Should You Drive an FWD, RWD, 4WD or AWD?

Should You Drive an FWD, RWD, 4WD or AWD Car?

When people want to buy cars, the type of drivetrain is a major consideration. Some models have front- or rear-wheel drive, and other autos offer all- or four-wheel drive. Read on to learn about the differences and discover what types of vehicles can be safely driven on a slippery road.

AWD vs. 4WD

Both all- and four-wheel drive can turn up to four wheels at a time, so people often confuse them. The biggest difference is that AWD operates at all times. Sensors automatically decide how to distribute power to different wheels.

On the other hand, 4WD remains off by default. Motorists must activate it using levers, switches or other controls. This causes every wheel to turn simultaneously. When drivers compare 4WD and AWD, the best choice varies depending on local terrain and weather conditions.

A person who lives in a region with large snowstorms can benefit from 4WD. The same goes for motorists in places with dirt roads that often turn muddy. Due to problems with the sensors, mud or deep snow may cause AWD autos to become stuck. A 4WD vehicle can handle such conditions well when drivers use the “low” mode.

Many regions experience rain and snow occasionally. This describes the climate in most of Ohio. All-wheel drive cars perform well in this kind of weather, and they’re simpler to operate. Motorists needn’t think about changing any settings.

Some parts of the country have well-maintained roads and little or no snow. Although drivers with 4WD or AWD might be a little safer in rainy weather, it’s usually not worth the expense in these areas. Such systems reduce fuel economy, increase maintenance costs and raise tire expenses.


Most autos have front- or rear-wheel drive. A 2WD vehicle is desirable in hot regions that don’t experience much snow or rain. Motorists in moderately warm places like New Jersey and Delaware can benefit from AWD, but many skilled drivers choose FWD.

Sedans and station wagons frequently feature front-wheel drive. It increases traction on slippery surfaces and enhances gas mileage. Alternately, RWD remains common among sports coupes and luxury autos. This system delivers the best performance, but it offers the least safety when people drive on snowy or wet roads.

It’s certainly possible to traverse snow-covered streets in a car with 2WD. Studded tires can help compensate for reduced traction. However, people who have little experience with winter driving will find it more difficult to operate 2WD vehicles.

Be sure to carefully compare these systems when selecting an auto. The wrong choice can have major consequences. A motorist in Vermont or northern Ohio may become stuck in the snow when driving an RWD luxury car. Likewise, drivers in Los Angeles will probably waste their money if they buy 4WD autos.