The Pros and Cons of the Different Drivetrains

When purchasing a vehicle, either new or used, there is a lot that you need to consider. A car can be a big investment and you want to make sure that you are making the right choice. One thing to keep in mind when considering what your next vehicle should be is the kind of drivetrain that it has. There are four different types of drivetrains, although two are very closely related to one another. Here is a list along with pros and cons for each:

Front Wheel Drive (FWD)
A front wheel drive vehicle is relaying the power from the engine to the front wheels. With FWD, the front wheels are pulling the car to create movement and the rear wheels are simply following. The rear wheels don’t receive any power from the engine.

PRO – A FWD car or truck typically gets better fuel economy and emits less carbon dioxide. It also performs better than a RWD vehicle in the snow because all of the weight of the engine is located over the driving wheels.

CON– Since it is “nose heavy”, handling can be difficult.

Rear Wheel Drive (RWD)
A rear wheel drive vehicle is relaying power from the engine to the rear wheels. Like a bicycle, the rear wheels are responsible for pushing the car forward.

PRO– The weight of the drivetrain on a RWD vehicle is spread more evenly so it has better balance than a FWD vehicle.

CON– A RWD vehicle is more prone to loss of traction on slick roads and does not perform well in poor weather conditions like rain or snow.

Four Wheel Drive (4WD)/ All Wheel Drive (AWD)
A part time 4WD system lets the driver select if the power from the engine is relayed to only two wheels or to all four wheels. A full time 4WD system permanently engages all four wheels and is essentially the same as an AWD system. The term AWD can be used for vehicles that have more than four wheels in which all of the wheels are powered.

– AWD vehicles have the best traction in any kind of driving condition.

CON– An AWD vehicle is much heavier than a FWD or RWD vehicle, which hurts acceleration and uses more fuel. AWD is the most expensive drivetrain option.