What's the Difference: AWD vs. 4WD

Car buyers are no longer limited by terrain. Advancing wheel systems have pushed all-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drives to the fore. They have gained popularity among people in tough climates, or off-road adventure enthusiasts.

AWD and 4WD systems are often interchanged with each other. The engine's power flows to all the wheels in both the systems. But, there is a major difference in the way the fuel burns, the weight carried, the depths your car will go into.


There are two drivetrains in AWD systems: part-time and full-time AWD. The full-time AWD sends continuous power to all wheels. Part-time or automatic AWD sends power to two wheels at all times, providing additional traction to all four wheels only when needed.

In full-time AWD, front and rear axles are engaged at all times, so the vehicle gets better handling and full output on the road. On oily or icy conditions, AWD provides traction for better handling on the road.

In part-time AWD, two wheels, either the front or rear, receive torque at all times. The system automatically detects the terrain you are driving on and engages the other two wheels if the road needs extra traction.


4WD is the first system that comes to mind when you think of an engine transferring power to all wheels. The drivetrain is found on models used for serious off-road adventures. 4WD is robust, handling more rugged terrain as compared to AWD drivetrains. There are two kinds of 4WD as well: full-time and part-time.

In full-time 4WD systems, the four wheels obtain rotation at all times. In some cases, you can manually select how power is distributed.

Part-time 4WD is found in a majority of trucks and SUVs driven on steep terrains. The vehicle is driven by the rear wheels, and 4WD is activated with the push of a button or a lever.

The wheel system you buy depends on where you live and your basic driving needs.

At Sansone Jr’s 66 Nissan, which happens to be near Freehold, Asbury Park, and Belmar, you will find your dream car with the wheel system to suit your lifestyle. 

Source: Nissan