San Francisco drivers searching for their next capable car, truck, or SUV may find themselves having to choose between drivetrains. Two of the most popular drivetrains with those looking for increased handling are AWD and 4WD. Is AWD the same as 4WD? What’s the difference? Get all the details in this AWD vs. 4WD comparison from Cartelligent.

What is AWD?

All-wheel drive, often shortened to AWD, is a drivetrain configuration where the torque from the engine is directed to both the front and rear axles, sending power to all four wheels via differentials. There are a few types of AWD systems on the market, two of the most prevalent being full-time AWD and part-time AWD. As suggested by the names, full-time AWD systems constantly send torque to both axles while driving, while part-time AWD systems send power to only the front axle but will monitor road conditions and driving behavior to decide when to send additional torque to the rear axle. AWD drivetrains can be found on everything from sedans to pickup trucks, though most are only equipped on models with a unibody frame. 

What is 4WD?

4WD, or four-wheel drive, can also be described as a 4×4 drivetrain. Much like an AWD vehicle, a 4WD drivetrain sends power to the front and rear axles. Where it differs is that, unlike AWD systems, 4WD drivetrains can direct a specific amount of power between the left and right wheels for even more precise handling and capability. 4WD systems are designed for off-roading and difficult terrain, so they are often found only in trucks and truck-based SUV platforms.

The Difference Between AWD & 4WD

Which should you choose for your Orange County adventures: AWD or 4WD? It all depends on how you plan to drive your vehicle. If you’re mostly driving in the suburbs of Los Angeles and would like a little more capability and traction in bad weather conditions, AWD will be the better bet. If instead, you enjoy taking on the trails or driving along the beach, you may want to opt for a 4WD vehicle for better off-roading capability.

Compare AWD vs. 4WD Vehicles with Cartelligent!

No matter which you prefer, AWD or 4WD, Cartelligent can help you find the right model and drivetrain for your daily drives! Get started by speaking to one of our advisors today and simplify the car-buying process. If you have any questions about Cartelligent or how we can help you buy, lease, or sell your dream car, visit our FAQ page.