This article suggests a model-based controller for an all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicle using a novel vehicle dynamics model. Recently, an active type of AWD system that automatically controls the clutch engagement force of the transfer case has become popular. However, its performance has been limited by its rule-based controller, which necessitates the development of a model-based controller. Although the bicycle model has been most widely adopted for upper level controller of vehicle control systems, it is not appropriate for AWD controllers because the model does not have a direct relationship between the states and control inputs. In this sense, this study adopted a tire force-based full car model for the AWD controller. The clutch engagement force limit, which varies depending on the current engagement state, was calculated systematically by considering changeable dynamic behavior that is inherent in AWD vehicle and was used as a valid value for input limit in linear quadratic regulator (LQR) control algorithm. For the real-time application of the designed controller, only data obtained from the controller area network (CAN) of production vehicles were used. Then, the performance of the proposed controller was validated through vehicle experiments that included scenarios of both longitudinal and lateral movements.