Learn The Difference Between AWD And 4WD

Mud rubber for car for off-road driving.

Automotive terminology can sometimes get confusing. This is the case when it comes to AWD and 4WD. AWD stands for all-wheel drive, while 4WD stands for four-wheel drive. These terms are in reference to the amount of power that goes to the wheels of your vehicle. Learn the differences and advantages of each AWD and 4WD to make the right decision for you when picking out your next vehicle.


All-wheel drive powers both the front and rear wheels at the same time. However, you can have AWD, and still only operate in two-wheel drive mode for a majority of the time. The reason for AWD is for optimized traction in conditions that require it. The main benefit for AWD is that you as the driver, do not need to make any decisions. The system sends the power where it is needed when it is needed. AWD is available on a variety of models that range from sedans to full-size SUVs. A disadvantage of choosing AWD is that it will reduce your fuel efficiency in most cases and doesn’t provide the most traction control compared to the 4WD option.


Four-wheel drive has been around longer than AWD, but also powers all four wheels. It is mostly found on large trucks and full-size SUVs. This system is sophisticated enough to use on serious off-roading adventures. The main benefit of 4WD is that it operates at maximum traction under a variety of hazardous conditions. The disadvantage of 4WD is that the ride is often not as comfortable and smooth as AWD and it also reduces fuel efficiency.

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The Difference

Although these systems do similar jobs, the 4WD system is more robust and can handle more rugged terrain than the AWD system. The AWD system keeps the driver from having to make quick decisions in changing road conditions, whereas the 4WD requires more from the driver. You’ll find AWD on more vehicles letting you choose from more models than 4WD which is more limited. The main factor to consider when deciding between these two options is location. If you live or work in a more rural environment where road conditions can be more extreme, you would likely want to consider the 4WD system over the AWD system. Either way, you are going to have better traction control with these options. When you are ready to find a quality vehicle with AWD or 4WD, head to Limbaugh Toyota!

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