What does 4x4 mean: 4x4, 4WD, and AWD

What does 4x4 mean on a vehicle? In NJ and PA, we deal with all kinds of weather and road conditions. Having a vehicle with extra wheel power makes these drives smoother and safer. 

Understanding the different drive systems can get a bit complicated and stressful, especially when it's involved in a big ticket item. We asked some of our truck and SUV specialists to help untangle the wires so we understand what is what.
What does 4x4 mean: 4x4 Jeep off-roading on rocks 
Your vehicle drive system choice will help to keep your car's driving ability in good shape in all terrains. Learn what each of these means: 
  • 4x4
  • 4WD
  • AWD

What does 4x4 mean?

"4x4" basically is saying the vehicle has four wheels total and four are powered.  When 4x4 is used, it commonly is describing 4 Wheel Drive (4WD), but technically could also mean All-Wheel Drive (AWD). At first glance, you may think they are the same but they have a few differences you want to weigh into the equation.


4WD generally means the power is equally given to 4 wheels. Most 4WD are not full-time 4WD and have to be manually activated. This is a positive feature because having equal power in all 4 wheels can be harmful to your truck or SUV. Why? Due to the different distances the wheels need to travel, the speed of the inner and outer wheels differ. Take a look at the photo below illustrating a normal turn.
What does 4x4 mean explained with turning path

When turning your vehicle, the outer wheels have a larger distance to travel than the wheels on the inside. Therefore, 4WD can damage your vehicle when 4WD is used in unnecessary circumstances, like on dry pavement. For off-roading and slippery situations, 4WD can be an amazing benefit to moving the vehicle by increasing the available traction to a surface. 

In normal driving conditions, initiate 2 wheel drive to prevent damage and also increase fuel efficiency.

AWD: All-Wheel Drive

Alternatively, AWD is another option for drive system with 4 powered wheels. All-wheel drive systems have power going to all 4 wheels all the time and usually can't be switched to 2 wheel drive. 

How this doesn't damage your car components in normal conditions, like the 4WD, is due to the dynamic power distribution to each wheel. The vehicle has sensors that examine the road conditions to dictate where the power is needed most while driving and distributes accordingly. Though this is a great feature, the driver lacks in manual control and may not be as successful off-road as a 4WD truck. 
4x4 truck off-roading in the snow 
For off-road excursions and a more powerful drive, 4WD takes the cake but weigh your options for both systems. AWD has more benefits driving on normal roads in bumpy conditions and also has a powerful off-road ability. At Matt Blatt, we have a large inventory of trucks, and SUVs with both types of drive systems. Find your perfect vehicle for some off-roading fun, extra driving power, and safety! 
Categories: Fleet