4WD vs AWD: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to confusing terms and names, cars are definitely up there. With complex-sounding abbreviations and highly technical names, understanding some parts and systems of a car can be a difficult task for anyone not deeply familiar with cars. Two such terms are 4WD and AWD. What do they mean? And how are they different from each other? We take a look below.

1. What is a Drivetrain?
Let’s start with the very basics. The Automobile is basically driven by a system of pulleys, levers, shafts, and other complex parts that is called the drivetrain. The drivetrain works to provide power to the wheels that drive the automobile.
The power can be delivered through different types of arrangements- such as Rear Wheel Drive, Front Wheel Drive, and more.

2. What are 4 Wheel Drive & All Wheel Drive?
4 Wheel Drive systems (4WD) are systems where the power is provided normally by the two rear or front wheels, but with the pull of a lever or switch, all four wheels can provide the power required, by splitting the power delivered to the wheels.
This is extremely useful for off-road vehicles such as SUVs as it helps them get out of sticky situations in difficult terrain such as deserts, mountains, shallow water bodies.
When the thrust is provided by all 4 wheels all the time, the automobile is said to have an AWD system, AWD meaning All Wheel Drive. These systems are great for performance cars with a high amount of power to maintain better grip, traction, and maneuverability from stop, as well as at corners.

3. What is the Difference Between 4WD and AWD?
As seen in their definitions above, 4WD and AWD cars both can utilize all 4 of the automobile’s wheels to move, but in very different fashions. 4WD cars use two wheels to move the vehicle and the other two are on standby for sticky situations.
AWD cars are always on All-wheel drive mode, and this is done for better performance, road grip, and handling. This feature is especially useful in rainy and snowy weather conditions where the four wheels work wonders by splitting and dividing the power output and helping keep the vehicle on the right track.

4. Which Cars Utilize AWD and 4WD Systems?
As we mentioned above, 4WD systems are great in SUVs. Thus, cars like Toyota Landcruiser, Range Rover, Mahindra Thar, and Hyundai Tucson utilize this type of Drive system.
On the other hand, performance-oriented cars such as the BMW xDrive series, most Lamborghinis, and Audis with the Quattro systems use AWD.

5. All-Wheel-Drive vs Four-Wheel-Drive: Which One is better?
The shootout between AWD and 4WD is, then, completely contextual. For a Thar-type adventuring car, or an SUV designed to handle rough Indian rural roads, the 4WD is definitely brilliant. Similarly, if you want more safety and grip during rough monsoons, AWD provides exactly what you require.
So, to conclude, 4WD and AWD systems are two traditionally used and tested systems of power delivery to the wheels of an automobile that have very different uses.