All wheel drive (commonly abbreviated to AWD) is identical to four-wheel drive. A car that has all-wheel drive has power that is delivered to all the wheels rather than just the front pair or the back pair. This allows an AWD vehicle to have extra traction and grip on slippery surfaces such as gravel roads.
Why do manufacturers refer to a vehicle as having all wheel drive rather than four-wheel drive, seeing as the two terms mean the same thing? This may be because a “four-wheel drive” suggests that the vehicle is suitable for off-roading. A vehicle that has AWD may have power to all four wheels but may not have the ground clearance or differential gearing needed for real off-road driving. An all wheel drive vehicle is more of an on-road vehicle but has the extra grip and power provided by the AWD system. A car like this is, however, more than capable of handling gravel roads and smooth off-road conditions such as paddocks – if all you need to get to is the skifield or an easily accessed fishing spot, then a vehicle described as an AWD might be your preference. Also – although this is rarer – an AWD vehicle may have more than four wheels, so the term “four wheel drive” is inaccurate.
We hope that helps answer the question ‘What is What is All Wheel Drive (AWD)?’!
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