Difference Between AWD AND 4WD: Why It Matters


This article is going to discuss the difference between AWD and 4WD as well as why they both matter in the day-to-day activities of their owners.




The automobile world is replete with lots of misinformation, half-truths and old myths such that you can become confused about terminologies as well as features of vehicles. One of such mix-ups is the terms AWD (All Wheel Drive) and 4WD (Four Wheel Drive).


At first glance, one will be tempted to think and even believe that such these terms are somewhat uncalled-for. I mean, isn’t all-wheel drive and four-wheel-drive the same thing? It’s all about getting the four wheels to move and work as they should, right? Besides, what impact do they have on your driving life?


Although mere glancing at the acronyms and their meanings as well as the fact that they sound slightly familiar or alike, there is indeed a world of difference between vehicles with all-wheel drive (AWD) power transmission and its counterpart, the four-wheel drive (4WD).


Let us start off with the old-school version.



4WD (Four-Wheel Drive or 4x4)



Land Rover 4WD

The four-wheel drive (4WD) which also denotes 4x4 (or Four by Four) is a term used to refer to vehicles that are meant to be driven on rough terrains.


If you need a vehicle that can transmit power to all the four wheels, i.e. both front and rear axle, then you can trust any automobile designated as 4WD. Each wheel of a 4WD vehicle possesses equal amounts of power for off-roading. Here are the advantages of using a 4WD automobile:


Offers the best traction for off-roading

Economizes fuel greatly

Built for rugged or rough terrains and not likely to break down without warning



Disadvantages of 4WD


It is not suitable for all weather conditions

It is more expensive than its 2WD (two-wheel drive) counterpart

It adds complexity and weight to vehicles



All-Wheel Drive



An automobile with the AWD feature transmits power equally just like its 4WD counterpart. The only difference is that each of the wheels provides amplified control and grip for all roads, no matter the conditions.

All-Wheel Drive vehicles are typically heavier than vehicles with 4WD, but you will always have the functions or features to cope with whatever driving conditions you might be facing at any time. So, it doesn’t matter whether you are driving through a blizzard on a sunny day, with the All-Wheel Drive automobile, you can be sure that you will reach your destination safe and sound.


Here are the advantages the All-Wheel Drive vehicles have to offer:


Reliable at all times

Gives more tractions and easy handling of a broad range of automobiles

Provides increased control and grip under any road conditions.


Disadvantages of AWD


It has poor fuel economy

Not ideal for rough terrains

Increases the complexity and weight of automobiles

Now you know the difference between 4WD and AWD. Why this matters is that this information will enable you to see the type of automobile you should go for the next time you want to purchase or hire that vehicle.


Therefore, if you reside in areas with lots of dirt roads or rough terrain, a 4WD automobile should be your ideal choice. But if well-maintained and dry roads surround your area, then laying your hands on an AWD vehicle should be your target.

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