Posted on

Is AWD or 4×4 Better for Off-Road?

Offroading is more popular than ever before. In fact, the industry is now valued at more than $12 billion. By the end of the decade, this market valuation is expected to exceed $22 billion.

While this figure includes ATVs and dirt bikes, the offroading mindset is creeping into the traditional vehicle market. A growing number of consumers want their vehicle to be all-wheel drive (AWD) or 4-wheel drive (4WD). In 2020, there were more 4WD vehicles sold than any other type.

Drivers enjoy the safety during snowy conditions and the prospects of going offroading. Read on to learn whether AWD or 4×4 is better for offroading. Explore topics such as off-road technology and which vehicles are best suited for rough terrain.

What Is AWD?

Before diving into which option is better, it is important to describe each type. AWD cars employ systems that use both the front and rear wheels.

The goal of AWD vehicles is to give drivers more traction in rain or snow. AWD vehicles come in all different sizes and shapes including compact sedans or large SUVs.

It should be noted that consumers can purchase vehicles with full or part-time AWD. In a full-time system, all four wheels are always being powered during operation.

In a part-time system, electronic sensors detect poor driving conditions. When extra traction is necessary, a signal is sent to the vehicle’s computer to send extra torque to the other two wheels. In general, no driver input is necessary to trigger full or part-time AWD capability.

What Is 4WD?

4×4 vehicles have been in operation for over a century. The vast majority of today’s pickup trucks and SUVs feature 4WD.

It is a simpler system than AWD and does not require any fancy sensors. Instead, the front axle is mechanically locked to the drivetrain, providing power to all four tires.

The driver can manually toggle 4WD on and off. There are different modes depending on the terrain you are navigating.

Some vehicles have 4WD running full-time. However, there are some that engage 4WD on a part-time basis primarily to save fuel.

For the toughest terrain, you can set the vehicle to 4-wheel low and drive up and over many things. Also, 4-wheel high provides additional traction on the road and less difficult terrain.

Is AWD or 4X4 Better for Off-Road?

The answer to this question lies in the wants and needs of the driver. If you are looking for road control and better fuel efficiency, AWD is the best fit for you.

If you are looking to go offroading, 4×4 vehicles are the preferred choice. They handle deep snow, mud, sand, and rock better than AWD.

Now You Know

The truth of the matter is that both AWD and 4WD qualify as off-road vehicles. They can both handle wet, icy, or otherwise rough conditions. With 4WD, you can probably push the vehicle a little further.

If you enjoyed this article asking whether AWD or 4×4 is better for offroading, check out our shop to see accessories for your off-road vehicle.