Difference Between FWD and RWD and AWD and 4WD

FWD vs RWD vs AWD vs 4WD

FWD and RWD and AWD and 4WD, have you ever wondered what these 4 acronyms mean and how do they relate to the performance of a car? It is true that car buyers never pay attention to what drives the wheels of their cars and why is it important in the first place. Till 1970’s, most of the auto makers relied upon Rear Wheeled Drive (RWD), and so there was no choice for the customers. It was in the 80’s that car makers thought of Front Wheel Drive (FWD) to save money and make more profits. Manufacturers convinced customers about the benefits of FWD and so it became an industry standard.

FWD cars carry the weight of the engine and transmission up front, which means the car is heavy in the nose. When braking at great speeds, it is problematical as all the weight of the car is transferred to the front wheels. FWD is thus fine for daily driving, but for rally drivers, it is a big no, no. This is why no sports car is FWD.

AWD indicates a car that has all four wheels driven at all times. AWD system splits from front to rear, with ordinary road cars (commuters) giving most of the power to front wheels while sporty AWD cars favor giving power to rear wheels. Driving an all wheel drive car is a pure bliss and a better experience than driving either a FWD or a RWD car. However, AWD has its disadvantages like higher cost, higher maintenance and repair and low fuel efficiency.

4WD is a special type of drive that is a RWD that can be shifted into 4WD when conditions so demand. This is a drive that is commonly found in modern SUV’s. It has the benefits of both a RWD and an AWD. This drive allows the user to switch from RWD to AWD whenever more traction is needed. 4WD systems have extra gears to allow trucks to haul heavy loads over steep and rough terrain.

If you want a car that is all weather and all terrain, then definitely 4WD is the better option. However, if you are certain your car will never be off road, then AWD should work just as fine for you.