All-wheel drive vs four-wheel drive: which one is better. Know the difference


Designed for different purposes, both all-wheel drive and four-wheel are different drivetrains. These drivetrain systems perform well in off-road, wet and dry conditions. One major difference between these is that 4WD can be used on rough terrains such as rock climbing or mud driving, while AWD works well in moderate off-road conditions such as driving on gravel or beach sand.  

4WD and 2WD are older technologies. AWD is relatively a newer innovation in drivetrain systems. Let’s discover the differences between the two drivetrain systems.

Four-wheel drive (4WD)

Four-wheel drive, often called 4×4, is a drivetrain system which usually comes in rugged truck-live SUVs and pick-up trucks. These vehicles are used for heavy-duty off-road driving. Honda Ridgeline is a good example of a 4×4. 

Four-wheel drive divides power equally between all four wheels. With this equal power, light trucks and SUVs can take on rough trails, from hitting the sand dunes to climbing steep hills. However, while it makes the off-road driving powerful, the drivetrain is not good for on-road driving, especially as you take rough turns, the vehicle loses sync. 

However, you can tackle this if you have a part-time 4WD. And, most modern light trucks and SUVs come with part-time 4WD which allow you to switch between 2WD and 4WD.

Four-wheel Drive: Part-time vs full-time

Four-wheel drive cars come in two types:

  • Full-time 4WD
  • Part-time 4WD

Part-time 4WD

The full-time four-wheel-drive system doesn’t allow you to switch between 2WD or 4WD. You only have a 4WD which is always active. This drivetrain is available in heavy-duty off-road trucks and SUVs and older model vehicles. However, vehicles with full-time 4WD are going obsolete because people prefer cars which can be driven on highways too.

Part-time 4WD means you can switch off the four-wheel drivetrain system and easily switch between 4WD and 2WD. Travelling through rugged terrains like rock, mud and sand, these can maintain the ideal levels of traction when the 4WD is on and as you turn on the 2WD, you get the perfect ride comfort on highways.

Moreover, some part-time 4×4 vehicles come with a transfer case. This means that you can easily switch between 4-low and 4high.  4-low is a mode for low-speed driving and high traction. For instance, when you are climbing rocks or passing through soft terrain. 4-high is used on high speed four-wheel driving.

Pros of 4WD

  • Performs remarkably on uneven terrains
  • You can switch between 4WD and 2WD

Cons of 4WD:

  • It is not versatile enough that you can use it in any condition
  • Increases fuel consumption because vehicles become heavier
  • These vehicles are expensive because the manufacturing cost is higher

All-wheel drive

All-wheel-drive has gained the attention of car lovers quickly. It can be found nearly in all newer models, from performance vehicles to SUVs. The latest drivetrain system is automated and considered user-friendly as it requires less human input.

AWD sends acceleration to all wheels of the car but the amount is not equal. Some wheels receive more accelerator, while some receive less acceleration. The computers anticipate which tyre needs more power and which needs less power.

AWD Pros

  • Perfect grip in different road conditions and different weathers
  • No need to switch between different drivetrain systems
  • Offers better handling capabilities to the cars

AWD Cons

  • Decreases fuel economy and adds weight to the vehicle
  • Not ideal for extreme off-road conditions


four-wheel drive is ideal for off-road driving. If you are someone who frequently drives on rough terrains, then a 4×4 is perfect for you. If you have a 4×4, you can best car tyres Dubai for your SUV. Mud tyres and all-terrain tyres both go well with these. However, if you mostly drive on roads and hardly take your vehicle to off-road, then getting an-wheel drive is perfect for you.


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