A front-wheel drive (FWD) has a transmission that provides power to the front of the vehicle whilst a Rear-wheel drive (RWD) has a transmission that provides power to the rear end. An all-wheel drive (AWD) and a four-wheel drive (4WD) are terms used interchangeably but the slight difference is discussed below.
So how is this relevant for when I choose my car?
FWDs ‘pull’ the car. They are economical and are cheaper to make. There is better gas mileage on these cars which is why it is commonly seen in economy-type cars which are of low cost. However, such cars do not suffice well in high-speed or with increased load. For this reason, such cars cannot be used as performance vehicles.
RWDs ‘push’ the car. These cars are able to survive many forms of ‘abusive’ scenarios such as hitting the curb, without needing too pricey repairs. It also has better balance. These two reasons are why ‘service’ vehicles, such as police cars, and most race cars are RWDs. However, if you put these cars in the rain or snow, there are at an increased risk of losing traction easily. Therefore in adverse weather conditions, the cars are best left at home!
AWD and 4WD are used interchangeably but there is a slight difference between the two. 4WD are typically used to describe larger SUVs where power transmission is sent equally to all 4 wheels. This means it is great for manoeuvring through rough road conditions and off-road scenarios.
AWD are more of recent innovation seen in supercars where all 4 wheels get power transmission, but by a vectoring system the power each wheel receives can vary. Therefore, if there is a loss of traction in one wheel, the electronic system will sense it and send more power transmission to the wheels with more traction. This means it has the performance potential as well as convenience of use in everyday situations – but are not suitable for off-road conditions.
Therefore both 4WD/AWD have brilliant traction which means it is perfect for those who want the performance side of a vehicle whilst also being convenient during poor weather conditions such as snow. Furthermore, these cars will be able to handle any sharp corner without slipping out of place. However, with such benefits comes the two main drawbacks which is that such vehicles are a lot heavier and cost a lot more.
However expensive they are, my preference is the the AWD. I love my performance vehicles but at the same time I want it to be convenient for day to day use. The Golf R, I have at the moment, is an AWD that gives me exactly that! Yes, it is a little pricey, but with the recent adverse weather conditions in England, I got to appreciate how amazing the traction was on the car!!
So guys, what is your verdict now? FWD, RWD, AWD/4WD?