What are the differences between 4WD and FWD?Jan 25th, 2023
If the reputation of Autoteck, the used car specialist, reaches as far as Québec City, it is essentially thanks to the skills of its team members and the high quality of its used vehicles.
What Is A 4-Wheel Drive Vehicle?
The 4-wheel drive (4WD) system is designed for driving on rough terrain or in low traction conditions.
The 4WD system distributes engine power to all 4 wheels. This way, the traction of the truck, SUV or car is optimized. On rough terrain, in ruts and in mud, 4WD gives the driver a better control of the vehicle.
Today’s 4WD systems can be engaged whenever needed or permanently. Temporary or manual modes allow the driver to select either 4WD or 2WD. Usually, pickup trucks and SUVs are equipped with 4-wheel drive (4x4).
Can I Drive in The Snow and Rain With 4WD?
4WD system is not only great for driving in the snow and on wet roads, it’s even better than AWD! Furthermore, 4WD allows for better control of the vehicle on icy surfaces.
The 4-wheel drive also works wonders for extracting your vehicle from snow banks, from getting stuck in sand and for driving on muddy trails.
The 4-wheel drive system is mainly used on adventure vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler, Ford Bronco or pickup trucks like the RAM 1500, Ford F-150 and Jeep Gladiator. All of these SUVs and pickups love to “get around in the mud”!
Main Advantages and Disadvantages of 4WD
Compared to front-wheel drive, 4WD increases fuel consumption. However, your 4WD vehicle will consume less energy with a system that allows you to alternate between front-wheel drive and 4WD than with a system that engages permanently all 4 wheels.
Four-wheel drive improves vehicle control on all types of road surfaces and in all weather conditions. This traction is ideal for driving in Québec where weather conditions can become extreme in a very short time.
A truck with 4-wheel drive also does well on the rough terrain of construction sites, in the forest and in agricultural environments. It is the ideal traction for off-road driving.
What Is Front Wheel Drive?
Front wheel drive (FWD) or front drivetrain allows the engine to transmit its power only to the two wheels at the front of the vehicle.
This type of drivetrain does not require a drive shaft to transmit engine power to the rear wheels of vehicle propulsion systems. The reduced size of the engine and the elimination of the drive shaft frees up more space for the passenger compartment.
Because front-wheel drive is more compact, it also allows engineers to design smaller and much lighter vehicles.
Since the weight of the transmission and engine is distributed directly over the front wheels, acceleration and traction on slopes are better.
Slipping and sliding on snowy roads is also much less. Because there is more weight on the front wheels, it is easier to get out of snow ruts in the winter.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Front-Wheel Drive
- Front-wheel drive is the most common type of wheel drive.
- Front-wheel drive reduces the overall weight of the vehicle. Four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive require more mechanical parts, which adds weight to the vehicle.
- Fewer parts = lower production costs = lower selling price. Front-wheel drive is often found in entry-level vehicles.
- Trucks and SUVs with front-wheel drive are lighter and more fuel-efficient than those with four-wheel drive.
- However, front-wheel drive offers much less grip and control when driving on icy or wet surfaces. These vehicles are not recommended for off-road driving.
- Front-wheel drive does not allow the engine to produce important torque when accelerating.
- When the trunk of a front-wheel drive vehicle is loaded and there are passengers in the rear, there is a leverage effect that lowers the rear of the vehicle and raises the front. This results in the front wheels having much less traction.
- Front wheel drive also offers less control when towing a trailer.
Differences Between 4WD and FWD
Here is a chart summarizing the major differences between 4-wheel drive (4WD or 4x4) and front wheel drive (FWD or 4x2).
|4x4 4WD||4x2 FWD|
|Mainly offered on pickup trucks (e.g., RAM 1500) and adventure vehicles (e.g., Jeep Wrangler).||Available on all types of vehicles, from sub-compact sedans to sophisticated pickup trucks.|
|Better grip, especially on snowy, icy or wet roads and rough terrain.||Less traction.|
|Better torque and less towing capacity.||High torque and strong towing capacity|
|Ability to alternate between 4x2 and 4x4 traction.||More room space in the cabin.|
|Ability to lock the differential to increase grip||Lower production cost and selling price.|
|Higher fuel consumption||Lighter vehicle.|
|Lower fuel consumption.|
Some Vehicles with 4-Wheel Drive
The 4x4 SUVs
Among the SUVs equipped with 4-wheel drive, the Jeep Wrangler occupies a prime position. In fact, the Jeep Willys, specially built for the U.S. Army during World War II, was the first off-road vehicle to be equipped with 4WD.
