The Meaning and Use of
As you may have guessed, the term "4x4"
can also be written as "4WD," meaning "four-wheel drive
transmission." However, there's also "AWD" meaning
"all-wheel drive transmission." There is a distinct difference
Four wheel drive means that
power from the transmission is sent to the transfer case, which then ensures
that all four wheels are turning at the same speed. This can cause some
problems when trying to go around a corner (as the inside wheel needs to spin
slower than the outside wheel to turn properly) so modern vehicles have 4WD
activated with a button or switch; when activated, poor conditions like mud and
large rocks become a problem of the past. When you're done, switch it off to
increase fuel efficiency and get back to normal driving.
All wheel drive, on the other
hand, is a much more recent innovation that is on all the time as opposed to
how 4WD can be switched on and off. AWD works by providing power to all four
wheels but, also unlike 4WD, it provides more power to the individual
wheels with the most traction to make up for the other wheels that are
slipping. AWD isn't as useful as 4WD during off-road adventures but, if you're
sticking to the paved roads, it's the best for getting you through wet or icy
conditions with ease.