When you’re looking for a new car there are loads of considerations you need to take into account and one question posed by many car buyers is whether their new vehicle should have front wheel drive (FWD) or all wheel drive (AWD). When you’re considering differences between front wheel drive vs all wheel drive cars you need to take the following factors into account:
All wheel drive is a vehicle that has permanent multiple wheel drive and works well on any surface. You’ll find all wheel drive vehicles have anti-slip technology, allowing torque transfer to alternative wheels when traction is lost, therefore allowing power to all four wheels. Four wheel drive vehicles have a transfer case between the front and rear axles, providing torque transfer to the axle that has the most available traction. Front wheel drive vehicles only have the two front wheels powered by the car’s engine.
You will benefit from all wheel drive or four wheel drive vehicles if you live in a neighbourhood featuring unpaved roads or dirt tracks or if your locality experiences frequent snow or icy conditions or even frequent rainfall. You’ll really notice the benefits of all wheel drive vehicles where floods are very often a hazard and when icy roads offer treacherous driving conditions in winter. In bad weather conditions the AWD/4WD vehicle offers better acceleration. The AWD vehicle performs significantly better at acceleration as traction is distributed evenly across all four tyres, whereas FWD drive cars only give traction to the two front tyres.
If you drive your vehicle off road you’ll also note the benefits of your all wheel drive, or four wheel drive, vehicle as it handles much better in fields, muddy situations, wooded areas and in waterlogged conditions. You’ll find your AWD/4WD car will not get stuck, whereas a FWD vehicle often gets stuck in muddy situations when driven off road.
When you need to tow trailers, caravans or boats you’ll find the added traction of your AWD/4WD vehicle will give you greater confidence, particularly when towing up steep slopes like boat ramps. However, if your towing needs are confined to tarmac or paved roads that are generally flat you shouldn’t notice any poorer performance from your FWD vehicle.
You’ll find purchasing an AWD/4WD vehicle can be a good investment, as these cars do hold their value well, however one major disadvantage tends to be reduced fuel economy due to the higher weight loads of AWD/4WD cars and heavier components used in manufacture. Also maintenance costs on AWD/4WD vehicles will be significantly higher than FWD as the differentials will require frequent oil changes and also repair costs on differentials can be quite high.
Ultimately, all wheel drive and four wheel drive vehicles are more expensive and not every driver will find the added expenditure of benefit. If you’re considering buying an AWD/4WD vehicle you should really assess your personal driving needs and whether you really do have a requirement for this type of car. Many drivers of AWD/4WD are lulled into a false sense of security when driving in snow, ice or flood conditions as they believe they will benefit from their car’s additional acceleration or traction performance but in all honesty they will find the braking distances and handling issues will be exactly the same. The most important factor in adverse weather conditions is that the vehicle possesses a good set of tyres.