Depending on the model, current Jeep Wranglers can be equipped with:
- 4x4 Rock-Trac system, which features an NV241OR off-road transfer case offering a 4:1 ratio. This gearbox provides the torque needed to overcome major obstacles at a steady 0.8 mph.
- The Rock-Trac 4x4 system features electronic locking differentials, a braked differential and an electronically disengaged front anti-roll bar. Command-Trac 4x4 can switch from 4x2 to high range 4x4 mode at speeds up to 72 km/h.
- Selec-Trac 4x4 automatically shifts from 2 to 4-wheel drive depending on driving conditions.
In the SUV category, the Ford Bronco also makes its mark with its 4-wheel drive system equipped with an electronically controlled 2-speed automatic transfer case. The Bronco is also provided with an electronically locked differential.
The 4x4 Pickup Trucks
The Ford F-150 pickup truck takes over a 4x4 system with an electronically controlled on-the-fly mode or an electronically controlled automatic transmission that allows you to choose various 4x4 drive modes.
For example, 2H mode is suitable for normal highway driving, 4H mode is suitable for off-road driving, and 4L mode increases traction force to allow the F-150 to climb hills and cross deep sand, dig out of large snow ruts, or pull a boat out of the water.
The RAM 1500, RAM 2500 Tradesman and GMC Canyon trucks are also equipped with high performance 4x4 systems.
Vehicles With 4-Wheel Drive Available at Autoteck
Vehicles with 4-wheel drive currently available on the used market are quite rare.
Autoteck, the expert dealer for used vehicles, offers a few powerful pickup trucks including:
- A 2019 RAM 2500 Tradesman pickup powered by a 6.7L Cummins turbodiesel inline V6 that releases up to 9,072 kg (20,000 lb) of towing force. This RAM 2500, with just over 55,000 km on the odometer, features a crew cab, 6.4-foot bed, trailer hitch, trailer sway control and heated exterior mirrors.
- A 2017 GMC Canyon SLE truck with an extended multi-place cab and a 5 ft. bed. This GMC truck is powered by a 3.6L 6-cylinder engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission with hill start assist. It produces overall 308 hp. This GMC Canyon has a wireless internet hotspot, OnStar satellite communication, Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling, Apple CarPlay an 8-inch touchscreen and AM/FM\HD satellite radio.
Some Vehicles with Front-Wheel Drive (FWD)
Examples include the Buick Encore, Acura Integra, Cadillac CT4, Honda Civic, Volkswagen Jetta, Toyota Corolla and Prius, Mazda3 and Chevrolet Spark.
Among the front-wheel-drive vehicles available at Autoteck is a beautiful 2017 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn (BA6).
This white sedan has leather seats and its shift knob and sport steering wheel are covered in leather.
This VW Jetta also includes a sunroof, navigation and a Fender premium audio system with speed-compensated volume control. The 9 speakers, MP3 player and Sirius XM satellite radio complete this powerful entertainment system.
Under the hood of this Jetta is a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission that unleashes a horde of 210 horsepower.
SUVs With FWD
Front-wheel drive SUVs include the Mazda Electric MX-30, the Kia Seltos and Sportage LX, the Jeep Compass Sport, the Nissan Qashqai and Rogue S. You’ll find some of these SUVs for sale at Autoteck.
Pickup Trucks With FWD
The RAM 1500 Tradesman, Big Horn and Classic SLT pickups, the Ford F-150 XL and Lariat pickups as well as the Chrysler Grand Caravan and Toyota Sienna vans are equipped with front-wheel drive as standard. Many of these SUVs are currently for sale at Autoteck.
Autoteck, The Used Vehicle Expert
The Autoteck dealership selects quality used vehicles because each member of its team knows the SUV, pick-up and used car market very well.
Autoteck, the used vehicle expert, is proud to serve its customers in Québec.