Monday, January 25, 2016

What is the difference between 4WD, AWD, FWD and RWD?

In advertisements for vehicles, you often see descriptions like "four-wheel drive", "all-wheel drive" and "front-wheel drive." You might be asking yourself, what's the difference in these? It all comes down to which wheels the power from the engine goes.

Four-Wheel Drive (4WD, 4x4): With four-wheel drive, engaged power from the engine is split equally between front and rear wheels. Therefore, front and rear wheels are turning together. This provides more traction for those icy and snowy days. 4WD vehicles have more weight and complexity, which makes them more expensive. In most vehicles, the 4WD capability can be switched off which helps increase fuel economy and saves the vehicle from locking up when road conditions are normal. 4WD technology is brilliant when driving forward, but the challenge comes when turning. For a vehicle to make a turn, the inside wheel has to turn more slowly than the outside wheel, something that 4WD does not allow for. If a vehicle can't do this, the inside wheel loses traction and it spins freely. Therefore, 4WD should only be used in suitable conditions, like icy rods, uneven terrain or loose gravel.

Chevrolets: Silverado, Colorado, Suburban, Tahoe

All-Wheel Drive (AWD): An all-wheel drive vehicle splits the power from the engine between all the wheels with about 80% going to the front wheels and 20% going to the rear wheels as opposed to split equally. The driver does not have to switch it into AWD. Instead, the system automatically kicks in during unexpected road conditions (like ice) to increase grip and control. The system gains feedback from the tires and sends the most power to the wheels which are receiving the most traction, which is why AWD vehicles usually get a higher safety ratingAlthough, AWD does do well in slippery road conditions, it would not be suitable for extreme off-road conditions.

Chevrolets: Equinox, Traverse, Trax

Front-Wheel Drive (FWD): In a front-wheel drive vehicle, the wheels that receive power from the engine are the front wheels and the rear wheels are spinning with no power coming to them. With the weight of the engine over the front of the vehicle, FWD vehicles offer good traction in slippery surfaces and while climbing hills. The front wheels have to do two things, put the power to the ground and steer the vehicle. FWD vehicles are cheaper to manufacture, offer better fuel economy and give enhanced space efficiency.

Chevrolets: Equinox, Traverse, Trax, Impala, Cruze, Malibu, Sonic, Spark

Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD): Oppositely, in a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the wheels that receive power from the engine are the rear wheels. With a RWD vehicle, the rear wheels move the vehicle and the front steers the vehicle. Most trucks and heavy-duty vehicles are rear-wheel drive. When a RWD vehicle is carrying a load, that load pushes down on the driving wheels offering durability and increased traction. Luxury cars and true sports cars tend to have rear-wheel drive, which offers the capability to deal more effectively with higher engine outputs and higher vehicle weights. Since the power is coming only to the rear wheels, these vehicles usually have less traction on slippery surfaces.

Chevrolets: Camaro, Van, Corvette

If you have additional questions about these options and which might be best for you stop in and see our Sales Department at 100 Jackson Street in Sioux City.


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