Front wheel drive vs. all wheel drive


#1

if I don’t live in an area where snow is an issue, why would I buy an all wheel drive car instead of a more fuel economic front wheel drive?


#2

Because you have been brainwashed to buy only AWD. 2WD not safe woooooooo!

I would say that the vast majority of people with AWD, even in snowy climates, would be able to get around just fine without it.


#3

That would explain all the AWD vehicles in Florida. It isn’t as though these people are driving these cars around a racetrack either.


#4

If you don’t have a need for it, it is a poor idea. Needs might include pulling a boat out of the water on a wet dock, etc.

Without any special need, it makes your car more complicated and you risk more expensive repairs.


#5

Probably 85% of the SUV’s on the road with 4WD never use it. If you answer “Yes” to a question below consider AWD;

You plan to go racing with your car?

You live in a snowy area and have big hills to climb daily?

Are you are OK with paying extra for gas at each fill up since AWD will reduce your gas mileage about 2 mpg?

Are you OK with about $5,000 in extra maintenance and repairs costs in the 1st 10 years of ownership of your AWD car?

You are planning to drive on the beach?

You are planning to launch and retrieve a boat on a launch ramp?

Your neighbors all have AWD and they’ll laugh at you if you don’t have AWD?

AWD is great for the folks who really need and use it. They don’t mind paying the extra costs. Question is what is best for you?


#6

In your case, only if the car you want isn’t available with FWD (some Audis, all Subarus). We bought a Forester for a number of reasons, none of which included AWD. I’d have bought a FWD one if it was available.


#7

In addition to “texases” and others mentioned, The only other reason I can think of is handling. AWD is in general, superior to fwd in handling.

Having said that, the best handling cars all tend to be rwd. So the question might be…FWD vs. RWD in areas where snow is not an issue.
RWD is also much better for towing than FWD and everything else you can think of where snow is not an issue. (except room and profitability)


#8

When computer controlled electric hub motors are the norm…than AWD EV’s would be better in every way. Not until !!


#9

Having experienced snow for may years I have found better traction results and no loss of control issues with front wheel drive. Why is rwd better for towing? I have done some towing with front wheel drive and could not tell the difference. I have never had awd, have had 4wd on need or locked in and actually prefer 2wd as I have not pushed 4wd to the limits of control but personally feel very comfortable with the 4wd as needed and 2wd otherwise. I am not sure of handling with all the AWD and have no interest in finding out.


#10

There is towing <1500 lbs and there is towing >1500 lbs. Many FWD cars aren’t even rated to tow. ANY weight you take off the drive wheels (and tongue weight leverages it off FWD) is detrimental in more ways than RWD. I hope the statement that RWD was better for towing was common sense. FWD (car weight dependent) is suitable in most moderate situations and most people never get to find out the differences…the implication is; which is better ?


#11

I have no proof but would not the seperate differential offered by the rwd car offer a saftey margin that the fwd can’t even begin to match?(in regards to towing)


#12

I wish MR oldschool, you could clarify your response, but here are the towing specs for our front wheel drive windstar. Our 03 has a 3175 vs 3856 max weight without / with tow package - we do not have the tow package. It handles our 750 lb boat, 200 lb motor and 300 lb trailer fine.(best guesses for weights)


#13

Here are a couple more:

Are you okay with buying two or more tires when you only need one? This is a common issue with AWD.

Are you okay with not being able to properly rotate your tires? You can’t rotate your tires with an AWD vehicle like you can with 2WD. In some cases you can’t rotate them at all and in other cases you can only swap front and back without moving them side to side.


#14

You can’t rotate your tires with an AWD vehicle like you can with 2WD. In some cases you can’t rotate them at all and in other cases you can only swap front and back without moving them side to side.

What are you talking about? On most 2WD cars, rotation is normally just swapping front and rear (no side-to-side). The only thing you have to watch out for with AWD is that you don’t let your tire diameters get too different between front and rear (as well as side-to-side) or you’ll destroy one or more differentials.


#15

No one says that a FWD “can’t” tow safely. But at 3856 lbs with a 1250 lbs load vs my rwd 4 cyl Toyota Pu that weighs hundreds of pounds less towing my 4000+ lbs pontoon boat says it all. That’s well within the capability of your vehicle. You should be fine. I can’t ever think of an attempt to make a front drive tractor trailer rig. RWD just does it better and safer for a whole host of reasons; weight distribution over the drive wheels being a big one. I see no debate. We’re just exchanging pleasantries.


#16

Enjoying exchanging pleasantries but your idea of a big rig comparison to make rwd a better choice does not fit my experience with a boat.


#17

What I was getting at was the strenght of the steel housing and the size of the ring and pinion that is possible with a RWD car/truck. Plus more ratio options and the possibility of limited slip or full locking,you just don’t see that stuff with fwd.


#18

It does point out the uselessness of fwd for towing anything but very moderate loads within the confines of your and my experience. That IS the reality of towing with fwd and auto engineers get it. And in general, towing with RWD and AWD is safer than FWD in all the vehicles have the same tow rating capacity.


#19

Not that you can’t do it…look at the front ends of 4wd trucks…but
With front wheel drive only, you’re already asking one set of wheels to turn and supply ALL traction power…how much more can you ask w/o engineering compromises as you move the center of gravity away from the only driving wheel(s) with every pound you hang onto the rear end w/o load distribution hitch. Those tiny car based fwd components they use in minivans are going to cause problems at some point…and provide unsafe handling and loss traction.

Reminds me of the only PU truck (if you can call it that)I can recall, made with FWD. VW Rabbit tried it. Neighbor had his for a month and dumped it when he found he couldn’t even make it up a hill on a dirt road with less than it’s capacity rating in back. Choices were…back up the hill or take the load up 300 lbs at a time.
They don’t sell them anymore around here. Maybe somewhere there are no hills ?


#20

You may not properly rotate the tires on your 2WD vehicles, but I won’t let that stop me from doing it properly.