Differences Between AWD and 4×4 Vehicles
All-wheel drive (AWD). Four-wheel drive (4×4). Are they the same? All four wheels are receiving torque, aren’t they? So what sets them apart? Both are great for abnormal driving conditions and handling the roads in various types of weather, but they operate differently and are found on specific vehicles.
For AWD, the drivetrain provides power to all four wheels at once. Vehicles like the Dodge Journey, the Chevrolet Silverado, and the upcoming Dodge Challenger GT AWD all have AWD standard or as a drivetrain option. Oddly enough, although the power is split between the four wheels, some drivetrains have a ratio where 20% of the power is in the rear, and the remaining 80% is directed to the front; other systems have all 100% power in the front wheels, but will automatically redirect some amount of power to the rear if the front wheels experience slippage. So AWD isn’t a “set” drivetrain, and is best for rapidly changing road conditions.
4WD also has power in all four wheels, but systems today are either full-time, part-time, or automatic. For instance, the Jeep Active Drive Low 4×4 system is full-time, with torque sent to both the front and rear axle at all times, usually for rock-crawling or slippery conditions. Other systems have an automatic function that will only apply torque to the rear axles when slippage is detected in the front; simultaneously, these systems also allow the driver to choose when to engage 4WD (part-time).
Why get either?
The answer to this is simple. Both drivetrains come with pros and cons, but if you’re looking for power, vehicles with AWD and 4WD have better acceleration, seeing as how all four tires are being engaged at once, versus only two pulling or pushing its weight. Furthermore, both drivetrains help with towing if doing so on wet or steep inclined surfaces. Speaking of which, they improve traction in various weather conditions. Lastly, in areas where there’s more than one season, vehicles with 4WD and AWD are in high-demand and their value depreciates less. You can’t sell a used vehicle like it just came from the lot, but drivers will pay top dollar for vehicles with an AWD drivetrain or 4WD system.