Why Is A 4×4 Called A 4×4?

A 4×4 truck or car, additionally known as a four-wheel drive (4WD) or 4-by-4, implies a system in which an automobile’s engine powers all four wheels equally. 

Typically talking, when it concerns automobiles, there are only four alternatives: rear-wheel drive, front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, and 4-wheel drive. As you might picture, there are advantages and disadvantages to each option. The difference is about traction.

For some vehicle, drivers traction is important for extreme weather conditions, such as mud or snow. For others, traction is a matter of speed and handling. 

While these may appear like excellent enhancements for any driver, the flip-side is that sending power to all four tires calls for a much more complicated drivetrain system, increased automobile weight, and typically a loss to fuel effectiveness. Finding the appropriate one for you is frequently a balancing act of likes vs dislikes based on your particular demands.

To aid in you learning and comprehending more about 4×4 cars and trucks, allow us to compare the different drivetrain options: 4×4 or 4-wheel drive (4WD), all-wheel drive (AWD), and two-wheel drive (2WD).

A 4×4 car or truck, also called 4×4 (4WD) or 4-by-4, means a system in which a car’s engine powers all four wheels evenly. 

Generally talking, when it pertains to trucks and cars, there are only four choices: rear-wheel drive, front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, and 4-wheel drive. As you may well imagine, there are advantages and drawbacks to each option. The difference is completely about traction.

For some vehicle drivers traction is very important for extreme weather, such as mud or snow. For others, traction is a matter of speed and handling. 

While these may seem like terrific enhancements for any type of driver, the flip-side is that sending power to all four tires calls for a more complex drivetrain system, increased automobile weight, and usually a loss to fuel efficiency. 

Finding the best one for you is typically a balancing act of likes vs dislikes based on your certain needs.

To help you learn and comprehend more about 4×4 trucks and cars, let us compare the various drivetrain options: 4×4 or 4-wheel drive (4WD), all-wheel drive (AWD), and two-wheel drive (2WD).

Traditional 4×4

Before we had a hundred different shapes and sizes of SUV and compact SUV – we had just a handful of ‘real’ four-wheel drive cars available. 

These included the iconic Land Rover and Range Rover, as well as some very capable Japanese offerings like the Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux, the Mitsubishi Shogun, and even small Suzuki models like the Jimny and its predecessors. 

All of these vehicles had one thing in common; they all had traditional 4×4 systems.

When we talk about traditional 4×4 or 4WD, we are generally referring to a system where the front and wheels are getting an equal share of the drive at all times. So the engine is providing each axle with 50% of the overall drive it generates. 

This is different from your regular car, which only has drive going to one axle (either the front or the rear wheels, depending on the car), which is called 2WD or 4×2.

Most vehicles using this sort of 4WD/4×4 system also have mechanisms to lock the differential(s) in such a way to make sure left and right wheels are also getting an equal drive. This last bit is critical because a normal car will always push the power to the wheel with the least resistance. 

Anyone who has ever got a car stuck will have seen this, as one wheel spins furiously while the car goes nowhere. 

A locking diff system will mean that power goes equally to either side, and this is what gets you out of the mud or snow.

Some models allow either the front or rear wheels to be disengaged, turning the vehicle back into a two-wheel-drive model when conditions did not require the extra traction, such as on-road driving. 

This improved fuel economy and wear on components, especially at the higher speeds achieved on Tarmac compared to gravel or mud.

Most traditional 4×4 systems also have a separate control level for high and low ratios. In normal use, the vehicle would be in high ratio, and low-speed off-road situations, the driver can switch to the low ratio for improved take-off in low-grip conditions. This is a level of off-roading far beyond what most modern SUVs will ever need.

Four-wheel Drive Vs. All-wheel Drive

In the 1980s, car manufacturers started exploring the idea of using four-wheel-drive systems for on-road performance rather than simply off-road utility. 

This came about as performance cars became ever faster and harder to control, especially in slippery conditions.

Two of the big drivers of this development were Audi and Porsche, who started using the term all-wheel drive (AWD) to describe what was a 4WD system optimised for on-road use. 

The other major difference was that these vehicles used systems to vary the amount of drive going to the front and rear wheels, rather than a simple fixed 50:50 split.

With over 30 years of development, many of these systems have become highly advanced and can control the amount of drive going to each wheel to ensure the best overall grip and performance. 

