Is all-wheel driveright for you?
I get the question all the time: What is all-wheel drive (AWD) and is it something I need?
Simply put, all-wheel drive is designed to help your car perform better in certain driving situations. It distributes power where needed to give the best traction, without any action taken by the driver.
Note the words “perform better”, because it’s more about performance than safety. For instance, an all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicle will drive better in snow, ice, or mud, and allows you to go faster in those conditions too, but it does not help you stop, especially on ice or on slippery road conditions.
Who needs it
AWD is a must for drivers in wintery climates where poor driving conditions are the norm. Also if you are a serious off-road driver, four-wheel drive is going to be better for you. If you live down south, in sunnier climates, it’s not a must, even though having AWD is not bad for anybody. Here’s why. Four-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles generally sit up a little taller, giving drivers a better view of the road ahead, and it enhances the driving experience.
How much it costs
Not too long ago, only pricey high-end cars came with all-wheel drive, like Audi’s famous Quattro system. But the cost is coming down and it’s more common, thanks to automakers like Subaru. Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD system comes on every vehicle they build except one. While AWD equipped vehicles do cost more, usually you’ll get that premium back in resale value, especially if you live an area with the high demand for it.
Some cars with high-horsepower engines come with standard all-wheel drive systems. This is purely for performance purposes. Under heavy acceleration, the power shifts to the wheels immediately when any slippage is felt. This allows maximum grip for fast takeoffs.
In some models, you may lose 1 to 2 miles per gallon in fuel economy, but in other cases, there’s no loss at all when driving on roads that are dry.
So to sum things up, if you can afford it, all-wheel-drive is great to have on any vehicle, especially if you battle the elements.
Jerry Reynolds is an auto industry expert and the host of nationally syndicated Car Pro Show heard Saturday 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on News Radio KTRH 740 AM, and Sports/Radio 610 KILT AM, Saturday 11 a.m.-1 p.m., and online at www.CarProUSA.com.