All-Wheel Drive vs. 4-Wheel Drive – What’s the Difference?

Toyota Vehicles in Warwick Improve Capability and Performance with All-Wheel or Four-Wheel Drive

Rhode Island weather can be as fickle as fate in a Shakespearean play – that means your Toyota needs to be able to tackle hot, dry pavement in the summer; slick, wet roads in the fall; snow and ice in the winter; and muddy, slick conditions in the spring. Having a vehicle on-hand that can transition seamlessly from dry terrain to wet, from pavement to dirt, and anywhere to anywhere else is a huge benefit to drivers who don’t just give up and go home when the going gets tough.

And Toyota all-wheel-drive systems are the perfect solution in Warwick, Providence, Cranston, North Kingstown, and Pawtucket.

There are two types of all- or four-wheel performance drivetrains available in the new Toyota model lineup:

  • All-Wheel Drive (AWD) System with Dynamic Torque Control
  • Four-Wheel Drive (4WD) System with Active Traction Control

Both have their advantages, so it’s important to carefully look into both potential drivetrain options.

Which Toyota Models Offer All-Wheel Drive (AWD) w/ Dynamic Torque Control?

AWD is found more commonly in Toyota crossovers and smaller SUVs, as well as the industry’s only all-wheel-drive minivan. All-wheel drive is a great fit for drivers who want some additional grip and traction on less-than-ideal roads, but who don’t need the pulling power of 4WD, which is better suited for towing. AWD offers equipment and features like Vehicle Stability Control and Dynamic Torque Control

  • Toyota RAV4
  • Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Toyota Highlander Hybrid
  • Toyota Sienna

Which Toyota Models Offer Four-Wheel Drive (4WD)?

Toyota trucks and SUVs have been built to handle the worst that New England can throw, whether it’s terrain or environment or weather. And many of these powerful vehicles come with standard or available part-time or full-time 4WD capabilities w/ Active Traction Control. Capability features in these models include equipment and technology like Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), Crawl Control, and Multi-Terrain Select.

These new vehicle offer 4WD:

  • Toyota Tacoma
  • Toyota Tundra
  • Toyota 4Runner
  • Toyota Sequoia
  • Toyota Land Cruiser

How Does Toyota AWD/4WD Work?

Toyota’s all-wheel drive system is built with a coupler in the rear differential that is able to push torque dynamically to whenever it needs to go. Many modern AWD systems prefer to conserve the majority of power to the front wheels during ideal driving conditions to maximize fuel economy and performance–however, since the system is able to monitor factors like vehicle speed, steering speed and angle, throttle angle, and even yaw rate (a vehicle’s angular velocity around its vertical axis), the drivetrain is able to change where power is going at a split-second’s notice. It’s a proactive, rather than reactive, a way of maintain grip and traction.

Four-wheel drive is similar, but built for a different purpose: maximum power and traction. 4WD is able to be turned on when you feel like you need it, switching your vehicle from a FWD or RWD truck or SUV to a four-wheel-drive vehicle when necessary. Once 4WD is turned on, it sends power to all four wheels, all of the time. The downside of 4WD is that it’s harder on your tires, harder on your fuel economy, and you’re supposed to carefully watch your speed while it’s engaged.

FAQ About Toyota AWD and 4WD – Brush Up on Capability

Is 4WD or AWD better for me?
That depends on your lifestyle and daily commute; WD offers more extreme capability, and can be turned off when you don’t need it, while AWD is more fuel-efficient and doesn’t need to be turned on and off manually.

Can AWD be turned off?
Unlike 4WD, AWD can’t be turned off – however, its performance is subtle and it doesn’t come with much of a fuel penalty, so it becomes a happy addition to your normal commute.

Do I still need snow tires in the winter if I have AWD/4WD?
While AWD/4WD can be a huge help in getting started and steering in the snow, they don’t do much for stopping–making sure that you have the right tires all season long will help you experience the full benefit of all-wheel and four-wheel drive.

Do the Camry and Corolla offer all-wheel drive?
At this moment, Toyota’s sedans – the Camry midsize and the Corolla compact – do not offer AWD.

Is AWD/4WD right for my lifestyle?
More than likely, AWD/4WD is a great fit for your daily lifestyle – Toyota’s drivetrains are intuitive, intelligent, and well-suited to any road in Rhode Island.