AWD vs. 4WD: What’s the Difference?

August 24th, 2021 by
2020 Lexus UX Side View

Is AWD the same as 4WD? No, not exactly; the two systems distribute power in unique ways. Is AWD better than 4WD? It all depends on your needs as a driver. While AWD delivers a more controlled on-road performance, 4WD is generally preferred by those who spend a considerable amount of time off-road. Learn the most important differences between AWD and 4WD to make the right choice for your Voorhees and Moorestown drives.

What is AWD?

Like four-wheel drive, all-wheel drive is a drivetrain configuration that allows power to be sent to all four wheels. Unlike four-wheel drive, all-wheel drive is offered in “part-time” and “full-time” designs. Part-time AWD systems are especially common, since they allow Philadelphia and Mt. Laurel drivers to enjoy the efficiency benefits of FWD or RWD and the performance benefits of AWD. 

When the going gets tough or you encounter a rough patch, part-time AWD kicks in to keep you moving forward. Full-time AWD directs consistent power to all four wheels, and that means it works a lot like standard 4WD—with a few caveats.

Although certain cars and high-performance roadsters may be offered exclusively with front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive, the IS and LS models all offer you the option to upgrade with AWD. The same is true for the RC Coupe, as well as the UX, RX, and NX crossovers.

What is 4WD?

Four-wheel drive is a more traditional 4×4 technology with a longer history. But what is the difference between AWD and 4WD where real-world conditions are concerned? Four-wheel drive differs from all-wheel drive in one key respect: in addition to directing power toward the front or the rear as needed, four-wheel drive can also direct power to the left or the right! This makes four-wheel drive ideal for those who frequently travel over rough terrain, where the loss of traction on one side or the other is very common.

Looking for a Lexus with four-wheel drive? The GX and the NX are both excellent choices.

Which is Better: AWD or 4WD?

So, AWD or 4WD? Neither system can really be described as “better”; it all depends on what you need:

  • If you just want a little extra traction for snowy days and poor road conditions, AWD will probably feel like a perfect fit.
  • If you absolutely need to be able to break free from the beaten path, there’s no substitute for classic 4WD.
  • It’s also important to understand that all-wheel drive systems are generally more efficient than four-wheel drive systems. So if you have a long commute, AWD is probably a better choice.

Find a 4×4 Vehicle at Lexus of Cherry Hill!

If you’re looking for a dependable daily driver with all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, you can’t go wrong with a luxurious Lexus car or SUV. Take advantage of our current new vehicle specials and contact us to set up your test drive.


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