What are the differences between AWD and 4WD?

By Product Expert | Posted in FAQs, Tips & Tricks on Thursday, January 23rd, 2020 at 10:04 am
two rows of tires standing up going closer toward each other

When shopping for a new vehicle one feature you often have to consider is the drivetrain. The drivetrain is what provides power to the driving wheels using mechanical power to rotate the axle. There are four different drivetrains: front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. The type of drivetrain you need depends on where you live and what conditions you commonly face. A common misconception is that all-wheel drive (AWD) and four-wheel drive (4WD) are the same thing. While they are similar, they do have their differences. Keep reading to learn how they are different.

All-Wheel Drive vs Four-Wheel Drive

car with winter tires parked on snow

AWD provides power to all four wheels all the time. This drivetrain does not require any input from the driver. Torque is delivered to all the wheels with a series of differentials, viscous couplings and multiplate clutches. There is full-time AWD and part-time AWD. Full-time AWD operates normally with providing power to all four wheels. Part-time AWD sends power to either the front or rear wheels and will engage the other two when conditions require more traction.

4WD, just like AWD, sends power to all four wheels. However, this system is more vigorous and can handle rugged terrains better. 4WD delivers torque to wheels through a series of front, rear and center differentials, transfer cases and couplings. 4WD also has full-time and part-time. Full-time 4WD will provide to all four wheels on a continuous basis. The driver sometimes has the option to control how power is distributed. Part-time 4WD operates two wheels, usually the rear, and the driver has to decide when to engage 4WD.

[Read more: How often should you get your VW tires rotated?]

Models with AWD or 4WD at Karen Radley Volkswagen

Now that you know the difference between AWD and 4WD, come visit Karen Radley Volkswagen to get a new model. Volkswagen models that have AWD include the Arteon, Atlas, Gold Alltrack, Gold R and Tiguan. While Volkswagen does not have 4WD, it does have 4MOTION®. This combines AWD and 4WD for optimum performance. All the previous models mentioned have it as an option. Contact us to learn more about Volkswagen models with AWD or 4MOTION®.