What’s the Difference Between 4WD and AWD?

2023 Mazda CX-30 Driving in Winter

If you’re looking for a powerhouse ride for your North Canton and Canton area travels, it’s a good idea to take a look at your drivetrain options – including 4-wheel drive (4WD) and all-wheel drive. What’s the difference between 4WD and AWD? Both are designed to deliver extra traction and control in challenging environments, but they operate in slightly different ways. Should you choose AWD vs. 4WD in snow? What about off-road conditions? Explore the AWD vs. 4WD difference with Serra Mazda, and stop by our showroom in Akron to give a few models a spin.

AWD vs. 4WD Difference: What is All-Wheel Drive?

All-wheel drive, or AWD, is a type of drivetrain configuration that sends engine torque to all four wheels. As power travels to front and rear axles via differentials, the vehicle is better able to maneuver through slick roads or rocky trails. All-wheel drive is a popular option, so you’ll find different types on the market today. 

Full-time AWD systems send torque to all four tires at all times, while part-time AWD systems switch between AWD and FWD. This allows you to maximize efficiency or power, based on the conditions of the road. You’ll see all-wheel drive on unibody platforms, which includes everything from the Mazda3 to the Mazda CX-9.

AWD vs. 4WD Difference: What is 4WD?

Four-wheel drive, or 4WD, is a traditional 4×4 drivetrain. So, what’s the difference between 4WD and AWD? While AWD models send power to the front and rear axles to reach all four tires, 4WD models are a little more precise. 4WD models can also send power to the front and rear axles, but they can focus power on the left and right wheels as well. This makes 4WD models popular with off-road settings, where the terrain is unpredictable. You’ll find 4WD systems on truck-based platforms.

Which is Better: AWD or 4WD?

Both drivetrain configurations have their advantages. AWD is more versatile for everyday driving, while 4WD comes alive on challenging terrain. Comparing AWD vs. 4WD in snow, AWD models will handle slick driveways and moderate snowfall without a problem. 

But if you’re dealing with deeper snow or more extreme winter weather, the 4WD drivetrain might be a better choice. For most Hudson drivers, all-wheel drive will offer extra peace of mind compared to front- or rear-wheel drive.

Explore MAZDA AWD at Serra Mazda

Want to know more about AWD vs. 4WD in snow, rain, or off-road conditions? Feel free to contact us online to learn more about your options at Serra Mazda. We can introduce you to Mazda cars with AWD and set you up for a test drive! Contact us in Akron for more information.


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