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awd vs 4wd

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What's the performance differences between the two?

Right now I drive an Explorer with 4wd (high/low) and I'm thinking about getting a new one and I'm leaning towards AWD this time instead of 4.

I don't ever off road (which is a waste of my big fat tires) but I do drive in snow - sometimes in CT they don't plow when there is ice underneath so last winter I ended up driving home in 5" of snow over ice. AND this year we have season passes to Mt Snow so we'll be driving to VT lots.

oh yeah, and my commute is 34 miles (one way).

thanks!
 

Westy

the teste
Nov 22, 2002
40,506
6,927
Sleazattle
If you plan on staying on the road AWD is probably a better bet, a lot depends on the type of differentials it uses though. 3 limited slips and your golden, no limited slip diffs and you have a very expensive 1WD.
 

luken8r

Monkey
Mar 5, 2004
565
0
Melrose MA
four wheel drive only drives two wheels (one in back one in front) unless you have some sort of locker
all wheel drive drives all wheels normally at some ratio of front to back power

4wd generally has a lower gear ratio and locks the front and back driveshafts to turn at the same speed.
all wheel drive does not have this. if one wheel gets off the ground 100% of the power goes there to stop it from spinning and you get boned

if youre just on road, go for subie/audi typo awd system.
if youre going off road get 4wd
 

Westy

the teste
Nov 22, 2002
40,506
6,927
Sleazattle
Ford's website provides complete crap for information. Not a big suprise seeing as though most marketing folks no nothing about the stuff they try to market.
 

SkaredShtles

I love NEWCASTLE and will ONLY drink NEWCASTLE!!!!
Sep 21, 2003
52,559
5,084
In a van.... down by the river
AWD generally will get you crappier mileage, since with 4WD you can turn off the extra drive when the roads are good. Although with Ford, it probably doesn't matter. Mileage will likely be crappy and crappier. :p
 

douglas

Chocolate Milk Doug
May 15, 2002
9,889
0
Shut up and Ride
ford.com:

All Explorer 4x4 models come with ControlTrac® 4-wheel drive. It offers shift-on-the-fly convenience and full-time four-wheel-drive capability. A simple button push lets you go from 4x4 Auto to 4x4 High. 4x4 Auto is “set and forget” capability. Use 4x4 High on rainy freeways, winter weather driving and off-roading. A 4x4 Low setting is used for tough off-road driving conditions.
 
douglas said:
ford.com:

All Explorer 4x4 models come with ControlTrac® 4-wheel drive. It offers shift-on-the-fly convenience and full-time four-wheel-drive capability. A simple button push lets you go from 4x4 Auto to 4x4 High. 4x4 Auto is “set and forget” capability. Use 4x4 High on rainy freeways, winter weather driving and off-roading. A 4x4 Low setting is used for tough off-road driving conditions.
either awd is an option or not offered for 06 then - but I'm sure it was for 05.
 

Meat Foot

Monkey
Mar 24, 2004
269
0
On the asthenosphere
Well, I have a 4x4 Tacoma and it gets crap mileage (4 cyl. and 5speed). It is great for off-road up steep down steep etc. with 4 low and in general adore it in the snow. Sounds like you are a perfect candidate for AWD describing your driving situation. Look at the subie, bullet proof engine, reliable drivetrain, and good crash ratings. Mileage will be better than most 4x4 trucks/SUVs anyways. That will help the wallet from a commuting standpoint.
 

douglas

Chocolate Milk Doug
May 15, 2002
9,889
0
Shut up and Ride
Meat Foot said:
Well, I have a 4x4 Tacoma and it gets crap mileage (4 cyl. and 5speed). It is great for off-road up steep down steep etc. with 4 low and in general adore it in the snow. Sounds like you are a perfect candidate for AWD describing your driving situation. Look at the subie, bullet proof engine, reliable drivetrain, and good crash ratings. Mileage will be better than most 4x4 trucks/SUVs anyways. That will help the wallet from a commuting standpoint.
what mpg do you get?

I was getting 19 w/ my 4x4 colorado in the winter (using 4x4 often), its a I5 w/225 hp

ps: her hubby already has a subie
 

Meat Foot

Monkey
Mar 24, 2004
269
0
On the asthenosphere
douglas said:
what mpg do you get?

