Design & Technology / Lifestyle

All-Wheel Drive (AWD) vs. Four-Wheel Drive (4WD) August 4th, 2015


All-new Kia Sorento AWD

If you are searching for a high-performance vehicle, All-Wheel Drive (AWD), Four-Wheel Drive (4WD), Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) and Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD) are the terms that you often come across. But what really are the differences between them and what do those differences mean?


What is AWD?

An AWD vehicle features a powertrain that employs a front, rear and center differential to provide power to all its wheels, providing a smooth drive and greater traction on off-road surfaces. It is a relatively recent innovation in the automotive industry and is usually reserved for premium cars and crossover models.


Kia Sportage AWD-

AWD vehicles provide an enhanced level of safety and comfort for drivers as they automatically enable the vehicle to use all four wheels when encountering rugged road conditions without having to lift a finger.


An AWD system basically combines the advantages of FWD and RWD. This means AWD adapts better in harsh road conditions and provides better balance & handling, making it a vehicle that is easy to handle, provides good traction and is safe in bad weather conditions.


Kia Trail'ster concept all wheel drive-

AWD vs. 4WD

Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, AWD and 4WD are actually two different systems that yield different outcomes. Four-wheel drive vehicles lock both front and rear wheels together when 4WD mode is switched on. AWD systems, on the other hand, have a differential between the two drive shafts so that both wheels are not locked together but rather are able to spin at different speeds.


All-new Kia Sorento

A major difference between the two is that 4WD vehicles require the system to be manually switched on by the driver while AWD vehicles react to the road, weather and driving conditions as they happen.

AWD might not be the perfect choice for full off-roading, but cars with an AWD system may be a better fit if you often drive in inclement weather that creates slippery, snowy and wet conditions.

Kia AWD models


2011 Kia Sportage

Kia Sportage

Kia Sorento AWD

All-new Kia Sorento

At Kia, we are all about offering the best driving experience and maximum safety performance with our AWD models. Sportage and Sorento, our two flagship SUVs, are ideal AWD-equipped vehicles that provide great driving capabilities and handy features at the same time. Read more about our robust SUV, the all-new Sorento, and versatile Sportage crossover utility vehicle.


▶ The Kia Sorento evolution story, an on-going journey to excellence

▶ The future of the CUV and Kia’s Sportage