Front-Wheel Drive vs. Rear-Wheel Drive: Which is Best?

2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe Off-Roading

What drivetrain do you want for your car? There are four options that you should be aware of, and you’ll only be sure of your choice once you know what each drivetrain style has to offer. Whether you’re comparing front-wheel drive vs. rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vs. four-wheel drive, we’ll cover everything you need to know about your options.

Front-Wheel Drive vs. Rear-Wheel Drive

Front-Wheel Drive vs. Rear-Wheel Drive: Basic Definitions

What does FWD mean on a car? Don’t get confused: FWD always means “front-wheel drive”. On the other hand, 4WD is the commonly used abbreviation for four-wheel drive.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s compare front-wheel drive vs. rear-wheel drive in more detail:

  • Front-wheel drive sends the power to the front wheels, which also receive your steering inputs. The rear wheels simply roll along.
  • Rear-wheel drive directs power to the rear wheels, while the front wheels steer.

You can also think of it as pushing vs. pulling. A vehicle with rear-wheel drive pushes the vehicle forward from the rear wheels while a vehicle with front-wheel drive pulls the vehicle forward from the front.

Front-Wheel Drive vs. Rear-Wheel Drive: Benefits & Drawbacks

Front-wheel drive is probably the most common setup on the roads near Dunlap and Bartonville. It can be found in a wide range of sedans and SUVs, and models with front-wheel drive often offer better fuel economy than RWD, AWD, and 4WD models.

However, RWD is more often found on high-performance cars and models designed with racing in mind. Compared to models with FWD, RWD models generally offer more impressive torque outputs and more impressive cornering abilities.

While you might assume that AWD or 4WD would offer the best of both worlds, the truth is that these systems have different strengths and weaknesses. We’ll explore these alternatives in more detail below.

Front-Wheel Drive vs. Rear-Wheel Drive: Inclement Weather

FWD drivetrains typically have more traction in slippery conditions — all too familiar to Peoria drivers who need to travel during winter. If you have a lot of weather issues where you live, it’s probably a good idea to go with a front-wheel-drive car over a rear-wheel-drive one. Although a RWD Mustang with winter tires can serve you well, RWD vehicles typically have more traction issues in winter, as the rear of the vehicle has less weight (and thus less grip) in wet or icy conditions. That’s true even if you’re diligent about rotating your tires yourself.

All-Wheel Drive vs. Four-Wheel Drive: Maximizing Control

You may have heard all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive used interchangeably, but they’re actually very different systems. While both drivetrains can send power to all four wheels, most AWD vehicles do so only as needed, running as a two-wheel drive (2WD) vehicle until it senses traction is lost. From there, your AWD jumps into action to keep you moving forward without a loss in control.

Four-wheel drive vehicles, on the other hand, often require the driver to engage 4WD — and it’s on until you turn it off.

All-wheel drive vehicles are perfect for shoppers who spend most of their time on pavement and want extra support when the weather turns rough. Four-wheel drive vehicles are best for more strenuous conditions: if you plan on hitting the trails, a 4WD model like the Jeep Wrangler will almost certainly feel like the best choice.

Find the Perfect Vehicle at Sam Leman Chrysler Jeep Dodge of Peoria

Are you ready to upgrade your trips through Peoria and Galesburg? Your choice of drivetrain should come down to what you prioritize:

  • Front-wheel drive is preferred by drivers who want to keep their fuel consumption at a minimum.
  • Rear-wheel drive is preferred by performance enthusiasts and truck buyers—both of whom need as much torque as possible.
  • All-wheel drive is the best choice for a driver who doesn’t mind sacrificing one or two MPGs in exchange for greater security.
  • Four-wheel drive is the ideal option for off-road adventurers and those who want to break free from the beaten path.

Now that you’ve had a chance to compare front-wheel drive vs. rear-wheel drive and learn more about all your options, feel free to contact our service department for a more technical breakdown of the various systems.

When you shop at a dealership like Sam Leman Chrysler Jeep Dodge of Peoria, you’ll be able to select from an incredible range of models. We’ve got racetrack-ready Dodge muscle cars, tough pickup trucks from RAM, efficient Chrysler vehicles, and even Trail Rated® Jeep SUVs. Start exploring our new vehicle inventory to find a model with everything you need.


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