I was getting 19 w/ my 4x4 colorado in the winter (using 4x4 often), its a I5 w/225 hp

ps: her hubby already has a subie
Missed the part of the subie in the family. Anyways, I typically get about 20-21 on the highway. If it is stellar (like downhill, tailwind, etc.) I have seen 24. When I was driving it for work off road using 4 low a lot, I got a 13 MPG on a tank here and there. I think part of the blame for poor mileage is the inability to develop torque and HP at low enough RPMs, therefore requiring the use of the pedal (FYI- The 6 CYL was ONLY 1 MPG less on the sticker for highway and city, if I recall). Now my wife drives it in town only and I drive the Civic to and fro (80 miles round trip). It gets 34-38 on the highway and has 180K on it. Anyways, there is my discertation.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,772
658
NC
My family has owned a lot of Subarus, and I currently drive a Forester. I'm not sure there's a better New England car that you can buy if you don't need the capabilities of a truck or a big SUV.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,772
658
NC
To me, anything larger than a Forrester, RAV4, or that kind of compact SUV is lumped into the "big" category.
 

Westy

the teste
Nov 22, 2002
40,506
6,927
Sleazattle
Curb Hucker said:
The explorer is a big minivan, not a truck or big suv.

I sense Thats Not A Real Truck Little Man Syndrome.:)

I work with some guy who has TNARTLMS. He thinks that anything without at least 5 liters of displacement and two solid axles is for homos or women. Coincidentally his wife got drunk at a party and openly complained that he had problems getting things to work in the bedroom. I'm guessing it is less of a plumbing issue and more of a closet case.
 
Meat Foot said:
Look at the subie, bullet proof engine, reliable drivetrain, and good crash ratings.

I dunno, we had to replace IABs transmission on his 10,000 mile outback wagon.

I like my explorer because if I want to go to Home Depot and by lots of big stuff, I can - and I don't have to think about "will it fit." Also, I like putting my bikes inside the back rather than outside.

The only Subaru I would buy would be a Tribeca - and I would never buy a car in its first year.....

I agree that awd sounds better for me but like Douglas said, it doesn't look like they offer it. I will know more soon.

THANKS.
 

SkaredShtles

I love NEWCASTLE and will ONLY drink NEWCASTLE!!!!
Sep 21, 2003
52,559
5,084
In a van.... down by the river
MtnBikerChk said:
I dunno, we had to replace IABs transmission on his 10,000 mile outback wagon.
Automatic?

I like my explorer because if I want to go to Home Depot and by lots of big stuff, I can - and I don't have to think about "will it fit." Also, I like putting my bikes inside the back rather than outside.

The only Subaru I would buy would be a Tribeca - and I would never buy a car in its first year.....
It actually sounds like you would like a minivan. :eek: :p
 

Sandwich

Pig my fish!
Staff member
May 23, 2002
17,062
1,567
01776
Uh...yeah.

Anyways, your 4wd drivetrain consists of three differentials or two diffs and a transfer case. You have front, rear, and center diffs. One 4x4s, such as trucks and most SUVs, you have 2hi, 4hi, and 4low. This is known as part time 4wd. Normally, 2 wheels are driven (the rears). When you shift into 4hi or lo, the transfer case locks and front and rear wheels are driven equally. This is fantastic for inclement weather. It blows for tight turns or parking lot maneuvers. You'll also wear out your tires faster with it left on. 4low is an almost off-road specific option, but it can be used when you're stuck as well.

AWD is similar, but it uses a center differential instead of the transfer case. What this does is allow power to go to any wheel instead of 50/50 front and rear all the time. This allows you to make tight turns and leave it on all the time without worrying about tire rub. In essence, it's the same as a locked 4wd, but power may be transferred front and rear instead of constantly on.

It's important to know what kind of AWD system you have. On some newer models, they use an electronic diff, such as HALDEX in Audis, which is 90% FWD and 10% rear, but can transfer up to 50% power when needed. This is my least favorite system, but it's better than nothing.

On others, such as most subarus, you'll have a limited slip center and rear. This is the best system for everyday driving. Limited slips control how much wheel spin occurs by locking the differential when one side is spinning, forcing the other side to rotate. In other words, you probably won't get stuck with a center LSD. You are guarunteed to have both rears spinning and at least front any time you get stuck. You probably won't need much else. Three LSDs are great for performance driving, but the feel would probably be worse for a grocery getter.

