Is all-wheel drive better than front-wheel drive?

By Product Expert | Posted in Auto Facts, Informational on Monday, April 11th, 2016 at 11:03 pm
car driving toward sunset

What’s the difference between all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive?

You have probably seen or heard an advertisement for a car or truck which promotes the vehicle’s all-wheel drive system. It is noted as something which can help you in tough situations, like icy highways or muddy roads. But does it really matter that much? What’s the difference between all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive? Let’s take a look at a few pros and cons of each.

Pros and cons of all-wheel drive

man driving at nightPros of all-wheel drive:

  • Power to all four wheels could mean better traction and increased grip on roads.
  • If one or two wheels are stuck or otherwise indisposed, the other wheels will have a chance at picking up the slack.
  • All-wheel drive vehicles tend to be more appealing to buyers, so a vehicle equipped with it may have higher resale value.

Cons of all-wheel drive:

  • The cost of the vehicle may be higher as a result of all-wheel drive.
  • Weight is added to the vehicle, which could hurt the fuel economy.

Pros and cons of front-wheel drive

Pros of front-wheel drive:

  • The cost of the vehicle is typically lower.
  • The fuel economy can be better due to less weight.

Cons of front-wheel drive:

  • Resale value may be lower.
  • There is not as much traction as all-wheel drive.

So which is better? It really depends on your driving habits, the climate, and the terrain where you live. All-wheel drive is not a license to press the accelerator without regard, thinking the higher traction will keep you from running into trouble during a snowstorm. In fact, it could give people a sense of false security. In climates full of nasty wintry precipitation, snow tires and safe driving are still the best options for not landing in the ditch, regardless of the drive system. Each system has its own benefits and drawbacks, and ultimately it remains on the driver to ensure a safe ride.

Besides all-wheel vs. front-wheel drive, what else should you look for in a used car?

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