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AWD vs. 4WD: What’s the Difference?

2022 Toyota Tacoma Tire

If you’re looking for a vehicle with boosted traction and rugged performance, you might want to consider all-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive. So, what’s the difference between AWD and 4WD? Is AWD better than 4WD? We’re here to help you sort through the fact from fiction, so you can find the right configuration for your Parker adventures. Get to know how both drivetrains work, and find out why AWD or 4WD might be better for you.



What is AWD?

Is AWD the same as 4WD? AWD, or “all-wheel drive,” is a drivetrain configuration that sends engine power to the front and rear axles via differentials. This allows the vehicle to use all wheels for maximizing traction, including anything from Bullhead City traffic or off-road conditions. You’ll see AWD on vehicles with unibody construction most often. This includes sedans like the Camry, hybrids like the Prius, and SUVs like the RAV4. And while there are many types of AWD, you’ll see part-time and full-time AWD most commonly:

  • Full-time AWD is always active, sending torque to the front and rear axles whenever the engine is on.
  • Part-time AWD monitors the roads and only turns on AWD when needed. When road conditions are normal, your car will shift into FWD to boost fuel economy.

What is 4WD?

4WD, or “four-wheel drive,” is a traditional 4×4 drivetrain. The main difference between 4WD and AWD is that 4WD is more precise. AWD sends engine torque to either the front or rear axles, but 4WD models can go a step further and target the left or right wheels. This delivers even more control in particularly demanding driving situations, like off-roading or towing. You’ll find 4WD on truck-based platforms, including models like the Tacoma and 4Runner.

Which is Better: AWD or 4WD?

So, is AWD the same as 4WD? The answer is a clear no. Is AWD better than 4WD? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, so it depends on your personal preference. AWD models are extremely versatile, and they’ll do just as well during errands in Kingman as outdoor adventures in Lake Havasu City. 4WD models are more specialized. This is a great choice for more serious off-roaders, as well as those who need more powerful work trucks for heavy-duty jobs.

Shop AWD or 4WD Models at Anderson Toyota

We’ve gone through the difference between AWD and 4WD, so are you ready to try out a few models up close? Get the keys in your hand to a new Prius or Tacoma at Anderson Toyota, and find your next AWD or 4WD model today! Contact us with any questions to get started.


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