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All-Wheel Drive vs. Four-Wheel Drive

For those living in harsh climates or those who love to go off road, two-wheel drive is rarely enough. All-wheel drive (AWD) and four-wheel drive (4WD) powertrains allow you to get added traction and increase performance, making them a popular option for drivers around the world. However, few people realize that there are important distinctions to make between the two.

The 4WD system is familiar to most drivers on the road, as this system has been commercially available since the 1940s with models like the Willys Jeep. The technology itself actually dates back to the late nineteenth century, and has been around ever since. A 4WD system essentially spins all four wheels at the same time, providing added traction. This is especially useful at low speeds, but can be paired with a transfer case to operate through gear shifts and function at highway speeds. 4WD is optimal for low-speed rock crawls, dirt paths, snowy roads, and more.

Dirt Road - 4WD

An AWD system is much more modern, as it relies on a series on integrated computer systems. The major distinction between 4WD and AWD is that the AWD system can monitor and send power to each individual wheel as it is needed. In theory, AWD models can have different wheels spinning at different speeds. This is great for high-speed operation, and is actually known to increase performance on the track. The down side to an AWD system is that it tends to be more expensive to own and repair, as it uses a complex computer system.

Paved Road - AWD

Most new cars come with AWD over 4WD, though some off-road oriented cars may offer 4WD instead. Many cars also come with a drive select mode that allows you to choose between 2WD and 4WD, as it is hard on your car and tires to have 4WD on all the time. The most important thing to remember, whether you have 4WD or AWD, is that it does not make you invincible in hazardous conditions. Always drive with care.

For more questions about the difference in a vehicle’s powertrain options, or to find out more about a Mitsubishi’s powertrain, ask us at Pete Moore Mitsubishi and we would be glad to assist you! We are located in the heart of Pensacola, Florida.  

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