What's the Difference: AWD vs. 4WD


People often use AWD and 4WD interchangeably, but there are major differences between the two. You may not know the variations either because you did not realize they are different, or you may have been afraid to ask for fear of sounding ignorant. With the guide below, you will understand the two-wheel systems and how their functionings differ. 

All-Wheel-Drive (AWD)
Sends varying amounts of torque to each axle, and the driver cannot control the amount of torque they receive. The engine of an AWD car uses a center differential to distribute torque between the two axles. AWD models are great for driving on the highway, as each wheel gets equal power. In many new variants, the system can determine which wheel needs the most power and sends it to them.

Four-Wheel-Drive (4WD)
The engine in a four-wheel-drive sends a fixed amount of torque to each wheel. The driver can also manually select the amount of power to send to each wheel, something that helps the car to move when it is stuck. For this reason, four-wheel-drives are a great option for off-roading or adventure enthusiasts. Whichever tire bears the most traction can get the power it needs manually, helping you get a smooth ride in low-traction and off-road scenarios.

Four-wheel-drives do not work well on the road as the wheels spin at different speeds. When you turn a corner, the system tries to turn all wheels together, making the car jerk. If you have a 4WD automobile, you should run it on the two front wheels for maximum traction on the road. 

Many modern cars are blurring the distinction between AWD and 4WD vehicles. The new BMW M5, for example, has a four-wheel-drive that can behave as an all-wheel-drive with the help of clever software. The Ford F-150 Raptor is another offering that combines 4WD and AWD systems with ease.

Understanding whether you need an AWD or 4WD vehicle to meet your needs does not have to be a difficult decision. Our Toyota dealership at Huntington Station, NY, is the perfect place to search for your dream car with the torque and wheel system you will be most comfortable with. We are a brief stop away from the cities of Commack, Greenlawn, and Melville, so visit us today! 

Source: Toyota