Which Drivetrain Do You Want on Your Next Vehicle?

August 9th, 2017 by

Miami Lakes 2017 Dodge Charger All-Wheel Drive

Research can be a little taxing, but it’s worth it so a consumer knows what to get and why. Take research into drivetrains for example. What are the differences between all of the different drivetrains and what are the benefits to each one? That all depends on the driver’s needs, wants, and use of the vehicle.

Different Types of Drivetrains

Front Wheel Drive – Torque is sent to the front wheels and the rear wheels are moving because they are being pulled along.

Rear Wheel Drive – Torque is sent to the rear wheels. The front wheels spin via the force of the rear wheels pushing the vehicle forward.

All-Wheel Drive – Provides torque to all four wheels.

Four-Wheel Drive – Operates with a transfer case, which is responsible for sending torque to all four wheels when commanded to do so by the driver or vehicle sensors.

Situations for Different Types of Drivetrains


The type of terrain one drives on is a large factor when deciding what kind of drivetrain to get. Rear-wheel drive (RWD) or front-wheel drive (FWD) vehicles can handle various types of terrain, but for this scenario, let’s say only flat or maybe even wet ground. Flat terrain provides no real problems for a car with only two-wheel drive, and as long as it isn’t a large puddle of standing water, two-wheel drive should be able to handle a little wet ground. However, the wetter the ground the more slippery it can get.

A car with four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive can handle slippery surfaces better due to transfer cases (see below). An all-wheel drive (AWD) or 4WD vehicle also works better in the snow and going off-road. So drivers that live up north, or drivers that drive up north in the winter, would likely benefit a vehicle with AWD or 4WD.

Unlike most other muscle cars, which typically only come with a rear-wheel drivetrain, the Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger are available with a rear-wheel drivetrain or an advanced all-wheel drivetrain option. The Dodge Durango is available with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and some Jeep and Ram vehicles are available with two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.

Fuel Economy

Small bit on fuel economy, but it should be noted that fuel economy in a vehicle takes a slight drop between a car with RWD vs a car with AWD. The drop can be small or substantial depending on the vehicle. For instance, the difference between a Dodge Charger SE and SXT (only these trims have AWD) is one mile in the city and three on the highway, from 19/30 mpg to 18/27 mpg. However, in the Dodge Durango SXT, the mileage difference is one mile, going from RWD 19/26 mpg to AWD 18/25 mpg.

It’s important to look at the change in miles-per-gallon between drivetrains when choosing a car with a different drivetrain that is not the default. Plus, the car is heavier due to the addition of a transfer case, and the heavier a car, the harder the engine needs to work and the more fuel it will burn to move. It makes a big difference.

Transfer Cases

If getting a vehicle with AWD, know that you’re paying for the addition of an entirely new system. This system is known as a transfer case. A transfer case transfers power from the transmission to the front and rear axles via the drive shaft, the component responsible for transmitting torque and rotation to either axle. In a scenario where a vehicle comes with “all-wheel drive” (AWD) or “four-wheel drive” (4WD) and the default drivetrain is RWD, the vehicle is actually in the default setting but comes with a transfer case.

When wheel slippage is detected, the transfer case will transfer torque to all four wheels, or each axle, until the tire obtains its grip once more. Thus, vehicles with AWD or 4WD only actually perform as such when necessary, unless they come with a shift knob that allows the driver to lock the vehicle into the drivetrain they choose.

* Interested in getting a vehicle with all-wheel drive, or is rear-wheel all you need? Take a look at our inventory and find the car that will fit your daily driving. *

* Photo Source/Copyright: Dodge.com *

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