Front-wheel, rear-wheel or all-wheel drive?

Winter drivingWith winter around the corner, drivers should know how their vehicle will handle in various situations so that they can be prepared for poor weather conditions.

“While modern anti-lock braking system, electronic traction, and stability control technologies all provide added grip and handling regardless of the drive wheels, the driving dynamics of each vehicle are unique,” says Jacob Black, senior editor at autoTRADER.ca. He explains the pros and cons of each type in easy-to-follow language:

Front-wheel drive. FWD is the most common configuration in modern passenger vehicles. They’re less expensive to produce and offer a more efficient use of space since there’s no driveline routed through the cabin. With the engine usually located in the front of the vehicle, this setup also offers good traction from a standstill in snow and slush.

Rear-wheel drive. RWD is most often found on pickups and performance-focused sports cars or sedans. Pickups benefit from it when carrying a heavy load in the bed or towing. RWD in a performance car allows for more ideal handling dynamics and balanced weight distribution. But it can also provide less traction in slippery conditions and tends to oversteer when applying power during cornering, which some find unpredictable and unnerving.

All-wheel drive. Just as the name states, AWD systems are capable of delivering power to all four wheels, many of which are now able to divert additional traction from front-to-back or side-to-side, depending on conditions. Offering well-balanced driving dynamics and traction over a variety of road conditions, AWD also tends to suffer from higher fuel consumption due to the added weight and components.

The verdict. While all-wheel drive generally offers the best grip, it has a few shortcomings and can create a false sense of security. While there are theories about the optimal drive, a lot depends on the vehicle and its intended application. In many cases, having good tires is more important than which wheels the power is coming from. Remember that no matter what you choose, in the end it’s less about what you drive than how you drive. Find more information at www.autoTRADER.ca. – NewsCanada

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