Dealers have come with various car types to enhance transportation in any area. Usually, sandy or muddy grounds are different from smooth roads. Roads which vehicles stack need a more advanced vehicle fit for the condition experienced. Such cars remain the solution to buyers who previously had headaches on which vehicle to fit on a particular journey concerning different surfaces. Here we will consider how vehicles the new generation of those vehicles power their wheels. These vehicles are all-wheel and four-wheel drives. But we have to look this in detail; AWD vs 4wd aka all-wheel drive vs 4 wheel drive. The vehicles bring confusion to many as they think they are the same.

All Wheel Drive vs 4 Wheel Drive:

For the 4 wheel drive, the system gives power to all wheels equally for traction prevention. In all-wheel drive, the amount of energy is varied in wheels. The breaks are used in slowing down a specific wheel due to traction loss. All-wheel drive is mostly in road-traveling vehicles which include wagons, sedans, and crossovers. The all-wheel vehicle sends power into a wheel in case of traction detection.

Bringing all-wheel drive vs 4 wheel drive to the discussion, we try to figure out which vehicle is more advantageous in specific areas. 4wheel drive powers all its wheels at the same time. Awd can’t match power delivery offered by 4wheel drive necessary for extremely low velocity. Maintenance of all-wheel systems is expensive although it is crucial for your safety. Nowadays electronic gadgets are installed in all-wheel drive. Sensors installed in each wheel monitor the presence of essential issues a hundred times per second. An engine control unit decides which wheel to receive power in case traction detection. The technique is called torque vectoring and gave much improvement in handling as all-weather wheel capability.

The all-wheel drive is the most recent innovation with limited complications. It includes supercars to grocery-getters. It has a similarity to part-time four-wheel drive. The type of vehicle needed depends on the user’s location and driving needs. Four wheel drives will fit for those who use a vehicle off-road and lousy terrain regularly. The SUV’s and pickup trucks have this system. In some weather conditions like winter, an all-wheel-drive system responding quickly without driver’s input is what many require. Also, all-wheel drive has weight distribution hence improving traction and performance. Cases of winter also need good tires to help the vehicle in having a greater surface area.

Whats Difference Between AWD and 4WD?

All-wheel drive is a recently developed and more complicated. Putting all-wheel drive vs 4 wheel drive into a more in-depth discussion getting difference will give you a chance to make a choice. The main difference is that 4wheel drive gives its equal amount of energy to all wheels while for the all-wheel drive it provides a varying amount of energy to each wheel. The all-wheel drive and 4wheel drive vehicles have become familiar in the recent years.

Many cars which are all-wheel drive support different activities such as sports. In each type, it depends on the amount of torque applied to each wheel to make a force enough for a car to move. There is also full time and a part time 4wheel drive. In full time 4 wheel drive, torque is always applied on each wheel to make the car move. The all-wheel drive and 4wheel drive vary in preference.

Designation And Purpose:

An AWD is an advanced 4wd whereby unequal power is given to four wheels of the vehicle. A four-wheel drive is a vehicle highly designed for off-road applications. They support transportation in areas which have rugged as well as sandy landscapes. Its system helps in producing equal power to all wheels. The transfer case after getting engine power from engine transmits it to all wheels. A similar split of power is significant in helping in real tough as well as low-traction situations. These vehicles include Mercedes-Benz G-Class, Jeep Wrangler, and Toyota Land Cruiser.

Part-time 4 Wheel Drive:

Most of the 4wd systems are mostly part-time. The fact is that the inner wheel with smaller radius should turn slowly than outside one with a large radius. The part-time systems are disabled at sometimes. The car operates with two or four wheels in different conditions. Driving in two wheels improves on-road driveability while the four-wheel drive for traction.

The 4 High and The 4 Low:

The four-wheel drive can be engaged for situations of low-traction. They can fit a variety setting for multi-geared transfers. These are the 4-high and the 4-low. High gives compensation to four wheels turns with varying rotational rates when the vehicle moves in high speed. This solves driveability issues to prevent slip whereby the four wheels spin at the same rate. The 4-high utilizes and vectors power for wheels, and hence one can move faster on slippery roads. However, the most available power is the 4-Low. The low-range gearbox makes utilization of low speed and prevents getting stuck.

Reasons For Low Speed in 4wd Low:

At higher speeds, breakages occur and the trip becomes more expensive. Therefore you want to maintain a flat rate. This is the reason why some vehicles with part-time systems are fitted with automatic deactivation to control their speeds in a certain level to prevent these breakages hence expenses for the journey are minimized. In part-time four-wheel drive, the middle of the axles is fitted differential for compensating the spinning of wheels with different rates. This system fits well for locking as well as unlocking differentials. Closing one of the shafts generally inhabits any slip that occurs at the axle. It helps the wheels attached to the said axle turn at the same rate.

