What is the difference, and how much of a difference is it really?
When car buyers are looking to buy a new or used vehicle, in areas that tend to have less than pleasant wintery weather conditions, they often consider a vehicle that will have either; all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive, states Sandoval Buick-GMC, a local Ohio dealership.
Before we really dive into the value of both these platforms (AWD & 4WD), we need to better understand the disadvantages of owning and driving a vehicle that is just 2WD. Just as the name of the system suggests the engine only provides power to two wheels, either the front, or the rear. Most sedans, and compact vehicles today are front-wheel-drive, which sends power to the front tires, which is beneficial because the front tires have the most traction with the weight of the engine atop of it.
Understanding All-Wheel-Drive (AWD)
Unlike most two-wheel-drive vehicles the AWD option will instead send power to all four tires. This creates balance in terms of torque across the vehicle from front to back, but it also provides great forward traction, with all four wheels working in tandem. This is an option that we have started to see in a lot of smaller SUVs and crossover models, as well as some sedans.
Understanding Four-Wheel-Drive (4WD)
So before we simply state 4WD sends power to each wheel, and you just quickly jump to question, “if they do the same thing, technically, then how can they be different?”. We’ll let us answer that question before it is even asked. The major difference is the multiple gear ranges that are offered with 4WD vehicles such as larger SUVs and Trucks, this allows for better off-road capability, and adaptability for unusual road conditions, not just weather. There is a low and a high-gear range, the low gear range is used ideally for lower speeds and climbing situations.
So which should I buy? AWD of 4WD?
Ideally if you aren’t someone who will regularly go off-road with your truck or SUV, there isn’t much need for you to have a four-wheel-drive vehicle, instead an AWD should do the trick just fine. In terms of handing weather conditions, the AWD handles almost every wintery mix and rain condition, but for the heaviest of snow storms, a 4WD truck of SUV might be the best choice. But you as the driver need to really weigh in on that option.