4-wheel drives, the best of both worlds. You can cruise through the city, pop into town, squeeze through narrow country roads and veer off the beaten track with these versatile cars. They are also fantastic for the family too, with practical storage and loads of interior space for the kids and luggage. But what exactly is a 4-wheel drive and how does it differ from other big cars? We find out…
How Does 4-Wheel Drive Work?
A 4-wheel drive system works by transferring power to all 4 wheels through a gearing arrangement known as differentials. The engine connects to these differentials by a drive shaft, which feeds the power to the wheels using the drive axles.
What Is The Difference Between An All-Wheel Drive And A 4-Wheel Drive?
All-wheel-drive (AWD) powers the front and rear wheels all the time. There are 2 types of AWD, 1 drives all wheels continuously known as full-time AWD, the other is called part-time or automatic AWD drives the wheels most of the time in the 2-wheel-drive mode. 4-wheel- drive (4DW) sends the engine’s power to all 4 wheels and is optimised for off-road use and difficult surfaces.
What Are The Benefits Of A 4-Wheel Drive?
There are many benefits of having a car that is 4-wheel drive including...
Elevated driving position
If you like your cars to be higher off the ground, the 4-wheel drive might be for you. Most have an elevated driving position which gives you better road visibility, easier accessibility and people often feel an extra level of safety due to this.
4-wheel-drives are designed for exactly this - offroading. So if you’re ever out and about and come across some tricky terrain that most are struggling in, your 4x4 can handle it. If you’re a keen adventurer, this vehicle is great for you. You can pack up your hiking and camping gear and will be safe in the knowledge your car can handle it.
If you’re ever out and about and need to tow, your 4x4 has got your back. The Cupra Formentor has a towing capacity of 1700kg or if you need even more pulling power the Skoda Kodiq has a maximum towing capacity of 2000kg! Remember that it’s a legal requirement that whatever you’re towing doesn’t weigh more than 85% of your vehicle towing limits, so know your vehicle weights before you set off!
Space & Storage
If interior space is a priority for you when looking for a new car, then a 4-wheel-drive might be best suited to you. Adjustable and even removable seating is possible in 4x4’s as well as the elevated height makes it super easy for passengers to get in and out of. If you have kids this also means less back-breaking work when installing child seats.
What Types of 4-Wheel-Drive Are There?
A drivetrain that employs a front, rear and centre differential and provides power to all four wheels of a vehicle.
Part-time all-wheel drives work similarly to front-wheel drives until traction is lost. The systems will then automatically send power to the rear wheels to support traction.
Allows the driver to turn on and select the best drivetrain mode of 4DW when needed for specific driving conditions.
All 4 wheels receive power continuously across all terrains.
Are All SUVs 4-wheel drive?
No, not all SUVs are 4-wheel-drives, but most 4x4s are considered an SUV. Often larger SUVs have a greater chance of having the 4x4 capability than the medium or small versions. You might find that some cars on the market may have 4x4 features, but may not have the full off-road capability, so it’s best to check (if you go off-roading often) that your car is capable of going off-road before you choose it, or you could damage the suspension.
What Cars Are 4WD?
Probably the most lavish 4x4 on the market. If you want style, practicality and ultimate tech for your 4x4, opt for the Land Rover Discovery.
Mercedes G Class is an old school 4X4 with rugged suspension and a high centre of gravity.
This Jeep Wrangler may be the epitome of the 4x4, designed to take you on an offroad adventure.
If you’re looking for a hugely capable 4x4 both on-road and off, look no further than the BMW X3 lease.
The Volvo XC90 has the practicality of a family people carrier, but with 4x4 capabilities.
If you need pulling power, lease a Skoda Karoq and you can tow a whopping 2000kg!
The compact SUV the Seat Ateca is available in both front and 4-wheel-drive.