4-wheel drive vs 2-wheel drive

Posted: December 1, 2010 in automotive, Uncategorized

Do the symbols 2-WD or 4-WD mean anything to you? What about AWD?

In the world of cars, these terms refer to 2-wheel drive, 4-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive, respectively. Many will argue that 4WD and AWD are the same; however this is generaly not true.

In short, the difference is that an AWD system supplies power to all four wheels at different ratios, depending on what is needed. For example when turning, more power may be supplied to the outer wheels to help make a sharper, quicker turn.

Four-wheel drive systems provide constant power to the wheels in an even distribution at all times. Sometimes this can result in wheel slippage, but only in extreme environments.

Many car companies feature specific vehicles that can be optioned with 4WD or AWD. But is this really better?

Sports cars notoriously feature 2WD, and more specifically, rear wheel drive. It allows for faster launches (0-60) and control and higher speeds. Most modern day family sedans and minivans feature 2WD with the front wheels supplying the power.

In the case of 2WD front wheel drive is more efficient in cold weather climates. Many times rear wheel 2WD cars get stuck in snow, but front drive cars can handle most scenarios without a problem.

If you live in a cold climate with harsh winters, than an AWD or 4WD system is defiantly something you want to look into.

Getting stuck in the snow and sliding on black ice is something AWD and 4WD cars know little about.

If you want a dependable and safe drive all year round, no matter the weather, go for AWD. Companies such as Subaru offer full time AWD on all their vehicles and they turn out some of the best products.

  1. andrewconstant says:

    As someone who drives a Subaru, and has since 2007, this story is relevant to me in more ways than one. I like the fact that you go into detail about both 2WD and 4WD for the two options one has when purchasing a Subaru model. Excellent looking piece on this blog.

  2. coolsam759 says:


    I am really enjoying your blog. I have owned both 4-WD and AWD cars in my life and have never known the difference, but now I do. I love the car related theme. It seems like something you enjoy writing about and seem very knowledgeable when it comes to vehicles. Keep up the good work.


  3. jrusse4 says:

    I thought this was in interesting topic to bring up, especially in the winter. I don’t necessarily know much about cars myself, but I am the owner of a four-wheel drive Mitsubishi Endeavor. I agree that 2WD cars are efficient for cold weather climates. I don’t know much about AWD, so it would be nice to have some more information on it here, but I like how it raises a question for people to go and research.

  4. Sarah Massuda says:

    Intersesting. Truthfully, I always wondered the difference between AWD and 4WD. This was very informative, and you clearly have a well-rounded understanding of cars.

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