4WD V.S. AWD: Are they the same?

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If you’ve always thought that four-wheel drive (4WD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) were the same, you’re not alone. Although people often use these terms interchangeably, there are significant differences between the two types of vehicles.

So, how are they different? Continue reading to find out!

How does 4WD work?

Like how most people may know, 4WD is suitable for driving off-road and rugged terrain with maximum traction as the vehicle’s power is split between all four wheels. Pickup trucks and off-road cars often have this system, but these days passenger cars like SUVs may also be a 4WD.

4WD operation systems available today are full-time and part-time. Full-time 4WD gives power to all four wheels on a continuous basis, and sometimes drivers can control how much power they give to the front or rear axles. On the other hand, drivers can choose to engage two wheels or four wheels with part-time 4WDs.

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How does AWD work?

Most people may not be aware, but AWDs are a better choice on loose surfaces like snow, sand and mud. The system for AWD stays on at all times and generally operated with no driver input. It automatically shifts power to wheels that need it most, optimising the car’s traction.

Similar to 4WDs, AWDs have full-time and part-time operation systems. For full-time AWDs, you drive the front and rear axles at all times. Part-time AWD sends torque to either the front or the rear wheels and automatically engages the two other wheels when it demands extra traction.

Advantages of 4WD and AWD

Both 4WD and AWD cars have pros over conventional vehicles. Besides the distinct advantage that is increased traction, they have better acceleration. As they are premium cars, they also have added resale value, especially in places with rough terrain or harsh winters due to popular demand.


If you’re unsure about which car to choose, think about your needs and personal preferences. For example, a 4WD is probably better for a person that enjoys off-road adventuring.

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