TorSen diffs are awesome, but they'll spin if you lift one wheel. You probably won't get one of those.

The other system, perhaps the most common, is the open differential. This is what's on most trucks and SUVs, as well as older AWD systems. Open diffs let your wheels spin independantly, which provides power to all wheels, but if one wheel is lifted or has no traction, it will keep spinning, and no power will go to the other wheels. This blows when you get stuck. This is also the reason why 4wd was invented- you manually lock the center diff so at any one time 1 front wheel and 1 rear are being driven.

ANYWAYS, if you follow me so far, you have to weigh your options and decide what works best for you. Gas mileage is better with 2wd than AWD, but worse with 4wd than AWD. You can switch to 4wd when you need it, but it's not as good as having AWD on all the time. Additionally, awd helps in everyday driving, but you might get into trouble with just 2wd.

If you drive in snow often, like on the east coast, get AWD. You won't have to worry if the snow falls, and if you commute you won't have to remember to flick switches and etc. If you drive in A LOT OF SNOW, but not that often, get 4wd. That way you can turn it on when it snows, and turn it off after the snow is gone. This might be best for a city dweller who drives up to ski resorts on the weekend. Traction when you need it, efficiency when you don't.

I drove a car (Audi Coupe) with 3 open differentials. I got stuck once, when one of my wheels was on an ice patch. I slid backwards a bit, then all four wheels gripped and i got out. Also, I drove that car in the blizzard in boston last year. If you remember, we got about 3 feet of snow in a night. I made it all around the city without getting stuck. In fact, I had a little too much traction to do e-brake turns. This is all with no locking diffs.

SELECTRAC or whatever it's called is (i think) three open diffs with a locker, so you can run 2wd, awd, 4hi, or 4lo. I think this is the best of all worlds.

Whew.
 

Andy_B

Monkey
Jul 21, 2004
679
0
whereabouts unknown
SkaredShtles said:
Do those have as much interior room as the Odysseys?

I dunno, looks like the odyssey... But the wheel base is longer
I can fit 5 DH bikes fully assembled (well, minus the pedals), up right with out them touching. In my element, and I dont have to worry about the carpet. for about 5 grand-less and each level.


Odysseys:
TRIM LEVEL
Starting MSRP

LX
$25,345

EX
$28,395

EX-L
$30,795

Touring
$36,595

Headroom (in., front/middle/rear)

40.9 / 40.0 / 38.4

39.2 / 39.6 / 38.4


Legroom (in., front/middle/rear)

40.8 / 40.0 / 41.1


Shoulder Room (in., front/middle/rear)

63.5 / 63.1 / 61.2


Hiproom (in., front/middle/rear)

57.0 / 64.4 / 48.5


Cargo Volume (cu. ft., behind 3rd-row)

38.4


Cargo Volume (cu. ft., behind 2nd-row)

91.1


Cargo Volume (cu. ft., behind 1st-row)

147.4


Passenger Volume (cu. ft.)

171.4

168.3

Element:

TRIM LEVEL

LX

EX

EX-P

Headroom (in., front/rear) 2WD

43.3 / 38.0


Headroom (in., front/rear) 4WD

43.3 / 39.4


Legroom (in., front/rear)

41.0 / 39.1


Shoulder Room (in., front/rear)

57.1 / 52.2


Hiproom (in., front/rear)

55.0 / 47.6


Cargo Volume (cu. ft., behind 2nd-row 2WD / 4WD)

25.1 / 26.0


Cargo Volume (cu. ft.,maximum; 2WD / 4WD)

74.6 / 77.1


Passenger Volume (cu. ft., 2WD / 4WD)

103.6 / 105.4
 

Westy

the teste
Nov 22, 2002
40,506
6,927
Sleazattle
Andy_B said:
Or the Element.
The Element may not be as big as some other vehicles but you definately get some great volume for the $$. I love the plastic floors, now that it comes with all painted quarter panels I'm considering trading in the WRX for one.
 

Ascentrek

Monkey
Jul 17, 2003
656
0
Golden, CO
luken8r said:
muahahhaaa. who is goign to take a IRS/IFS exploder minivan down a trail that needs 4low?
Excellent point, but those people exist.

Last year, I witnessed a guy in an exploder navigate a rough section of slick rock. Bang and clunk, he broke the rear axel. Haa haa haa.... tow truck? NOT.