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What are the Different Terrain Modes in Modern Cars | Explained

You must have stumbled upon ‘Terrain modes’ in the modern-day cars. A feature that might seem like a gimmick to most of the people. the terrain modes actually are a useful one. But are they successful in 2WD cars? What actually happens in different modes? What systems work to get the process done? Let’s find out!

India and 2WD Cars

There are four types of drivetrain available in cars: Front Wheel Drive (FWD), Rear Wheel Drive (RWD), All Wheel Drive (AWD) and Four Wheel Drive (4WD). You can learn about these types of drivetrains in detail by clicking here.

In India, you will find most of the cars two be 2WD with the Front Wheel Drive layout. It is one of the most fuel-efficient ones. You must have heard about drivetrain modes in a 4WD drive.

Hyundai Creta 2020
Hyundai Creta 2020 | Different Traction Modes

Most of the compact SUVs in India are 2WD as there is no need for these to be 4WD as it will reduce the fuel efficiency and is not much of a use in city drive. But is it possible to equip a 2WD car with the modes? Yes, they can be. Although such vehicles don’t become totally offroad capable, they can become capable of driving over rougher road terrains which normal cars won’t be able to. Let’s dwell into the terrain modes now.

How does the Traction Control System (TCS) work?

Working of Traction Control System (TCS)
Working of Traction Control System (TCS) | Different Terrain Modes

Traction Control System or the TCS is based on a simple principle, the power to those who feel underpowered and vice a versa. In a more automotive explanation, TCS will analyse the speed of each wheel and see whether the wheel speed is at par with the vehicle speed. If the speed of the wheel is slower than the vehicle speed, it transfers more power to that wheel. Similarly, if a wheel is spinning at a higher speed than the vehicle speed, TCS will apply brake over that wheel in order to sync it with vehicle speed. In a 2WD also, it is the same procedure, the only difference is that TCS will have control over two wheels that are powered.

Different Types Of Terrain Modes – Snow / Sand / Mud

Traction Control | Different Terrain Modes
Traction Control | Different Terrain Modes

This terrain mode selector is given in the Kia Seltos and Hyundai Creta at present. You can select between snow, sand and mud modes depending upon the terrain you are driving. We will now compare the different terrains and what is the advantage of each mode over the normal driving mode.

  • Snow Mode

    If you put the mode selector on Snow mode, the TCS will determine the surface being snowy (obviously!). On such a terrain, sudden acceleration or braking can result in you losing control over the car. As the driving surface resistance is low, the above-mentioned scenarios will result in skidding. So the TCS will lower the wheel speed and minimise the braking. If the vehicle is driven in a normal mode over such surfaces, it is not possible to have control over your vehicle.

  • Sand Mode

    On a sandy terrain, the wheels can get stuck in the sand due to the low speed of the wheels. The TCS will increase the wheel speed so that they don’t get stuck in the sand. If a vehicle is moving from a standstill, higher revs will result in the sinking of wheels into the sand. So the TCS will control the revolutions of the wheels.

  • Mud Mode

    The mud terrain requires higher revolutions and lower braking so that the vehicle can easily glide through the mud. In the Mud mode, the company claims that the wheels spin 10kmph higher than the vehicle speed which provides the extra traction. This will let the vehicle surpass the muddy terrains easily which won’t be possible in the normal mode.

Hyundai Creta TCS Modes | Different Terrain Modes
Hyundai Creta TCS Modes | Different Terrain Modes

So, these are the three modes that the Hyundai / Kia offers in their 2WD Traction Control System. Are there any disadvantages? Let’s see.

Disadvantages of the 2WD TCS

  • The TCS engages on speeds of 80kmph or lower than these. This means you will not be able to engage the system over the speed of 80kmph and the vehicle will continue in the normal mode.
  • This mode will only allow you to go on rough roads. This system is not meant for offroading as 2WD cars are not capable of such terrains.

So, what do you think about the terrain modes? Is it a gimmick or a feature worth of any use? Let us know in the comment section below.

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Ritvik Gupta
Ritvik Gupta
Ex-Technical Content Developer at GoMechanic | Automobile enthusiast with a knack to decode it for everyone | Automobile Engineer by passion


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