AWD vs 4WD
All-Wheel Drive: How It Works
Many cars and crossover SUVs offer all-wheel drive. All-wheel-drive systems use a center differential to send engine power to all four wheels. This technology doesn’t control vehicle speed or range, instead taking its cues from a computer connected to the engine, transmission, throttle, and axle hubs. Some vehicles, like Subarus, offer full-time all-wheel-drive systems. However, most modern all-wheel-drive cars and crossovers only send power to the rear axle when the system detects slippage, such as when you’re driving on icy or wet roads.
Reaping the Benefits of All-Wheel Drive
Because all-wheel drive sends power to all four wheels, it increases traction for better safety as you travel down weathered streets. This technology also adds a new level of athleticism to your ride, helping you stick corners as you zoom around town. If you’re looking for a car or car-based crossover SUV that maximizes traction in your rain- or snow-heavy climate, all-wheel drive is the right choice.
The 4-1-1 on Four-Wheel Drive
You’ll find four-wheel-drive technology on bigger vehicles, like trucks and full-size, truck-based SUVs. Four-wheel drive systems use a transfer case to send power to all four wheels. In vehicles designed for heavy-duty off-roading, the transfer case will have two gears: low and high. When you put your vehicle in high-range four-wheel-drive mode, you can increase traction on slick, snowy roads. In low-range drive mode, your truck or SUV can meander through snow, sand, mud, and rocks without getting stuck. Low-speed transfer cases allow you to travel at slow speeds through difficult territory.
Four-Wheel Drive: Who Needs It?
Four-wheel-drive technology offers something that all-wheel drive doesn’t: the ability to travel deep into off-road territory. If you plan to stick to light trails, you probably won’t need this rugged technology. However, if plan to drive up mountains and plow through muddy banks, you can’t go without it. Four-wheel drive is the right choice for adventurous drivers.