8 Modern 4x4 Features You Should Look Out For

Updated Oct 19, 2022

Driving aids in modern 4x4 vehicles that make off-roading so much better

It is not surprising that some drivers, car enthusiasts and the likes have developed a passion for a different kind of driving that deviates from the normal, boring, frustrating city drive. This is what we call off-roading. For those unfamiliar with off-roading, it is a sport driving on an uneven ground, mud, rivers and other rough terrain.

Off-roading can give anyone who tries it a different kind of rush, something they can never get from the normal, everyday driving life. It’s like a breath of fresh air for people who traverse the city every single day.

off roading

Off roading can be a good hobby during anyone's free time to somehow feel a different kind of driving experience

You cannot do off-roading without a proper vehicle to use. Off road vehicles are also known as 4x4s or four-wheel drive cars – that works both on even grounds and through rough terrains as well. 4x4 basically means that all four wheels are powered unlike normal cars that usually just have two powered wheels. 4x4s are equipped with extra power and stability that make them suitable for tough and rough terrains and more difficult road and driving conditions.

Off-roading can be quite tough, especially for those who have started doing it ages ago. But now, with modern cars equipped with high technology features, driving a 4x4 should not be as difficult as it used to be. In line with this, what features should we look for in a 4x4?

We at Philkotse.com are here to give you some notable modern day 4x4 car features that can surely help any driver to go through off-roading with much more ease.

1. Automatic Off Road Mode

Available in 4WD such as Volkswagen Amarok, the Automatic Off Road Mode, when pressed, sets up the vehicle’s electronic system for off road use.

This button activates other features necessary for off-roading such as Hill Descent Control and recalibrates the ABS or Anti-lock Braking System so the vehicle can perform better on uneven grounds and dirt road.

off road mode

Once off road mode is on, it adapts and readies your car's system to any type of off road condition

2. Intelligent Manual Transmission (IMT)

Found in Toyota 4x4s, Intelligent Manual Transmission is responsible for increasing the engine revs when the driver downshifts to ensure a smooth gear shift. This system also works when the driver gears up, to ensure more comfortable driving experience.

intelli manual transmission

Intelligent Manual Transmission is a feature that helps your vehicle adapt to different gears effectively

Bottom line, this feature adapts to whatever gear shift that the driver needs, to provide utmost comfort for both the drivers and his or her passengers.

3. Off Road Cruise Control

This feature is present in the upcoming feisty Ford Ranger Raptor which enables it to control the chosen set-point velocity in off-road conditions using the actuators, brakes and engine. It maintains the level of speed that the vehicle uses and adapts it depending on the road condition it traverses.

4. Obstacle Warning System / Alarms

This feature works almost the same way as parking sensors, but is designed to detect terrain specific elements such as rocks or branches, even the road conditions or anything that may hinder you from driving smoothly.

It will alert you if there is an incoming obstacle that you need to be aware about. Downside is, sometimes this feature can be so sensitive that even when a non-threatening thing comes your way it can already send out a distress signal.

obstacle detection

One good feature present in modern cars is obstacle detection and warning system that lets you know of any incoming that will block your way

5. Hill Start Assist

This is a feature where sensors work to detect the vehicles motion when it tries to incline or traverse an uphill type of road. The main purpose of the Hill Start Assist is to prevent the vehicle to roll backwards when it stops on a hilly road condition. It holds the brakes while the driver switch between brake and acceleration pedal.

Once you step on the gas, it will release the brakes. If you are driving a manual transmission that has this feature, it will maintain the pressure on the brake until the clutch is released.

>>> Click here to get more helpful tips and advice for your safe driving

6. Terrain Management System

Introduced by Ford through its Ford Everest, Terrain Management System or TMS simplifies 4WD systems by varying stability control intervention, traction control and throttle response for more road flexibility.

terrain management system

Terrain management system adapts the vehicle to whatever terrain it's going to face

TMS comes in four forms – Normal, which is used for regular driving; Grass/Gravel/Snow mode where the throttle is less sensitive, gear shifts up earlier and downshifts happen a little bit later. Sand mode is extra sensitive as it allows the wheels to slip more to maintain momentum.

Lastly, Rock mode keeps the wheel slip under control and allows the car to move continuously on a rocky surface without losing traction.

7. Center Differential Locks

This feature is found in four wheel drives. It functions by locking both wheels together on an axle like they’re on a common shaft. When this happens, wheels are then forced to turn simultaneously, regardless of the traction available on either of the wheels.

This is often used by race cars to maintain traction during high speed maneuvers and speeding up at ridiculously high rates. This can also be used in sports like drifting. For off-roading, center locking differential is used to avoid getting stuck in the mud or any uneven terrains.

8. Electronic Traction Control (ETC)

Electronic Traction Control limits wheel slip and prevents the vehicle from spinning as it traverses wet and slippery road conditions. This feature can be applied to any type of drivetrain configuration, may it be a rear wheel drive, front wheel drive or an all-wheel drive.

Electronic Traction Control works by applying brakes on the wheel that has the least traction as it turns over the driving force to the other wheel.

Electronic Traction Control button

Electronic Traction Control limits wheel slip and prevents the vehicle from spinning as it traverses wet and slippery road conditions

>>> Read more about off-road vehicles:

Ivy Kristia Padura

Ivy Kristia Padura


Ivy is one of the first Philkotse's content writers. She finds joy in sharing her driving tips, particular for dealing with heavy traffic in Metro Manila, with other fellow drivers.

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