FWD versus 4WD

Shopping for a new SUV and trying to decide between the two. My husband says we don’t really need it. Of course 4WD is more expensive and gets less mpg (buying a hybrid so he’s pretty conscious about this). I currently drive a 4WD vehicle so worried about how FWD will be. We live in Northern NJ.

The major difference you’ll notice is getting going in snow or on slippery conditions. Also on hills even slight inclines in slippery conditions AWD will simply trump a FWD vehicle always even with lessor tires.

Also there is a bit more lateral stability in inclement weather when you accelerate gently. I find my Subaru corrects itself much better then a FWD vehicle.

That being all said the real question is how often do you actually venture out in slippery conditions. I own two AWD vehicles and simply stay home until the roads are cleared up.

The main reason we have AWD vehicles is we frequent a family house in the mountains where FWD means you walk uphill about a 1/4 mile if its snowy/icy.

How much snow do you get in NJ??..At MOST 30" annually. You don’t NEED 4wd. fwd can handle ANY amount of snow you get there.

Not a ton of snow, although we do get our share, but I thought 4WD was also helpful in wet conditions. We also live in a pretty hilly area. My driveway is a long steep slope. So you don’t think it’s necessary? I would love to go with the less expensive route ($2,700 differnce plus fuel savings)if it’s not compromising much.

If you have four wheel drive, you can get by with all season tires.

If you have front wheel drive, you really need an extra set of wheels with four good snow tires. The Bridgestone Blizzak is one example, but there are others at least as good.

Front wheel drive is not adequate with all season tires. I have been held up too many times by this combination on gentle hills with only an inch of snow.

We have 4wd due to our job. Yes its helpful but you still need to be careful when you drive. It is doesnt replace driving slower when its pouring or when there is a blizzard.

We also get alot of sudden rain / flash floods and our car needs more stopping in the rain.

That hill you are talking about; well if you dont feel safe driving up it when its pouring out; then you leave your car at the bottom and walk up. You really dont need 4wd just due to rain to get up that hill. You need it for snow which you dont get enough to warrant it and we doubt there are alot of dirt roads which is the other reason to get it in NJ which you regularly drive on.

There are very few places in this country that 4wd is NEEDED…and NJ is NOT one of them. I live in NH which probably sees twice the amount of snow as you do…Grew up north of Syracuse that sees at least 5-8 times the amount of snow…and 4wd is NOT needed there. It does make traveling easier…but NOT necessary.

Having grown up, and learned to drive, in Northern New Jersey, I can say with some confidence that you don’t need 4WD. If that FWD hybrid you are looking at has traction control, I’d say you have nothing to worry about. Even without the traction/stability control it won’t be a problem.

A brief anecdote: A friend of mine had a Subaru wagon with 4WD with a push button to engage the 4WD. During the first big snowfall she encountered she was driving around all pleased with her safe and secure 4WD only to find when she got home that she had never pushed the button to engage it. The FWD only had gotten her around with no trouble.

4WD or AWD is typically required due to driveways or tertiary roads that FWD does not handle. There are many people who require it for this simple reason. Its a hassle wondering during inclement weather or the mud season if your going to get out.

Our winter place in the NH white mountains has a driveway crossing a field which drifts in beyond a large hill to climb. FWD or 2WD is absolutely useless even with winter tires when the fine snow depth is at your bumper level. Typically the vehicles get high centered and the driving wheel(s) loose traction. The Subaru’s in our family’s case with regular all-seasons makes it through fine.

So if the poster has a steep driveway that gets winter muck on it you may find yourself spending more time clearing it up.

On your point about wet, AWD is better in some ways however not enough to justify purchase. Your money would be better spent on higher end replacement tires that offer very good-incredible wet traction.

AWD and 4WD are great for getting you out of the ditch that overconfidence got you in.

Neither AWD nor 4WD will help you stop, or give you better control on the road. They will only help you get onto the road when the conditions make it is really unsafe to drive.

The exceptions are those who may have a very steep driveway or must drive under conditions when no one should be driving.

I still wonder about the better control part no better with AWD. When trying to correct your vehicle in slippery weather and turns, FWD in my experience does not recover as well as an AWD vehicle with light throttle application (Subaru in my experience).

However that all seems to be trumped now anyway with Vehicle Stability Control coupled to FWD or AWD. Fortunately this is pretty standard now vehicles and especially SUV’s for its help with roll-overs.

I currently drive a 4WD vehicle so worried about how FWD will be.

How often do you actually use four-wheel drive? Most of the time you’re tooling around in RWD, and FWD is going to handle much better than that. You’re an idiot if you drive 4WD all the time! It’s very dangerous. Note: I’m assuming you’re not mixing up “4WD” with “AWD”, which is a slightly different beast (center differential) and can be safely run at all times.

Take the RAV4 with AWD…it is FWD until a wheel begins to spin then shifts to AWD…I’ve driven RAV AWDs for 10 years and they give a certain sense of safety in all weather conditions. I have a 2007 RAV4 and I am getting 27+ mpg … mt other RAV '05 gets 25 in the winterand 27 in summer… There will be endless discussions on the virtues of FWD vs AWD… buy what you feel safe with.