What’s the Difference: AWD vs 4WD

In order to differentiate between AWD and 4WD, we need to learn what these acronyms stand for first. AWD is short for All-Wheel-Drive, and 4WD refers to Four-Wheel-Drive. You’d think all vehicles offer four-wheel-drive, so where does this differentiation come in? 

Put simply, AWD and 4WD differ in terms of the terrain that they can be comfortably driven on. AWD is a recent facility introduced in motor vehicles. Before AWD, most cars came pre-installed with 4WD, which allows them to off-road with ease. 

Below, we discuss the differences between AWD and 4WD in detail.


  • All-wheel-drive models distribute power to both the front and rear wheels at all times. Two variants of AWD are made available to the customer - one, where all the wheels are powered continuously, called full-time AWD, and second, known as part-time-drive, when the car shifts to two-wheel-drive with power distributed to the four wheels only when additional traction is required. AWD vehicles usually require little input from the driver in terms of power distribution to the wheels.
  • 4WD is the traditional powertrain found in the earliest automobiles. In this system, vehicles are allowed to receive power on all four wheels equally, improving its traction on rough road conditions. You can avail full-time 4WD in trucks and part-time 4WD in SUVs and crossovers, built to work and play equally well. 4WD vehicles are generally more expensive as they report poor fuel economy. 

And The Winner Is… 

If you want a comfortable driving experience, AWD is certainly a winner when pitted against 4WD. 4WD rides can handle difficult terrain magnanimously, but nowadays, so can most vehicles with AWD. The powertrain you choose for your vehicle will depend solely on your requirements and how you plan to use the car.


You’ll be happy to know we stock an extensive range of vehicles with both AWD and 4WD facilities. Get in touch with Stevenson-Hendrick Toyota in Jacksonville, NC, or come on down if you happen to be located in or around New Bern, Havelock, and Richlands. We will help you make the right pick if you allow us.

Source: Toyota