If you are looking for a new car (or a used car), there are many things to consider. One important thing to consider is the type of transmission you want your vehicle to have. Each has advantages and disadvantages and it is important to understand each one in order to make the right decision when buying a vehicle. The four different types of powertrain are all-wheel drive (AWD), front-wheel drive (FWD), rear-wheel drive (RWD), and 4WD (4-wheel drive).
Front wheel drive (FWD) means that the power that comes from the engine is transmitted to the front wheels of the car or truck. With FWD, the front wheels pull the car to create motion. The rear wheels only follow the front wheels and are not powered by themselves. The benefits of an FWD vehicle are that you generally get better fuel economy and emit less carbon dioxide. Since the weight of the engine is on the drive wheels, a FWD vehicle can maintain better traction in the snow. However, because enthusiasts claim that FWD vehicles are less fun to drive.
Rear Wheel Drive (RWD) means that power from the engine is transmitted to the rear wheels. The rear wheels are responsible for pushing the car forward, just like a bicycle. The front wheels do not have a power source and can move and turn due to the power coming from the rear wheels. Because the weight of the powertrain in a RWD vehicle is distributed more evenly than in an FWD vehicle, it has better balance. This is the reason why most sports cars are RWD and RWD cars are considered to be more exciting to drive. The downsides to an RWD vehicle are that it doesn’t perform well in bad weather conditions like rain or snow because it is more prone to losing traction on slippery roads.
There are two different types of four-wheel drive (4WD) systems. A part-time 4WD system allows the driver to select whether engine power is transmitted to just two wheels or to all four wheels. The default setting is usually rear-wheel drive. A full-time 4WD system permanently activates all 4 wheels.
All-wheel drive is essentially the same as a 4WD transmission, but there is no option to transmit the power to just two wheels. Power is transmitted to all four wheels at all times. The term AWD can be used for vehicles with more than 4 wheels in which all wheels work. The biggest advantage of an AWD vehicle is that it provides the best traction in all types of conditions. The disadvantages of an AWD vehicle are that it is much heavier, which impairs acceleration and consumes more fuel. AWD is also the most expensive transmission option.