How Are All-Wheel Drive and Four-Wheel Drive Different?

November 16th, 2020 by

Ford Escape for sale in Oklahoma

Both Require Responsible Driving on Slick Roads near Purcell, Oklahoma

Four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, despite sounding nearly identical, actually aren’t! Each of these drivetrain systems work differently and have different benefits to the driver. Some come standard on certain vehicles, while other vehicles only have these special features if you choose upgrade packages.

So, which system is best for you and how you drive? Examine the differences between the systems, and learn which could help you drive more safely. Remember that regardless of your vehicle’s drivetrain, you still need to drive carefully and responsibly in inclement weather and on slick road conditions.

Four-Wheel Drive Systems

Transfer cases, which function like a locked differential, are present in four-wheel drive systems. It sends power to each tire individually, so whichever tire maintains its traction is the one that gets the power to prevent slipping or getting stuck.

Some people note that four-wheel drive vehicles have a “stiff” ride, and they don’t get as efficient fuel economy as other types of drivetrains. You can also expect to pay a little more for vehicles with four-wheel drive. Another downside is that four-wheel drive vehicles don’t take corners as nicely as other vehicles because the wheels spin at the same speed.

Four-wheel drive is ideal for off-roading and driving during inclement winter weather. People who live where it snows or ices up in the winter (we all know about that!) swear by their four-wheel drive trucks. However, not everyone wants to own a pick-up!

All-Wheel Drive Systems

Sending a variable amount of torque to each axle, all-wheel drive systems are uncontrolled by the driver; four-wheel drive systems can be activated manually. All-wheel drive systems use a center differential to distribute torque between both axles. The system pushes power to the wheels that need it most to maintain traction.

You can find all-wheel drive systems on a variety of vehicles, and you don’t have to turn on your system to help with torque and traction.

Which Should I Buy?

Choosing all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive is totally up to you. When deciding which drivetrain is best for you, think about where you live, how and where you drive, and your personal preferences.

All-wheel drive is available on vehicles of all sizes, so you have more variety to choose from. If you prefer four-wheel drive, you’re much more likely to get a larger vehicle, like a truck or full-size SUV. Four-wheel drive vehicles available to choose from may also stand taller off the ground, since they are most often used to navigate rough terrain or be taken off-roading.

What About Front-Wheel Drive and Rear-Wheel Drive Systems?

Two other drivetrains are front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive. These systems apply torque and power to just one axle.

Rear-wheel drive systems put the onus onto the back wheels, while the front wheels simply point the car where you want to go. Rear-wheel drive cars use a driveshaft and rear differential, and they don’t perform as well on slick roads as other systems do.

Front-wheel drive systems are more fuel efficient than others. The drivetrain connects the engine to the front wheels with short drive axles. Because the engine is usually under the hood, positioned over the front axle, the heaviest part of the car is over the wheels receiving the most torque. Essentially, a front-wheel drive vehicle uses its front wheels to pull itself around.

Ford Vehicles with Four-Wheel Drive or All-Wheel Drive for Sale

Some of the Ford vehicles you can purchase with all-wheel drive also come in four-wheel drive options, particularly the larger SUVs and pick-up trucks. Consider:

The Ford Fusion, discontinued in 2020, is available with all-wheel drive. You can still find the 2020 model year in stock at our dealership.

Ford Vehicles For Sale in Oklahoma

Our inventory of brand-new Ford cars, trucks, and SUVs are for sale at Zeck Ford, in Purcell, near Oklahoma City and Norman. When you shop for a new vehicle at Zeck Ford, you get what we call the Zecksperience, our customer-service guarantee that means you’ll never need to haggle with commissioned salespeople.

We do things differently at Zeck Ford; come see what we mean when it’s time to buy your next four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicle. Find us at 2311 N 9th Avenue in Purcell.

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