All-Wheel-Drive vs. Four-Wheel-Drive

Kearny Pearson Ford is a friendly Ford dealership located in the heart of beautiful San Diego, CA. We are known throughout Southern California for our huge selection of both new and used Ford cars, as well as our helpful service center, stocked parts center, and friendly finance center. We know that there are many different choices that go along with buying either a new or used car, one of which is whether you should get all-wheel-drive, four-wheel-drive, or front-wheel-drive. Contrary to popular perception, there is a large difference between four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive, and San Diego, CA drivers should know which one is right for their automotive needs and desires.

The Difference Between 4WD and AWD

While four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive are related, there is a difference in how the two systems functions. First of all, four-wheel-drive, also referred to as four-by-four, was the original all-terrain system. In order to function, power goes from the transmission to what’s called a transfer case. The system then splits power between the front and rear axle so that maximum torque is going to each wheel. Compared to all-wheel-drive, four-wheel-drive gives drivers the best traction for off-road conditions, and it is more likely to be found on durable and hardy off-road-focused SUVs and pickup trucks.

All-wheel-drive is a much more recent innovation, and it’s more complicated than four-wheel-drive. A good rule of thumb is to think of all-wheel-drive as the “car” system and four-wheel-drive as the “truck” system. The biggest difference between all-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive is that all-wheel-drive is turned on all the time, while four-wheel-drive can be turned off when you don’t need it. Pros of all-wheel-drive include increased grip and traction under all road conditions, sportier handling and traction to all types of cars, and it works all the time.

Driving Conditions for AWD and 4WD

Now that we’ve discussed the differences between all-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive, we can also tell you that the situations in which you want each system are going to differ. If you’re a driver who likes to take their big, tough SUV or pickup truck to the off-road areas of Southern California, you’ll want to include four-wheel-drive, because it has better traction for off-road conditions. An example of one vehicle that has four-wheel-drive here at Kearny Pearson Ford is the 2016 Ford Explorer. On the other hand, if you prefer a vehicle that handles perfectly on rain-slicked roads or just want a system that’s always on, you’ll want something with all-wheel-drive. One of the most popular all-wheel-drive cars that we have here at Kearny Pearson Ford is the high-end Titanium trim of the 2017 Ford Fusion.

When you’re shopping for a new Ford car, SUV, or pickup truck at our San Diego Ford, CA dealership, it’s good to have some idea of whether you want to include all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive. Contrary to popular perception, these are not the same thing, and your driving needs should dictate which one you choose. If you have any further questions or need clarification about the difference between these two drivetrain systems, you can ask a friendly Ford dealer here at our dealership located at 7303 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard in San Diego, CA. We hope to see you soon!