Panhard model, so this layout was known as the "Système Panhard" in the early years. The layout has the advantage of minimizing mechanical complexity, as it allows the transmission to be placed in-line with the engine output shaft, spreading weight under the vehicle. In comparison, a vehicle with the engine over the driven wheels eliminates the need for the drive shaft (replacing this with the transaxle of lighter combined weight), but has the disadvantage of concentrating all the weight in one location.
In order to reduce the relative weight of the drive shaft, the transmission was normally split into two parts: the gearbox and the final drive. The gearbox was normally produced with its highest gear being 1:1, which offers some mechanical advantages. The final drive, in the rear axle, would then reduce this to the most appropriate speed for the wheels. As power is the product of torque and angular velocity, spinning the shaft faster for any given power reduces the torque and allows a lighter shaft construction.
In an era when gasoline was cheap and cars were heavy, the mechanical advantages of the front-engine, rear-wheel-drive (FR) drivetrain layout made up for any disadvantage in weight terms. It remained almost universal among car designs until the 1970s.
After the Arab oil embargo of 1973 and the 1979 fuel crises, a majority of American FR vehicles (station wagons and luxury sedans) were phased out for the front-engine, front-wheel-drive (FF) layout – this trend would spawn the SUV-van conversion market. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, most American companies set as a priority the eventual removal of rear-wheel drive from their mainstream and luxury lineup.Chrysler went 100% FF by 1990 and GM's American production went entirely FF by 1997 except the Corvette, Firebird and Camaro. Ford's Mustang has stayed rear-wheel drive, as it must maintain a sporty presence, as were Ford's full-size cars based on the Ford Panther platform (the Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Lincoln Town Car) until they were discontinued in 2011 in favour of the Ford Taurus, which Ford discontinued production in 2019, being formally available with either a transverse front-wheel-drive or all-wheel drive layout.
In Australia, FR cars remained popular throughout this period, with the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon having consistently strong sales until their discontinuation in the late 2010s. In Europe, front-wheel drive was popularized by small cars like the Mini, Renault 5 and Volkswagen Golf and adopted for all mainstream cars. Upscale marques like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Jaguar remained mostly independent of this trend and retained a lineup mostly or entirely made up of FR cars.Japanese mainstream marques such as Toyota were almost exclusively FR until the late 1970s and early 1980s. Toyota's first FF vehicle was the Toyota Tercel, with the Corolla and Celica later becoming FF while the Camry was designed as an FF from the beginning. The Supra, Cressida, Crown, and Century remained FR. Luxury division Lexus has a mostly FR lineup. Subaru's BRZ is an FR car. The fact that a driveshaft is needed to transfer power to the rear wheels means a large centre tunnel between the rear seats; therefore, cars such as the Mazda RX8 and the Porsche Panamera forgo a centre rear seat and divide both seats by a centre tunnel.
In the 21st century, most cars are FF, including all front-engined economy cars, though FR cars are making a return as an alternative to large sport-utility vehicles. In North America, GM returned to the production of FR-based luxury vehicles with the 2003 Cadillac CTS. As of 2012, all but the SRX and XTS are FR-based vehicles. Chevrolet reintroduced the FR-based Camaro in 2009, and the Caprice PPV in 2011. Pontiac also had a short run with the FR-based G8 and Pontiac Solstice. A Chevrolet replacement for the G8 called the Chevrolet SS was released in 2013 and uses the FR layout. Chrysler and Dodge reintroduced the 300 and Charger on a FR platform. They also maintain FR layout on the now unibody Grand Cherokee and Durango. Hyundai and Kia have also been working with new FR-based vehicles in the US, the Genesis Coupe and Sedan, the Equus and the new[ when? ] Kia Quoris. Ford, on the other hand, seems to be moving away from FR-based vehicles[ citation needed ] with the discontinuation of the Panther Platform in 2011 and the Australasia-only Falcon in 2016. Excluding trucks, vans, and SUVs, the Mustang and GT are the only FR vehicles remaining in their lineup.
The Chevrolet Camaro is a mid-size American automobile manufactured by Chevrolet, classified as a pony car and also as a muscle car with some versions. It first went on sale on September 29, 1966, for the 1967 model year and was designed as a competing model to the Ford Mustang. The Camaro shared its platform and major components with the Pontiac Firebird, also introduced for 1967.
The Chevrolet Corvair is a compact car manufactured by Chevrolet for model years 1960–1969 in two generations. It remains the only American-designed, mass-produced passenger car with a rear-mounted, air-cooled engine. The Corvair was manufactured and marketed in 4-door sedan, 2-door coupe, convertible, 4-door station wagon, passenger van, commercial van, and pickup truck body styles in its first generation (1960–1964) and as a 2-door coupe, convertible or 4-door hardtop in its second (1965–1969) — with a total production of approximately 1.8 million from 1960-1969.
Four-wheel drive, also called 4x4 or 4WD, refers to a two-axled vehicle drivetrain capable of providing torque to all of its wheels simultaneously. It may be full-time or on-demand, and is typically linked via a transfer case providing an additional output drive shaft and, in many instances, additional gear ranges.
