Meg Thomson
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What’s the Difference Between 4×4 and 4WD?

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Chevy Truck Off-Road

If you’ve ever heard people talk about off-road vehicles, you’ve probably heard the term 4×4 (four-by-four). And if you’ve ever shopped for a car, you’ve probably heard of 4WD (four-wheel drive). But unless you’re a car buff, you’ve probably wondered: what’s the difference?

Well, truthfully, a lot of people use the terms interchangeably. But that doesn’t mean they actually mean the same thing. 4×4 and 4WD both mean that power is sent to four wheels to control the vehicle, but it’s a little more complex than that.

All 4×4 vehicles have 4WD, but not all 4WD vehicles are 4x4s.

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Each number in 4×4 has its own meaning. The first number in this format signifies the vehicle’s number of wheels. If you’re in a standard car, SUV, or pickup, the first number will usually be 4. It will only change with larger vehicles like commercial trucks. The second number signifies how many of the wheels receive power to make the vehicle move. In a 4×4, all four wheels receive the power. In a 4×2 vehicle, only two of the vehicle’s four wheels receive power.

However, this isn’t necessarily synonymous with 4WD. Yes, a 4×4 vehicle has 4WD. But let’s say you have a larger six-wheel truck with two powered axles. That would be a 6×4 (a six-wheel vehicle powered by four wheels) and also considered a 4WD vehicle.

With that being said, it’s fairly uncommon to come across six-wheel vehicles on the road. That’s why 4×4 and 4WD are often used interchangeably. However, it’s important to know the difference if you’re shopping with your new vehicle’s drivetrain in mind.

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Source: 4×4 ABC