Which is better, BMW sDrive or xDrive?

Which is better, BMW sDrive or xDrive?

The difference between a BMW xDrive and sDrive is that the xDrive distributes power on all four wheels of the vehicle at once or in separate, whereas the sDrive means that the BMW is a rear-wheel model. The xDrive version offers much better traction in slippery driving conditions such as rain, cold and snow.

Many people drive BMWs for their rear-wheel-drive power that allows you to take control of the vehicle and drive more aggressively. If you are not one of these people or have decided to purchase a BMW SUV, you might be interested in knowing more about s and xDrives.

The difference between all-wheel-drive, four-wheel-drive and sDrive

A general note should be made that four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive are not the same things. Four-wheel drive powers all four wheels at the same time, whereas the xDrive (all-wheel-drive) distributes the power wherever it is needed.

All-wheel-drive (xDrive) provides better handling, traction and safety on the road, compared to a sDrive BMW. The xDrive utilizes all four wheels and balances the input of power according to the conditions on the road. It compensates when one wheel lags and puts more power if needed, or less, depending on the situation.

On the other hand, sDrive, means that the vehicle is powered by a standard two-wheel drive system. It can be a rear-wheel-drive like you would expect from most BMWs, or a front-wheel-drive like the BMW 1 Series and X1 subcompacts SUVs.

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Power distribution

Usually, in xDrive vehicles, BMW puts 60% of the power on the rear wheel and allocates the remaining 40% on the front wheels. The xDrive system uses intelligent technology and works wonders together with Dynamic Stability Control to monitor the road conditions at the same time.

xDrive brings better control

When the aforementioned sensors detect an uneven, slippery or potentially dangerous surface, or a potential loss of traction, the systems urge power toward the wheel that has the most traction with the road, preventing the vehicle from sliding. In hard to handle situations, many drivers have reported the BMW xDrive to be outstanding in helping them regain control and handling.

In addition to the enhanced safety, the xDrive is not an ordinary 4-wheel-drive system. BMW took things next level when they implemented an intelligent system to control the wheels’ power input.

BMW engineers have thoroughly researched and know for certain that vehicles tend to under or oversteer during harsh sharp turns. For that reason, the wheels compensate, resulting in the xDrive being far more efficient in terms of steering.

The xDrive achieves superior driving dynamics and brings the advantage of taking sharp turns easily, without losing control of the vehicle at any moment, regardless of climate. A good example of that optimization is how xDrive SUVs allow smoother turning by misplacing the power from the inside wheels while turning, which allows the vehicle to lie on the outer wheels and be far more balanced.

Same model – different drivetrains

We compared the same BMW X1 model with two different drivetrains. The first is the X1 sDrive, which costs $35,000, has 228 horsepower and brings in 258 lbs-ft of torque. It weighs 3,542 lbs. The sDrive model can reach from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 6.6 seconds.

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For comparison, the BMW X1 xDrive drivetrain has the same 228 horsepower under the hood and the same 258 lbs-ft torque, but it weighs more – 3,697 lbs. Regardless of the heavier weight, it reaches from 0 to 62 miles per hour 0.3 seconds faster with a time of 6.34 seconds!

The all-wheel-drive makes this big of a difference. However, of course it does still have some downsides. The biggest of which is a slightly increased mile per gallon. Keeping in mind these differences in terms of acceleration and speed, the two vehicles have no other differences regarding design, transmission, handling or suspension. The change in miles per gallon and speed is owed exclusively to the all-wheel-drive improvement.

BMW models with xDrive and with sDrive

The models that are available with the standard sDrive are the BMW 7-series, the X1, X2, X3, X6 and Z4.

The xDrive, or all-wheel-drive, option starts with the BMW 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7-series and continues with the X1, X2, X3, X6, and X7.

The X4, X5, X7 and X8 are all equipped with a standard xDrive, whereas all other models that are mentioned have the option to include the package as a paid upgrade. Naturally, the xDrive models and X4, X5, X7, X8, are more costly than the lower end compact and subcompact SUVs that fall in the X1 and X2 categories.

XDrive FAQ

Does the xDrive always function on an X BMW?

The xDrive is a permanent AWD (all-wheel-drive) system. Depending on the driving conditions, it might stop powering one wheel, and turn the power toward other wheels that have better traction with the road in the current situation. It usually distributes the power in 60 per cent toward the rear axle and 40 per cent toward the front axle of the vehicle.

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What do you need to do in order to drift with an xDrive BMW?

If you want to drift with an xDrive model, you would need to install some OEM gadgets in order to switch your xDrive off and reverse it to being a rear-wheel-drive vehicle. The installation of such hardware usually costs anywhere between $200 and $1000, depending on the service provider and geographical location.

Of course, you will have to drive carefully and take on full responsibilities for your actions in case of an accident. There is also an android and iPhone app called xDelete that enables you to stop switching from xDrive to rear-wheel drive instantaneously. It can be used for the same purpose.

Is quattro better than xDrive?

This debate has been going on for years with no definitive conclusion. Many experts have stated that the best all-wheel-drive is neither Audi’s Quattro nor BMW’s xDrive. It’s the Subaru Symmetrical All-wheel Drive, which has made Subaru synonymous with AWD over the years.

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Dan Gurbalov

Why do you love cars? I love the sound of most gasoline engines. I love the smell too.

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