Let Acura explain it.
In order to help differentiate their products in the market place, automakers typically like to come up with clever names for their various features, including all-wheel-drive. Audi calls its AWD system Quattro, BMW uses the name xDrive, Mercedes uses 4MATIC, and Volkswagen uses 4Motion. For 15 years, Acura has used the name Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive or SH-AWD for short. We often poke fun at this name by simply calling it 'SHAWD' in conversation.
Even though it isn't the most catchy name for an AWD system, SH-AWD is celebrating its 15th year on the market and Acura wanted to celebrate with a video, explaining what the system actually does.
SH-AWD made its debut back in 2005 on the second generation Acura RL. The system's main benefit over a traditional AWD system was the ability to manage torque not just from the front wheels to the back, but from left to right as well. Most drivers wouldn't notice this happening on the road but the system really makes itself feel known during spirited driving. Around a corner, SH-AWD is able to dial out understeer by sending additional torque to the outside wheels, thus creating a better driving experience.
Over the years, SH-AWD has gone through various generations and configurations. In 2014, Acura introduced the first hybrid application of SH-AWD on the RLX Hybrid, where the rear wheels were driven by electric motors instead of a conventional driveshaft mated to the engine. This technology was later adapted to the MDX Hybrid and the NSX sports car. The latter uses two electric motors to power the front wheels (due to its mid-engine configuration) while the rear wheels are driven by a twin-turbo V6. Acura's video demonstrates how SH-AWD works and talks about its history. It's well worth a watch.