There are a variety of systems used to achieve this by different manufacturers, but the principle remains the same.

In principle, four-wheel-drive (4WD or 4×4) and all-wheel-drive (AWD) are the same things – assuming you have a vehicle with four wheels! 

However, 4WD is generally used to describe an off-road vehicle while AWD is usually applied to on-road applications. 

Manufacturers, typically, have ignored common sense and applied their terminology to these systems: Audi kicked things off with the name Quattro, but these days BMW calls its AWD models XDrive, Volkswagen used to use Syncro but now uses 4motion, Mercedes-Benz uses the name 4Matic, and so on. 

The principle is the same; a variable all-wheel-drive system which is largely designed for on-road use, although it may well be very competent in a number of fairly gentle off-road scenarios.

Four-wheel Drive Vs Two-wheel Drive Vs All-wheel Drive

Recognising the differences between four-wheel drive (4WD), two-wheel-drive (2WD), and all-wheel drive (AWD) is crucial to getting the best car for your demands.

2-wheel Drive (2wd): Front-wheel Drive Vs Rear-wheel Drive

To better understand what the meaning of 4WD cars and their mechanics is, it may be best to first take into consideration what is the meaning of 2WD. As you may already think, two-wheel-drive engines only utilise 2 of the four wheels to put and keep the car in motion. Typically speaking, there are only two kinds: front-wheel drive (FWD) and rear-wheel drive (RWD). Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Nevertheless, modern-day vehicle modern technology, such as grip control, is able to even these out more as time goes on.

Front-wheel Drive (Fwd)

With modern vehicle engines located in the front, FWD cars have compact drivetrain systems, frequently making them lighter, more fuel-efficient, and much less pricey to produce or service. The front part of the car pulls the back part behind it. This helps it preserve a straight line and is less likely to spin out in extreme conditions.

What Is Rear-wheel Drive (Rwd)

While FWD might already sound like a wonderful alternative, rear-wheel drive (RWD) is not without its advantages, also. 

Under normal circumstances, nonetheless, RWD cars have better acceleration and turning than FWD versions. First of all, they are pressing their very own weight forward as opposed to pulling it. Second, starting a turn from the rear calls for a lot less effort.

Four-wheel Drive (4wd)

As discussed before, the four-wheel drive (4WD) is a vehicle drivetrain system that directly powers all four wheels. 4WD is normally developed for off-road driving and, normally speaking, four wheels have two times the traction of 2. 

Four-wheel drive is typically combined with locked differentials for ideal off-road efficiency. Without getting too technical, locked differentials merely indicate that both wheels on the same axle are secured with each other, even if one has traction and the other does not. 

This is particularly handy to reclaim traction in snowy situations, rocky terrain, or when stuck in the mud. On the whole, 4WD is fantastic choice readily available on 4×4 trucks and several outdoor leisure SUVs. It is very easy to turn on or turn off, depending on the situation.

All-wheel Drive (Awd)

AWD is similar to 4WD because the engine offers power with the drivetrain to all four wheels. They are generally talking. 

However, AWD is made for speed and handling, rather than off-road scenarios. It is, on the whole, a more smart kind of 4×4 modern technology. AWD is regularly monitoring the traction of all four tires and sending power to each specific wheel depending on what it requires. 

This innovation is called ‘Torque Vectoring’. Additionally, when it pertains to luxury automobile performance, some varieties of AWD are designed to send additional power to the back tires to enhance acceleration, or similarly lower rear-wheel power when turning on slick roadways.

What Is A 4×4 Car?

Purely speaking, 4×4 cars have engines that power all four wheels. In the majority of automobiles, in addition to crossover SUVs, the 4×4 drivetrain systems are four-wheel drive (AWD), and not four-wheel drive (4WD) as commonly found in trucks and off-road SUVs. 

As previously stated, the AWD systems in 4×4 cars utilise torque vectoring to separately take care of the traction of each tire in order to supply optimal safety and performance.

What Is A 4×4 Truck?

4×4 trucks also have engines that power all four wheels. They are usually made to be utilised largely for off-road or bad road situations. 

Some newer, advanced models, nevertheless, currently use torque vectoring to handle the performance of each wheel separately. A lot of models depend on locking and unlocking the differentials (diff lock) to manage performance ideally.

