What is the Difference Between AWD and 4WD?

Parked 2021 Toyota Highlander

Fairmont families looking for a capable vehicle to tackle all their adventures will likely come across AWD and 4WD vehicles. When this happens, you might be wondering, what is the difference between AWD and 4WD? The difference between AWD and 4WD is that AWD stands for all-wheel drive and 4WD stands for four-wheel drive. In short, is AWD the same as 4WD? No, they are not the same.

Since both drivetrains are separate, which is better: AWD or 4WD? One technically isn’t better than the other and they both serve different Kingwood lifestyles. Today at University Toyota, we’ll go over which is better: AWD or 4WD and answer, “What is the difference between AWD and 4WD,” then feel free to check out our expansive new inventory which includes AWD and 4WD vehicles.

AWD and 4WD Explanations

AWD and 4WD both sound similar so we know it can sometimes get confusing. If you’re asking yourself, “Is AWD the same as 4WD,” you’ve come to the right place. Before deciding whether you want AWD or 4WD in your next vehicle, take a look at the explanations of what each drivetrain means below:


AWD stands for all-wheel drive and is a drivetrain setup where power is directed to the front and rear wheels via a differential. The two most common AWD systems are full-time AWD and part-time AWD. Full-time AWD means that power is directed to the front and rear wheels the whole time when you’re driving around Deep Creek, MD. Part-time AWD means the drivetrain computer system monitors when slippage is detected and provides power to the front or rear wheels when needed. AWD is commonly found on unibody or crossover vehicles like the new Toyota Highlander or Toyota RAV4.


4WD on the other hand stands for four-wheel drive. 4WD systems are common in the sense that they’re regularly referred to as a traditional 4×4 drivetrain. When comparing AWD vs. 4WD, you’ll notice they’re similar in that they can both send power to the front and rear wheels. However, the difference between AWD and 4WD is that 4WD systems can also direct power to the left and right wheels as well. 4WD is typically found on truck-based platforms or body-on-frame vehicles similar to the Toyota 4Runner or the Toyota Tundra.

Is AWD Better than 4WD?

Now that we know the difference between AWD and 4WD, which is better: AWD or 4WD? The honest answer is that it just depends. While 4WD is typically more rugged and a better choice for drivers who will regularly be going on off-road excursions or the Morgantown worksite, AWD is typically enough for most drivers. AWD provides added traction for suburban drivers who just need an extra layer of safety. To summarize, is AWD better than 4WD? No, one technically isn’t better than the other and when comparing AWD vs. 4WD, both are capable enough and it just depends on your specific needs.

Can’t Decide Between AWD or 4WD? Visit University Toyota Today for Assistance!

Now that we’ve answered, “Is AWD better than 4WD,” come visit us in Morgantown to compare your next AWD vs. 4WD vehicle. Still, asking yourself, “Is AWD the same as 4WD,” or can’t decide between AWD or 4WD? Visit the team at University Toyota and we’ll help you go through your options. We’re good at what we do so we have no doubt that you’ll leave our dealership feeling confident and satisfied with your decision. Please get in touch if you have any other questions or concerns!


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