Is more than 2WD necessary?

Everyone seems to have an opinion on the merits of AWD vs 4WD vs 2WD vehicles. You may even have an opinion on the topic yourself! In the article you have begun to read, the sales team at guided us through what you should know about these three drive options.


All-Wheel Drive – As the name implies, all-wheel drive (AWD) configurations feed power to the four wheels on a vehicle, which requires more parts in the drivetrain, but provides maximum forward traction, especially handy to have in slippery conditions. Most AWD systems deliver power primarily to just a single set of wheels–either front or rear–until slippage is detected to lead to all four wheels receive power. AWD systems are particularly helpful in rapidly changing conditions or when driving on a road with intermittent ice and snow. AWD is commonly used on most car-based SUVs, as well as many minivans and cars.

Four-wheel drive – Albeit four-wheel drive (4WD) and AWD are designations are frequently used interchangeably, a difference exists: Generally, 4WD is optimized for off-road and rugged driving situations. Think vehicles like Jeeps and heavy-duty pickup trucks. Most 4WD systems have low and high gear ranges, the former you can make use of to increase low-speed climbing power while driving off-road.

Modern 4WD systems are either full-time, which means they stay engaged when driving; automatic, where the vehicle automatically changes between four- and two-wheel-drive mode; and part-time, which require a driver to manually shift between four- and two-wheel drive.

Aside from those serious about driving off-road, many drivers are never close to needing the capability that 4WD systems provide above and beyond AWD systems. That is why you see them mostly on heavy duty or off-road vehicles.

2WD – 2WD drive systems do exactly what you’d think: The engine power is distributed to just two of the vehicle’s wheels. Most of today’s small vehicles are 2WD with the front wheels being driven. Often called “Front Wheel Drive (FWD)” vehicles, these vehicles benefit from having the engine weight balanced over their front wheels. This allows for excellent steering and traction, particularly when the weather is poor.

Another kind of 2WD vehicle uses Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD). RWD is commonly used on pickups as well as high-performance sedans. For trucks, RWD allows for the use of bulky, heavy-duty components and a solid frame that the vehicle’s body sits on. RWD vehicles are somewhat less competent in slippery conditions because the vehicle’s mass is not located over its wheels. However, RWD vehicles make up for that deficit by excelling when towing capability is important. RWD is also usually the drive of choice for high-powered sports cars due to “understeering” driving characteristics.

So, What Should I Buy?

For conditions involving light snow and rain, 2WD will likely work fine, and for many vehicles, front-wheel drive is the preferred setup. 2WD vehicles usually offer better gas mileage and are less expensive to buy as well. AWD provides an added margin of road-holding capability, especially in inclement weather. If you reside where weather is often bad, an AWD vehicle is a nice, safe choice.

Finally, if you would be driving in true off-road situations or severe snow, or if you’re interested in getting into off-roading as a hobby, you may want to get a vehicle with 4WD. Generally 4WD vehicles are more expensive and offer harsher rides but they surely excel if one travels off-road.

Article Courtesy of: Caitlin Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram

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