4WD vs FWD vs AWD


4WD vs FWD vs AWD

You might have come across the terms 4WD, FWD, and AWD when talking about vehicles. Perhaps you read about them in a car review or heard the salesperson mentioning their technicalities at the showroom. If like most people, you don’t quite understand what they mean and how they affect your vehicle's performance, this article will help you tell the difference between these different drive systems.

4WD stands for four-wheel drive. If you have a 4WD vehicle, it means that the engine is capable of diverting power to all four wheels. Also known as 4x4, these often feature a two-speed transfer case with both high and low ranges, meaning that the output can be split between the vehicle’s front and rear wheels. Four-wheel drive vehicles are mostly designed for extreme off-roading such as driving on a steep hill with poor traction and for deep waters. Most 4WD cars operate in a rear-wheel-drive mode until the four-wheel-drive setting is enabled either by changing gears or by pressing a button.

FWD stands for front-wheel drive. It simply means that in these types of vehicles, the engine sends power to the front wheels. FWDs are undoubtedly the most common in today’s market, with almost every SUV falling under this umbrella. One major reason for its popularity is that FWD technology is compact and efficient, easy to manufacture, and also allows more space inside the vehicle’s cabin. In FWDs, the majority of the weight goes towards the front wheels, thus providing good traction on slippery and hilly roads.

AWD stands for All-Wheel Drive. The terms AWD and 4WDs are often used interchangeably, and many people think they are one and the same. However, the two actually have a few key differences. Unlike 4WDs, AWD cars are always engaged, and depending on traction conditions, they deliver varying amounts of power to the axles. Usually, one set of axles, either the rear or front, is powered. The vehicle will automatically balance out power distribution among the axels. This means that if there is traction loss in one axle, more power is diverted to the other axle.