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Pickup 4x4 vs 2x4

Hey all,
Hoping to buy a light pickup soon for personal use (light hauling - junk, bikes, lumber, etc.) and wondering about 2x4 vs. 4x4. 4x4 is much more popular and obviously has a higher resale value. But wondering about maintenance and if the mpg is similar. Given that I really don’t need the 4x4 much, but know that it is very popular, I’m not sure where I stand on this one. Any thoughts! Thanks!

Yes 4x4 has a higher resale value (in general), but it also comes with a higher price…and lower gas mileage.

If you don’t need it then why buy it.

A 2011 Toyota Tacoma 2WD 4-cyl w/ auto gets 19/25 (city/highway) and an average of 21 MPG. The same 4WD truck gets 18/21 and averages 19 MPG. If you do a lot of highway driving, you will get 16% lower gas mileage. I think that other light truck mileages will be similar. Add to that the $4100 premium to by new 4WD Tacoma, and it seems like if you don’t need it, don’t spend the extra money.

4x4 means more maintenance expense, transfer case and second differential need fluid changes. Less mpg all the time. More mechanical complexity to break down, front hubs, extra drive shaft, more CV joints. Also the ride quality is harsher, and handling on normal roads is worse due to higher center of gravity and heavier front end.

You really don’t have to worry about resale value, you’d pay less for 2WD in the first place so selling it for less is a wash. Only get something with 4X4 if you need it, let the other suckers pay more for what’s popular.

If you Don’t need a 4x4… Don’t get a 4x4. I have an Older Nissan 4x4, but I live in the Mountains, Need 4WDR When I get Firewood and to get to some of my Favorite Fishings Spots and For when it snows big during the Winter Months. If you Never plan on Utilizing the 4WDR, Then no sense in Purchasing one

Just an addendum to all the good answers.

The term would be 4x2, not 2x4, for a vehicle drive train. ( though we all know what you meant )
First the total number of wheels, then the number of driving wheels.
You’ll see bigger trucks with terms like 6x6, 6x4 etc and that’s what is refered to.

A 2x4 is the wood you’ll be hauling.

I had teh same questions years ago, and this has been my experience. BTW we own a '96 4X4 SUV (bought new) and a '98 4X2 pickup (bought 10 years ago). Over the past four years, the 4X2 was driven over eight times as much because the mileage is much better.
First, if you do any kind of work where you will need a compound low, then you will need a 4X4. These needs are, however, generally few and generally relate to towing (such as towing other poorly-driven 4X4’s out of ditches on the trail) or bad off-road use (the kind where you are likely to damage your vehicle or where you need extra training). In winter, if you need a 4X4, you still need to watch the roads because braking is no better with a 4X4. You can usually find a friend with a 4X4 if you are using it for mountain travel. If you do get a 4X4 and use it for severe roads, I would recommend taking some training, either by video or (better) a class.
Second, if you just want better traction, then a good limited slip differential may be a good alternative (an aftermarket one may be more durable than a factory one). You’ll need to research this with a local shop to see if they make one for the truck you are considering. I had one on my Ranger 4X2 and it would go on many four-wheel drive roads just fine (they do not, however, last forever). Good studded snow tires (I’d recommend a separate set on used wheels) will work well, too, but your mileage and noise level will suffer. Chains have worked well for infrequent severe weather, too. On the other hand, now that the limited slip differential does not work, our 2X2 pickup has notably poor traction.
Another option is purchasing a used 4X4 and using it only for those few times when the weather is really bad or when you absolutely need it for off-road travel. We decided to keep our old 4X4 for this reason – when we need it we need it, but that’s not very often at all.

My guess is if you have to ask the question, you probably don’t need it.

first, the total number of wheels ( or wheel sets, as in a dually )
then the number of driving wheels.

We just went through this, class.

( no such thing as a 2x2 ranger )

Ken: You are absolutely right. My mistake, and I corrected it. Thanks.

In most trucks the mileage difference these days between a 2WD and 4WD isn’t much, 1 MPG is the difference between 2WD and 4WD for most half ton full sized trucks. The maintence issue isn’t much different either. I had Bronco for several years and the only “extra” maintence is that I changed the transfer case fluid three or four times over the course of the 210k miles I had it, I had some extra zerk fittings to grease and that was about the extent of it.

If this is going to be a secondary vehicle I’d go ahead and get the 4WD since you won’t be driving it constantly thus making the fuel economy hit even less of a factor. The older the truck is the more the 4WD is worth, around here a 20 year old 4WD truck will command double the price of the equivlent 2WD truck. That may or may not be important to you though.

Anymore, you will have a hard time finding a 4X2 pick-up in many areas of the country…And when you do, they will more than likely want virtually the same price as a 4X4 model…We are talking used trucks here…The small 4 cylinder trucks, stick shift, are very hard to find…A 4X4 automatic with over 100k miles can be a real money pit to maintain…

If it is wintery(snow/ice) and you have never owned a Pickup before I would recommend a 4wd.

It depends on how you plan to use it. If you think you might be putting a boat in and out of the water, or you plan to tow, or you have steep drivweay in the snowbelt or drive unpaved unplowed roads, you need 4WD. If none of these apply you may not need it.