Choosing Between 2WD, 4WD, and AWD – What’s the Difference?

2015 GMC Terrain

A lot of cars today, especially trucks and SUVs, come with optional four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive in addition to the standard two-wheel drive. There’s a lot to consider when choosing between 2WD, 4WD, and AWD, and which one you choose depends upon your needs and budget.

With 2WD, either the front or rear wheels do the work of steering the car, while the other set aren’t controlled by the steering wheel. This is the most basic and least expensive. The difference between 4WD and AWD is a little more complex. Essentially, 4WD is turned off until you purposely engage it, at which point all four wheels are in control. AWD is always on and senses which tires should be used at any given time.

4WD is best for areas that get heavy snow and rain, which can confuse the sensors of AWD cars. AWD works best for lighter precipitation, where the sensors are at their best and can protect you from hydroplaning and slipping. And 2WD is best for milder climates, though you don’t have to have 4WD or AWD to handle bad weather, especially since upgrading can be costly.

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