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Autoland Blog

Friday, May 15, 2015

Understanding Drivetrains: 2WD, 4WD & AWD

When choosing a Toyota in NJ, there are quite a few factors that can affect your decision. Things like leather seats, a sunroof, automatic transmission . . . the list of desirable features goes on. However, a major factor that many people forget about is the drivetrain. The drivetrain is the group of components that sends power to the wheels and propels them. Your preferences here can heavily influence the class and type of vehicle options that you have, so it's good to take a look at the pros and cons of each before making any big decisions.

woman driving

Two-Wheel Drive (2WD)

Two-wheel drive vehicles are exactly what they sound like – either the two front or two back wheels put the vehicle in motion. This system is typically the most fuel-efficient option, as it requires fewer components for the drivetrain, which in turn keeps the vehicle lighter. It's quite common to find sedans, minivans, crossovers, and coupes with front wheel drive and large, heavier vehicles like SUVs and trucks with rear wheel drive. Generally, two-wheel drive is suitable for most road conditions, but isn't the ideal choice for off-roading or for areas that experience regular snowfall.

Four-Wheel Drive (4WD)

If you've seen "4x4" emblems on a vehicle or "4WD," this means that the vehicle sends power to each wheel to move the tires. Instead of propelling only the front or rear tires, four-wheel drive provides superior traction to all of the wheels. This type of drivetrain is typically found in SUVs and large trucks, which gives them off-roading capabilities that allow them to handle sand, mud, snow, and rough, rocky terrain. 4WD systems vary, and some models offer the option of operating the vehicle in constant 4WD or switching to 2WD to save fuel. Unlike regular 2WD, though, the 4WD system adds a significant amount of weight to the vehicle, so it will decrease fuel economy somewhat anyway.

All-Wheel Drive (AWD)

All-wheel drive is similar to 4WD in that the drivetrain can send power to all of the wheels; however, AWD is geared towards driving in snowy and wet conditions. This type of drivetrain can be fitted for sedans, some coupes, small SUV/CUVs and even minivans. The system enhances traction for daily driving and provides a sportier performance by powering all of the wheels. Additionally, AWD computers will monitor the wheel spin over 100 times per second, and can shift power to a specific wheel if slippage occurs. This keeps the vehicle balanced during acceleration if one tire rotates faster or slower due to the road conditions, and allows the other wheels to compensate for the loss in traction. Also, as with 4WD, AWD drivetrains are slightly heavier and can affect fuel efficiency.

To determine which drivetrain is best for you, schedule a test drive of each type of vehicle. Browse our huge inventory at Autoland to find the best car for your needs!



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