What's the Difference Between 4WD and AWD?

Not everybody spends all day every day talking about Chevy trucks, cars, and SUVs like we do here at Ray Chevrolet. When you do, you get asked a lot of questions. One of the most asked questions we get here is about the difference between four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive. Afterall, if a truck or SUV has four wheels, isn’t that all of them. No worries, we’re happy to explain the difference between the Chevy Silverado AWD system and the Tahoe all wheel drive.

What is 4WD?

Both 4WD and AWD refer to the drivetrain of a vehicle, and while these two drivetrains are similar in many ways, there are a few key differences. We’ll start with the 4WD first, which you may also hear referred to as a 4x4 (that’s four by four). With the 4WD the drivetrain delivers torque to all four wheels simultaneously. With all four wheels gripping the road with power delivered evenly across both axles, traction is much improved. This is the drivetrain you find in nearly all sports utility vehicles and pickup trucks.


4WD makes for good off-roading capabilities and it’s also good for slogging through the snow and ice. We know a lot about the stuff here in the Midwest. In dryer weather, and dryer parts of the country, this drivetrain option doesn’t do as well and can cause the driver to looe a bit of stability with the steering wheel. The 4WD is operated by turning a dial on the dash.


Chevy 4WD pickups include the Suburban, Tahoe, Colorado, Silverado

What is AWD?

AWD (or all wheel drive, if you don’t like acronyms) has drivetrain capable of powering all four wheels, but the torque is divided between both axles. This feature isn’t activated by the driver, but engages automatically when road conditions call for it so you never have to worry about how to engage 4wheel drive. It also disengages by design which helps with fuel economy. AWD is another great feature for roads that experience sloppy conditions, like every road in the Chicago area during the long winter months.


Some Chevy SUVs with AWD include Trax, Chevy Equinox, and Traverse.


Need some help deciding which drivetrain is right for you? Come see us at Ray Chevrolet. We can answer any questions you have about our full line of Chevy cars, trucks, and SUVs. We are located at 39 N US-12, Fox Lake or give us a call at (847) 793-1048.