AWD vs. 4WD: What’s the Difference?

a RAM truck going offroading in the desert

Most new vehicles are 2WD, meaning power is only sent to two wheels. With AWD or 4WD, power is sent to all four wheels, but that doesn’t mean they’re the same. In fact, knowing the difference between AWD and 4WD is vital for drivers who expect to face anything from rough weather to tough backcountry trails, so we thought we’d put together a quick and easy guide to AWD and 4WD.

What is AWD?

AWD stands for all-wheel drive. These systems send torque from the engine to the front and rear axles through differentials. You’ll find a couple of different kinds, including full-time AWD and part-time AWD; the former sends torque to the front and rear axles all the time, whereas the latter does so based on road conditions and driving behavior.

As a general rule of thumb, you’ll see AWD systems fitted with unibody frame vehicles. They’re far more common than 4WD systems in non-commercial vehicles.

What is 4WD?

4WD is more commonly known simply as four-wheel drive. So, what is the difference between AWD and 4WD? 4WD systems send power to the front and rear axles just like AWD systems, but they’re also able to distribute that power between the left and right wheels.

4WD is commonly available as an option in vehicles ideal for tackling challenging trails outside and , so they’re usually found with truck-based platforms.

Which is Better: AWD or 4WD?

Is AWD better than 4WD just because it’s more common? Not at all. It’s simply that AWD systems are generally fitted with vehicles that might benefit from added traction in inclement weather, whereas 4WD is used for vehicles that are specifically designed for onsite utility and rugged off-road capability.

Explore the AWD and 4WD Models at Sam Leman Automotive Group

Whether you’re asking yourself, “Is AWD the same as 4WD,” or pondering the difference between gas trucks and diesel trucks, the team at your local Sam Leman Automotive Group showroom will be happy to help by pointing out vehicles available with each system and helping you choose between AWD and 4WD capability. For any further assistance, simply get in touch today.

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