2-WD Trucks Vs. 4-WD Trucks: An In-Depth Comparison

November 4th, 2019 by

Ford Trucks

There is a big difference between a truck with 2WD and a vehicle with 4WD. To the average driver who uses a car on main roads, however, it’s hard to tell. Four wheel drive comes into play when traversing rough terrain, in places where easy handling is necessary, and in areas that get wintry and slippery like the midwest.

Cities in the midwest and across Oklahoma and Kansas, like Purcell and Oklahoma City, are good at keeping their roads clear and well-maintained. Well-maintained roads mean that it might not always be necessary to have 4WD in a car. But if you’re a truck owner, you likely will want 4WD all the time.

If you’re looking for a new truck, or just want to learn more about the difference between 2WD and 4WD trucks, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get started.

A Note About Drivetrains

When we talk about 2WD or 4WD, we refer to the wheels of the car as well as the drivetrain. Three different types of drivetrain are in most cars. These include front wheel, rear wheel, and all-wheel drive (AWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD). These reference how many tires are engaged at one time.

Let’s detour briefly into an overview of engines – we promise it’s related.

When you turn your engine on, the ignition causes the cylinders in your car to begin to rotate. The rotating cylinders power the crankshaft with their movement, and the movement from the crankshaft is sent even further to another part of the car: the transmission and drivetrain. Most car owners understand that the transmission is basically the part of your car’s brain that tells it how to move. If that analogy makes sense to you, consider the drivetrain the part of your mind that says which tires move.

In 2WD vehicles, you have the choice to move either the front wheels or the back wheels. Front-wheel drive means that your front wheels are the ones engaged – the rear wheels move only from the momentum the car causes. Rear-wheel drive is the reverse. With 4WD or AWD, all tires are always engaged.

What Is The Difference Between 4WD and AWD?

In practice, 4WD and AWD drivetrains are the same. Both drivetrains engage with all four wheels for better handling in certain conditions. However, they are not the same types of drivetrain. AWD refers to a car, truck, or SUV whose four wheels are consistently engaged. In a 4WD vehicle, there is typically a switch or button which the driver must press for the drivetrain to engage all four wheels. If that button isn’t pressed, then only two wheels are engaged.

But if 4WD is good in messy conditions and conditions when roads might be dangerous, why not engage it all the time? Let us further consider what each type of drivetrain does.

Which Handles Better and In What Condition?

As you would with any big decision, honing in on whether you want an AWD, 4WD, or 2WD is a big decision. It will impact the type of truck you get as well as how much money you intend to spend over the lifespan of the truck. These are some conditions you consider if you live in Oklahoma.

  • In snowy winters, like the ones Oklahoma and the midwest experience, you’re going to want a 4WD or AWD. This will give your car an evenly-distributed amount of power to your rear and front wheels, which helps with traction. This is especially helpful on unplowed roads or roads that might get a lot of ice. The more friction you have on a road, the less likely you are to spin out or get stuck.
  • If you must have a truck with 2WD, be sure to get front-wheel drive. Rear-wheel drive is hard to handle on slippery slopes and can become very dangerous if conditions are right.
  • When it gets muddy, 4WD helps get through mucky situations, like going up a hill covered in mud or on a washed-out back road. During these situations, it helps the truck maintain traction on road conditions, which consistently change. The Ford F-150 is a great example of a truck that does well in these situations.
  • If you do a lot of hill climbing, 2WD with front-wheel drive is perfect for maintaining and getting traction without asking as much power from your engine as you might typically. The Chevrolet Silverado might be a perfect pair for you if this sounds like you.
  • If you do a lot of driving in-city, on well-paved roads, or only use a truck occasionally, it might be better to get a 2WD vehicle, like some models of the Chevy Colorado. This is especially true of those who bought a car solely for its looks and not for its towing or work capabilities. While the power of AWD might be tempting, it costs more to purchase and to maintain. Additionally, it doesn’t get as good gas mileage as its 2WD counterparts.

Why Would I Ever Choose RWD?

Despite the facts we’ve laid out, RWD is not a lousy drivetrain setup – it just needs to be in the right type of car or truck. RWD should not be used in a truck unless it is expressly used as a race truck. Rear-wheel drive is exceptionally beneficial in performance situations, as one might expect. It focuses the power to the back of the car, which speeds it up quickly and keeps it going at high speed.

Although this is fun, it’s not really practical for most truck uses, and therefore we suggest that if you do buy a 2WD truck in Oklahoma or Kansas, even just for its looks, you should go with FWD over RWD.

We hope this information has made choosing the right truck a little less stressful. If you’re still confused, or if you want to test out a 2WD or 4WD truck, come to one of our Zeck Auto locations in Oklahoma or Kansas. We have one Ford dealership and one Chevy Dealership in Purcell, Oklahoma, and one Ford dealership in Leavenworth, Kansas. You’ll find the best prices around at all those locations. Stop by whenever you have the time, or browse our selection of quality new and used trucks.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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