Is the Front-wheel drive (FWD), the All-wheel drive (AWD), or the Rear wheel drive (RWD), which performs the best to get around a track? Besides front-wheel drive and an all-wheel drive being popular only in the section of SUVs, these systems are also getting popular in vehicles like pickup trucks, sports cars, and other compact cars. All the systems have their own merits and demerits, and selecting the best option is a tough deal.
All-wheel Drive (AWD)
AWD system offers both FWD (front-wheel drive) and RWD (rear-wheel drive). This system has been employed in many vehicles, such as wagons, cars, minivans, crossover vehicles, etc. AWD is usually called the upgraded version of FWD, because the maximum power of the engine is channelized to a vehicle's front wheels. Hence, whenever the wheels of a vehicle detects a slippery condition or any sharp turns, some of the engine power is deviated to RWD (rear wheel drive). AWD is a powerful system supplying power to all the four wheels of a car. They rotate at different speeds, and transmit the torque to the required wheel having traction.
Front-wheel Drive (FWD)
Most of the passenger vans and cars are front-wheel drive; in short, most modern cars run on this type of system. In this option, the power from the engine is transferred to the front wheels, in order for them to get properly propelled. An added advantage is that the entire weight of the engine is placed directly over the driven wheels. This layout in the system actually improves traction on snow-filled pavements and slippery roads. FWD systems are known to be the most economic and efficient ones in terms of gas mileage. They are also known to be a wiser option in terms of traction control and cost.
- Cost and safety-wise, this system proves to be efficient.
- It has no high or low gearing options, and perform excellent in terms of traction control under terrible weather conditions.
- Due to the increased haul on the drive-train, this option reduces gas mileage in a vehicle.
- It is not at all messy with any functions that it offers, and one can pretty easily drive a car with this system installed in it.
- In short, AWD is a far better option than a FWD. This system shows its efficiency with regards to cars, especially those which are driven in regions surrounded by bad weather, terrible roads, or rough terrains; an excellent traction control unit is the reason for this efficiency.
- The all part in AWD system is a bit misleading, since most of the AWD cars employ the front wheels in the first place, and then transmit power to the rear wheels, only when the sensor notices the slipping condition of the front wheels.
- AWD starts similarly as the FWD vehicles, but takes few seconds to direct the power to the front wheels.
- With this system installed in a car, if the rear and front axles are not locked together, stopping the vehicle gets risky.
- AWD is very expensive as compared to other systems.
- Also, one of its biggest downside is its weight. If there is more weight, the vehicle uses more fuel to run, and hence, it's not fuel-economically fit.
- With FWD installed in a car, there are advantages like good economy, good mileage, fewer parts, easy installation, etc.
- The weight is very less in comparison to AWD, because components like axle assembly and separate transmission are not present in FWD.
- This system has a better traction control under extreme snowy and rainy conditions.
- The weight of the engine and other car components rests on the front wheels, giving a good grip to the car.
- It also shows its efficiency in ice or snow very well. The vehicle pulls in the forward direction, even if the driver is steering the wheel on either sides.
- When it comes to urgent stopping, the vehicle can prove to be dangerous in snowy conditions. If a driver tries to stop the car by lulling on the gas pedal, the wheels spin faster, and the car keeps moving in the forward direction. Hence, the vehicle would lose its balance, and shifts its torque towards the rear wheels, which is very dangerous.
- In extreme snowy or rainy conditions, FWD is not good for towing other vehicles, as they are nose-heavy, and wouldn't be able to handle the weight of another component.
- In FWD vehicles, the power is directed towards the ground, and this is not too optimal for a sports car performance.
- As these vehicles have high-powered systems, an ordinary car cannot handle the high acceleration.
- FWDs are fragile, as the constant velocity (CV) and half-shafts are prone to injuries on a higher scale, as compared to any other rigid iron axle.
Thus, the above paragraphs briefly describe all the points that have to be kept in mind, while choosing a FWD or an AWD vehicle.