Mazda I-ACTIV all-wheel transmission explained

Updated May 25 2022

The i-ACTIV all-wheel drive system first appeared in 2013 on the Mazda CX-5. The technology existed before, but had never been named, which Mazda did at the launch of its new SUV. Since then, several innovations have made the system one of the best on the market.

Learn more about how it works and how responsive it is, find out which models offer it, and compare its performance with its rivals.

Mazda Cars: How Does i-Activ Work?

The Mazda i-Activ is a part-time, non-constant drive system found on many Mazda products such as the Mazda CX-3 and Mazda CX-9. This type of system has one big advantage over the constant drive system, fuel economy.

However, that’s not all for Mazda. What sets i-Activ AWD apart from its competition is its ability to sense what’s coming. How does it do that? It features sensors that check road conditions 200 times per second and uses data from 27 different sensors to map road conditions. That’s what allows it to transfer torque to the rear wheels if the need arises.

Mazda i-Activ: Many Factors Taken into Account

In the past, the system only gathered ten factors that were taken into account, such as vehicle speed and engine rpm. Now, Mazda relies on a host of other sensors built into the vehicle to predict what’s to come, such as:

  • Ambient temperature
  • Steering wheel angle
  • Longitudinal grip

Windshield wiper movement

But it doesn’t stop there, i-Activ AWD can even adjust torque distribution to account for wheel slip. This allows i-Activ-equipped vehicles to limit understeer in sporty driving, among other things.

Mazda AWD Cars: More Efficient Than Its Rivals

Although all manufacturers offer all-wheel drive vehicles, it’s hard for the consumer to know which one is really the most efficient. For example, in harsh winter conditions, is Mazda as reliable as Honda? As Subaru?

To find out for sure, the team for Le Guide de l’auto tested models from all three manufacturers in a snowstorm, and the results were particularly conclusive for Mazda. Jacques Deshaies shared unequivocal conclusions:

The CX-5 proved to be much more predictable and safe. In the case of the other two competitors, the response to skidding was late.

So if you want a safe ride in all conditions, you should get a Mazda vehicle with all-wheel drive.

Mazda Canada: Which models Offer i-Activ?

While the first Mazda i-Activ vehicle was a CX-5, the technology has now been extended to many more models. Not only is it standard on larger Mazda SUVs like the CX-5 and CX-9, but it’s also available on the:

  • Mazda CX-30
  • Mazda CX-3
  • Mazda3

Mazda3 Sport

So you can enjoy this advanced technology even when driving a sedan! Mazda AWD cars give you all the stability you need, not only in the snow, but also on ice and in the rain.

With Mazda, stability and driving pleasure are top priorities. That’s also why you’ll find powerful engines at the heart of every model. In fact, i-Activ doubles as Skyactiv-G, a technology that optimizes the driving experience.

So here’s what engines you can find in Mazda’s all-wheel drive models for an optimized driving experience:





2.0 L 4-cylinder

2.5 L 4-cylinder

2.5 L 4-cylinder Turbo

155 horsepower

186 horsepower

250 horsepower

150 lb-ft

186 lb-ft

320 lb-ft



2.0 L 4-cylinder

148 horsepower

146 lb-ft


2.5 L 4-cylinder

2.5 L 4-cylinder Turbo

187 horsepower

250 horsepower

186 lb-ft

320 lb-ft


2.5 L 4-cylinder Turbo

227 horsepower

310 lb-ft

i-Activ and Skyactiv-G technologies, a winning combination with Mazda cars!

To see and learn more about all of our vehicles that offer i-ACTIV all-wheel drive, come see us at L’Ami Junior Mazda or visit Mazda Canada. Your Mazda dealership in Chicoutimi in the heart of the Saguenay region is waiting for you!

Posted in On Nov 25, 2019