Front Wheel Drive vs Rear Wheel Drive Vehicles: Pros & Cons

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Long lives the debate between which is better: Front Wheel Drive or Rear Wheel Drive vehicles.  Throw in the All Wheel Drive option and it makes for a fun discussion.  These are terms that we’ve all heard for years but do you really understand the difference?

Front-wheel drive vehicles typically provide better traction and fuel economy.  The engine and differential are located at the front of the vehicle, so that power is channeled into the front wheels to “pull” the vehicle forward, and the extra weight up front provides better traction, particularly of interest if you live in a climate with poor weather conditions.  We don’t have to worry about that too much living here in the South but it is certainly part of the decision-making process for many individuals.  Another positive is that these vehicles are typically smaller and weigh less, so fuel mileage is better.  Many automotive professionals say that a front-wheel drive vehicle has less desirable handling, particularly in vehicles over 250+ HP since the weight distribution is not even.  And the additional weight in the front also leads to more wear & tear on the vehicle’s parts.  FWD examples:  Volkswagen Jetta, Tiguan, Passat, GTI

Rear-wheel drive vehicles provide drivers with more control since the weight is more evenly distributed and most say that acceleration and braking are easier since you are “pushing” the vehicle forward vs pulling it.  Rear-wheel drive vehicles also possess more performance qualities.  A big trade off of having a rear-wheel drive vehicle is that in bad weather conditions, particularly snow and ice, less traction up front means possible spin-out.  Common sense dictates that in bad driving conditions, one must drive slower and allow a little extra room just in case you need to stop your vehicle quickly.  However, with the addition of Traction Control, front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive vehicles are on a more level playing field and rear-wheel drive vehicles are becoming more plentiful and desirable.  RWD examples:  BMW, Ford Mustang

For those wanting the best of both worlds, auto manufacturers introduced All-Wheel Drive (AWD) vehicles. The biggest attraction for AWD vehicles is traction in both wet and dry conditions, so the driver is not as limited when facing varying weather conditions.  As a trade off for more stability and balance, AWD vehicles do weigh more which affects fuel mileage and the ability for a “fast take off” and they tend to cost a little more.  AWD examples:  VW 4Motion vehicles, Audi Quattro vehicles, Touareg, Golf R, R32

There are definite advantages to each type of drivetrain….the decision is ultimately a personal preference and what fits your comfort level.  Improved technology over the last 15-20 years has certainly given us more to choose from and who does not love options ?!  Whatever you have sitting in the driveway, Go Drive and ENJOY and remember that Das Autohaus is here for repair & maintenance needs to keep your vehicle in tip top driving condition.