Some vehicles have a center-locking differentials varying power between left and right wheels concerning the amount of grip available. The Mercedes G-Class mostly referred to as Germany’s Hummer has three locking differentials at its center and each on one of its ends. In full-time four-wheel drive system, the wheels are active every time sending power to every wheel and have limited-slip capabilities. This means there is no 2wd mode at any time. These have lowered demand due to the part-time systems.

4wd vs 4×4:

The 4wd also referred to as 4×4, has its wheels giving energy for a car to move. Typically, it is excellent in a variety of areas. Now the 4wd and the 4×4 have slight differences. 4×4 refers to a type of vehicles. The two numbers represent different items with the first one representing the total number of wheels whereas the second refers to the powered number of wheels. This means in 4×2, the number of powered wheels is two either the front or the rear wheels. For the 4wd, the vehicles have two axles which provide a torque on both wheels ends. Although 4×4 guarantees satisfaction, in many areas 4wd is more advanced as it has two axels.

Honda AWD vs 4wd:

In 4wd, there is a lever showing 4wd high and 4wd Low. For the low is for very low velocities to acquire high power and traction. It does not work for high speeds as when the vehicle turns; the disparity in radius requires the outer wheel to rotate at a higher rate. In case all wheels spin at the same rate, the inside wheels turn losing traction hence spinning freely. Through limit slip, a 4wd gives a chance for power to split between inside as well outside.

Honda AWD falls under the same category of all-wheel drive but with the small difference. For Honda AWD, it works by giving power to wheels differently. But it takes a further step in this category of AWD in that it has a Multi-Plate Clutch System. In regions where the ground is smooth, the AWD is driven with front wheels. When conditions change, the power is now supplied to various parts of the system. The Multi-Plate Clutch System in Honda helps in turning the system when conditions change to worse. Here the Honda AWD is better as compared to 4wd.

Awd vs 4wd in Snow:

Awd vs 4wd in Snow
Image by: Pxhere

As for 4wd, the power applied to all wheels allows it to move with a higher speed than the AWD. Awd varies its power to different wheels but moves more slowly to avoid expenses. An AWD has both rear and transaxle which are connected to each other. These give it more energy to launch forward. But for 4wd, the energy is equally transmitted to various wheels and gives energy to all the wheels to rotate. In snow, 4wd performs better than an AWD which after detecting a specific wheel with less energy gives it the power to move. Therefore I would advise one to consider 4wd for snow surfaces.

Awd vs Fwd in Snow:

An AWD is one which powers all its wheels although with varying amounts of power. It is applicable in many areas due to its power supply to other parts of the system. The vehicle due to its power can travel in muddy, snow, sandy as well as slippery areas. The front-wheel-drive abbreviated as FWD is a form of vehicle, where the engine powers only the front wheels. This is the most modern method of vehicles fitted with transverse engines. An fwd is unable to travel on some challenging surfaces as on getting stacked, the only energy is in the front wheels. In case the front wheels stack in the surface, the rear wheels have no power to force them out. Here the best choice is an AWD.

4matic vs 4×4:

4matic is a marketing name for AWD from Mercedes- Benz designed to limit slipping. In 4matic, the torque is varied according to demand between the front and rear axles. The activation of the axle is faster in the system. A rotor-type pump activates this by creating pressure. The pump is situated between the front and rear axles. Rotational speed differences between the axles activate it. The 4 x4 is normally the one giving forward energy to wheels to move. In 4×4, a torque is equally distributed to all wheels. This creates uniformity in motion and the vehicle moves forward with ease. It, therefore, becomes better with a 4×4 car.

Designation of 4matic:

The two drivetrains can be separated into three, full-time 4WD, part-time 4WD, and all-wheel drive. These systems depend on how and when the torque is applied to each wheel. The front and rear axles of 4wd are split by differential enabling them to operate at different speeds in various conditions. It has a diff lock also which locks the center differential hence restricting any rotational difference between the axles. This is used especially when off-roading to enhance the gain of maximum traction. An option of the low range used in off-road conditions as well steep inclines is also installed in these vehicles. This provides a torque multiplying the effect over the whole system by changing the gearing of the drivetrain.

What next after getting the knowledge:

Having known how different vehicles perform their work you are in a position to make an excellent choice. Although all vehicles seem to have some limitations, which is advantageous when compared to the other? First, a 4wd works in many conditions. Secondly it powers all its wheels at the same time. But with all those, it does not alert the driver when states get worse though it does not stack easily. An AWD, on the other hand, powers its wheels and can tell when situations become worse such that the vehicles may get stacked. But with it supplies power of different amounts to the wheels.


We appreciate you for reading our article; feel free to leave a comment. If you feel there is valuable information missing in the context, feel free to comment and we will make changes immediately on getting your notification.


Autos Geek is an automotive blog where you can easily find informative articles about almost all automotive topics. We bring you the latest cars news, cars reviews, car tips and guides from the automobile industry.

Write A Comment