AWD System: What is it? And How It is Beneficial for Off-Road Adventure

Many people prefer to go for All-Wheel Drive (AWD) when it comes to adventure in the high mountains thanks to the systems in your new vehicle. Due to the variable power to each wheel, AWD vehicles can easily navigate off-road. The main reason for this is that you need more traction in places that AWD vehicles can provide. Now the question is how do AWD vehicles work, and what benefits can they offer you? So let’s understand it fully and know how AWD system can be beneficial for off-road adventure.

Understand the AWD System

In an all-wheel drive system, all the wheels of the vehicle receive power from the engine. It helps to improve the vehicle’s traction in various road conditions, especially on slippery surfaces such as in rainy conditions or light snow. AWD systems are usually automatic, redistributing power to the wheels as needed by the vehicle whenever the vehicle needs traction. The systems are frequently controlled by a computer that continuously tracks the traction of each tire. Compared to a human driver, it can activate a lot faster and more precisely.

Difference between AWD System vs. 4WD System

AWD and 4WD systems have different characteristics depending on function and purpose.

Power Distribution

While both systems deliver power to all four wheels, 4WD distributes power equally between the front and rear axles, ensuring that all wheels turn at the same speed. AWD, on the other hand, can differentiate when distributing power evenly between the wheels, which is beneficial for paved roads but doesn’t work on rough terrain.

Transfer Case vs. Differential

Most 4WD systems utilize a transfer case, allowing the driver to connect or disconnect the system to their vehicle. AWD uses a center differential to distribute power. This automatic operation is great for on-the-fly adjustments but is less robust than 4WD’s manual controls system.

Low Range Gearing

4WD systems are beneficial for off-roading. One of the main advantages is the inclusion of low-range gearing. It delivers high low-speed torque, which is critical for climbing over rocks or navigating steep obstacles. This feature is not available in AWD systems.

Understand Off-Road Challenges

Off-roading can be of different types. Let’s take a look at the different types of off-roading:

Gravel and Dirt Roads

These are the least challenging terrains we can call. Most AWD vehicles can easily handle gravel and dirt roads without a problem, provided they have the right ground clearance.

Muddy and wet conditions

Muddy and wet conditions can be slippery, and you need more traction in these areas. Although some AWD vehicles have this feature, a good 4WD can do the job more effectively with low-range gearing.

Sand Dunes

Whenever you drive in the sand, you need better speed and correct tire pressure. AWD vehicles perform well in sand, such as driving in milder coastal areas while deep sand or high dunes can pose challenges for them.

Rocky Trails

This is where AWD vehicles may struggle the most. Combined with the unpredictable nature of rocks, low-speed torque, and wheel drive requirements, most 4WD vehicles demand more capacity.

Snow and Ice Performance

AWD systems are best for these climates, as these systems are specifically designed for performance or inclement weather. However, for deep snow or icy slopes, the added features of 4WD can give you good results.

What Benefits Comes with AWD System?

On-the-Fly Adjustment

AWD’s automatic power distribution can be useful for quickly adapting to changing terrain.


Many AWD vehicles are designed for both city driving and light off-road tasks, making them a versatile choice.

Better Power

On less bumpy terrain, AWD vehicles provide better traction than 2WD vehicles. XM off-road wheels are a highly qualified supplier that provides your vehicle additional grip and better performance.

What Consequences Come with AWD Systems?

  • AWD systems provide a vehicle with additional grip so that it can move forward and stay on the road, but they cannot stop a moving object. 
  • Drivers frequently make the error of thinking that they are invulnerable because of their SUV or truck when conditions are icy or slippery. 
  • Extra traction does not always translate into more stopping power. Overconfidence is often a result of this misperception. 
  • Due to the additional weight and mechanical resistance of the equipment required to turn all four wheels, vehicles with AWD typically have lower fuel economy.

Final Thoughts

After reading this blog, what do you think about whether AWD vehicles can enjoy adventures like off-roading? Yes, but it depends on what kind of off-roading you want to do. While AWD is good for mild off-road conditions, serious off-roaders often prefer to go with the robustness and added features of a 4WD system. For those embarking on off-road adventures, it is important to understand the capabilities and limitations of your vehicle, which not only ensures a thrilling experience but also a safe one.

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Written by Ruby Carter

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