The Ford Probe was a liftback coupé produced by Ford, introduced in 1988 and produced until 1997. The Probe was the result of Ford's collaboration with its longtime Japanese partner, Mazda, and both generations of Probe were derived from the front-wheel drive Mazda G platform that underpinned the Mazda Capella.
Pony car is an American car classification for affordable, compact, highly styled coupés or convertibles with a "sporty" or performance-oriented image. Common characteristics include rear-wheel drive, a long hood, a short decklid, a wide range of options to individualize each car and use of mass-produced parts shared with other models.
Front-wheel drive (FWD) is a form of engine and transmission layout used in motor vehicles, where the engine drives the front wheels only. Most modern front-wheel-drive vehicles feature a transverse engine, rather than the conventional longitudinal engine arrangement generally found in rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel drive vehicles.
In automotive design, an FF, or front-engine, front-wheel-drive (FWD) layout places both the internal combustion engine and driven roadwheels at the front of the vehicle.
In automotive design, an RR, or rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout places both the engine and drive wheels at the rear of the vehicle. In contrast to the RMR layout, the center of mass of the engine is between the rear axle and the rear bumper. Although very common in transit buses and coaches due to the elimination of the drive shaft with low-floor bus, this layout has become increasingly rare in passenger cars.
In automotive design, an FR, or front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout is one where the engine is located at the front of the vehicle and driven wheels are located at the rear. This was the traditional automobile layout for most of the 20th century. Modern designs commonly use the front-engine, front-wheel-drive layout (FF). It is also used in high-floor buses and school buses.
A transaxle is a single mechanical device which combines the functions of an automobile's transmission, axle, and differential into one integrated assembly. It can be produced in both manual and automatic versions.
A mid-engine layout describes the placement of an automobile engine in front of the rear-wheel axles, but behind the front axle.
A drive shaft, driveshaft, driving shaft, tailshaft, propeller shaft, or Cardan shaft is a vehicle component for transmitting mechanical power and torque and rotation, usually used to connect other components of a drivetrain that cannot be connected directly because of distance or the need to allow for relative movement between them.
The Chevrolet Chevy II/Nova is a small automobile manufactured by Chevrolet, and produced in five generations for the 1962 through 1979, and 1985 through 1988 model years. Nova was the top model in the Chevy II lineup through 1968. The Chevy II nameplate was dropped after 1968, with Nova becoming the nameplate for all of the 1969 through 1979 models. Built on the X-body platform, the Nova was replaced by the 1980 Chevrolet Citation introduced in the spring of 1979. The Nova nameplate returned in 1985, produced through 1988 as a S-car based, NUMMI manufactured, subcompact based on the front wheel drive, Japan home-based Toyota Sprinter.
Torsen Torque-Sensing is a type of limited-slip differential used in automobiles.
The Hotchkiss drive is a shaft drive form of power transmission. It was the dominant means for front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout cars in the 20th century. The name comes from the French automobile manufacturer Hotchkiss, although other makers, such as Peerless, used similar systems before Hotchkiss.
A torque tube system is a power transmission and braking technology, that involves a stationary housing around the drive shaft, often used in automobiles with a front engine and rear drive, and rear brakes. The torque tube consists of a large diameter stationary housing between the transmission and rear end that fully encloses a rotating tubular steel or small-diameter solid drive shaft that transmits the power of the engine to a regular or limited-slip differential. The purpose of a torque tube is to hold the rear end in place during acceleration and braking. Otherwise, the axle housing would suffer axle wrap, such that the front of the differential would lift up excessively during acceleration and sink down during braking. Its use is not as widespread in modern automobiles as is the Hotchkiss drive, which holds the rear end in place and prevents it from flipping up or down, during acceleration and braking, by anchoring the axle housings to the leaf springs using spring perches.
Torque steer is the unintended influence of engine torque on the steering, especially in front-wheel-drive vehicles. For example, during heavy acceleration, the steering may pull to one side, which may be disturbing to the driver. The effect is manifested either as a tugging sensation in the steering wheel, or a veering of the vehicle from the intended path. Torque steer is directly related to differences in the forces in the contact patches of the left and right drive wheels. The effect becomes more evident when high torques are applied to the drive wheels either because of a high overall reduction ratio between the engine and wheels, high engine torque, or some combination of the two. Torque steer is distinct from steering kickback.
ATTESA is a four-wheel drive system used in some automobiles produced by the Japanese automaker Nissan, including some models under its luxury marque Infiniti.
In automotive design, a Front Mid-engine, Front-wheel-drive layout is one in which the front road wheels are driven by an internal-combustion engine placed just behind them, in front of the passenger compartment. In contrast to the Front-engine, front-wheel-drive layout (FF), the center of mass of the engine is behind the front axle. This layout is typically chosen for its better weight distribution. Since the differences between the FF and MF layouts are minor, most people consider the MF layout to be the same as the FF layout.
The sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro is an American pony car. Produced by automobile manufacturer Chevrolet, it was first introduced to the public on May 16, 2015. Sales started in 2015 for the 2016 model year. The Camaro now utilizes the GM Alpha platform shared with the Cadillac ATS and CTS and features MacPherson struts in front, rather than the former multi-link setup. General Motors claims that 70 percent of architectural components in the new Camaro are unique to the car.