What is the difference between AWD, 4WD, 4X4, FWD and 4X4?

November 14th, 2021 by

What is the difference between AWD, 4WD, 4X4, FWD and 4X4?

Take advantage of this handy guide by ENS Toyota to determine which of the following drivetrains is the best fit for you: 4×4, AWD, 4WD, FWD, or RWD.

4WD, AWD, 4X4, FWD, and RWD are the five main drive trains you can choose if you are buying a new or a used car. While they may sound more like a bingo card than the way engine power is distributed under a car, the drivetrain you choose will play a large role in how your vehicle handles the Saskatoon snow. Therefore, it pays to learn a little bit about both before heading out to the lot and choosing a new vehicle.

What are the Differences Between AWD, 4WD, FWD, and RWD?


Most people don’t think much about how their car is powered, but if you are dealing with the tough snowy winters in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan it will pay to learn a little bit about the differences between how your wheels are powered. Generally, there are four ways that energy is distributed under the frame of a vehicle: AWD, 4WD, FWD, and RWD. The acronyms actually stand for All-drivetrain, 4-drivetrain, Front-drivetrain, and Rear-Wheel Drive.

A lot has changed within the auto industry over the last several years and whereas older models of cars only offered FWD or RWD, now there are plenty of used AWD SUVs, used AWD Sedans in some cases, or used 4WD SUVs which is great news for drivers who want extra control of their vehicles in harsh climates. Instead of learning to steer into a glide, with the right drivetrain you may actually be able to learn to steer through the rough patches and come out of uneven terrain without batting an eye.

It is helpful to break down the different drivetrains into two separate categories that most people pit against each other when choosing their new vehicle. Here is a closer look at the various ways the tires of your new car can grip the road. We have left out RWD because it was common on older vehicles but has been replaced on almost all models outside of a handful of performance sports cars and trucks because it simply doesn’t hold a candle to newer advances.


Those who have driven sedans for the past few decades are likely well versed with FWD. The front wheel-drive drivetrain is a term used to describe when energy power is only sent to the front two wheels of the vehicle. While it is perfunctory for smaller cars and sedans, FWD is usually not enough to power most full-sized sedans or trucks. It is also not going to do you much good while plowing through snowdrifts or travelling through rough terrain, which is why AWD is the clear winner within this category.

AWD on the other hand allows for the distribution of energy equally among all four wheels on the vehicle. This allows for enhanced traction and ultimate control while powering through in climate weather or uneven terrain in an SUV or truck. Most used SUVs within the last decade will offer some type of AWD, although some midsize or compact models may still only offer FWD. It should be noted that AWD is split into two types of systems: full-time and part-time. As the name implies, a full-time system is always distributing power while a part-time system only distributes power to the rear as well when it senses poor traction or a slip.


What is the difference between AWD vs 4WD? This is a question we hear a lot, but it’s a fair question since four-wheel drive appears to mean the same thing as all-drivetrain given there are four wheels on standard vehicles. The primary difference between the two is that 4WD offers the driver ultimate control over how much handling they want from their vehicle. A standard 4WD, also sometimes called 4×4, usually allows the driver to choose to set their truck to 2WD which means 2-wheel drive in the rear, 4WD Hi-Range which offers normal four-wheel power distribution and 4WD Low-Range for extreme off-roading conditions.

Most drivers find that they are comfortable with AWD in either part-time or full-time systems because they are used to cars automatically adjusting to meet current road conditions. As automatics and smart technology continue to be more integrated into daily driving AWD is likely to become the accepted option since it operates fluidly in the background. However, there are always drivers that enjoy ultimate control while on and off the road, and for the drivers that truly want to feel the road as they tackle it, 4WD is going to be the only fulfilling choice.

Why Are 4WD and AWD Popular in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan?

4WD and AWD are popular across Canada, but in particular in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan because of the extreme weather that the area deals with for a good portion of the year. When the roads start filling with snow and the off-road and on-road terrain starts to blur, you need an SUV or truck that can forge its way through. Life doesn’t stop for blizzards in Saskatoon, and with the right used SUV AWD, neither will you.

In fact, this is one of the main benefits of opting for either a used SUV AWD or SUV 4WD. A tough SUV or truck allows you the option to stay on the road when others pale away, and if there is one thing that Saskatoon natives are known for, it’s resilience and grit.

Should You Go with a Used AWD SUV or a Used 4WD SUV?

In the end, the decision between a used AWD SUV or a used 4WD SUV is going to come down to personal preference and driving style. The average motorist is going to be satisfied with an SUV or truck that is outfitted with AWD, but the driver who wants a little more control over their ride will likely find 4WD to be a better fit. Both should offer maximum safety on inclimate days.

Explore your AWD SUV & 4WD SUV Options at ENS Toyota

If you are in the market for a new or used SUV ENS Toyota can help. We have a full lot of new and used AWD and 4WD SUVs and are ready to show you the best of each. We are a full-service dealership and offer front to end service which means we will take care of you ten years from now with the same enthusiasm as we do when you first walk onto our lot to browse available SUVs and trucks. ENS Toyota offers our clients access to a comprehensive services department, parts department, used car sales department, and new cars sales department which means we have a friendly team member ready to help you with all of your vehicle-related needs.

Posted in Sedans, SUVs