What's The Difference Between AWD, 4WD and FWD?

The difference between AWD, 4WD, and FWD lies mainly in the direction in which the engine directs power. Other variations lie in their usage, manufacturing costs, and the traction each of them provides in usual and unusual weather conditions.

How Are FWD, 4WD, and AWD Different?


Front-Wheel Drive is found in most of the cars you observe on the road these days. The engines in FWD convey power only to the front axle. Most of the SUV models come with FWD, along with some secondary parts which help route some of the engine's power automatically to the rear axle, as and when needed. FWD cars are best for driving on slippery terrains and climbing hills.


As the name indicates, Four Wheel Drive is found in cars where the engine directs power to both the front and rear axles. 4WDs are best for driving in off-road conditions, like through deep water, or while climbing steep hills or scaling large boulders. 4WD systems transmit power equally to all axles. Some 4WD vehicles offer two gear ranges of high and low. The reduced range is helpful for scaling steep terrain at low speeds. Modern 4WD additionally provide three toggle options to choose from:

  • Full-time systems
  • Automated systems (can switch between 2WD and 4WD)
  • Part-time systems (requires the driver to switch between 2WD and 4WD, manually)


Similar to 4WD, All-Wheel Drive transmits power to both the front and rear axles, thus powering up all the corners. Depending on the terrain and traction requirements, AWD vehicle axles are continuously engaged and receive power in varying amounts.

 AWD systems typically employ one axle at a time. When the vehicle experiences loss of traction in one shaft, it automatically sends more power to the other axle to stabilize. Most AWDs generally divert power to the front axle and only transfer the output to the rear axle when there is loss of traction in the front axle. AWD is perfect for volatile weather and off-road conditions, or where there is many terrain variations.

Find Out More at Sansone Jr’s 66 Today!

Come see us today at Sansone Jr’s 66 in Neptune, NJ!  Schedule your test drive today to see which drive terrain suits your lifestyle! Find us at  3401 Route 66 Neptune NJ 07753. Proudly serving Bradley Beach, Long Branch, Red Bank and beyond!