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Hi, I want to buy a Ford escape (2010-2012) and I want to have 4x4 but, looking in the topic it seems to be something automatic? I watched a post of one model that has the drive train selector on the left side of the radio (looks similar to the lights switch/selector) In case that I imagined that, at the end, how the 4x4 works on these models?
 

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Gen 1 and 2 have a PTU which always sends power to the rear differential. Normally most torque is sent to the front wheels only (the rear diff coupling isn't "coupled" and not sending any power to the rear differential). If it senses wheel slip (using the ABS sensors) or going WOT, it sends a signal to the rear to start "coupling" and send power to the rear diff.

Early Gen 1 had a switch that would allow you to lock the coupler in the rear to always transmit power to the rear diff. 2005 and newer there is no way to lock in 4WD, it is auto mode only.
 

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I have a 2012 and have been able to watch the power split in realtime (using FORScan on a tablet on my dash to peek at the canbus system)...and it's surprisingly active. MUCH more so than just responding to wheel slip, which is what I was told when I bought the car; it seems quite a bit more discrete and proactive than that even on dry pavement.

I certainly haven't been to Moab in it, but have had zero trouble in the rough/no road back country, bilzzardy passes and slimy wet LA freeways (the first rain of a season can create surprisingly dangerous conditions)...to the point where it's actually difficult to get it to misbehave.

Nonetheless I believe "4WD" to be something of a misnomer, with AWD being a much better descriptor of the system utilized here; your only control is turning traction control off.
 

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I have the same setup in my 2012 Fusion, and I was also surprised at the amount of torque directed to the rear. I have graphs that show ABS sensor speed and throttle position, and it is more about throttle position than actual slip, however I am sure it is difficult to see the very specific differences in wheel speed on a graph, but I could see how a slightly worn tire could cause it to engage more frequently.

I agree it is AWD. My 2000 Expedition has A4WD/4HI/4LO and it is more like 4WD, but in A4WD it is AWD, torque is split front and rear (with a rear bias) depending on slip, but with torque on demand in the transfer case, and not the axle.
 
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