What are the benefits and drawbacks of AWD?

The Pros and Cons of All-Wheel Drive

January 11th, 2017 by

What are the benefits and drawbacks of AWD?

Looking for a new car? Now that it's in the middle of winter, you're probably seeing a lot of adds for all-wheel-drive systems. 

If you've never owned one before, you might be curious about the benefits and drawbacks. Here's what you need to know before you make your next offer on a new car.

The Upside of AWD
​First, the basics. In an AWD system all four wheels are capable of operating simultaneously – as opposed to just the two in the front or rear. Sometimes these systems will be permanent, meaning that the four wheels are always operating. Sometimes, they are intermittent, meaning they depend on road conditions.

The primary benefit of an AWD system is that it makes it much easier to retain control of a vehicle in difficult road conditions, such as snow, ice and rain. If one or more wheels slip, the others can compensate and keep the vehicle moving. It also becomes easier to turn quickly and avoid accidents. In addition, the added weight of an AWD system keeps vehicles more firmly on the ground.

The Downside
If you're looking for fuel efficiency, an AWD vehicle might not be the best option. The added weight of the vehicle, and the additional demand placed on the engine, requires more fuel than a standard car. An AWD vehicle also requires more distance to come to a complete stop. While it may be better equipped to avoid accidents when there is room to swerve, this is not always the case, and stopping distance can become a factor.

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