All-Wheel Drive vs. Front-Wheel Drive: What Should I Get?

4 minute read

Most sold cars in the U.S. use a front-wheel-drive system (FWD), in which the entire drive package is in the front.

FWD became popular in the ’70s when Asian automotive Industries like Honda and Toyota were beating Chevrolet and Ford through their benefits.

When it comes to the 2021 Hi-Tech car engine, most of all passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. come with all-wheel-drive (AWD) or four-wheel-drive (4WD) systems.

That’s a clear suggestion that a two-wheel drive is not enough for drivers. But it all comes down to what you need most from your vehicle passenger and cargo capabilities.

FWD design keeps everything compact and under the hood. Less weight, and less drivetrain loss, results in less gas used. That success took over mid-size and full-size cars, even Ford thought to add it to their Mustang (instead they created the Ford Probe).

All-wheel-drive took longer to get mainstream acceptance. It might have started with Subaru, and gained territory in the automotive industry adding brands like Dodge, Lincoln, Fiat, and Ford due to the slippery road conditions capability of the AWD systems.

All-Wheel Drive Pros:

● Capability – AWD is built for on-road and off-road use. It has the capability to send the engine’s power to all four tires, all the time. Four wheels putting power to the ground means that if one or two loose grip in dry/wet/muddy/icy conditions, you will still have traction.

● Resale value – Make a quick search on google: “best cars for resale value” and you’ll find out that FWD vehicles don’t hold their value as well as AWD in colder weather. 

All-Wheel Drive Cons:

● Four Tires – If you puncture a tire that cannot be fixed, you will need to replace all four tires, even though only one is bad. If you decide to only replace the punctured tire, it could put extra stress on the AWD components of the vehicle, which could lead to more costly repairs.

● Gas – AWD components add weight and drivetrain inefficiency to the engine, so it will burn more combustible.

● Price – Due to complexity, and increased capability, manufacturers and dealers ask for more money for AWD vehicles.

Front-Wheel Drive Pros:

● Affordability – FWD is more affordable due to fewer parts and its lack of utility.

● Tires – You can change the tires one at a time, making it easy for tire replacements when on a strict budget.

● Gas – FWD achieves better fuel economy, due to a lighter drivetrain and higher efficiency design. FWD is cheaper to buy, and cheaper to operate.

● Snow tires are a cheaper option – Well-proven snow tires will get you through even a typhoon with grip to spare.

Front-Wheel Drive Cons

● Capability – Some FWD vehicles deliver power only to one of the front wheels. If that wheel hits a patch of ice and slips, your ability to avoid an accident becomes much greater.

● Winter tires are recommended in certain conditions – As they are loud, a bit harsh to ride, and quick to wear. They also need to be removed at the end of the season.

Should You Buy AWD or FWD?

There are many benefits as models, without any clear winner. If operating cost is your primary concern, stick with FWD. If you live in an area with heavy snowfall, or resale value is your concern, it is recommended to get an AWD vehicle.

For you as a driver, the choice must come down to what vehicle has the features you want at the price you are willing to pay.