What are the benefits of 4-wheel drive?

When many of us thing of 4-wheel drive, we think massive great, gas guzzling SUV and that's simply not the case today. Here’s a few reasons why you might want to take a look at a 4-wheel drive car:

  • 4-wheel drive is an option in lots of bodystyles, you don't have to drive a big SUV to get it
  • If you're towing a caravan or horsebox, driving a 4x4 will give you peasce of mind that you won't get sstuck
  • No matter what driving situation you find yourself in you'll have much increased traction
  • Modern 4-wheel drive cars are not as thirsty on fuel as their predecessors; you might be surprised

Why would I think of switching to 4-wheel drive?

When the cold weather kicks in and you find yourself struggling to get up your own drive, your thoughts may turn to a four-wheel-drive car. Icy roads, flooded areas and muddy tracks can all prove too much for conventionally-driven cars, which is why a switch to a 4×4 can be a smart move. So let’s have a look at the positives that come with changing to all-wheel drive.

Will driving a 4x4 cost me a fortune in fuel?

Traditionally, a four-wheel-drive version of a standard car would cause a negative effect on its fuel economy. However, with modern cars the deficit isn’t as harsh as you’d think. Of course, there’s a slight drop in terms of economy, but for the most part you won’t notice too much.

Many modern off-roaders can actively switch between two- and four-wheel-drive, meaning that when on smooth roads, they can be driven by just two wheels. When the car notices a loss of traction, it will instantly reengage another wheel to stop the car sliding. This system contributes to better fuel economy.

fuelling your car

Does 4x4 technology make a car more versatile?

If you’re looking to tow a caravan, there’s a good chance you’ve already considered a four-wheel-drive. It is especially useful in slippery conditions, when towing can become more a much more difficult task. It’ll also prove invaluable to people who need to tow horse boxes, as it’ll give better traction out on the road.

Cars such as the new Volkswagen Amarok feature ‘tow assist’ technology, which uses a range of cameras situated along the edge of the car to display to the driver where a caravan or horsebox is likely to end up if it carries on with the same line. Some also display guidelines on the screen, which can make reversing a larger unit that little bit easier.

Will driving a 4x4 give me improved traction?

This is arguably the key reason why people purchase a car with four-wheel-drive. Thanks to the fact that the engine sends its power to all four of the wheels, this allows for much more grip – especially on wet, icy or loose surfaces. During the colder winter months, this added stability can really give you that extra peace of mind when driving in less than perfect conditions.

Not only does four-wheel drive help you navigate corners with more confidence, it also allows your vehicle to get its power down more effectively, meaning you can get off the line faster.

Some four-wheel drive cars come fitted with locking differentials and low-range gear boxes as well, which make it easier to climb steep, slippery slopes.

VW Amarok towing caravan

Do four-wheel drive cars have more grip?

Four-wheel drive helps improve a car’s traction and the benefits of this will be most apparent during acceleration or when off-roading. To move a car from standstill, you need plenty of power from the engine, this is then spread out to the two powered wheels. In a Two-wheel drive car this can quickly overwhelm the powered wheels and cause wheel spin. However in a four-wheel-drive car, there is less force going to each wheel, the tyres will have a much better chance of gripping and are less likely to spin.

Does a 4x4 have to be an SUV?

It isn’t just massive SUVs that can benefit from the added grip and stability that fitting a four-wheel drive system brings. This style of drivetrain can also be fitted to any bodyshape as with the Audi 4-wheel drive system, Quattro or Volkswagen’s, 4Motion which are available in many models across their ranges.

This means that if you’re looking for that added peace of mind that four-wheel drive brings, you don’t always need to find it behind the wheel of a SUV.

front view of Volkswagen Golf R driving on a road



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