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AWD vs. 4WD: What’s the Difference?

2021 GMC Acadia Driving


With a wide range of Buick, Cadillac, Ford, Chevy, and Mazda vehicles for sale across our many dealerships, you’re sure to find a vehicle you like with 4WD or AWD when you shop with us. However, that begs the question, “Is AWD the same as 4WD, and if not, what’s the difference?” Luckily, here at Holiday Automotive, we have answers! Read on or contact us to learn more about AWD vs. 4WD.

What is AWD?

AWD is just an abbreviation for “all-wheel drive,” which is, itself, a drivetrain configuration employed in many modern vehicles. In this type of drivetrain system, torque is directed from the engine to the front and rear axles to all four wheels via differentials. 

AWD systems vary in subtype and can include full-time AWD and part-time AWD. As their respective names suggest, full-time AWD systems send torque to the front and rear axles all the time, whereas part-time AWD systems are able to monitor road conditions and driving behavior in order to decide when it makes sense to send torque only to the front axle.

What type of vehicles will you find AWD on? Normally, AWD is found on unibody crossovers and SUVs. Trucks, on the other hand, as well as body-on-frame SUVs often employ 4WD.

What is 4WD?

4WD, or “four-wheel drive,” is a traditional 4×4 drivetrain. One of the main advantages of 4WD systems is their ability to divert power not just between the front and rear axles like AWD, but also between the left and right sides of the vehicle. This makes 4WD ideal if you plan to do any serious off-roading. Sometimes, though, 4WD systems are less fuel-efficient than AWD systems.

Which is Better: AWD or 4WD?

Your unique needs will ultimately determine whether 4WD or AWD is a better drivetrain choice for you. Generally speaking, AWD vehicles are often more than sufficient for suburban driving, especially given their prevalence, fuel economy, and cost-efficient nature. That said, if you’re in the market for a heavy-duty off-road vehicle or a truck, then chances are you will get a vehicle with 4WD.

Shop AWD and 4WD Vehicles for Sale at Holiday Automotive!

Ready to find your next AWD or 4WD vehicle for sale? Shop our selection of new & used SUVs now or our work trucks for sale. Whatever type of vehicle you require, chances are we’ve got one to match for an affordable monthly payment!

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