2WD vs 4WD?

You’ve finally decided that the next vehicle you get is going to be an crossover sedan. You’ve done all your research; you’ve picked out the model, engine size and trim you want but one decision remains: do you go for the 2WD or the 4WD version?First, let’s consider a fact- many crossovers never go off-road. Even though they look like they are ready to tackle muddy backroads, most are only used to go shopping or hauling the kids. Frankly, in applications such as these, you really don’t need a 4WD. But, that being said, let’s look at the technical differences between 2WD and 4WD vehicles.

Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Red Vapor

2WD Vehicles

Important data point, most 2WD vehicles are really 1WD. What? Under slippery conditions, a single wheel transfers power from the differential to the road and the other one coasts. This can be problematic when conditions are slippery – especially when stuck in snow. To make a vehicle a true 2WD, a limited slip differential is required. Limited slip differentials make sure that both wheels receive power. If you opt for a 2WD crossover, be sure the manufacturer offers the option of a limited slip rear differential.

There are other reasons that a 2WD is an excellent option also. They are typically lighter than 4WD vehicles (no 4WD components) and get slightly better gas mileage. Maintenance costs are typically lower over the life of the vehicle also as there are fewer moving parts to wear out.

4WD Vehicles

Drivers who want 4WD vehicles typically have many variations to choose from. “Part-time 4WD” refers to one of the most commonly used 4WD systems. It employs a simple high/low transfer case which routes power equally to the front and rear differentials. When engaged, both sets of front and rear wheels turn at the same rate of speed. This is great for slow speed travel but not good for highway travel. For highway travel, it is best to turn a part-time 4WD system off.

“Full-time 4WD” use front, rear and center differentials to allow the speed of individual wheels to vary. vehicles so equipped can operate in the 4WD mode at all times and on any surface condition. When disengaged, full-time 4WD operates as normal 2WD and thus save fuel.

All-wheel drive (AWD) systems are very popular today. AWD means the system is permanently engaged at all times. Power is sent to any or all wheels, controlled by a series of electronic gears that detect wheel slippage. AWD on crossovers and other smaller vehicles is not intended for off road use.

Thanks to the folks at ThompsonHyundai.com of Baltimore MD

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