4WD vs AWD

What's the difference?

The difference between four-wheel drive (4WD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) can be a little vague. I read a lot of resources, and they waffle quite a bit.

In general:

But there are edge cases where it gets weird. For instance, some 4WD vehicles are “full-time 4WD” which means they are always in 4WD. So…are they AWD? Maybe? But if they have a low-range and we can lock the axles, would we still call that 4WD?

I feel like “all-wheel drive” is a marketing term created because manufacturers wanted to make cars with all four wheels under power, but they didn’t want people to view them as trucks or off-road vehicles, so they invented a new, “softer” term.

To be sure, there’s a lot of crossover – some vehicles marketed as “4WD” have more in common with vehicles labeled AWD, and vice-versa.

Why I Looked It Up

I had always wondered. I heard the term in a car review video, and decided to solve it.

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