What’s The Difference Between 4WD And AWD? Which One Is Better?


Most people often get confused between all-wheel-drive (AWD) and 4 wheel drive (4WD). People think it’s the same; however, there’s a difference between the two. If you also think both these drivetrains are the same, then you should continue reading it.

In this article, we’ll tell you what’s an AWD and 4WD, and what’s the difference between the two drivetrains. We’ll also tell you which one is better and why?

So, let’s begin exploring it.

Also Read: How Does An Electric Car Work?

What’s an All Wheel Drive (AWD) System?

all wheel drive drivetrain

In an all-wheel-drive system, the torque is transmitted to all four wheels, and the computer monitors the amount of torque needed to be sent. In normal highway conditions, most of the power is sent to the rear wheels with little or no power to the front wheels.

However, as the driving condition changes, the computer senses and changes the torque distribution accordingly. This is done in order to obtain the maximum traction control in different weather conditions and on corners.

Unlike normal cars with rear-wheel drive or front-wheel drive, the AWD cars rarely slip in any condition. AWD cars are beneficial for people living in snowy or cold areas or where there is heavy rainfall as it doesn’t lose traction easily.

AWD system can be incorporated in any car irrespective of their body type. Some of the common cars with AWD systems are Dodge Charger, Subaru Outback, Tesla Model S, etc.

What’s 4 Wheel Drive (4WD) Or 4×4 System?

4wd drivetrain

Four Wheel Drive, also called 4×4, is generally used in trucks and bigger SUVs. In the 4WD system, the torque is sent to the rear wheels, and the front wheels spin freely. Generally, there’s a separate lever near the gear stick to switch on to the four-wheel drive system.

In the case of the 4×4, the driver can decide when to engage and disengage the system as per the driving conditions. In addition, the amount of torque transmitted to the left and right side wheels can be varied through the differential.

The 4WD system is generally designed for SUVs to drive in extreme off-roading conditions.

Which One Is Better? 4WD Or AWD?

Both drivetrains have their own benefits; it mainly depends on the application that which one is better for you. If you mostly deal with off-roading like rocks or in the woods then we suggest you should go for a 4WD vehicle as it enhances the grip. The 4WD system is also used in pickup trucks where users sometimes need to tow objects.

On the other hand, AWD is better when there are bad weather conditions, especially the snowy or wet roads. AWD system generally improves the traction of the car and prevents slipping and instability during cornering.

Though both 4WD and AWD improve the traction and grip of car on the road, 4WD is often suitable for extremely bad conditions.

In short, 4WD vehicles are generally designed for off-roading purposes whereas AWD cars are designed for better traction, grip, and handling on normal roads during bad weather conditions.

Who Should Not Buy 4WD or AWD cars?

In terms of performance and ride handling, AWD is always better than conventional FWD or RWD cars. However, if you live in an area where both road conditions and weather remain good, we don’t think AWD or 4WD would be very beneficial.

AWD cars are generally more expensive than RWD or FWD, and also, they are less fuel-efficient than the latter. Therefore, if your primary purpose is to achieve better mileage, then none of them is suitable for you.

We hope you now have an overview of both the types of drivetrain. Anyway, do share your views in the comments section below.

Shaheer Anwar

Shaheer Anwar

Shaheer Anwar is an automotive enthusiast and writes about the latest trends happening in the industry. He covers topics related to electric and hybrid vehicles.
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