Wednesday, April 20, 2016

FWD vs. RWD vs. 4WD vs. AWD: What's the Difference, and Does It Matter?

There are many things shoppers should consider when searching for a new car or truck. While fancy features and the latest gizmos often attract the most attention, driving performance is arguably more important. Because it has a significant impact on traction and security, shoppers should understand the difference between drive systems before they buy.

Front-wheel Drive

The vast majority of passenger vehicles utilize front-wheel drive (FWD), which transfers power from the engine to the front wheels.

Rear-wheel Drive

Often found in pickup trucks and truck-based SUVs, as well as in some luxury sedans and sports cars, rear-wheel drive (RWD) balances a vehicle's weight more evenly from bumper to bumper.

All-wheel Drive

Because all four wheels receive power from the engine, an all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicle gets excellent forward traction during acceleration.

Four-wheel Drive

Although it is also capable of transferring power to all four wheels, most modern four-wheel drive (4WD) systems are automatic units that switch between two- and four-wheel-drive mode as needed.

Which Is Best?
It obviously depends on the driver. But for the average passenger vehicle, an FWD vehicle should have more than enough power and traction. It is also important to note that four-wheel drive does absolutely nothing to improve braking or cornering. For those who haul heavy loads, an RWD vehicle, such as a pickup truck or truck-based SUV, is needed for better handling and towing capacity. When driving in extreme conditions, an AWD vehicle is often the best option because of its superior traction. Last but not least, off-roaders often opt for 4WD vehicles because they offer the ability to switch between two- and four-wheel modes based on the environment.

At the end of the day, the choice of a drive system depends on the driver. No single system is demonstrably better than the others, but one is almost certainly more suitable based on driving needs.