Two-wheel Drive Suvs

This group of vehicles is the answer to the question posed by the title of this article. Not every butch-looking SUV has genuine off-roading hardware underneath the flared wheel arches and side steps. 

These cars may be no better than a common hatchback or saloon when the going gets muddy or snowy, and the genre has been dubbed “faux-by-four” by critics.

Car companies worked out that customers loved the look of big four-wheel-drive vehicles, but rarely do the majority of these cars go anywhere off the beaten track. 

They are mostly used for popping down to Tesco or Waitrose (depending on how you view your place in the social hierarchy) and dropping the kids at school. In other words, normal car stuff.

So, reasoned the manufacturers, there was no need to burden their vehicles with heavy and expensive 4WD running gear. 

Take out half the drivetrain, and you get a vehicle which has better performance, better economy, lower emissions, lower servicing costs, is much cheaper to build and – importantly – still has the all-important ‘lifestyle’ appeal for buyers as long as they don’t want to act out those lifestyle feelings by getting their car muddy.

What has been most pleasing to manufacturers, however, is that the remarkable appetite from buyers for these vehicles has allowed them to charge hefty premiums for all sorts of soft-roaders, crossovers and other marketing buzzwords which describe cars that look like trucks but are not. 

Volkswagen can butch up the looks of the Golf, stick a Tiguan badge on it and charge a huge premium for the privilege. 

The Honda HR-V is little more than a Jazz on steroids, and the BMW X1 is a 1-Series hatch on stilts, the Nissan Juke evolved from the Note hatchback platform, and so on. Some of these are available with a four-wheel-drive option, but by default, they are simply two-wheel-drivers with added height and weight.

For a huge number of drivers, a 2WD SUV is a perfect option, as they never intend to drive off-road anyway just as long as they appreciate that their car will be no better (and often worse) than a run-of-the-mill hatchback when it starts snowing since these vehicles generally offer nothing in the way of extra traction or off-road capability.

Servicing And Running Costs

As with all cars, SUVs need servicing and looking after. It will probably come as no surprise that four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive cars might need some extra attention, due to the extra wear and tear created by having twice as many driving wheels and associated assemblies.

If your car is a 2WD SUV, your servicing and running costs should not be very different to a regular hatchback or saloon, so make sure you are not being ripped off by the dealer or garage just because your car is an SUV. 

Your tyres, however, may be significantly more expensive than those found on a conventional hatchback.

Whatever type of SUV you drive or choose to buy in the future, it is important to understand what it is capable of. 

It is also important not to be lured into buying a large, heavy two-wheel-drive car under the false impression it might be useful if it starts snowing… because it may not be.

Four-wheel drive vehicles are also good to have when weather conditions make roads slippery. Have you ever wondered what it is about four-wheel-drive vehicles that make them great in the snow and the ice and even off the road?

A four-wheel-drive vehicle — often called a 4WD or 4X4 (“four by four”) — is a vehicle in which all four wheels receive power from the engine. Most vehicles are two-wheel drive — 2WD or 4X2 — and that means that the engine’s power is only sent to two of the four wheels.

For example, a two-wheel-drive vehicle will either have the engine’s power sent to the two rear wheels (rear-wheel drive) or the two front wheels (front-wheel drive). 

So a 4X4 has four wheels, and all four wheels receive power from the engine. A 4X2 has four wheels, but only two of the four wheels receive power from the engine.

How does this impact the vehicle’s performance? In slippery or off-road conditions, two-wheel drive vehicles will tend to lose traction more easily. 

If you’re driving a rear-wheel-drive car and one or both of the back wheels lose traction, you will have a problem because the front wheels can’t help you since the engine does not power them.

In a four-wheel-drive vehicle, however, it’s easier to maintain traction and control of the vehicle in slippery or off-road conditions. If one or two wheels lose traction, you still have two or three powered wheels to keep you moving.

Many four-wheel-drive vehicles are part-time four-wheel drive. This means that, under normal conditions, the vehicle only sends power to two wheels and behaves like a two-wheel-drive vehicle. 

If the four-wheel drive is needed, however, the driver can switch to four-wheel drive with the press of a button.

Four-wheel drive vehicles haven’t been around forever. They didn’t become popular until Willys manufactured the first Jeeps for the United States military during World War II. 

Willys began to make the first four-wheel-drive vehicle for non-military uses when it created the CJ-2A in 1945.

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