Two wheel drive vs. Four wheel drive

Everything you need to know about how the Two wheel drive and Four wheel drive compare

two wheel drive vs 4 wheel drive

There are a lot of things to think about when getting a new car. Petrol or diesel? Audi or BMW? Hybrid or plug-in hybrid? Business or personal leasing?

Two wheel drive or four wheel drive?

We have answered many of the questions above, but we haven’t really talked about two wheel drive and four wheel drive yet.

In this article, we are going to talk about the difference between two wheel drive and four wheel drive, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

What is the difference between two wheel drive and four wheel drive?

The answer is pretty simple;

In a two wheel drive vehicle, only two of the four wheels rotate and drive the car forward. In a four wheel drive vehicle, all four wheels are powered.

That’s the main difference.

How does a two-wheel drive vehicle work?

Of course, we are going to go into more detail. With a two wheel drive vehicle it will be either one of two drives; rear wheel drive or front wheel drive.

What is rear wheel drive?

Rear wheel drive means that the rear wheels are the ones that push the car along, and the front wheels are in charge of steering.

If your vehicle is a rear wheel drive then there is a more even spread of weight and parts across the car. This makes it more balanced and easier to work on. It can also give it more speed and handling capabilities because the workload is separated.

However, they can be more difficult to control.

What is front wheel drive?

Front wheel drive is where the front wheels are powered and are responsible for pulling the car forward. They are also responsible for steering the car. The rear wheels are there to simply hold up the tail end.

Front wheel drive vehicles are cheaper to assemble which means they are then cheaper to buy. They also place more weight at the front of the car which can make them easier to handle.

However, the number of parts at the front of the car, can make it more difficult to access them. The car can be harder to work on in this case, and you may need to pay more when it comes to servicing or repairs.

How does four wheel drive work?

Four wheel drive, as we’ve explained, powers all four wheels all the time. A four-wheel drive vehicle may be fitted with mechanical and locking differentials which make it easier for them to carry heavy loads and handle rough terrain.

There may be some four wheel drive vehicles that allow you to switch between four wheel drive and two wheel drive, or they may automatically transition between the two. Others, however, will constantly run as four-wheel drive.

Four wheel drive vehicles are made up of more parts and are a lot heavier than their two-wheel drive counterparts.

What are the advantages of a two wheel drive car?

There are plenty of advantages to having a two wheel drive car. For example;

  • They are cheaper
    Because they cost less to make, this is passed down to the consumer which means that it will cost you less to buy than a four wheel drive car
  • They are lighter
    This means that they are easier to handle, particularly with rear-wheel drive vehicles. If you have a front wheel drive vehicle, then the steering is considerably better
  • They are fuel efficient
    Due to their lighter weight, they are more fuel efficient
  • They are perfect for urban drivers
    If you live in a more urban area where you do not get extreme weather, then a two wheel drive car is perfect for you.

What are the disadvantages of a two wheel drive vehicle?

However, there are some disadvantages. For example;

  • They are not designed to be driven in extreme weather
    This includes heavy rain and snow. If you live in a rural area, then the chances are a two wheel drive vehicle probably isn’t for you. They are considerably more difficult to handle as they are not able to give the required traction on wet roads.
  • If you have a front wheel car, they can be difficult to handle at times
    This includes a high-speed and if your car has a high load. This is because front wheel cars are nose heavy.
  • There is risk of ‘torque-steer’
    On a front wheel drive car, there is a risk that, in the case of accelerated weight, the car shifts to the rear. This could mean the front wheels lose grip on the road.So there are some of the disadvantages of a two-wheel drive vehicle.

What are the advantages of a four-wheel drive vehicle?

Just like with two wheel drive cars, there are loads of advantages to a four wheel drive car. These include;

  • They are perfect for off-roading
    If you live in a rural area or partake in a lot of off-road driving then a four wheel drive is really your only option. They are also good if you live in an area that experiences extreme weather such as a lot of snow.
  • They provide better traction on wet roads
    This can come in handy if you live in the UK. They are also great on surfaces that need a lot of traction
  • They handle better
    This is particularly true in bad weather
4 wheel drive wheel in mud

What are the disadvantages of a four wheel drive vehicle?

Again, while there are advantages there are also disadvantages. For example;

  • They are heavy
    This means that it can affect acceleration
  • They are more expensive
    Again, this is due to the weight.
  • Four wheel drive cars require more servicing
    This is because there are more components required to build the car. This can equal more servicing when it gets older
  • They are less fuel efficient
    Because of the added weight, they are less fuel efficient.
    That said, there are a few hybrid versions of four wheel drive cars and we predict there will be more to come, so that will bring the running costs down.

Two wheel drive vs. Four wheel drive; Which is better?

Both are good, and one isn’t predominantly better than the other. However, they are better for different situations. If you live in an urban area where there is little extreme weather and you want something that is cheaper and more fuel efficient, then a two wheel drive is perfect for you.

However, if you live in a rural area where you are going to be doing a lot of off-roading or you live in an area where you are prone to extreme weather such as heavy rain or snow, then a four-wheel drive vehicle is perfect for you.

Ultimately, it depends on your situation. Neither means a car is worse than another, but they are simply designed for different situations. Hopefully, this article has cleared up a few things about two wheel drive vehicles and four-wheel drive vehicles.

Unsure which is best for traditional British weather? We cover everything you need to know about the Two wheel drive vs. the Four  wheel drive in classic British weather

Holly Martin

Content Co-ordinator at OSV Ltd
Holly enjoys: Reading, music and spending time with friends.

Within a week of Holly starting work at OSV she became an indispensable part of the marketing team. She's very intuitive and gets on with the whole office effortlessly.
Holly Martin

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