Unpacked: What’s The Difference Between 4WD and AWD?

When it comes to cars, the terms '4WD' (Four-Wheel Drive) and 'AWD' (All-Wheel Drive) often get tossed around, leaving lots of folks scratching their heads.

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Nov 02 2023
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When it comes to cars, the terms '4WD' (Four-Wheel Drive) and 'AWD' (All-Wheel Drive) often get tossed around, leaving lots of folks scratching their heads. Both systems are great for traction and stability, especially in rough conditions. But hey, let’s dig deeper and break down the differences between these drivetrains to help you pick the right ride for your adventures.

4WD: Power to All Four Wheels with Different Modes

4WD is the go-to for off-roading. It sends power to all four wheels at the same time. The cool thing about 4WD is it gives you choice of high and low range. When things get tricky, like slippery surfaces or light off-road action, you can use standard high range 4WD and your vehicle will distribute power between all four wheels. But when it's serious business, like tackling deep mud or steep hills, you switch to 4WD Low (low range) – it sends max power to all the wheels, so you can crawl through the gnarliest terrain. Some 4WDs have also got a 2WD mode which means for regular on-road driving, it will only send drive to two wheels (usually the back ones) which helps reduce fuel consumption.

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AWD: Always-On, Always Adapting

AWD works differently. It's like your car's personal assistant, always keeping an eye on the road. AWD doesn’t need modes; it's always on, constantly checking the wheels’ grip and adjusting power distribution as needed. It's like having a smart system that figures out where to send the power for better traction and stability. You'll find AWD in all sorts of vehicles – from SUVs and crossovers to regular cars. It’s great for everyday driving, adapting to different road conditions without you having to lift a finger.

Which One Suits Your Style?

Choosing between 4WD & AWD depends on what kind of driving you do...

If you're into off-road adventures or living in places with harsh weather, 4WD is your jam. It’s tough yet versatile and perfect for those who want peace of mind – whether it be a weekend camping adventure or serious off-roading.

For daily driving, dealing with various road surfaces and weather conditions, AWD is your buddy. It keeps you stable and grippy without needing you to fiddle with settings.

Towing Needs: 4WD vs. AWD

Both 4WD and AWD vehicles can be suitable for towing, but the choice may depend on the conditions. If you’re towing a boat, trailer, or caravan over challenging terrains or steep inclines, a 4WD system might be the preferred choice due to its ability to provide maximum traction and torque to all wheels, ensuring better control and stability. AWD systems, while capable for towing in standard road conditions, might be more suitable for regular towing on smoother terrains or highways.

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Value of 4WD and AWD: Justifying the Cost

The higher price tag of 4WD and AWD vehicles often raises the question of their worth. While they may have a higher initial cost compared to standard 2WD vehicles, the added versatility and enhanced capability in diverse terrains could justify the expense. If your adventures involve heading off the main road, navigating snow, sand, or off-road tracks, the added expense might be worthwhile for the peace of mind and enhanced driving experience.

Off-Road Exploration: 4WD and AWD

For enthusiasts seeking off-road adventures, both 4WD and AWD vehicles can serve well. However, if your adventures take you through rugged terrains, deep mud, or steep inclines, a 4WD system might be the better choice due to its various modes and ability to provide maximum torque to all wheels. Whilst AWD systems offer adaptability to off-road conditions but might be more suited for less extreme off-road tracks or everyday gravel roads.

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