Here in southern Louisiana, we're fortunate we usually don't have to deal with snow, but we do have our fair share of rocky road conditions. A recent study found that our Baton Rouge roads are some of the worst in the U.S.-so whether you like off-roading or not, you're likely to encounter some bumps on the daily. Here, whether your vehicle has all-/four-wheel drive (4x4) or two-wheel drive (4x2) can make the difference between a rough journey and a smooth one. If you've been seeing these terms pop up in your vehicle search and aren't exactly sure what they mean, Salsbury's is here to help. Here we'll explain the difference between all-wheel, four-wheel, and two-wheel drive lines and help you decide which one is right for you. Still have questions? Feel free to call us at (225) 666-8101 for personal, expert help from our industry professionals.

What does 4x4 Mean?

The term "4x4" refers to a vehicle's drive line system and can either mean all-wheel drive (AWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD). Counter-intuitively, AWD is not the same as 4WD. There's a slight difference.

The AWD System

All-wheel drive systems can power all the wheels, but work either part- or full-time, meaning some wheels may not always receive power. Part-time AWD uses sensors to assess road conditions and determine which wheels need power the most. This puts less pressure on the driver to remember to manually engage power to the wheels, because the system will automatically engage where needed. But while AWD may seem efficient, it doesn't perform as well as 4WD on rough terrain, and doesn't give the driver much control over the power systems. However, if you're sticking to paved roads, AWD is best for easily navigating wet or icy conditions. You'll find all-wheel drive as an option to add on to your vehicle, available on models like the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300.

The 4WD System

Four-wheel drive, unlike all-wheel, gives equal power to all wheels. This can cause problems when turning corners, as the inside wheel needs to spin slower than the outside wheel to turn properly, so this system must be manually activated with a button or switch and is best for only certain rough terrains. But when it's on, conditions like mud and rocky hills become smooth sailing for your SUV or truck. Once you've navigated the rough conditions, it's a good idea to deactivate 4WD to increase fuel efficiency. This category is where you'll find most Jeep Wranglers and Grand Cherokees as well as many trucks like the Ram 1500.

What Does 4x2 Mean?

When you see "4x2" in a vehicle description, it means the drive line is powering only either the two front or rear wheels. Both front- and rear-wheel drive have different purposes and effects on driving.

Front-Wheel Drive

Front wheel drive means all the engine power is delivered to the two front wheels. This system is lighter and less complex than other drive transmissions, reducing weight on your vehicle, lowering production costs, and increasing fuel economy. These systems are great for slippery conditions like rain or snow because of the added traction from the weight of the engine directly over the powered wheels. You'll find front-wheel drive on all trims of the Chrysler Pacifica minivan.

Rear-Wheel Drive

Rear-wheel drive, as you can probably guess, means all the power is delivered to the two back wheels. When would this be better than front-wheel drive? Because most trucks are heavier toward the front of the vehicle than the rear, putting the power toward the back helps to keep balance and drive more evenly. Plus, when hauling loads or trailers, the weight will be closest to the wheels with the most power and can provide better traction. Trucks like the Ram 1500 will usually use rear-wheel drive systems when not in four-wheel drive mode to give you an optimal drive experience.

Find Your Perfect Drive Line at Salsbury's Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram

The Salsbury's team would love to help you find the perfect vehicle for you, whether you're a careful driver worried about slick roads or an off-roading weekending adventurer-we'll help you find the perfect drive line for your lifestyle. Give us a call now at (225) 666-8101 for answers to all your questions.