All-wheel-drive (AWD) is one of the most popular options on modern passenger cars and SUVs. Buyers appreciate the improved handling on dry pavement and the greatly increased traction on wet or icy pavement. AWD also allows some light off-pavement driving, giving confidence to skiers, hikers, campers, and anyone who enjoys getting off the beaten track.
Four-wheel-drive (4WD) is similar to AWD in that all four wheels can be engaged to help provide traction, but there are important differences to understand between 4WD (also known as 4X4) systems and AWD designs. This article covers the technical differences between the two systems, the vehicles where you’ll find each system, and how to decide which of the two is best to meet your needs.